Allison Cozzini to John Nick Gaetano
200 guests at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago
The search: Our wedding was in a different state, so I did a lot of prescreening of bands from home. We narrowed it down to two and met with each band in person; one stood out because they were more contemporary, which is what we were looking for.
The choice: The Ken Arlen Orchestra. We also booked Sirens, a band of "rock violinists," to perform with the orchestra, which expanded the band size to 15 pieces. I knew this would stand out and make an impression on our guests. They were seriously amazing—guests were taking about the music all night.
The instructions: We made a "do not play" list of songs as well as a short "must play" list of only four tunes, and left the rest up to them. We felt it was important to give just a few guidelines and let the band feel out the crowd and play what they felt would work at each moment. Surprisingly few songs are actually played at weddings, so having 30 "must play" songs won't work.
The results: We'd requested a couple songs, for our first dance and cakecutting, that the band didn't know, and they learned them for us. I had also asked to hear none of the "same old wedding music" and was truly blown away by their creative repertoire. We actually ended up extending the party by an hour because we were having so much fun.
The memorable moment: John Nick plays bass, so he got up with the band and played two songs. Everyone went crazy—it was definitely one of the highlights of the night.