Imagine taking your first spin around the dance floor as husband and wife accompanied by the sweet sounds of your favorite song emerging from instruments that are only feet away. It paints a beautiful picture, doesn’t it? There is simply something about live music at a Palm Springs wedding reception that cannot be replicated by CDs and a speaker system. Perhaps it is because many people attend only a handful of concerts or a performance in a lifetime, so live music has become a luxury.

Wedding DJs remain more popular than live bands at wedding receptions because they offer music for less money, but more brides and grooms-to-be are coming to realize that having musicians playing instead of records spinning can make for a more memorable wedding. Finding a wedding band can be a challenge, however, since there are so many options from which to choose. For example, there are seasoned variety bands whose specialty is a repertoire that spans decades and genres, mariachi groups with their rhythmic vitality that can invigorate a room, swing bands that have the miraculous ability to inspire even reluctant guests to dance, cool bossa nova or samba trios with their sultry sound, country groups that play everything from bluegrass to rockabilly, and more.

Because there is so much diversity in the world of live reception music, the bride and groom must by necessity narrow their choices before beginning the search for a group. First, think about atmosphere – there are couples who want elegant receptions dominated by conversation and not dancing and there are couples who would like nothing more than to see wedding guests shimmying on the tabletops. Are you a rock & roll bride or a jazz gourmand? Picture your ultimate wedding reception in your mind’s eye and note what you hear playing in the background. When you know what kind of mood you want to create, it is time to begin your search in earnest.

The best musicians in any genre will almost always be those who are a part of what are called permanent bands, which are groups made up of specific women and men who play as an ensemble regularly (you can name your musicians in your contract). These performers will be totally in synch with each other at your wedding reception because they have learned to read each other’s cues over time. Remember, it is the music that sets the mood of a wedding reception, and the more thoroughly you vet your live wedding band, the more amazing your wedding will be.

While you can’t crash a wedding to hear prospective reception bands play live, you may be able to see them in action at another event like a block party or at a club. Only then can you really get a feel for how the group responds to the energy of a crowd or sounds without the benefit of editing.