Have you ever mused about getting a celebrity to come to your wedding? It's totally understandable if you have. Over the years, celebrities like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Bon Jovi have all crashed the nuptials of us "normals", and seeing those stories in the news is bound to make a bride a little jealous. Who wouldn't want a celebrity wedding singer crooning at their reception?
Well, instead of just daydreaming about the possibility, consider hiring Rachel Dalton, whose namesake company specializes in getting celebrities at weddings, parties, and special events. We chatted with Dalton to get the inside scoop on how she makes these special appearances happen—and how you can score a celebrity to play your wedding (without being famous or royal yourself).
How Did You Get Started?
"I was an attorney—I still am. I always wanted to get into sports and entertainment law. I was told to get some good corporate [law] experience, and I did for a few years. Then I got a great opportunity to work at a company doing fantasy experiences with celebrities. That company went a different way, and I'd had a baby, and I decided I could do this myself from home. It's been about 17 years with my own company. It's a lot of fun, but I love that I can still use my law experience—I do all the contract work, negotiate the agreements, do all the research on talent, handle the rider agreements, tech details, travel, and I'm on set for the entire event. It's really turnkey from start to finish."
What's Your First Step When Working With Couples?
"Oftentimes, couples have a favorite singer or two, and then other [couples] will just say they have a certain amount in their budget and I can come up with a list of people in that budget who are available. They might want Taylor Swift and then when they hear her fee, they make other choices. Since I've been doing this for so long, I have relationships with all the agents, so I have a good sense of what people are charging and then I double-confirm it with the agent because artists are able to change their price at a moment's notice. From there, I am able to negotiate the best pricing—that's what sets me apart from my competitors. I don't charge any more for that."
What Have Been Some of Your Favorite Celebrity Wedding Appearances?
"I did one recently with Ne-Yo which was a lot of fun. He came and sang the first dance song, then he sang a couple of fun songs. I did something with a family who loved Air Supply. That was a lot of fun. I did a wedding for two gentlemen who love the Pointer Sisters, and that was a surprise for the guests. And I worked with Michael Feinstein for an older couple."
What Advice Do You Have for Couples Thinking About Booking Talent?
"They should get a sense of what their budget is for the whole event, then see how much they can allot for the talent. Once they have a sense of the budget, call me and I can help you figure out who would be a realistic option. If they're not going for the hottest artist right now, they might be surprised at the pricing—not everybody is in the million-dollar price range. I welcome clients with all budgets to come to me because we can often find the right fit."
"Maybe go the route of a DJ for the rest of the party, and allot the rest of the budget for a celebrity. Artists will usually play up to 60 minutes, but most couples only want about 30 minutes because they don't want to have the artist steal the show. I'm in favor of that as well—just a pop of entertainment during the night that doesn't take over."
What If the Couple Thinks Even a Short Celebrity Performance Will Steal the Show at the Wedding?
"There's a lot of ways this [service] can tie into the wedding process. I've talked to people about bringing in a celebrity chef for the wedding shower. All the events having to do with the wedding—shower, bachelor party, bachelorette party—are doable. We can even bring the bride-to-be's favorite celebrity to the proposal."
What Are the Benefits of Working With You as Opposed to Doing This Through an Event Planner?
"It's not something [event planners] do every day. It takes a whole other set of skills to deal with celebrity talent—something that's outside the scope of a typical party planner. They come to me because they know I know how to handle it. I am very passionate about what I do. I love my clients and I strive to really just make their experiences the most memorable, unique, special moments of their lives."