Wedding Supplier's Secrets Revealed: How Lauren and Tim from Next Level Music brought their dream wedding to life
03 Jan 2020
We caught up with Lauren and Tim Reynolds from Next Level Music to talk about their winter wedding at the Old Finsbury Town Hall in Angel, London
Musicians Lauren and Tim of Next Level Music share the top tips and secrets that they’ve picked up during their careers in the wedding industry, and put into practice for their own wedding.
Lauren and Tim are newlyweds from High Barnet, London and run Next Level Music, providing London’s best musicians, bands and DJs for weddings and events in the UK and worldwide.
Our wedding secrets revealed - Lauren and Tim’s best advice for your big day
Get the best entertainment and food you can afford, everything else is secondary
The things that made our wedding experience so special were definitely the entertainment and the food. We were so lucky to have such incredible live music pretty much all day long.
Our advice to all the couples we speak to at Next Level Music is to invest in good food and live music because that is honestly what people remember afterwards.
Some DJs are great but you can’t beat the personal interaction that a live band creates. We had men versus women dance-offs, conga lines, limbo and were made to feel like celebrities all because of the incredibly talented and experienced singers we chose to lead our bands.
So many of our guests remarked that it felt more like a concert than a wedding, which is just fantastic, and we were so proud for our friends and family to see what we have worked so hard to create these past few years.
We chose La Freschco to provide us with an Indian feast and they absolutely smashed it. Everything was perfect.
It’s definitely the music & food that people remember, if you can nail these things you’ll have nailed your wedding.
Our ceremony was full of incredible music
Above: A solo performance by Vivienne Chi, singing her track Hard to Be Happy.
Above: Kate Threlfall-Beaney playing piano and singing Angel of Mine during the signing of the register. Our guests all spontaneously sang softly in the chorus, it really was magical.
Above: A bridesmaids choir (bridesbabes, as we named them, to include Joell our fabulous bridesman) who happen to be some of the best session vocalists the UK has to offer, singing Ain’t No Mountain. They were absolutely incredible.
Above: As well as musical performances we had a beautiful reading, which was a very personal poem written and read by Tim’s sister Chloe.
All of these performances had us in tears. The song choices were so personal to us and they seemed to really resonate with our friends and family. So many of our guests have commented that there was a real tangible feeling of love in the room... even the registrar was holding back the tears.
Invite ONLY those people you love AND love you back
Writing your wedding guest list can be very tricky. Who do you want there? Who can you afford to have there? The list can quickly spiral out of control. Our pro tip is to only invite those people you really love, and who love you back. We did this at our wedding and it really paid off - there was such a feeling of warmth and support in the room, nearly everyone we’ve spoken to since has mentioned it.
Bouquet and bridesmaids' flowers might be a waste of money for you
Some of the quotes we had for basic wedding flowers were extortionate. Some were around 400% more than the cost of the same flowers for any other event, so it’s worth shopping around and don’t be afraid to ask florists which flowers are cheaper in your chosen season.
We used hydrangeas for the bridesmaids' bouquets as they are large enough that it took only two of them together with eucalyptus to create the look we wanted. Using the same greenery and binding as the bridal bouquet tied it all together really well and we saved approximately £30 per bridesmaid than if we had used a smaller flower.
Pro tip: Once the ceremony and group photos are done, the bridesmaids' bouquets can be put in vases to brighten up less eye-catching areas. We bought two large vases and our maid of honour put the bouquets in the ladies' toilets for us which saved on buying additional flowers specifically for that space.
Lighting is very important
We’ve seen some very basic looking venues totally transformed with lighting. Uplighters can work wonders on a space by setting the mood and offer the added benefit of colour changes.
We started off the day with a warm golden light which complemented the twinkly lights in our centrepieces and the candles we had scattered around the room but when guests re-entered for the evening reception, the colours had been changed to fabulous pinks and purples which looked incredible. We also added a disco ball which really set the party scene.
Practise everything you can
Your entrance, your first dance, your vows. Anything you can do to make yourselves more comfortable, do it. We were sent our vows a week or two before our wedding and getting to read through the words really put our minds at ease for the big day. Don’t underestimate how much nerves can affect the simplest of tasks on the day.
Even the most meticulously planned wedding is a long, hectic day. Everyone wants a piece of you, particularly once the drinks are flowing. It’s pretty intense! Make sure you have some time for just the two of you, away from the photographers and guests, to process what’s going on and keep your feet on the ground. It’s a very surreal day and it’s great to reconnect with each other for a moment.
Don’t do anything you don’t want to do
We didn’t want a wedding cake, for example, so we didn’t have one. We felt that cake cutting pictures can be a bit awkward and that the hundreds or thousands of pounds people usually spend on a cake could be better spent on things that would bring our guests together and increase the love in the room… so we got a photobooth instead. The pictures are absolutely brilliant, so worth the money. We highly recommend Open Booth, they were great.
We had cheese included in the grazing table for our evening food so we made it a five-tier cheese stack and were able to have a custom cake topper on that. We also served doughnuts and cookies as sweet treats so we found a way to have our cake and eat it.
We didn’t want to have kids there on our big day either, so we didn’t. Kids are awesome, don’t get us wrong, but they totally change the feel of a wedding. We were very pleased we took the decision and, to be honest, so were a lot of our guests.
It’s your day, so do what you want to do. Don’t feel pressured into doing anything just because you feel you should.
This may initially seem over the top but your wedding day can end up being incredibly hectic and though your guests mean well, all the well wishes mean that you are sometimes circulating separately. If you both end up in different conversations, you may find that you are spending more time apart than together which was the case for us at our engagement party and we didn’t want a repeat experience on our big day.
A few weeks before the wedding, we decided on a phrase that we could say to people if we wanted to exit a conversation and reunite with each other. Something simple like “Excuse me, I’m going to find my husband/wife” works perfectly as your guests will love your new titles and it comes across as playful where it could appear rude.
We sneaked off for a few minutes, just before our first dance, for some evening photos in a nearby market - it was a beautiful setting and a great way to have some fun just the two of us.
Realistically if you plan for 10 minutes apart, it will sometimes be closer to 20 but that's fine. Just knowing you have a plan to reconvene helps it to happen quite naturally.
Get an MC
We see far too many brides and grooms running around trying to organise everything on their big day, which is stressful for them and takes away precious time they could be spending with loved ones. Let someone else do it so you can fully enjoy your day and spend time with your guests.
Get an MC, fill them in on all the details of your day so that they can keep the day flowing and keep an eye on timings. This can be anyone, a professional or a guest but not a close family member as they will be needed elsewhere at times. Also, let immediate family, bridesmaids and groomsmen know in advance what you want them to do and when so they can keep things moving and take any stress away from you both.
We chose the Old Finsbury Town Hall in Angel, London - it’s such an incredibly beautiful place first and foremost, but also it’s one of the few remaining venues with no sound limiter. This was very important for us as musicians, but ultimately very important for anyone who wants a serious shindig. Also, they have a licence until 1am and allowed us to bring our own caterer, letting us have our favourite food on our wedding day, a delicious Indian curry banquet.
The building is owned by Urdang, a performing arts school, who take profits from weddings and events and put them towards scholarships and bursaries for their students, which was an idea very close to our hearts.
We always advise our clients to check if their prospective venue has a sound limiter. These things are massive party poopers and any with a limit under 92dB should be avoided at all costs.
Sound limiters are devices installed by local councils to ensure that noise levels stay below a certain amount. They are often set to very low levels for a venue hosting weddings and can cut off all power which ruins the flow of a party. When viewing venues, do ask if they enforce sound limitation as many venues won’t tell you this otherwise.
We’ve heard of at least one venue telling a client porky pies about sound limiters, or not telling them about them at all - so be vigilant before making a final decision on your venue. If in doubt, contact us - we’ll let you know if the venue’s fit for your big day.
Our strong recommendation is to find a venue without a sound limiter, but if you really have to, find one with a limit ideally above 98dB.
Our evening entertainment
For our evening entertainment we put together three bespoke bands made of the very best musicians and entertainers we know. Our aim was and always is to create a unique and electric atmosphere that appeals to all ages and it was fantastic to see our friends, parents and grandparents all on the dancefloor enjoying themselves.
We started the evening with disco, soul and Motown classics, to be as inclusive as possible for guests of all ages. Everyone was on the dancefloor, young and old alike. The party was raging from the get go.
By the time the older guests had retired from the dancefloor our second band was ready for action. A full scale dancefloor-war ensued, with women on one side and men on the other, resembling something between the Haka and the video from RUN DMC and Jason Nevins’ It’s Like That... or at least we thought so.
The band finished their set with a request from Lauren, a favourite song of hers - Shut Up and Dance by Walk The Moon, which went down a treat.
Pro tip: We were careful not to be too bossy with the song choices - it’s very important to let the band, particularly the singers, play to their strengths. That's the way to get the very best entertainment possible. The musicians we book at Next Level Music are seasoned pros who really know what they’re doing. Other bands may cost less, but you really do get what you pay for. These bands may be made up of students, new graduates or hobbyists - all of whom will lack the experience, confidence and finesse to put on the kind of show we do.
The final band played all the best r'n'b and hip hop classics from the '90s and '00s. They were absolutely incredible. Lauren and the bridesmaids instantly became Beyoncé on the dancefloor, having the time of their lives.
We finished off the night with DJ Mark, who played all our favourite garage, r'n'b and house hits. It was nostalgic, immersive and so much fun.
Mark ended the night with our request, All My Life by K-Ci and JoJo, which was magical. Tim was at the bar, but when he heard the song start he came running to Lauren to have the final dance together.
Even though it was more effort for us to organise our own music rather than hire another band, we trusted in what we’ve built at Next Level Music and knew that the show element we offer was exactly what we needed to impress and entertain our friends and family. And we were right. We put on a show that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. It really was incredible.
We believed so much in Next Level Music that we booked our own musicians for our wedding.
Above: Flagship band, the Next Level Show Band, playing at various events including a wedding at the Natural History Museum and a headline set at a music festival. The video showcases various line-ups available and plenty of the types of music that we can play for you on your big day. The band can do everything we had at our wedding and more - just get in touch and we’ll put together the perfect entertainment for you and your guests on your big day.
We have London’s finest DJs, singers and musicians; from solo pianists and string quartets, to small party bands and large super impressive show bands. We’ve got an incredible roster for any event. We often put together bespoke acts for events, just let us know your vision and we’ll put together something superb just for you. Get in touch with us today; we look forward to taking your big day to the next level.
Our wedding vendors:
Music: Next Level Music
Make-up: MUA Team London
Flowers: Meadows Florist
Photography: Kirsty Mackenzie Photography
Videography: Special Occasion
Evening videography: Theodore Swaddling
Day food: La Fresh Co
Decorator: Dress it Yourself
Evening food: Gourmet Dinner Lady
Venue: The Old Finsbury Town Hall
Suit: Swatch To Suit
Dress: Anna Sorrano
Photobooth: Open Booth
Minimoon: Bethnal & Bec