New Orleans weddings set a high standard for festivity and fun. The romantic backdrop of the city is unrivaled and even spending just a few days here can provide enough fond memories to last a lifetime. When guests attend a wedding in the Crescent City, they expect top quality food and drinks — and they expect to dance. When couples get married here, they expect their nuptials to be the best day and night of their lives together. There are several important elements to consider while planning the occasion, but in a city that’s known for its vibrant music scene, a bride must put extra thought and consideration into the soundtrack for the event, for the ceremony itself, the reception and, in some cases, the post-reception party.
In the past several years, couples have been upgrading their audio service to ensure the best sound; there’s been an increased collaboration between DJs and bands, and some couples even ask their guests to contribute to the evening’s playlist of the evening. Often, to infuse more New Orleans flavor into the celebration, couples hire brass bands to perform during a second-line following the ceremony.
Troy Marks, lead singer of No Idea Band says the overall concept of wedding bands has changed dramatically over the years.
“The idea of a wedding band used to be old guys who played traditional music,” he says. “If people said that about your band, it was almost like an insult.”
Now, though, there’s a sense of pride.
“I consider it honorable to be in a band and play at someone’s wedding,” says Marks. “We go out of our way to make it special and cool. It means something to me. There are a lot of bands out there now who know the industry equates to money so they’ll throw things together…Longevity means a lot. Do your research and make sure you’re not hiring someone that’s just there for the money.”
Marks group has been performing since the ‘90s.
“We have a lot of energy and that’s what really makes our band,“ he says. “[Musicians] approach it as, ‘We’re going to put on a show.”
Many couples still opt for their hired wedding musician or band to play a few sentimental tracks and classics, but Dalila Serauntine, lead singer
of the Groovy 7, says that cheesiness is definitely out.
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that brides don’t want to do bridal party dances,” she says. “They come to me and they say, ‘I don’t want anything cheesy. I don’t want line dances. “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Brick House” are out. “
Couples sometimes come to her with requests by indie musicians, so if asked her group also learns to play new material.
Marks and Serauntine both report that couples like to mix it up when it comes to reception music, opting for rock and roll as well as
“We get requests to play ‘Cake By The Ocean’[by DNCE] and the new Justin Timberlake song that’s everywhere,” says Marks, referring to the upbeat “Can’t Stop The Feeling.”
Country music has also become increasingly popular, both musicians note.
“It’s really been on the rise,” says Serauntine, who adds that it’s perhaps because of the “integrity of the lyrics. Eight out of 10 people want a country song or a classic R&B song or jazz song.”
Often brides, whether they are local or planning their destination wedding here, make requests to cover regional favorites, ranging from The Meters’ iconic “Hey Pocky Way” to DJ Jubilee’s bounce hit, “Get It Ready.”
Brides and wedding planners should also know that booking the music in advance is of utmost importance. Both Marks and Serauntine recommend booking their bands at least a year in advance, if not more.