Mango Acoustic Duo - Image Copyright of Ian Bursill
Image Copyright of Ian Bursill

Meet Mango Acoustic Duo.

I’ve seen a lot of entertainers at the weddings I’ve photographed for my couples over the last 11 years. Every once in a while though, I get to discover and work with some truly talented people like Will & Charlie – the husband and wife team who form Mango Acoustic Duo. Will and Charlie from Mango Acoustic Duo are just a lovely, down-to-earth couple and very humble with no egos at all.

Charlie has the voice of an angel. I’ve told her this on the several occasions I’ve worked with them.

Will is so, so modest – just the kind of bloke you want to sit in the pub with (if I drank) and spend hours putting to rights the problems of the world we live in. I’m delighted to say that Will & Charlie have agreed to feature on my Industry Friends series and their answers to my questions are below.

Mango Acoustic Duo - Image Copyright of The Wedding Industry Awards
Image Copyright of The Wedding Industry Awards

Can you tell us a little about your history? For example – how long have you been playing weddings, how did you get into the wedding industry etc?

“We’ve both been Professional Musicians since leaving school, and evolved our music careers into not just our passion for doing what we love to do, but also to give us a stable enough income to have a House and now a young family. As any Musician will know – that’s quite a challenge to pull off! Our previous history of UK Summer season work, and working abroad for years on Cruise ships was indeed great fun (and a bit of a blur!) but in reality was never going to give us a settled future where we could one day start a family.

Our last summer residency was in Dubai, in our 5-piece Party band called ‘Storm’. Whilst there, Charlie and I played some acoustic covers as a duo for the first time, and that’s how ‘Mango Acoustic Duo’ began. We planned from there how we would go about selling our services for Weddings, and what we’d need to do to make a success of it. Almost 1000 Weddings and 10 years later – we still completely love what we do, and couldn’t have wished for a better way of life.”

Who are your musical influences and how would you describe your style?

“Our personal musical influences are almost to vast to mention, although with our past line of work we have played pretty much every style and genre imaginable – from forced Country & Western nights on Cruise ships, to the almost mandatory Cheese of music’s past at Haven Holiday Parks (yes, including the YMCA!).

Mango’s set-list, we must admit, has far more influence from our personal musical tastes, than that of our expected musical choice of previous employment. I like Louis Armstrong’s quote about music “There are two types of music – good music, and bad music. I just try to play the good stuff” which sums up nicely how Mango chooses which songs to cover. My favourite quote from a past Bride described us as ‘Simply Magical’. We are happy with that style of music!

If you’re asked for a song do you work up an alternative version in your style or do you mirror the original as closely as possible?

“If the song chosen is for a first dance, we stick to the same tempo and structure just incase the couple practice their dance at home, or even have choreography to it (we often see this!) But, if the song is to be played for walking down the Aisle, we can slow the tempo down if we feel that’s the right thing to do for the song. Making it emotional, memorable, and simply trying to create a lovely atmosphere with live music is always on our mind whenever we play, but especially during a Ceremony.

Walking back down the Aisle as a married couple, it’s nice to have a livelier song as guests are often clapping and cheering – so smiles all round if we are singing a livelier, happy song for this part. Charlie and I often learn a song we have never heard before separately, then come together and play through it with harmonies, structure and dynamics all in place. I guess this has come from years of practice, but we do feel we can just ‘Mango’ any song – if that makes sense!”

How do you involve shy crowds?

“We happily describe our style as relaxed, almost background music. As we tend to play during the daytime of a Wedding, we aim to create a nice atmosphere of live music where people can sit back, have a chat and a catch up with family and friends, or watch and listen to us if they wish.

We never demand the limelight or play at a volume where people can’t talk to each other. We leave that for the big bands and DJ’s! If we are booked to play during an Evening Reception, we always suggest that we start the evening, and then have a DJ take over from us, so guests can have a good dance.

We always introduce ourselves and say hello, and offer to take song requests and generally have a nice little relationship with any audience. We particularly enjoy playing songs, and seeing people trying to work out what the song it is.”

What kind of backup plan do you have for any kit malfunction?

“We have excellent kit, so so far, no problems! However, we do have spares and alternative set-ups should something go wrong. Very worst-case scenario (i.e. a power cut) – we sing loud and strum hard!

Mango Acoustic Duo - Image Copyright of Alan Law Photography
Image Copyright of Alan Law Photography

What’s your policy in case of illness?

“Being self-employed Musicians – ‘The show must go on’ as they say. We have both over the years had the odd cold, flu, voice loss etc but we just get on with it and do our job. We’ve never cancelled a booking due to illness in our 17-year Professional Musician status, but again in a worst-case scenario we would find an alternative duo that were available and offer them as a replacement, and a full refund of course!”

Can prospective clients get to see you live before their wedding?

“Mango Acoustic Duo attend lots of Wedding Fairs all year round, where the dates are announced on our Facebook Events page. This is a great time to meet us and request a song or two for us to play live. For most cases though, people are happy to book us based on our videos, demos and website information, and any questions can be discussed over the phone/email before committing to booking us.”

What are your favourite wedding venues in terms of layout and acoustics?

“The beauty of having a great PA system and equipment is that we can adjust our sound to suit a room. If we are in a Church or large empty room, we don’t need much reverb, and just enough volume to carry our sound. In smaller, carpeted and draped rooms, we need to add more reverb and effects to stop us sounding to dry and harsh. We are always aiming to be just right no matter what the room – not too loud and not too quiet.”

Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories to share?

“Many! But due to these involving past clients, we best keep quiet! We often joke that we could write a book with all the funny things we see and hear at Weddings. That goes for the Wedding Suppliers we see too!”

Mango Acoustic Duo - Image Copyright of Ed Brown Photography
Image Copyright of Ed Brown Photography

Any tips for couples looking for a musical act for their wedding? No limit to the tips – the more the better!

  • Do your research.
  • Whichever Band or Musicians you choose to book, make sure they are reputable, professional, quality musicians that know what they are doing. You might come across the best sounding band in the world but if they are unprofessional and unreliable, it would really put a damper on your big day if they turn up late, or their equipment breaks. We regularly get asked to step in last minute when couples get let down by their supposed ‘professional’ wedding band, but we are rarely available to help. Videos, demos, many testimonials, set-list and photos of a band playing at Weddings would be the minimum you should expect to see on a bands website.
  • Don’t use an Entertainment Agency.
  • Firstly, because there really is no need to use an Agent anymore. You don’t need to pay 20%+ extra on top of a Bands fee when you can simply search for Wedding Bands yourself. Any professional Wedding Band will have a website with videos, setlist, photos testimonials etc where you can base your decision on whether to book them or not. After 17 years in the Industry though, we have been appalled by literally dozens of Agencies that take huge chunks of commission (even charging clients double what we’ve quoted).
  • We’ve also found that Agencies seem happy to get any old band a booking, even if they are totally unsuitable for the event. During the days that we did take bookings through Agencies, we would often find that we were trying to entertain 200+ guests with our little Duo… something we would have advised our clients that we weren’t suited for, and to book a bigger band! Plus the old Agency trick of selling his or her own Band first. We also found that miscommunication would also often occur – even the very Wedding Date! So, unfortunately, our opinion is based on years of direct experience, disappointment, and disbelief of what they charge their clients on top of our fee. You may be able to guess – we no longer use Entertainment Agencies and love dealing directly with our clients, as many Professional Bands nowadays do.
  • Find a band you love.
  • It’s your big day, and the music choice should reflect this. If you are not a String Quartet sort of person, or don’t like the idea of a really cheesy wedding band then look around at what else is available to you. Look at a bands setlist and see if that’s the kind of music you like too. Most bands (including us!) are happy to have a setlist selected by a bridal couple beforehand – and it’s always nice to know that we are playing the exact music that a Bridal couple wants to hear.
  • Consider Daytime Wedding Musicians.
  • It’s not just about the evening reception, daytime live wedding music can be during the Wedding Ceremony itself, Drinks Reception or Wedding Breakfast. All fantastic times to have the unmistakable sound of live music to create a lovely atmosphere for your Wedding day.

We are Mango Acoustic Duo.

If we can help at all with any questions you might have, please do get in touch.