The Complete Guide to Singing Waiters (Shhh!)

The Complete Guide to Singing Waiters (Shhh!)

Looking to hire Singing Waiters for your next event? Here's everything you need to know...

Everyone loves dinner and a show - but did you know you could combine the two in a highly entertaining way?

Singing waiters are the secret weapons of the event entertainment world. No one ever expects to catch their waiters singing halfway through their meal, so it's the perfect way to both entertain and surprise your guests at your wedding, party or function.

Our complete guide will tell you all you need to know about booking singers in disguise - what they are, what they do, and more. You'll never look at a waiter or waitress in the same way again!

What are surprise wedding singers?

Surprise singing waiters are the flash mobs of the wedding singing world - they'll be serving you your starters one minute and serenading you with show tunes the next!

A group of surprise singing waiters is in fact a team of professional singers who will pose as actual waiters at your wedding reception, charity dinner or similar function, bringing out the courses and beverages to your unsuspecting guests without uttering so much as a note. But sooner or later, it'll be time for the big reveal - down go the trays, and up go the lights!

What types of events are singing waiters suitable for?

The simple answer is: if tables need waiting, and guests need entertaining, then undercover waiters are the perfect choice. As long as you're planning the type of catered event which your guests wouldn't think twice about being served by waiting staff at, your secret will be safe with them!

As singing waiters tend to be more of a spectacle, it's worth keeping in mind that an act such as this won't serve the same purpose as hiring background musicians to entertain your guests while they eat - this role would be far better filled by an instrumental jazz trio, a classical guitarist or a harpist. You and your guests will have a much better time if you set aside some time for your singing waiters to shine.

What makes a good singing waiter?

Aside from great singing ability, the best surprise waiters will showcase expert acting skills and comedic timing - as well as being able to wait tables and serve guests convincingly. All of these elements are essential to maintain the ruse until the time is right - the whole 'surprise' element relies on your guests not getting wind of the true nature of your singing waiters.

As such, you'll want confirmation that each of your singing waiters is committed to their pre-surprise role - so they'll need to engage convincingly with your guests, know the menu inside out and take down their orders without a hitch.

It's also always worth reading customer reviews - these will not only give you a sense of how good a performance your chosen singing waiters can give you, but will also give you an idea of how well they interacted with guests, how promptly they turned up to get everything ready, and how satisfied overall the clients were with the service they received.

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What sort of act do singing waiters put on?

Now that would be telling! Naturally, any group of surprise waiters worth their salt wouldn't want to spoil the surprise - even for you, and you're booking them! - because they want their big reveal to have the most impact possible.

However, we are at liberty to reveal a couple of insider secrets…

Often, while your guests are busy tucking into the delicious feast which your secret singers have served up for them, some kind of scene will start to break out. Whatever this scene is - from a waiter dropping a tray, to an angry chef bursting out of the kitchen - it's safe to say that it will be enough to draw your guests' attention away from their tasty meals.

The next thing you know, you'll be in the middle of a musical!

One tactic many undercover singers like to employ is using a 'planted guest' or 'stooge' - a member of their singing group disguised as a member of the audience.

To make this ruse even more convincing, your secret waiters and waitresses may ask you for a seating plan, as well as a little bit of personal information about your friends and family members who'll be in attendance. This is so they can memorise a few key facts in order to lull their table mate into a false sense of security, passing themselves off as a genuine guest. Then, once the penny drops, your undercover guest will reveal themselves as a secret professional singer and burst into song too!

How many members are in a singing waiters group?

The short answer is, this will often be up to you. The best singing waiters will offer different packages to meet different needs and suit different function types.

Many acts offer a solo secret singer option, who will still deliver a vocal performance as stellar as it is unexpected. A solo wedding singer is ideal for parties and smaller functions such as your wedding breakfast.

Alternatively, if you want a bigger impact at your party, you can opt for a singing trio or quartet. This tends to suit larger weddings and corporate events.

What equipment do singing waiters need?

The necessary equipment differs quite drastically between acts, as well as venues - so, first and foremost, it's worth reading your chosen singing waiters' online profile and sending them an enquiry, giving them as many details of your event as you can.

You'll find that some secret waiters will sing a capella and therefore require little to no equipment, particularly when performing at smaller, more intimate venues. Such a capella acts are more free to roam around your guests, and are sometimes accompanied by a pianist or keyboardist who will most likely provide their own instrument.

Equally, other singing waiters will require more sophisticated sound equipment in order to provide you and your guests with a more sonically detailed performance, especially at larger, more spacious venues. This will often involve high quality backing tracks - so a PA system will probably be required. Although your venue may well have its own PA system already set up, it's not uncommon for the artist to prefer to bring their own PA equipment, or even factor in the hiring of a specific model and sound engineer into their fee.

Surprise singing waiters

Plan ahead!

Audio technicalities aside, there are a few other things to bear in mind which are peculiar to secret waiters - namely, making the waiting side of the proceedings convincing enough to fool your unwitting guests. This will require some covert communications between yourself, your chosen venue and your chosen act - you will need to make sure your secret waiters have uniforms which match those of the actual catering staff hired for your event. It's worth remembering that there may be a small additional fee for the hiring and cleaning of these uniforms - but the looks on your guests' faces will be priceless!

Something else to take into consideration is that, as with a flash mob or other form of surprise entertainment, your singing waiter act will require plenty of time to organise themselves so they can set up their shock entrance to surprise your guests. Make sure you liaise carefully with both you performers and your venue staff so you all know what to expect on the day.

singing waiter hire

How much space do singing waiters need?

This is one thing you needn't worry too much about - you'll find most singing waiters to be adaptable and professional enough to make the most of any set up in any venue, in any location. Give them a space, and their larger than life personalities will fill it!

As with their equipment arrangements, however, it's good practice to give your singing waiters as much information about your venue in as much advance as possible - and don't be surprised if they ask if they can check out the venue beforehand. This will allow them to carry out a soundcheck to make sure the backing tracks and the vocals are all at the correct volume, and they'll also be able to carry out a quick sweep of the tables - they may even need to switch a few things around here and there, just to make sure they're able to give you the best performance they can (and make sure everyone in the house can see them perform!).

If your venue has a stage or dancefloor, don't be surprised if your surprise waiters make that the focal point of their performance!

Aside from this, make sure your singing waiters have sufficient access to the building and plenty of parking spaces reserved so they can easily get themselves and any equipment they need to bring with them into your venue quickly and easily.

Your singing waiters will likely also need a changing area to both prepare themselves before they start serving your guests and also make any costume changes or prop preparations they need to make before the singing starts - plus, this would give them a quiet area to take a quick break. In order to maintain their privacy, it's best to try and find them a private room they can lock (not just a storage cupboard or toilet cubicle), as this way they'll be able to keep whatever's in store for your guests a complete secret!

Can secret wedding singers perform to my guests outside?

Weather permitting, you'll find that many secret wedding singers will be more than happy to entertain your guests both inside and out.

A capella singing waiters will be able to adapt to an outside event more easily, although it's worth checking with them whether they will be bringing a pianist or keyboardist with them, as they will require a sheltered area and may require a power supply.

Surprise waiters who sing to a backing track do require amplification of some description, so you will need to check with them that they'd be happy to perform outside. They will need details of the venue as they may need a specific type of PA system to cope with the sound loss which occurs in the open air, and it's likely they will request some sort of cover so their equipment will be protected in the event of rain. Furthermore, you will also need to confirm that your venue has a power supply that reaches the outdoor area.

How long do surprise waiters sing for?

Bearing in mind that the success of their performance relies on the element of surprise, most singing waiter groups tend to limit themselves to one 20-30 minute set. This is generally agreed to be enough time for your guests to enjoy a musical interlude, but not too long so as to interrupt the flow of the rest of the event.

If you expect your guests will be begging for more, however, do mention this in advance to your secret waiters - as professional singers, they won't need much persuading to take to the stage once more. Once the cat's out the bag, so to speak, you'll probably find that your guests are more relaxed and open to simply enjoying a few great songs sung well by a team of professionals - and you can be sure that your singing waiters will have quite the repertoire between them.

Can I request songs not already in the repertoire?

You should check your chosen singing waiters' specific profile first, as they will likely state whether they're happy to take requests or not. You'll come across some waiters singing in a specific style, so it's less likely that they will be able to adapt their sound to accommodate a song from a wholly different genre.

If your chosen act does state that they're happy to take requests and you do have a special wedding song in mind, it's best to give them as much notice as possible - you may even wish to include your request in your initial enquiry.

Singing waiter at wedding

What styles of singing waiters can I choose from?

Undercover waiters often prefer to maximise the surprise element by developing a very diverse repertoire, ranging from songs from West End and Broadway musicals to classical music to pop hits fresh from the top of the charts, all arranged to be sung as a vocal group. While undercover singers sometimes stick to a certain genre such as jazz or show tunes, which lends itself well to themed events, even within this they can often adapt more modern or popular songs and perform them in their own style.

So even if you request a sample set list, or request a particular song, chances are your guests won't have a clue what's in store for them next!

How much do singing waiters cost to hire?

This depends on the size of the act (e.g. the number of members), how much experience they have between them, and the extent of the service you employ them to provide.

Typically, singing waiter groups which start at around £1000 will consist of younger members, often music or drama students, whose enthusiasm will more than make up for what they may lack in experience. More experienced secret singing groups will charge in the region of £2000, and premium secret singers who are more in demand can charge up to £3500.

How do I book a singing waiter group?

At Bands For Hire, we've made hiring singing waiters a straight-froward process. Simply drop us an enquiry through the act's profile page and we'll come back to you with confirmation on price and availability.

From here, a member of our team will be happy to answer any queries you may have. Once you're ready to go ahead, we'll put together a contract that can be signed online, along with a deposit that can be paid by card or bank transfer.