Some people may fantasize about having Maroon 5 play at their wedding. A select few can transform the dream to reality, like the heir to an Armenian billionaire who made headlines last June with his lavish $2 million wedding in Russia, which included the Adam Levine-fronted band crooning their hits to the tune of $500,000 to $800,000, according to multiple reports.
Such starry-eyed headlines are prompting couples-to-be to explore more entertainment options for their nuptials beyond elegant, string quartets at cocktail hour, DJs of the moment and reliable but staid wedding bands. They’re weaving elements of surprise (even to their potential spouse) from live animals to African dancers in cementing their place in Instagram notoriety.
“Weddings are becoming more playful and fun,” says Amy Greenberg, owner of her eponymous wedding planning firm in Los Angeles. “People don’t want it to be about a traditional affair. Couples are marrying older so they want to stand out from the crowd.”
The ideas are never-ending but here are a few trending now:
Croquet anyone? Perfect for Southern California and warm weather climates, lawn games are an activity to transition guests from ceremony to reception. Dedicate an area for lawn bowling, bocce ball, horseshoes and maybe an array of cornhole boards (you can even get some custom designed on Etsy with your wedding date). Cost-wise, this shouldn’t make a huge dent in the budget. But, Greenberg cautions that you don’t want your novel idea to overtake the day.
“Every element has to be set up and you don’t want your wedding coordinator spending half the day on this one activity,” Greenberg says. And, don’t be offended if stiletto-clad ladies stay by the bar.
Touches of cultural heritage
Nothing like a wedding to spark interest in one’s cultural heritage and to integrate it on the big day. For some, that can mean five-ton animals. Luxury wedding planner Sara Fried is overseeing an Indian wedding, so she is researching how to bring in elephants to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tenn. without breaking the lobby chandeliers. It’s a cost than can hit $6,500 and up. She is also on the hunt for an Indian singer to accompany the band and the DJ who will be spinning hip-hop songs.
“I love a challenge,” says Fried, owner of Fete Nashville. “That’s part of our job to make sure that each client has the most unique experience.”
If you’re marrying into a new culture, you can surprise your betrothed with dancers from that background. Middle East and African dancers are top requests at Scarlett Entertainment, whose U.S. headquarters are in Las Vegas, NV. Two to three dancers can cost $1,500 for the hour – time spent dancing to a few songs and mingling with guests.
Gadgets from the future
With the headlines abuzz with all things futuristic from AI to VR, the trend is filtering down to weddings. Your wedding after all is about your future. Why not have 9-foot tall robots there to toast to your big day? Equipped with lasers, LED lights and smoke cannons, they can glow and dance their way into your guests’ hearts. For the super hero fan that doesn’t grow up, you can also book Bumblebee or Optimus Prime. Those in costumes can cost $2,000-$2,500. Programmable ones can hit $12,000.
Couples are also mixing up their receptions with live entertainment in the form of magicians, female impersonators and even gospel singers. Cher and Tina Turner impersonators are big requests at Scarlett Entertainment, which can cost $2,000.
Fete Nashville hired a 10-person gospel choir to sing at a backyard wedding. The hitch? The performance was a surprise for the groom, so the choir, clad in white robes had to hide behind the gazebo. “The minute they said ‘I do,’ they came around from each side and started singing, ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams,” Fried says.
Entertainment options abound, but research with a critical eye, advise experts.
“Pinterest is a double-edged sword,” says Diahann Hall, vice president of sales, entertainment and special events at Scarlett. “You may see something that you want us to recreate, but you don’t know the cost. You may be looking at a flower arrangement that actually costs $200,000.”