When you first think of music at a wedding, your mind might drift to a bride or groom's ceremony processional or a group of people in black-tie attire on a dance floor jumping up and down as a live band or DJ plays "Shout." What you might not immediately think about are the other melodies running through the wedding festivities, but these are equally as important. From the second guests arrive to the end of the evening, there are plenty of other moments when special musical experiences can add to the overall experience of the day. "On wedding days, we love working in special entertainment during transition periods," share planners Bianca Hall and Erica Vanco of Estera Events. "It sets such a great tone to have unique entertainment lining the way as guests are moving between ceremony to cocktail hour, or from cocktail hour to dinner, and is a great talking point for the rest of the evening."
Not only can you weave unique performances throughout the day, but there is also a trend to keep dancing into the night (and past local ordinances) with silent discos. Thanks to headsets that keep noise levels to an almost unnoticeable decibel, the music can continue on without worry that the after-party could be shut down.
Want to bring some more music into your wedding celebration? Ahead, we chat with a few wedding pros on how to incorporate these unique elements into day's timeline.
Meet the Expert
- Bianca Hall and Erica Vanco are the co-owners and lead planners of the Chicago-based wedding planning company Estera Events.
- Jordan Kahn is the founder of the Jordan Kahn Music Company, a luxury entertainment company with bands, immersive experiences, and celebrity liaisons for events.
- Matt Nasby is the president of Bouquet Sound, an award-winning DJ and entertainment group based in California.
How to Incorporate Musical Experiences Into Your Wedding
There's really no time during your wedding that you can't have music playing—well, apart from when you're saying your vows. That said, you and your partner will want to choose music that feels reflective of you as a couple and works with the overall mood you are trying to set at a certain stage of the day. Music can absolutely shift the environment, whether it's creating a calm atmosphere for conversation or a high-energy moment for dancing and celebration. The moment after you say "I do," a walk between the ceremony and reception spaces or cocktail hour can be excellent moments to bring in performers. Hall and Vanco note, "String musicians set the tone for a high-end and romantic experience and working in cultural entertainment, such as mariachis, are a great way to nod to family traditions!"
While you might have your band or DJ cover music at the reception, Hall and Vanco say that is another great time to bring out a special act. "We love incorporating ambient entertainment into the dinner portion of the evening," they explain. "Our favorite ever was when we brought in acrobats to perform during dinner. It was a quick 15-minute set while salads were being cleared and entrées served, but it was so impactful and kept guests entertained during what might typically be a lull in the evening." Couples can work with their planner—who likely will have connections with different live musicians in the area—or do their own research and find unique acts to bring a unique energy to their day.
Want to bring out a major headlining performer to your wedding? "There are so many levels of these types of performances, and so many details that go into them," shares Jordan Kahn of Jordan Kahn Music Company. "We’ve done events like this with John Mayer, NeYo, Cindi Lauper, the Counting Crows, Chic, Toby Keith, Earth Wind & Fire, and many more. Prices for artists can range from the tens of thousands to over $5 million." Hiring a celebrity headliner requires some serious legwork, though. "You need to find an musical performance expert who knows how to negotiate with the artist agent, how to manage the needs and expectations of the artist, and to scale the artists expectations to fit within the realistic boundaries of a private wedding event," advises Kahn. "Typically an expert like this will charge a production/management fee to produce the performance at your event. Most importantly, they should be able to handle a smooth transition to get this artist on stage on time, and then off again, so that the party may continue!"
How to Organize a Silent Disco
If you know you want to keep the party going late into the evening, a silent disco is a great option. The best part about one? "It keeps the wedding from shutting down early," shares Matt Nasby, president of DJ and entertainment group Bouquet Sound. "It provides more time to enjoy yourself on one of the best days of your life alongside your closest friends and family that are there with you until the end of the night."
A silent disco is an event where people dance to music streamed from a DJ or device onto personal wireless headphones.
So, how do you make this late-night dance party happen? First, make sure you have your logistics down. You can rent or purchase headphones online yourself, and coordinate with your DJ to cast music into them at a certain point of the night. However, it's helpful to work with an entertainment company that has experience working with silent discos, and can bring their own sound tech and supplies. While some people like to do silent discos at a separate after-party space, one of the perks of this musical experience is it can keep you at the reception venue later than local noise ordinances might normally allow. Nasby explains that transitioning from loud amplified music to a silent disco requires finesse. "The trick is to do it in stages depending on how many guests you have," shares Nasby. "Let's say we have 150 guests and everyone is really enjoying the dance floor. Music is to be completely off by 10pm."
"At 9:30 p.m., have all headsets on a table on, with music at full volume on each individual headset. We want guests to have immediate satisfaction wearing it," he says. "Pass them out to guests at 9:40 p.m. At 9:50 p.m., turn down outside volume to 20 percent when all guests have headsets. At 9:55pm, turn down outside volume another 20 percent and make an announcement, 'We go silent in five minutes!' Then at 10pm, go silent and DROP Vegas style 128bpm high energy music and get everyone on the dance floor ready to pump and jump!"
While the music is silent, Nasby notes that you should be aware of other noises the dance party might create. "Guests love to sing along so if there is a very strict sound ordinance, the DJ needs to be aware to stay away from sing-along tracks as voices carry and can still cause early shut down with disgruntled neighbors."