Groom’s Guide: That’s Entertainment

Want a wedding that’s all fun and games? We’ve got the guide for you.

Photograph by Erin Kate Photography

While the ceremony may be the soul of your wedding, the reception entertainment is what will really make it a party. Thankfully, long gone is the tired, scripted era when the “festivities” encompassed little more than a DJ playing “Celebration,” “Macarena,” or “Unchained Melody” again, or barking at attendees to line up for the next silly ritual: garter toss, dollar dance, conga line. These days Salt Lakers and Parkites just wanna have FUN on the big day. And deciding what diversions are the best fit for your bash is a great gig for the guys. Let your bride focus on the 17,000 other items on her plate, while you weigh the merits of hiring a fortune-teller versus a heavy metal cover band for the reception. For a good time, just keep reading.



Soundtrack of our life

Tunes are typically the star attraction at most receptions, and with good reason—good music will get total strangers mingling on the dance floor and feeling like best friends in no time.

Live Wire If your budget allows, bands are hard to beat. But selecting the right act is key, as a band’s repertoire and style set the energy level, put a distinctive stamp on the event, and influence whether folks come together on the dance floor. The goal? Find a band the fits the vibe of your wedding and appeals to a wide demographic, from your fraternity bros to your 95-year-old grandmother. “Consider your guests and look to music that transcends generations—you want everybody to dance and enjoy themselves,” says Joe Muscolino of Salt Lake City’s the Joe Muscolino Band, a classic variety band that plays everything from Adele to Aretha Franklin.

Tony Oros of Park City Productions suggests mixing things up: Hire an acoustic guitarist for the ceremony, a jazz trio for the cocktail hour and dinner, and a band for the reception. Or, if you really want to rock your guests’ socks off, consider one of Park City Productions’ cover bands like the Breakfast Klub (all-’80s dance music) or the Coverdogs (an all-genre cover band ranging from disco to heavy metal—PCP’s most popular act for weddings).

Hey, Mr. DJ Maybe your venue has space and noise limitations, or maybe you want more freedom to customize your dream soundtrack. Either way, Salt Lake and Park City are home to experienced event DJs spinning everything from Top 40 pop songs to old school hip-hop. Make sure whomever you hire does as Rob Ferre of Life of the Party Entertainment does: Ferre interviews couples to get a solid understanding of the vibe they want, the music they’d love to hear, and the ditties on their “do not play” list—be it Lady Gaga’s latest or Tim McGraw’s finest. Ferre offers a music playlist generator on his website where couples can create their own wedding playlist. “I suggest couples pick 20–30 songs. Once I get an idea of their musical preferences, I can be their personal Pandora and fill in the rest,” he says.



Mechanical bulls and more

Lawn Lovers Set the tone for the day with lawn games: badminton or croquet for that aristocratic or preppy feel, horseshoes or cornhole for a rustic theme, bocce ball for a Euro vibe. (Your planner can source necessary items, or gather them yourself at Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Play It Again Sports.) “Lawn games are great conversation starters, and they encourage mingling among guests,” says Mara Marian-Harwood, owner of Events by LMG. She advises having them available during your cocktail hour: “You’ll start the reception on a high note.”

Carnival Pleasures It may seem a little over the big top, but if you’re having an unconventional event (with an unconventional budget) consider a captivating performance by belly dancers, fire artists, or aerialists a la Cirque du Soleil. Marian-Harwood and Riehl Events’ Jacque Riehl both recommend Salt Lake City’s Voodoo Productions, which features local performers who wow guests with a full-scale cirque show or one-of-a-kind solo act, offering everything from trapeze artists and impersonators to snake dancers and bagpipers.

Follow the Leader Kristin Spear, owner of Park City’s Soirée Productions, recalls a recent wedding she planned at the Montage Deer Valley where the couple hired hip-hop violinist Lindsey Stirling (check her out on YouTube) to lead the wedding party from one portion of the evening to the next. “Lindsey played during the recessional, then she led the bride, groom, and their guests from the ceremony area to the cocktail hour set-up, and later she led everyone to the dinner and reception space,” explains Spear. “She was like the pied-piper—she got everyone up, excited, and on their way!”

Wild West For Western-themed rehearsal dinners and receptions, Spear loves working with cowboy impersonators Craig “Creek” Johnson and Lannie “The Marshal” Scopes, aka the Hired Guns. “They’ll recite cowboy poetry about the couple, do demonstrations with their ropes, and play folksy guitar music and sing—they really add to the atmosphere of the event and set a festive tone,” says Spear. Why not go all out and rent a mechanical bull from Buck Wild Mechanical Bulls and show guests a kicking good time? Owned by former bull rider Tycen McCann, Buck Wild provides a four-foot-thick air mattress for injury-free landings, a PA system, country music, and two lively and experienced operators.

High Score Are you a gamer at heart? Consider offering a variety of arcade-type games from Alpine Event Rentals at your reception or after party. Although co-owner Shane Crandall notes, much to his chagrin, he hasn’t yet done that for a wedding, he has brought in ping-pong, foosball, and Rock Band to other events. He’s still hopeful the right wedding couple will come along: “Our pinball game, Fish Tails, would be ideal to help the best man get through the trauma of losing his best friend.”

Kids Only If you have children, or are having a kid-friendly wedding, plan something special to entertain the wee ones. Hire the Creative Capsule—a mobile crafting venue housed in a vintage 1963 Airstream trailer—to park at your event and keep kiddos busy making pinwheels, paper crowns, rock creatures, treasure necklaces, yarn art, and more. Owners Lisa Dickman and Allison Harbertson provide all the materials for each craft project and age-appropriate instructions.



Say cheese

photobooth-funThe opportunity to cram into a small space with one, two, or seven of your friends (or strangers) has an intoxicating effect on people, especially after a couple of cocktails. That’s probably why photo booths have become a wildly popular wedding trend. “Photo booths entertain guests and capture amazing memories—memories that often wouldn’t happen outside the comfort of the enclosed booth. Guests can have fun, lighten up, and really let their true personalities be captured,” says Kelly Simons, who co-owns ShutterBooth with her husband Marty Bauer.

If the hijinks of sitting on each other’s laps are what you’re after, rent yourself a classic-style photo booth from ShutterBooth, Foto Cabina, Smile Now Photo Booth, or All Events Photo Booths. The style and size of the booths vary (All Events’ booths fit up to 10 guests, although their record is a body-crammed 15), as do the resulting photos (choose color or black-and-white images, and custom header or footer options for the photo strips). Personalize your photo-booth experience by selecting items for the prop box that match the theme of your wedding. Planning a Roaring Twenties reception? Supply feather boas, pearls, and fedoras and watch guests get in the spirit. Simons notes that the strips of pics that appear in minutes make great souvenirs for guests, but you should also have your loved ones paste a duplicate copy in a customized album (and add their well wishes) to serve as your guest book.


Entertaining Eats

Fun and food is a match made in heaven. Just chew on these ideas:

french-friesLate-Night Noshes Keep energy levels high (and help ward off hangovers) with a pizza delivery, or made-to-order burgers and fries cooked up by your caterer. Got a sweet tooth? Cuisine Unlimited can whip up mini donuts on the spot with their portable fryer. Serve them with coffee, hot chocolate, or glasses of cold milk.


corn-on-the-cobA Moveable Feast Hire the Chow Truck to park at your venue and serve pineapple-ginger pork tacos and flash-fried calamari to hungry guests. Or, get corny with Jason Lively, owner of Jimmy Crack Corn, who serves freshly roasted ears of corn hot off his portable grill. Top cobs with melted butter, salt, and pepper, or mayo, parmesan cheese, chili powder, and lime for punchy South-of-the-Border flavor.


smoresGourmet S’mores Set up a spread of rustic iron firepits from Alpine Event Rentals (or, depending on your venue, real campfires!) and local fixin’s: fresh-from-the-oven graham crackers from Tulie Bakery, chewy homemade marshmallows from Les Madeleines, and an assortment of artisan chocolates from Amano.


Outside the Bridal Box 

> Hire a fortune-teller to read palms during the cocktail hour.

> During the reception, have an artist do on-the-spot caricatures of guests, or ask a writer to create simple love limericks.

> End the night with an elaborate fireworks display.