Erik Marshall of Hank Lane Music

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Courtesy of Hank Lane Music

For thirty years, Hank Lane Music has provided musical entertainment at weddings and special events, performing at the weddings of celebrities like Vera Wang and Donald Trump. Here, partner Erik Marshall gives his advice on how to hire a band for your wedding. —Kathryn Papanek

When shopping for a band to perform at their wedding what should couples look for as either a good sign or a bad one?

Couples should look for an experienced set band from a reputable organization that only performs at weddings and private parties. Bands that perform in bars and clubs tend to work with a predetermined "set list" of music. Bands that are successful at private parties will read the guests' responses to various types of music and tailor their playlist based on what the guests are enjoying. The band should be professionally equipped and properly attired. They should be...

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members of the musicians' union and be able to play a wide range of music styles.

Are do-not play lists just as important as playlists?

Both are equally important. There are so many great songs and musical tastes are very personal. However, your play and do not play list should not...be too extensive. Long lists can limit your band leader's ability to read the crowd and ensure that all of your guests are dancing.

What questions should couples ask potential bands?

They should ask how long the band has been together, if they have the proper insurance, what kind of breaks they usually take, if they can learn special requests and what backup plans they have for emergencies.

How should a bride go about choosing songs for the father-daughter/mother-son dance and first dance?

Couples should ask their music representative or band leader for recommendations of special songs. Songs from classic artists are always a good choice. Our company Web site has a list of popular requests for all categories.

You like classic music, and your fiancé loves rap. How can you choose a playlist that will make everyone happy?

An experienced band leader is able to interject the right song at the right time and keep the dance floor full. Hire the right person, give him or her an idea of your taste and then trust the band to do their job.

BONUS: Some weddings have dinner first and then dancing, while others have dancing in between courses. Is one format really better than the other?

Both formats can work very well. When hosting a sit down dinner before dancing, it is important to have proper background music that will entertain your guests, but will not be too loud as to interfere with people's conversations.

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