Think about the weddings you’ve attended over the years. If you’re like most people, the weddings you remember fondly are not those at which the bride wore the most expensive gown or the ones that had the most exotic flowers, but those at which you were out on the dance floor having a great time.
Music can make or break your party; with the right music, guests are not likely to care—or notice—if their filet’s a bit tough. Here’s how to ensure your guests dance the night away.
• Determine a total budget and stick to it. Call DJs, musicians, and entertainment companies for ballpark prices. The going rate for a good DJ/MC package these days is $1,500 to $2,500 for four to five hours.
• Get referrals. Nothing beats good old-fashioned word-of-mouth recommendations. Ask friends, neighbors, colleagues which bands they liked and why.
• Skip the bells and whistles. For example, you can save a bundle by cutting back on computerized ambient lighting. Cut synchronized lighting and you’ll save an additional $1,500 to $3,000 or more.
• Create a “Do Not Play” list for your band or DJ. “I think it’s just as important as a play list,” says Jill Prince, president of Hal Prince Music and Entertainment in Rye Brook.
• Book your band and/or DJ at least six months before the wedding—sooner, if possible. “I recommend eight to twelve months before the date,” Prince says, “earlier if you have your heart set on a certain DJ or band.”
• Get a contract. Make sure there are provisions outlined and clauses included for unforeseen events (e.g., what happens if the band’s van breaks down or the DJ gets stuck in traffic?) “I have multiple CD players and equipment with me, and a back-up crew on call in case something goes wrong,” says Sergio Michilli, aka DJ Serg, owner of DJ Serg Entertainment.
• Rely on audio demos or sound bites. If you can’t see and hear a band live, at least get a demo that includes audio and video footage of the band and the guests at a wedding or similar celebration.
• Be afraid to bargain and negotiate; fees are not always etched in stone. “I’m always willing to negotiate,” says Michilli.
• Sacrifice quality for quantity. “People are asking for smaller bands,” says Prince.
The Wedding Music Go-To Guide
|AL SCATT’S STOLEN MOMENTS ENTERTAINMENT
Dobbs Ferry (914) 693-2309
|Ranges from a soloist to a 12-piece orchestra; also jazz, classical, calypso, and DJs||Starts at $5,000 for a 7-piece band|
|BOCK & BLU MUSIC
White Plains (914) 682-7078
|A 7- to 11-piece band specializing in rock, pop, and top 40||Starts at $4,500|
|CASTLE DREAM PRODUCTIONS
Bedford Corners (914) 241-9111
|String ensembles (popular and classical); jazz and pop bands also available||$500 per musician for a Saturday-night wedding|
White Plains (914) 948-0902
|Chamber music, classical, soloists, and ensembles (duos, trios, quartets)||Trios start at $710 for the first hour, then pro-rated|
|DJ SERG ENTERTAINMENT
Bronx, NY (718) 822-2731
|DJs and emcees||Ranges from $1,700 to $3,000|
|H&R MUSIC, INC.
Cortlandt Manor (914) 737-2925
|Hot Band New York plays R&B and funk; ensembles ranging from flutes and harps to small orchestras||Starts at $8,000 for the band|
|HAL PRINCE MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT
Rye Brook (914) 937-4700
|Musicians, bands, orchestras, DJs, emcees in styles from classical to contemporary||Bands start at $1,100 per musician; DJ packages start at $1,750|
|HARBOR LIGHTS MUSIC & PRODUCTIONS
Ardsley (914) 479-0077
|Bands, orchestras (from 6 to 26 pieces) in a wide range of genres.||Starts at $950 per musician for a Saturday-night event|
|JIMMY DEE MUSIC PRODUCTIONS
White Plains (914) 428-9231
|DJs, emcees, percussion players and bands||Starts at $1,500 for a DJ and emcee|
|MAGICAL MEMORIES ENTERTAINMENT
|DJs and emcees||Starts at $800|
|MAURA & CO.
Rye (914) 481-4138
|Jazz, classical, Celtic, music for Catholic and mixed religious ceremonies||Starts at $300, depending on the instrument(s)|
Croton-on-Hudson (914) 631-0052
|All types, including Middle Eastern, Latin, Klezmer, dance bands, reggae, and classical||Starts at $1,250 per musician, with an 8-piece band minimum|
|PERRONE BROS. ENTERTAINMENT
Yonkers (914) 237-5214
|Naked Soul, a 10-piece dance band, plays music ranging from jazz and swing to pop and rock; also DJs, emcees, jazz ensembles, specialty acts||Starts at $8,000 for Naked Soul; DJ packages start at $1,700|
Valhalla (914) 769-6013
|DJs and emcees||Between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on package|
Chief Copy Editor Carol Caffin has 20-plus years’ experience in the music business.