The Charlottesville Wedding Blog

How to Choose Your Wedding Entertainment

Wedding entertainment is a huge factor to consider in the wedding planning process, & it should be given due consideration sooner rather than later! Because admit it: more often that not, your guests will not be able to recall the theme of your wedding cake or your beautiful centerpieces, but they will remember gettin' down without a care with all the new friends they've made. And you will never forget seeing all of the most important people in your world dancing together as if they've known each other for ever. Or… you'll remember how the wedding ended at 10:30pm…

Seriously, though, there's a lot to consider, starting with the big one: wedding band versus DJ? While there are certainly pros & cons to both wedding bands & DJs, it's hard to bring a party to life the same way live music can. Still, even once you've decided this, there are so many more questions: a harp player or a blue grass band? Should the ceremony music be the same as the reception? What style of band is best for all wedding guests? To avoid becoming overwhelmed, consider your vision for the wedding reception… You know you've always had at least a semblance of one. Close your eyes & imagine it. Talk it out. Different visions call for different music: a soothing acoustic set would be perfect for a casual daytime garden reception, while a rollicking variety band has something for everyone & can set the tone for an unforgettable dance party.

While these are heady questions, fear not: Charlottesville brides-to-be have an incredible resource for their wedding entertainment needs, and that is Sam Hill Entertainment. Sam Hill got its start booking Charlottesville wedding bands in 1995, & were met with such great success that they now book over a thousand weddings a year up & down the Southeast & Midwest. Their awesome website lists all their bands & features unique & honest descriptions, as well as song lists & sound bites, & allows you to browse by music style. Don't worry, you won't find cheesy or cliché bands here - they just don't have them. Sam Hill prides itself on focusing on bands that are exceptional, for one reason or another - it could be their exceptionally high musicianship or their charisma in front of a crowd - but all Sam Hill bands have that something that sets them apart from the pack & makes them a "Sam Hill band." We encourage brides-to-be looking for wedding bands to start early & at Sam Hill's website; as you listen, you can add bands to their "Bands I Like" feature, which makes them easy to find when you come back to the site. Once you're ready with a few of your favorites, the knowledgable music agents at Sam Hill know exactly how to help you find your dream band: the bride simply needs to inform them of the wedding date, budget, & what she & her groom have in mind musically. Sam Hill will compile a list of eligible bands along with song lists & soundbites.

Additionally, keep these things in mind:

  • Consider hosting a "listening party" with your trusted friends & family once Sam Hill compiles some bands for you. You'll want to be sure these folks are as excited about your party as you are.
  • Confirm that the band can play a little something for all of your guests, from your 13-year-old cousin to your grandparents.
  • Make sure the band can play your favorite songs & especially your wedding song! Even if they can't right now, ask if they are willing to learn it - just make sure you like their rendition, & know that this might mean they will charge extra.
  • Besides making sure they can play the songs you want, be sure they also will not play the songs you don't want. "Do not play" lists are very important - I went to a wedding where the groom's mother thought she was doing something sweet by requesting the band play one of her favorite romantic songs, only to learn later it was the bride's song with her first husband… and the groom knew it.
  • It might be possible to see some of the bands live - find out so you can see if they're really your style!
  • Talk to them about your wedding's dress code - you'd hate to be disappointed when your awesome band shows up to your black-tie event in Hawaiian t-shirts (I've seen it happen).
  • Don't forget to tip them! Especially if they've learned some songs for your wedding specifically.
  • Last but certainly not least, make sure there is ample space at your wedding venue for your band to set up & your guests to dance. If you want an outdoor reception, is the band equipped for that? Is there any equipment that you'll need to rent, or will it be provided by your venue or the band?

Beyond the Music

There are lots of other great ways to add fun & variety to a wedding reception besides music. Our friends at MS Events offer an old-fashioned wedding photo booth, with unlimited photos AND props! Imagine the hilarious wedding scrapbook you can put together of your favorite people being silly & enjoying themselves.

For something really unique & incredible, check out Scintillation, a fire troupe based in Charlottesville. Scintillation, performed at Christin & Adam's wedding & not only were their guests completely blown away, but the couple says it was one of the best things about the whole reception. They couldn't have imagined how awesome it would turn out.

Why not go all out? Your wedding photos will thank you! How 'bout a hot air balloon? Mechanical bull? The possibilities are endless! An incredible Indian wedding at Castle Hill Cider brought in an elephant for their Big Day, & my, did it add a majestic look!

Thanks so much to Jack Looney Photography, Jen Fariello, & Will Kerner Photography for these gorgeous photos!

For more help deciding on wedding entertainment, check out our resource on Charlottesville wedding bands & our Other Entertainment category for even more fun!

Need more ideas or advice or wedding planning tips? Borrowed & Blue has you covered!

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