After setting the date, choosing the venue and planning the menu, the next item on the agenda of any bride-to-be should most certainly be the entertainment. From Here Comes the Bride to The Electric Slide, a talented wedding musician can seamlessly guide guests through the events of your special day without missing a beat.
While everyone can certainly appreciate a nice wedding band (now that has a nice ring to it!), a Disc Jockey is likely to have a deep catalogue of offerings that can appease both the young and the young at heart, with the added bonus of affordability. Clever ways of cutting costs can be tempting when you’re planning a wedding on a budget, but be warned that a friend, relative or even a DJ from the club is not always the best choice. As simple as it seems, even a friend handling a Spotify list can go horribly wrong with the touch of a button. If you decide to go with a friend or lesser known band, make sure that they practice, practice, practice ahead of time. They need to have their set list down, equipment ready and arrive with plenty of time to set up (five hours lead time is not unreasonable).
Many couples opt for a live musician for the wedding ceremony and then switch gears for the reception, hiring a professional DJ. After you’ve decided on your theme (chic, beach-y, country, jazzy, classical or casual), here are a few things to keep in mind when interviewing potential entertainers:

How much experience do you have? Referrals are a key part of this process. You want someone who has been in the game long enough to know how to read a room, create an atmosphere and reach out to those “chair dancers” to make sure everyone gets out on the dance floor at least once.

Will you emcee? Hiring someone who agrees to emcee means your guests will know what’s happening next and ensures they won’t miss events like the bouquet toss or cutting the cake. Making announcements and guiding guests through transitions of the night makes all the difference. Your emcee will want to go over name pronunciations and announcements ahead of time. Also make sure your emcee comes dressed for the occasion, since he or she will likely be a key focal point.

Fun ideas to lighten the mood? Laughter is a great way to release stress and help people unwind. A good entertainer might have a few tricks to ensure the mood stays upbeat and fun. A quick round of bride/groom trivia and the ever popular “Shoe Game” are clever ways to keep things exciting.

Do you take requests? If so, make sure they use polite discretion and that their music is all edited. You don’t want to set off any pacemakers! Some couples create a “Do Not Play” list. It’s your night, and you only get one chance to make it perfect, so why take any chances? Make sure your entertainers know many different types of music, and the appropriate times to play it. “You want floor-fillers, not floor-KILLERS,” says local New River Valley DJ Rick Pruett.

What time will you arrive? Even pros who’ve been in the business for decades know the benefits of arriving early to set up and iron out the kinks. There can be unexpected issues.

How late will you stay? Mark Taylor at Master Taylor Entertainment has been a special events DJ for more than 20 years and says: “My goal is to be sure that when I’m calling the last dance, you’re asking me if I can play for another hour!”

In short, with the right entertainer at the helm, you can be sure your big day is filled with smiles and laughter. “Pay the cost to be the boss for one day,” Taylor says. In other words, put your money where it means the most by making sure everyone has a great time.


Fun song suggestions for the Father/Daughter dance:

My Girl by The Temptations
Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
The Way You Look Tonight
by Frank Sinatra
Stand By Me by Ben E. King
What a Wonderful World
by Louis Armstrong
Wedding music:

• pre-ceremony
• processional
• solo or special music or hymn
• recessional

Cocktail hour ~ the time between the ceremony’s conclusion and reception’s beginning, often when the wedding party and families are in photo sessions. It’s a mingling kind of atmosphere that promotes snacking and conversation, so the music should not be very loud or overwhelming in the space.

Reception music:

• background at first
• the married couple’s grand entrance
• first dance
• parent dances
• garter/bouquet toss
• meal or grazing time
• cake cutting
• party and dancing
• last dance



By Emily Kathleen Alberts

Emily Kathleen Alberts is a Blacksburg-based freelance writer who enjoys writing about science, technology, music, adventure and everything else under the sun.