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Seek musicians who can offer variety

Nick Foster

— Variety is key in choosing entertainment for a wedding reception, musicians and wedding planners say.

“It’s great to have a band that is strong in one particular genre, but it’s better to have the flexibility to play different styles that appeal to all,” said Jill Waldman of The Main Event, a wedding planning service. “Playing songs that people know can sometimes hit an emotional chord with them.”

Finding variety is easy if a couple chooses a disc jockey. Most DJs have a large collection of music that can appeal to all generations.

Dan Earp, a DJ for 10 years with Steamboat Music and Media Company, said he has a large collection of music, and more importantly, a knowledge of music and what is popular for multiple generations.

“The thing with a wedding is you have to please a diverse group of people,” Earp said. “Though they are there for the same reasons, you have kids, parents and grandparents. If you play hip-hop the whole time, the 20-somethings will be happy, and older people will wonder why they were left out. I tell people that the wedding DJ’s job is to make everybody included.”

Many people who hire DJs write down exactly what they want to hear song for song, but Earp said he usually tells them that’s not what he is going to do.

“I know what you need better than you do,” Earp said. “I say, ‘give me a couple of pages of what you want to hear, and I’ll incorporate that into the set.’ If you have any skill as a DJ, you’ll know better than what the groom says. You’ll know what it takes to drive the dance floor.”

Some people prefer DJs because of the lower cost compared to a live band, or because they play the original songs everyone knows, but Waldman said there is no substitute for live music.

“Most clients want live bands,” Waldman said. “It definitely adds a whole other dimension having live music rather than CDs playing. Even though there are a lot of DJs out there who emcee or have dancers, there really is no substitute for live music. You can’t duplicate live music.”

Local bands can typically be hired for as little as $1,000, regional bands from $5,000 to $10,000 and more popular, national and internationally known bands from $10,000 and up, Waldman said.

Some people may realize the benefit of pleasing everyone with a multi-genre band or DJ, but they may choose to have a more relaxed party, with a harp or guitar player or a folk singer. It just depends on what the bride and groom really want, said Mary Beth Norris, a flutist who has been a part of wedding music since she was a little girl.

Norris’ mother was a church organist who played at many weddings. Norris picked up the flute at age 8 and soon followed in her mother’s footsteps.

“(Choosing music) has a lot has to do with personal taste in music,” Norris said. “If they can find live music that taps into their personal taste and the environment they want to create, then that’s what they need. Live music has such a spontaneous touch, but I’ve had a great time with DJs as well.”


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