6 Live Entertainment Commandments for Your Same-Sex Wedding

When you envision your wedding day, do you see yourselves walking down two aisles to the sweet strains of a solo violin? Do you imagine a serenade as you exchange vows, or dancing the night away while a club-worthy cover band performs encore after encore? Live entertainment can take many forms and is an increasingly common choice to fill a variety of needs at weddings. While bands, combos and soloists are guest favorites, they do come with a host of additional requirements that need to be addressed before your wedding day. Educating yourselves now about thes special needs of gay wedding entertainment will help ensure your entertainment experience is as smooth and enjoyable as you both deserve.

1. Know Live Entertainment Isn’t Out of Your Reach

 Conventional thinking may lead a budget-sensitive couple to believe that some kinds of entertainment are just too expensive.  There are live performance options for all couples, however. Student groups from local universities are often talented and economical, and full choirs or ensembles from places of worship will sometimes perform for a donation. Protect your event by choosing musicians coordinated by a professional such as a faculty member, choir or band director and exclusively consider performers who are willing to provide audition material and verifiable references. 

2. Be Aware of Special Contract Considerations 

If this is the first time you have contracted with a live performer, you should be aware that there are sometimes unforeseen costs and responsibilities associated with entertainment agreements. Not intended as hidden or misleading, these costs are simply practical realities of operating expensive equipment at different event locations and in various conditions.

Read your contract carefully. For example, common requirements by ceremony musicians include a reliable source of full shade and a dry performing surface in close proximity to a loading zone. If your wedding is on a mountain top or wave-side at the beach, you may have to rent a small tent, and even provide some type of flooring or walkway to fulfill these requests. Some stringed instruments are susceptible to damage not only in rain, but when heat or humidity reaches certain levels, so you may find an that there is an acceptable weather or temperature range prescribed in the agreement. Your priority on the wedding day is the celebration of your union. Your musician, however, has an additional responsibility to maintain the integrity of the tool of his or her trade. Be aware that depending on your contract stipulations, your musicians may refuse to play if conditions fall outside of their requirements. Have a plan to either prevent this from happening, or to replace the music with an acceptable alternative in the worst-case scenario.

3. Be Prepared to Fulfill Your Entertainment’s “Rider”

Most live band contracts are issued with “riders,” or a list of additional requirements that must be fulfilled in addition to payment. Some riders are simple statements of the space required for set up and the power needed to operate equipment. Others are considerably longer and include meal requirements, parking reimbursement mandates, early admission to your venue for setup, a dressing room, a stage or riser, overnight accommodations or monetary consideration for travel over a certain distance. It’s critical that you read the rider, discuss the provisions with your planner, venue and caterer and then discuss how each need will be met, preferably before you sign your contract. Some entertainers are flexible about their riders, and others are extremely stringent, so understand your agreement before irreversibly committing yourselves financially.

4. Know Your Role (And Be Sure Your Entertainment Knows Theirs)

Will your band emcee your reception if you decide to include introductions, toasts, or other formalities? Will your soloist set up a single microphone or lapel microphones for you to use during the ceremony? What time must you end loud music at your venue? It is better to explicitly cover expectations than to be surprised on the wedding day.

If a band member will act as emcee, find out how he or she would like to receive the names of your wedding party, and provide a phonetically spelled, large-print list both digitally and in print. If you’re not working with a wedding planner, designate a point of contact who can tell the band when you’re ready to move on to the next event, ask for sound adjustments and keep the performers advised of any itinerary changes or adjustments.

It’s helpful to put your venue manager in touch with your band, so sound and power logistics, local regulations, site policies and other considerations can be hashed out before the wedding day. Effect an introduction early, and ask to be kept in the loop as the two communicate about your event.

6. Choose Gay-Friendly Entertainers 

As with all of your wedding professionals, talk to your booking agent or representative candidly before making your deposit and be certain that your performers are supportive of your relationship. Gay-friendly musicians will not only entertain your guests, but will offer you the respect you deserve on your special day. 

Photo courtesy of Silver Arrow Band

Although I've spent the last decade riffing on everything from suburban politics to race in media, documenting love stories as content manager of GayWeddings.com definitely takes the cake. A proud alumna of Howard University's journalism program, I've written for Parents.com, The Huffington Post, xoJane and Essence magazine. When I'm not writing, I'm debating the merits of Drake, obsessing over frozen yogurt or plotting my next international adventure. I want to feature you on GayWeddings.com! Always feel free to drop me a line at community [at] gayweddings.com to share your engagement, wedding and love stories.