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Music Setting the Party Mood

In the steady stream of details that go into planning a dream wedding, picking the music sometimes gets pushed to the back of the list. This can be a big mistake, since having the right music at a wedding often means the difference between a ho-hum event and a truly unforgettable occasion. In an effort to make soon-to-be brides’ lives a little easier, we talked to some of Northern Arizona’s own music providers to get their take on all things musical for your big day.

One of the first decisions you will want to make when planning the music for your celebration is whether to go with a live band or a disc jockey (DJ). For many couples, this decision can be a toss up, on one hand, DJs tend to cost less than a band but a live band usually makes each song sound unique, even if it is a cover.

Steve Sander, a local musician with over 40 years in the wedding music industry, said, “Some people will want to hear certain and specific recorded versions of the songs they like. Or they may want to have a wide variety of musical styles, or want music that is very heavy on hard-driving dance music. For these, I would recommend a DJ. I’m usually asked to play and sing songs that are classic standards, from the 40s, 50s and 60s, which can be appreciated by a wide age group. I play the songs in my own style, as opposed to trying to replicate the recordings, which provides a more personalized element.”

Something else to consider, if your wedding has a particular theme to it, finding the right DJ or live group can make a wedding feel truly complete.

“Our personally tailored approach to selecting music for weddings is a big factor in our success,” said Larry Perkins, one-half of the Dos Geckos duo. “Besides classical music, we specialize in cultures including Celtic, Jewish, Latin, Russian, Gypsy and others.”

Another tip in the hunt for the perfect music: never underestimate the power of recommendations, as they can be a huge help in narrowing a couples’ search.

“New clients hear about me through referrals from previous clients or from wedding venues,” explained Ryan Biter of Live Sounds DJ. “I find that most clients say they had a lot of fun at their wedding and can’t wait to recommend me.”

Once a couple makes their music selection, whether it is a full-on band or DJ, most vendors agree that a face to face meeting is the final step before making a decision on a specific person or company. This means getting together with the music provider; after all, you will be listening to the DJ or bandleader’s voice for hours on your wedding day, and making sure they’re the right fit for your celebration.

Flagstaff DJ Evan Thompson of Amazing DJ Sounds says no matter what music style you go with, customer service should be number one. “A lot of DJs seem to be pretty proud of their music and their music style and they kind of dictate the music to the couple, whereas I try to customize the music to what the couple wants,” he said.

Thompson says he crowd watches to see which songs are a hit and also makes note of the ages of wedding attendees. It might seem obvious, but Thompson says if the agegroup of the wedding party is overlooked, it could negatively impact the special day.


“The last thing you want as a DJ is something inappropriate being said in a song that maybe a little five- or seven-year-old repeats afterwards,” said Thompson.

Ultimately, whatever music style is chosen for a couple’s celebration, it should come down to these simple steps, says DJ Walt Onorato of Sounds Good Entertainment: “It’s important to play a variety, to know when to slow down the music and when to speed it up and how to keep the party going.” FBN


Side Box with Music Vendor Information


Live Music:

Steve Sandner

Style: Live piano, electric piano, organ, and vocals.

Contact: steve@sandnermusic.com

Website: www.sandnermusic.com

Price Range:  Approx. $250- $1400


Name: Dos Geckos (Larry Perkins & Bill Barns)

Style: live music – violin & guitar

Contact: jonelarry@q.com


Name: Joel Rieck

Style: Live Guitar

Website: www.arizonaweddingmusic.com

Contact: joel@arizonaweddingmusic.com

Price Range: Approx. $300


Disc Jockeys:


Name: Live Sounds DJ (Ryan Biter)

Style: Professional disc jockey

Website: www.livesoundsdj.com

Contact: info@livesoundsdj.com

Price Range: Approx. $125 per hour


Name: Amazing DJ Sounds (Evan Thompson)

Style: Professional disc jockey

Website: www.amazingdjsounds.com

Contact: info@amazingdjsounds.com

Price Range: Approx. $100 per hour *4 hour minimum


Name: Sounds Good Entertainment ( Walt Onorato)

Style: Professional disc jockey

Website: www.soundsgoodentertainment.net

Contact: soundsgood86004@yahoo.com

Price Range:  Approx. $750 – $850 for 5 hours


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