After hearing that ultra-conservative talk-show host, Rush Limbaugh, hired way-more liberal musician, Elton John, to perform at his June 11th wedding in Florida got me to wondering "how do you pick o ut a band for your wedding reception?" Unlike choosing floral arrangements and tablecloth colors, picking reception entertainment is an area that many grooms want to have a voice. In fact, if there is a band that you really must have and it is a little out of the budget, it could even be a gift for the groom from parents and family. While Rush and Elton certainly sound like an odd pairing, we're pretty sure that the reported $1 million dollar fee probably set free any proverbial elephant in the room. Even though you might not have the big bucks to attract world-famous entertainment, there are still important steps to follow when selecting a band to play at your wedding according to MusicMates, an online musician referral service.
Select a musician to fit the audience, not your own interests. While the reception should reflect your personality, you also want to take into consideration the musical tastes of your guests if you want to keep them dancing all night. If you've got a lot of elderly relatives on hand, go with something more easy to the ears than a metal band. Or, if you have a room full of urban, socialite types, country music might fall flat.
Discuss the "playlist" with the band. When meeting with the band, inquire about what songs they plan on playing at your wedding. You don't want to be disappointed if your favorite tune of all time is overlooked. Also, are they willing to learn a special song that is near and dear to your heart or go corny and play "The Chicken Dance?"
Get written references and recommendations. Just because they play awesome music doesn't necessarily translate into great gigs. Follow up on their written references and recommendations to see how the other brides and grooms felt about their performance.
Visit a live performance before hiring. Even if you love the bands music that you've downloaded to your iPod, make sure to view a live performance to get a vibe for their stage presence. Do they have short sets and long breaks, that may not work if your guests plan to whoop it up non-stop on the dance floor. Are they too "wild", gesticulating or encouraging a mosh-pit, grandma wouldn't like that. Have the band pre-sign copies of their CD that you can give as groomsmen gifts.
Get a back-up plan. Even though the band's references may be top-notch with past grooms saying that they showed up on time and didn't bale, you still want to have a plan "B". Things happen ---car accidents, sicknesses, band breakups -- and you need to have alternate entertainment lined up in the unlikely event that the band doesn't make it. You can put another less-experienced band on stand-by, or line-up a DJ to act as a substitute.
Feed the talent. Invite the band members to partake in the wedding buffet, even if they're not the starving-artist types. This gesture shows hospitality on the part of the bride and groom and the feeling that you really want to include them in your special day. Satisfied stomachs should result in a pleasing performance!