Written by Danielle B., Bride
As my fiancé and I planned our Big Day, our biggest challenge by far was the wedding music: how could we be true to our personal musical tastes while making sure all 200+ guests had fun? More specifically, which songs would get everyone up and dancing?
We felt meh about every Philadelphia wedding DJ and band we came across. They were either too current for older guests or too by-the-book for our personal musical tastes.
Then I remembered The York Street Hustle.
The Perfect Live Band in Philadelphia
I had seen The York Street Hustle—a Motown cover band—years earlier, at World Café Live. It was one of the best live performances I’d ever been to. The audience was into it, rocking out and dancing to the covers.
A seemingly crazy thought crossed my mind: could we somehow book The York Street Hustle, a real Philadelphia band that plays real Philadelphia venues – i.e. not a “Philadelphia wedding band” – to play our reception music? This could be the perfect balance: 60s Motown and soul we love, but that all of our guests, young and old, would know, too.
I did some Googling and reached out to the band’s booking contact, Sean Timmons at Mole Street Artists. Not only did he help us align the band’s set schedule and song list to our reception schedule, he worked directly with the reception venue—one less thing we had to do in the busy weeks leading up to our wedding day!
So, how did it all turn out?
The Perfect Wedding Band for All Ages
Booking The York Street Hustle was by far the best wedding decision my husband and I made, second only to our decision to marry each other! We are still—a full year later—getting compliments on the band.
At least 75% of our guests were on the dance floor at any given time. Grandmas grooved, Baby Boomers cut a rug, our friends rocked out, and the preteens/teens even left their cell phones on the tables to dance for long stretches. The York Street Hustle’s amazing musicians play the kind of music everyone knows and loves, from Let’s Stay Together to Reach Out (I’ll Be There) to We Can Work It Out to Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
The band even agreed to learn a new song for us: James Brown’s Try Me. I will never forget the sound of their horn section launching into it, strong and powerfully, as we danced and our guests watched and cheered on. It was one of the highlights of our wedding day.
We have all intentions of hiring The York Street Hustle again for our fifth anniversary, and it can’t come soon enough!
What to Consider When Booking a Live Band for Your Wedding
When you are in the process of choosing a venue, check with each one on any policies or restrictions regarding live music. This could include clauses in their agreements in relation to amplified music, decibel levels, a sound curfew or other issues specific to a particular venue.
It’s important to take into account the size of the venue and the stage or performance space available for the band. Any band cramped into a small space will not be able to give you their best performance.
If music is a priority, these are details you will want to be aware of as you weigh your decision on choosing your wedding venue.
Which Band Is Right for You?
As you can see from her story, Danielle and her fiancé had a clear vision of their wedding music and already knew that The York Street Hustle was the perfect fit. What if you’re less sure of the right Philadelphia wedding band for you? Think about the best weddings you have attended. What made the music special? Alternatively, what was missing from the weddings where the music was less impressive?
Talk to your friends and co-workers and ask for recommendations. On a professional level, an entertainment provider such as Mole Street Artists has the experience and connections to guide you through the process and help you find the live wedding music for your celebration! As a small boutique agency, Mole Street Artists works with authentic performers who will bring the energy and excitement to create that extra ingredient that makes an exceptional experience! The best entertainment providers will listen to your ideas and make recommendations that are right for you. They’re good on small details, logistics and advance planning and they’ll be with you from the initial contact all the way through to the final musical note on the night! Working with an entertainment provider, rather than a single band, provides you with more options, more flexibility and a team that is invested in the success of your celebration. With a singular focus, your entertainment provider will ensure that music is one thing you won’t have to worry about on the day.
Every bride wants her reception to be magical and a night to remember for all her friends and family. Music is the key to an incredible experience.
Make Sure You Love the Music at Your Wedding
Everything at your wedding tells your guests about who you are as a couple and the music you choose is a big one! What songs do you as a couple go back to when your cooking dinner and hitting Spotify? Where do your tastes collide and where do they differ? It’s important to talk through the vibe you want to set and put those thoughts down on paper so you can properly communicate your ideas to the entertainment providers you are researching. It is all too common for a couple to book a band based on recommendation, without doing the due diligence on what they sound like and if they will match what you want for your big day. Even though Uncle Ted’s friend’s cousin’s wedding DJ came highly recommended, you might think he is a goofball. Do your research and listen to the music! You’ll most likely remember this day for the rest of your life, so make sure your music is memorable.
Consider Your Guests
The party is about you and about your guests. Think about what kind of music will resonate with everyone in the room and communicate this to your entertainment provider. Any good Philadelphia wedding band knows how to read your guests while catering to Grandma, and your two-year old niece. It is equally important to feel out how your entertainment provider resonates with your needs. It is just as important to outline what you don’t want to hear as what you do. For example, don’t be afraid to say “Yes! Please play Sir Mix-A-Lot Baby Got Back’”, or “No Backstreet Boys please”.
What Size Band Is Right for You?
Remember that a larger band is not necessarily a better band. The rate for a 15-piece band will always be on the high end. If you do your research, you can find an amazing 6 to 8-piece band at a lower rate that still delivers on the quality.
With the popularity of micro weddings, bands with less instrumentation are the key. A band such as Blues Junior is available ranging from a trio to a 10-piece band with multiple vocalists and horn players. This band of experienced musicians has the versatility to bring the energy and presence for a memorable celebration in a smaller format. When done properly, a micro wedding with a smaller band will be a more impactful and intimate experience for your guests and more genuine and meaningful for the bride and groom.
If it’s about the music for you and your partner, find the band that is authentic, shares your vision and that you trust will fit with your musical needs.
Book Your Wedding Music Early
To ensure you have the perfect music for your wedding, start your search as early as you can in your planning process. Your Philadelphia wedding band is out there but they are usually booked up 9 to 12 months in advance. As soon as you have set the date and secured the venue for your wedding, set your sights on the music that will be the soundtrack of your day. This is an exciting time in your lives together and choosing your music is part of the joy!
Originally published June 27, 2019, updated April 21, 2021