Ask The Experts: The Wedding Singer

Pity the reception with an anemic string quartet. Adam Sandler jokes aside, great music really does make great weddings. Your band should ensure a hip-swinging, fist-pumping good time.


Photograph by JÖrg Meyer

Rebecca Muir gets people on their feet for a living. Born into a family of wedding singers, the Berklee School of Music–trained vocalist began headlining receptions while still in high school. Now she’s the voice behind popular band Night Rhythm, and despite singing at more than 100 events a year—sometimes three in the same weekend—her enthusiasm is unflagging. “Being able to perform, witness a really beautiful event, and get paid?” Muir says. “It’s a dream job!”

[sidebar]How can a couple make sure they find their ideal band?
A lot of venues and planners offer recommendations based on long-term relationships, so you know you’ll be hiring a talented professional. But never book a band without hearing them play first. We put on several free showcase performances every month in Boston and Chelmsford—so you don’t have to crash a stranger’s wedding to hear us.

Are there any musical mistakes brides and grooms should avoid?
Sometimes couples will put a song on the “do not play” list just because of its title. Sex Machine by James Brown, for example: Because it has the word “sex” in it, it gets scratched to avoid offending conservative guests. We’re always sad when that happens, because it’s actually one of the tunes that really gets people dancing. You should trust the band to lead the crowd and decide if a song is appropriate.

Okay. What other tunes get people up and boogying?
You’re basically looking at a variety of Top 40 music from the past five or six decades, though personal additions really make a difference. We’ll always learn songs at the client’s request. We recently added Men at Work’s Land Down Under to our repertoire because a couple had guests from Australia—it was a huge hit.

How should the music progress during a reception?
We generally play a four-hour set. During dinner, we try to do chilled-out background music—some Frank Sinatra, some jazz, maybe even some country. Then we segue into something like My Girl to get people dancing between courses. Everyone loves that song, and the dance floor starts to fill up. During the cake cutting, we often play A Sweet Escape by Gwen Stefani or How Sweet It Is (to be Loved by You). For the remainder of the evening, we perform whatever we think guests will respond to, whether that’s current billboard stuff or rock ‘n’ roll.

Let’s talk painful clichés. Which songs are the worst repeat offenders?
Some of the biggest for first and parent dances are A Wonderful World, Because You Loved Me, Butterfly Kisses, and The Way You Look Tonight. But I don’t think there’s anything that doesn’t work if it has special meaning to a client. One of the most romantic first dances I ever witnessed was at a lesbian wedding that was also the most Orthodox Jewish wedding we’ve ever played—so it was both extremely progressive and extremely traditional. The brides did their first dance to My Girl. As I mentioned, it’s a typical, lighthearted wedding song, but in that instance it was incredibly touching and memorable.

Full wedding bands can cost more than $6,000—thousands of dollars more than a DJ (or an iPod). Why should couples choose live entertainment?
I know I have to say this, but entertainment really does make the night. The comment I get over and over again from clients is that the music is single-handedly what made the evening fun—aside, of course, from the magical experience of all the guests being there to support their friends’ union.

As a veteran of more than 350 weddings, what’s your parting advice for brides and grooms?
Make it emotional. I think a lot of people are afraid to be too sappy at their wedding. But the weddings that are the most fun are the ones where the couple are the most vocal about their feelings.

Night Rhythm, 978-256-1400,