How to: Music Appreciation

Tips for booking the right act for your wedding

Forget the old band-versus-DJ dilemma. Now, savvy aisle-walkers are
considering fresh musical options — a salsa band, steel drum players, a band and a DJ, an iPod playlist. Check out our six tips for navigating today’s myriad melodies, because finding the right musical entertainment is, well, instrumental to a perfectly pitched Big Day.

1. Dare to be different …

Not only did Mt. Airy’s Kate and Jim Gaio hold their avant-garde reception at a bowling alley (and dole out donuts from a Krispy Kreme truck in lieu of traditional favors), they also marched to the beat of their own drum when choosing wedding day tunes. “We were so sick of attending wedding after wedding with the same sort of music,” says Jim. “They were all cookie-cutter. We didn’t see the point of going out of our way to make our wedding different, if we were only going to make it the same in the end.” Instead, the couple hired Wyncote rockabilly (a rock ’n’ roll/hillbilly-country hybrid) band Gas Money for the reception and compiled iPod playlists for a band member to play over the sound system between sets. “Rockabilly is just goofy enough that anyone can get into it. Right after their first set, I had a guy I didn’t even know come to me to say it was the best party he’d ever been to.”

Center City wedding planner Gina Sole, owner of the Wedding Planner, advises thinking about your theme and culture when trying to strike a unique note. “I did a Paris-themed wedding with an accordion player during the cocktail hour,” she says. “Or, for an Italian wedding, mandolin music is fun.” All of which makes for this priceless benefit: Of course you want your wedding to stand out from the rest, and who’s going to forget the shindig with the accordion player?

2. … but still entertain the masses.

Sure, this is your wedding, but five hours of tunes by your beloved ’80s hair bands — believe it or not — is not going to be fun for all of your guests. Instead, try to think of the kinds of songs that span age groups. “Seventies music is always a great go-to genre,” says Manayunk-based CTO World Entertainment president Carmen Tomassetti, as is “some rock music from the ’80s. But sometimes couples ask for songs that might not be appropriate, like ‘Stairway to Heaven’ or ‘Freebird.’ The goal is getting everyone to dance, right?”

Keep in mind that your favorite tunes might not always be right for the occasion. “If there’s a song that only you and your wife want to hear, you probably shouldn’t be playing it,” says Jim. “I’m a huge Grateful Dead fan, but we couldn’t have played them, because my five Dead Head friends and I would’ve liked it, but everyone else would’ve thought it sucked.”

Agrees MC Matt Ostroff of Philadelphia-based EBE Events & Entertainment: “To a certain extent, you need to separate your personal taste in music from what’s going to work. If I play ‘Respect’ at the right time during a wedding I can get everyone on the dance floor, but if I hear it in my car, I’m gonna turn it off.” (PS: You’ll thank us for this advice when you roll back that footage of Great-Aunt Ethel cutting a rug.)