Smokin’ Section, that is,one of the most exciting, professional and experienced bands you could choose. Everyone knows that the soundtrack to the wedding celebration is one of the most important elements of a really great party. We’ve all been to weddings that just didn’t work. Maybe we can’t figure out why, but we know it’s just wrong. The bride is introduced to the theme from “Rocky”…..great dance music happens…..during the salad course.  And it all ends with the bridesmaids singing along to that Meatloaf song…..ewwwww… You have put so much thought into you every detail of your wedding; it’s way too important sound like a frat party, and no; your friend from work toting an IPOD is not a good substitute for actual  music.

Great music that is well chosen and masterfully played can make all the difference between a party that unfolds gracefully and builds to a joyous pinnacle ora confusing, awkward block of time and sound.  I had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with Mike Kaplan, co-leader and saxaphonist for  the“Smokin’ Section”, and he gave me some insight into the things you should consider when you start to think about booking your music.

If you really enjoy music, you’ll immediately recognize the difference live music (as opposed to dead music….) will make at your celebration.   From the first note until the last applause,  a really good band will intuitively  play exactly what is needed at the right time, depending on what is appropriate for the different moments of the party. They’ll make sure that your ceremony is introduced with graceful processional selections that are perfectly coordinated with your attendants’ entrance. (While I love a good Pachelbel Canon as much as everyone else, and perhaps no other selection  is as recognizable shorthand for “the bride is here!, there are many other pieces that are just as appropriate.) You’ll recess  to an upbeat selection (how about the Beatles, “Gotta Get You Into My Life?  Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed”?) and enter your reception to music that is exciting and personal , not corny and cliche. 

And from the minute you enter your reception,  your musicians will be  at the controls!  They’ll keep a constant monitor on the tone of your party and play the tunes that will have everyone on the dancefloor  (or everyone relaxing over dinner).  A good bandleader (or two, like Mike and Pete) will be able to really read your guests and play exactly the right songs at the right times. And while no one may realize why your reception feels so perfect, the soundtrack will be the reason; a soundtrack that is created, tweaked and produced as the night unfolds.

Mike gave me so much great information about wedding music that I’ll need to sprinkle it over several other posts, (people who are seriously good about what they do can bring up details and ideas that seem teeny tiny to us outsiders, but they are the details that make all the difference).  But here are some bullet point tips to keep in mind as you search for bands.

-Make sure their song list is extensive. Your wedding will, no doubt, have a crowd that spans all ages and tastes, and there should be music that appeals to everyone.   An “all reggae” wedding  is better in theory than in reality….

-Check their references. Duh. Did they show up on time?  Did they remember your special requests? Did they look and sound like professionals?

-Hear them or watch videos of them performing at actual events. If you can see them at an event, do it.

-Make sure you have a good rapport with the leader or person you will be working with. Once you meet someone you trust, listen to their advice.

-Go over all the details about specific songs for the ceremony and introduction, and the timing for each, but give your band the leeway to do the best job they can.

And then, kick off the stilettos and enjoy!