Take a moment to picture yourself at your wedding. Close your eyes and just listen. How will your wedding sound?

The music and entertainment are an important part of the wedding experience for the couple and the guests — it's the soundtrack to the day. That's why we've created this guide to hiring your wedding entertainment "- it will help you decide what you want, ask the right questions, and ultimately book the perfect performers for your one-of-a-kind event.

Setting…the mood

The first step in your search for entertainment should be talking with your spouse-to-be about the mood you'd like to have at your wedding. The setting plays an important role in this decision. Whether you're getting married in a church or a temple, on a beach or in your backyard, there are many choices for pairing music with place. Also, think about the different parts of the day — if you're going to have a ceremony, a cocktail hour, and a reception, you may have the chance to create three completely different moods.

Music and entertainment are a big part of this. For the ceremony, you might want a feeling of the ethereal — a soprano singer and a harpist could be great choices. For the cocktail hour, perhaps you want something jazzy in the background while people mingle and munch on hors d'oeuvres. For the reception, you may envision a rockin' dance party or a more elegant affair. Or, perhaps you want to inject a little humor into the event — an impersonator or a comedian could do the trick.

To get your wheels turning, below are the most popular types of entertainment chosen for each part of the wedding (I based this on the 25,000+ couples who have used GigMasters to book their wedding entertainment.)


Whether you're saying your vows on a mountain top or on a church alter, the music will complete the atmosphere. Popular performer types for ceremonies include: acoustic guitarists, harpists, classical ensembles, bagpipers, and other soloists like violinists, pianists, cellists, and singers.

Cocktail hours

After the ceremony, you might want to keep your guests entertained while the wedding party is busy with the photographer. Here are some of the most often booked performer types for cocktail hours: pianists, steel drum bands, acoustic guitarists, harpists, mariachi bands, jazz trios, classical ensembles, tribute acts (like Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley), and impersonators (like Elvis and Marilyn)

Receptions — from intimate to grand

Let's face it, your own personal taste in music may differ greatly from Great Uncle Fred's, but you still want all of your guests to have a great time. Whether the gathering is small or large, it's the music that makes it memorable. The most popular types of performers booked for receptions include: DJs, cover bands, 60's, 70's, 80's hits bands, big bands, Elvis impersonators, tribute bands (Frank Sinatra, Beatles, Bob Marley), mariachi bands, and blues bands.

The search is on

Thanks to the Internet, finding entertainment is a lot easier. But, how do you find the kind of entertainment worthy of your wedding? That's where we come in. (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) GigMasters can help you search 7,000+ performers of every style and genre, quickly leading you to the absolute best in your area. For each performer, you can listen to audio samples, watch videos, read past client reviews, look at song lists, see price history, and peruse photo galleries. This will help you significantly narrow down your choices.

Making contact

Once you have your short list (3-5 performers, or more if you have the time!), it's time to make contact. There are a number of standard, upfront questions you'll be asked when first making contact with potential performers — like the date and time of your event, the location and the venue for the ceremony and reception, and the length of time that you need entertainment . You should be prepared to provide that information so you can quickly determine if the performer is available for your date.

Of course, there are some important questions you should ask the performers on your short list:

  • Ask them to describe some of the weddings they've performed at recently.
  • How do they think their performance impacts the atmosphere?
  • What settings are the best for the style of music that they play?
  • Do they have a preference for a certain style or genre of music?
  • What size events do they typically perform at?
  • Discuss the price range for an event of this length.
  • Will they meet you at the venue the month before your wedding to walk through logistics and finalize any details?

At this point, a high-quality, professional performer will want to know your hopes and expectations for the big day. The first question 5-star performer, Sharon Planer of Pianist for Parties asks couples: "What type of atmosphere do you wish to create with the music?" Be sure you tell performers about the location of your wedding "“ indoor vs. outdoor is extremely important. Share with them the mood you envision for the whole day or during a specific part of the wedding. Find out how they can help you create that mood. Talk about your vision for special moments "“ like the ceremony, the processional, the first dances, the toast, the last dance.

Most importantly, ask yourself: how does each performer you speak to respond to the vision you described? Do they seem comfortable with your expectations? Do they genuinely seem like they want your day to perfect?

Many performers have seen A LOT of weddings. Use them as a resource — ask lots of questions, and be open to suggestions. A skilled entertainer is an invaluable resource, especially their ability to anticipate some of the things that just might be overlooked by a busy bride or groom-to-be!

And remember, when the day comes, pull your new spouse aside, close your eyes together and just listen.

Main Image: Undercover Costa Mesa, CA