FranklinIs Connected

Entertainment 101

Branding Agency Franklin TN banner

Entertainment 101

By Matthew Shearon

Every couple dreams about a wedding unmarred by mistakes, feuds or food poisoning. They envision guests arriving in good spirits. The dress will be elegant, the bride beautiful, the groom handsome, the ceremony flawless.

But what about after? What will be the encore to the perfect ceremony?

One of the first of many steps in preventing a tonal disaster at your wedding may require a certain degree of snobbery. Everyone wants to help Cousin Daryl from one of the Dakotas in his climb to hip-hop greatness, but not at your wedding! Your sister’s friend tried out for American Idol, but never made it on, that is why she should not play at your wedding. Uncle Norman would love to DJ your reception, but his experience only includes a junior high Sadie Hawkin’s back in ’98.

These options might look extreme to those of you who are just sitting down to your first cup of non-fat chai latte on the first day of your engagement. But trust me, by the time you begin planning your wedding entertainment, something out of the ordinary will pop up, and unless it fits into your dream wedding, strike it down.

Taking the first steps…

Sometimes hiring a friend or a family member will work. You might be able to save a few dollars by doing this, and by all means, if that person has good reputation and you feel comfortable with them, then pull the trigger.

But I still think a reputable band or DJ is your safest bet. Sure these guys might cost more than Daryl or Norman … but they do for a reason. You want to hire a band or DJ with wedding experience, whose music you enjoy. There are many live bands and DJs in the Nashville area who fulfill these requirements.

Band or DJ?

Prices for many bands might be a little higher than those for a DJ, but you should expect to pay at least $1,000 no matter what. If your reception begins with a meal or cocktail hour, then hiring a smaller band or a section of a larger one would be perfect for the first hour or so until the real party starts.

Live bands will work with your tastes, but keep in mind that they are not walking MP3 players. A band might not be able to play a certain song, which is why you should tell them your song list months in advance. Most maintain a wide range of songs that span at least three or four genres (from oldies, soft rock, Motown and jazz). And most come to put on a great show and aim to please.

On the other side of the coin, an excellent DJ has the ability to read the flow of the party and the mood of the guests. He or she will know when it is time to put on the James Brown or “Endless Love.” Here again, go with a well-established DJ that maintains a reputation for pleasing clients. And do not expect “dirt cheap” prices. You get what you pay for, and a good DJ is worth every penny.

What to remember

Your taste and vision remain paramount in this process. If you plan on a quieter, formal atmosphere for your wedding reception, then go with chamber/orchestral musicians, a jazz quartet or a string section. Surprisingly, the prices are competitive with the live bands and DJs. A more formal, classic approach might be perfect for the guests on your list who prefer to chat rather than boogie.

Most bridal consultants are excellent resources for entertainment ideas and contacts. They can help plan the reception and know who to call for the most appropriate melodies. Consultants also know what will work in smaller places and what will work in spacious ballrooms. They also keep you on track throughout the day and know that you want some time to party as well (not just pose for picture after picture).

If you think the above recommendations lean more toward the less-adventurous side then you’re correct. Sure, go hire a mariachi band or a Caribbean steel-drum line. The entertainment options have no end. You yearn for a unique, one-of-a-kind reception that sets your wedding apart from every other wedding in the history books. That’s fine.

But as I mentioned earlier, I’m recommending the safe bet. Hiring local professionals should not be viewed as lacking creativity, but rather strategically planning a successful, memorable reception (one remembered for all the right reasons).

The Tennessee Wedding and Events Specialists Association Web site continues to be a perfect resource for those planning their special day.

Photographs by David Wright Photography