Wedding Ideas

Bon Jovi or the Boss? How to Hook a Headliner

Posted on June 24 by new jersey bride

Personalization is king on your wedding day, and that includes the music. From the processional to the father-daughter dance, couples handpick sentimental numbers to set the mood of their nuptials. A current trend is to have a favorite band perform at the reception. Patrick and Brooke Zec of Clifton hired The Nerds, a popular rock band loosely based on a Saturday Night Live skit, to entertain their 180 guests at the Tides Estate in North Haledon last May. “We have always loved The Nerds and decided that we wanted something less traditional and different,” Brooke says. “Some of our guests said it was the best wedding they ever went to, that it was different and they loved them.” But securing this type of entertainment requires a little more legwork—and room in your budget—than booking a deejay. Brooke says they contacted S.T.A.R.S. Productions (973-300-9123), a full-service entertainment agency in Newton. “When a client requests a band, the first thing we do is check its [scheduling] and availability,” explains Alex Zox, an agent with S.T.A.R.S. “With weddings, it’s typically a set date, but in some cases, people will be such big fans, they will move the date.” If schedules align, Zox says the couple must draft a firm offer letter detailing the place, time and any special requests. They also must sign a formal contract and pay 50 percent upfront to secure the date. The Zecs paid about $12,000 for the Nerds to perform for two hours, but Zox stresses this is not a fixed rate. “For the Nerds to play a two-hour set, which is pretty standard, it can cost anywhere between $7,500 and $15,000,” he explains. “There are many variables that constitute price.” Also, bigger name acts tend to play shorter sets. “Bon Jovi charges $750,000-plus for a 20-minute show,” says Michael Taylor, an agent with Celebrity Direct (212 541-3770), a celebrity talent buyer and production company in New York City. “I booked Gloria Gaynor for a wedding in New Jersey for $30,000 to sing ‘I Will Survive,’” he says. Such acts generate a hefty price tag because you’re paying their performance, production and travel fees. “Artists that are a little more affordable tend to be the groups from the Fifties and Sixties like Little Anthony and the Imperials or Eighties retro like Taylor Dayne,” Taylor adds. “And they are certainly some great shows.” If “Living on a Prayer” is your song, but Bon Jovi’s fee is a little too steep, hire a tribute band instead. “Tribute bands and impersonators are a great way to inject some unexpected fun into your wedding day,” says Marissa Latshaw, vice president of marketing for GigMasters (866-342-9794), an event entertainment booking service in Redding, Connecticut, that books tribute acts for weddings in the tri-state area. Runaway, a Bon Jovi tribute band from Atlantic City, charges $1,300 to $2,500 for a two-hour event. Beatles tribute act Sgt. Lefferts’ Phony Hearts Club Band in Danbury, Connecticut, charges from $1,000 to $2,400 for two to three sets of 50 minutes each. “We have played at a bunch of weddings and they are very much a favorite gig for us,” says bandmember Seth Lefferts. “We feature the bride and groom as part of our experience, usually working out the first dance with them.”