LASJB's official blog, with thoughts on contemporary jazz, what's happening in the New Orleans jazz scene, thoughts on contemporary jazz, how to hire a jazz band for an event, and updates about the one and only Louis Armstrong Society Jazz Band.


Wedding Jazz - Tips for a Great Party

How to Have Great Jazz At Your Wedding Reception!

Weddings are one of those most memorable days in your life so it’s important to get the details just right. Of course, to balance that you should set those details, appoint someone to follow thru on your request for that day and then be able to focus on the fun with family and friends.

So after the ring, the dresses, the shoes, the limos, ceremony, cake and many other items, it’s the music that will make your guest feel like dancing. Nothing beats a live band with a fabulous singer playing your favorite songs.

It’s the swing and sophistication of current popular jazz that has such a strong appeal now-a-days. So with that in mind, take a look at these ideas:

Music Playing As Your Guests Arrive

The Style of music helps set the tone for the evening. Jazz songs from the 1920s to 1940s are still some of the most popular music that can cross generational line. Many have been made famous by musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra and re-popularized today by Michael Bublé, Harry Connick, Jr, Diana Krall and others.These classic standards from the Great American Song Book will set the mood as your reception begins.

Plan for the Flow of the Party, plan (or How To Avoid The Low Points)  

The best advice for avoiding low points is to plan ahead. Events such as toasts, bouquet and garter toss and of course the cake cutting should be listed on the timeline and the musicians’ breaks can be scheduled to coincide with all of this. Of course it’s should be a given that the band will be able to play background music during their intermission.

Don’t hire the band for too long (or short) of time 

Most weddings average between 3 and 4 hours. The fact is most musicians are hired for 4 hours or think of it as a “half-day” rate. So whether it’s a trio or an ten pice band with horns, it’s basically a labor cost on a per musician basis. Most bands are five to eight musicians and that’s can depend on the number of guests, the size of the venue and how much dancing you anticipate for the evening.

Choose your Songs in Advance

Seasoned professional musicians can play hundreds of song from memory but in a four hour event you can expect to hear around 50 songs. It’s a good idea to get the band a list of songs you’d like to hear (about 25 or so) and a list of songs you DON’T want played. Also be sure they have that about 4 to 6 weeks in advance encase they need to work up a special arrangement of a tune. While on this subject, think about your first dance, and any other special dances in the evening.

Encourage Dancing

It usually only takes one or two couples (don’t count on children) to get others to the dance floor. You may want to suggest to close family or friends to consider helping out here by getting on the floor first. You know better than anyone which of those people are not shy and even a little bold to show off their moves on the dace floor. Another way to encourage dancing is to consider the placement of the band in the room. It’s a good idea that food, beverage and the music is in the same room. (You’d be amazed how many times people think about putting the music in “the other room” for dancing. That almost never works!)

Finish Big

For your last dance of the evening you may prefer a slow song such as “What A Wonderful World” or perhaps a salsa swing version of “Save The Last Dance For Me”.  Of course, in the south, second line parades and hiring a separate brass band to lead everyone out the doors has become very popular in the past few years.


Our bonus song list:


  1. It Had To Be You - Harry Connick, Jr
  2. A Foggy Day - Michael Bublé
  3. L-O-V-E Natalie Cole
  4. You Do Something To Me - Frank Sinatra
  5. What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
  6. Our Love Is Here To Stay - Ella Fitzgerald
  7. At Last - Etta James
  8. I’m Beginning to See The Light - Dee Dee Brigewater
  9. When I Fall In Love  - Diane Schuur
  10. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love - Diana Krall