When Steve Blahitka stepped onto the stage at his wedding, guests -- who had traveled more than six hours to attend the destination wedding -- knew they were in for a treat. The groom sat at the band's drum set and played along to the song "Wipeout," taking on that crowd-pleasing drum solo. His high-school years of being the drum captain in the marching band gave him fabulous talent and experience with the song, and his family and many friends from high school who were in attendance cheered.
The personal performance by the bride or groom -- or the bride and groom -- is one of the biggest trends in wedding entertainment in this era of personalized weddings. If you can sing or play an instrument, you may be the highlight of the wedding, and your act may even be a surprise guest for your new spouse.
*Softer Music Welcome
Marcy Blum, wedding coordinator to the stars, says her favorite trends in weddings right now include both high-impact performances and mood-setting music. "I love background music," Blum says. "Perhaps a piano player and singer during dinner and no dancing between courses and then a great dance band kicks in after the main course." Though that is one trendy option to keep a relaxed mood during the dining hour of the reception, many weddings see guests enjoying the slow-dance music on the dance floor between courses and even for four or five songs after the main course has been cleared. With guests dressed in their finest, the extended slow-dance portion of the event allows for those closer, romantic dances.
Blum likes to use "out-there" entertainment during the cocktail hour. "We have been using Latin groups or Django Reinhardt (jazz guitar) sort of groups," she reports, which opens the opportunity to incorporate both your favorite world music or the sounds of your heritage into the slower, quieter portions of the wedding.
Call them classics, but the sounds of Motown -- as well as the hot top 40 songs of the present day -- raise the energy levels on the dance floor, and guests get to show off their moves. Regional favorites play a big part in song selection for the post-dinner hour, so in your local area, your crowd may respond best to country rock. Your guests' ages also bring in the fun. Why not have some jumping swing music so Grandma can show off her moves? It makes for a fabulous experience for guests when songs from several eras are masterfully mixed by the band or DJ.
Some people love their line dances, but others cringe at the first notes of "Electric Boogie." Remember that line dances may be fun for those on the dance floor who wish to participate, but they also can clear the dance floor of those who previously were having a great time and now wish to avoid the spectacle of dancing en masse.
However, if there are kids at your wedding, these line dances may be the only songs they enjoy dancing to. They're the songs they dance to at ballparks -- the "Cha-Cha Slide" and other choreographed numbers. Today's brides and grooms may hate line dances, but seeing the kids excitedly line up and dance to "Cotton-Eyed Joe" may end up actually being a fun portion of the entertainment hours -- even if dozens of guests took that time to head over to the bar to get fresh drinks.
"One of the most popular trends today is to engage professional dancers to get the party started," says Pat Canole, editor-in-chief of For the Bride magazine. "Since 'Dancing with the Stars' has taken a hold on the American public, everyone wants to think they can waltz like the stars. Not only are they entertainment at its best; they can interact with guests, too." The entrance of professional dancers in ballroom dance costumes of sequins and feathers excites the crowd. Spotlight dances allow these professionals to make the reception a show, and then guests join them and even dance with them to salsa music, the tango, etc.
Cultural dance performers are also in demand. Some couples hire troupes of Irish dancers, flamenco performers or other professional artists to pay homage to their heritages. And when the party begins to slow down at the end of the reception, a Spanish guitarist may be the performer to create the slower tempo needed to bring those slow-dancing couples back to the dance floor.
Blum says, "It's unusual and unexpected at weddings, but it works so beautifully because it's unexpected to have magicians at the cocktail party or silhouette artists or tarot card readers." These specialty entertainers provide excitement that may fit into a wedding's theme, and the artists provide a keepsake for guests to take home. You can bring in your interests or perhaps give a nod to some element of your love story, such as the tarot card reader you visited during an early date to a carnival -- the one who predicted that you would marry each other. The memories of your early dating days are fertile ground for discovering the perfect entertainment for your one-of-a-kind wedding day -- a celebration your guests never will forget.