As the great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Without music life would be a mistake.” The same could be said for a wedding. Music, especially in New Orleans, is the heart and soul of any event. To paraphrase another great philosopher, Madonna, “music brings the people together” as a key part of a wedding. Thanks in part to the growing popularity of non-traditional weddings, there are endless possibilities to insert just the right music and entertainment into your wedding day.

Individuality. David Storm of Omega Sound & Entertainment knows from his experiences that, “each bride and each wedding are very different.” This gives brides the opportunity to break from the mold of tradition and bring in her individual style.

Growing in popularity is including a violin into a ceremony or reception. The violin has, of course, been around for centuries and recently experienced a drastic makeover. Bands such as local duo Tonya & Dorise are turning the electric violin into the must have for any wedding. Brooke Casey with Southern Charm Weddings says she has been asked by many couples to find non-traditional bands that play everything from Louis Armstrong to Michael Jackson and that is exactly what you get with an electric violin. Adding a smooth jazz feel with an amp and an orchestra instrument to the sounds of Coldplay and Michael Buble brings endless possibilities to the couple and turns an ordinary ceremony up a notch.

DJ vs. Live Band. The age-old question brought up during planning is whether to hire a band or a DJ. Each brings distinctive components to any event; it’s all about finding the right elements to match with your wedding. With New Orleans being such a musically inclined city, a live band seems like a no-brainer; however, Storm notes that with the rise in popularity of a more dance club type atmosphere, brides are opting to go with a DJ. DJs bring that party atmosphere while offering the option to play almost any song one could think of, while a band brings the energy of live music and a more personal interaction. Casey remarked that more of the brides she works with are choosing both a DJ and a live band. This option is more conducive to an elastic budget, but brings the best of both worlds. Try a jazz or live band for the ceremony, cocktail hour and beginning of the reception ending with a DJ bringing the party atmosphere to pump up the vibe for the rest of the night.

Consider your audience and atmosphere. A bride knows her guests and what keeps them entertained. For a quieter or more formal setting, a DJ playing the latest Top 40 hits might seem loud and out of place. However, if the goal is to get everyone up, moving and grooving then a live band that can play the crowd or a DJ with a library of 75,000 songs, such as Omega Sound & Entertainment, is just the key. She also studies the location of the wedding and other festivities. Is your reception big enough for an eight-piece jazz ensemble? If not, then maybe a smaller band or a DJ would be a better option. In the end, it is ultimately up to the couple, but consider the size of your space and the personality of your guests to make sure everyone from 8-80 is having a great time.

Get your guests involved. Once you decide the perfect entertainment, whether a DJ or a full orchestra, get opinions from some of your guests. Whoever your entertainment for the evening may be, they will appreciate knowing the direction in which to take the party. A great way to gain this intelligence is incorporating it into your invitations or even at the reception itself. Put a line on the RSVP card or a table off to the side for guests to suggest a song. Once they hear their request, they’ll feel like they contributed to the success of the night.

When all is said and done, don’t do what’s popular or what anyone else tells you to; have the entertainment you want. Your favorite song, grandma’s best dance moves and the happiness you feel from music you care about makes a moment you’ll never forget.

Perfect Dance

Who better to suggest a first dance than the people who play the music? We asked a few New Orleans musicians to  share their favorite picks:

“You know, we actually have had a lot of fans come up to us and say that our song ‘I Just Knew’ was their first song. It’s extremely flattering and we’re honored that people would choose that for their wedding day.” – Tom Drummond, Better Than Ezra

In my opinion, the best, first dance song is “You and I,” by Stevie Wonder. I think it’s the most complete expression of romantic love that I’ve ever heard in a song. -Deacon John

Art Neville’s “All These Things,” a true New Orleans classic for any classic New Orleans wedding. Another great one would be Otis Redding’s “These Arms Of Mine,” which we played at New Orleans’ meteorological couple Dawn Brown and Jonathan Myers wedding in 2010. No one has yet to ask us to play Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” but we know people that have done it. -Mark Mullins, Bonerama

Citizen Cope’s “Sideways,” is the song my wife Maggie and I danced to on our first dance when we got married in March. It’s a beautiful song about how love can knock you off your feet. “Sun is Shining Down,” by JJ Grey and Mofro … really makes you appreciate what you have and that the small things are what really matter in life. ‘The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody, coming from an unlikely source this song is about what it takes to really love somebody and the joy it provides to your life. We do a version of it, and have had people ask us for a copy of it to use at their weddings. -Ed Williams, The Revivalists

I believe that one specific song, “Just the Two of Us,” is a really beautiful song for a wedding couple. Simply because there’s two people that are making a commitment to be together. – Gregory aka Moon, Rebirth Brass Band