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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

#102: Cheap live music for the Broke Folk

In high school I spent a lot of time embarrassing myself in all of the following ways:
  • being on the track team and consistently crossing the finish line in last place*
  • accidentally walking into walls as I stared at that cute, bad-ass, half Latino/ half German kid whenever he passed me in the hallway**
  • playing the part of a horny mute girl in the school musical***
But I had a 4th way of embarrassing myself, too. (Because I'm thorough like that.) I used to wear a long-sleeve red & white pinstripe, button-down shirt, and sing a cappella barbershop tunes after school with a bunch of other girls wearing matching pinstripe disasters. Yup, I was a real life glee club geek.

But alas, this experience was not in vain. It's given me a fabulous budget wedding idea for all of those with an appreciation for live tunes, cover songs, Glee (you DVR that show - admit it!), moving ceremony music, and unique wedding entertainment:

How about hiring a school choir or a cappella group to perform at your wedding?!

Below are 3 versions of the Jackson 5's classic hit "I'll be there,"****each performed by a different school vocal ensemble.

Exhibit A: Soulful and beautiful, courtesy of some quirky college dudes (or your local university vocal group):

Exhibit B: Grand and impressive, courtesy of a talented group of high school kids (or your teenage cousin and her friends):

Exhibit C: Freakin' adorable, courtesy of these little dumplings (or your niece's kindergarten class):

Which of the above would you consider hiring?

PS. If you have reservations about hiring a college a cappella group, check out this groom's experience with the process. It'll change you mind.

*It's true. I was on junior varsity track ALL 4 YEARS of high school.
**Carlo, I bet you're still FINE. Do you still have amazing hair?
***I, the biggest goody two-shoes in school, rocked those onstage sex scenes. Hard.
****I picked this song because it's very dear to my heart - it was performed by my brothers (one on guitar, the other doing vocals), as I walked down the aisle at the start of our wedding ceremony.


  1. That was my absolute FAVORITE part of your ceremony. Watching you walk into "I'll be there" played on the acoustic guitar and seeing Brian wait excitedly for you to meet him at the front of the meeting house brought tears to my eyes!!! :)

  2. a capella!!!!!!!!!!!! a brilliant choice! many a college group would do it for a small fee, booze or for free!

    srsly. what a cool way to walk down the aisle.

    who doesn't love a little beat boxing and soulful sounds?

    ok. i'm a geek.

  3. I'd like to post a caveat about using children's choirs and younger singers.

    While it's true that you pay less for a kids' choir or teenage a capella group and so you should (in most instances), do consider that they are still giving up time and effort and that it might be exploitative to not acknowledge this properly. You shouldn't just pay the adult conductor $150 and give the kids sugared almonds.

    Just because they're younger doesn't mean that they're not worth some type of compensation. I know a lot of school choirs that now attach a small sum per child, even if it's just $10 or $15 a kid.

    I say this as someone who learned the hard way to ask for her due. While it's easy to dismiss the kids/young teenagers as needing the experience and that they should be grateful for the chance to perform (there is truth to this), do consider that they are also there rendering a service for which you pay adults a lot more. Try not to exploit that.

  4. @ Steph - Aren't my brothers amazing? :)

    @ Angie - Makes me wonder...why is singing in a group so geeky anyway? My bro was in a post-college all guy a capella group that sang a lot of 70's classic rock and other unexpected tunes. I remember that one time when they performed at a bar in NYC, the following act (a sort of hard core-ish rock band) was poking fun at a capella groups in general. Boo!

    PS. Well...the matching red and white pinstriped shirts of my a capella days were pretty geeky, actually.

    @ Moz - You are totally right. Good point. Especially when hiring little kids there's all kinds of things to consider. In fact, I'd only recommend hiring young kids to sing if you have some sort of connection to them. (Like if they are part of your church community or something.) Because you are also asking for their parents' time (kids need to be driven to your event), and the parents' permission as well. Plus, it would be very difficult for all the parents to agree on how much their child should be compensated.

    Where people can really save is with college or church groups that are looking to perform as a fundraising effort for their group or institution. These individuals know that they are volunteering their time to some degree in order to raise money for their cause.

    As for high school kids, the cheapest yet most ethical route might be to have a budget in mind, approach the chorus or orchestra teacher, and ask for students that would would perform for that amount of money. That way, the students who think it's a fair deal (whether they just need a little extra cash or just want some experience), will make themselves available.


Babbling about weddings is so much more fun when people babble back. :)

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