One D.J., Two Strummers, or a Whole Choir?
SEVEN Yiddish Rockers
“There is no band that plays everything we play,” says Annette Ezekiel Kogan, singer and accordionist of this Yiddish punk-rock group. “We play all styles, from traditional Jewish music to rock, soul, Latin, funk, you name it.” Guests might hear Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man” followed by Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” or maybe something waltzy or tangoish plucked from the Russian canon. “We are best-known for our wild hora, requested even at non-Jewish weddings,” says Kogan. “There was one where they lifted the bride and groom in chairs—and then got rid of the chairs and just started throwing them up in the air!” From $7,000. golemrocks.com
EIGHT Jazzy Minstrels
Led by chanteuse-y vocalist Shawn Aileen Clark, Lapis Luna transports wedding guests back in time with its hot jazz, early blues, bebop, and bossa nova tunes. Clark sings through a vintage microphone and is often backed by sax, flute, clarinet, trumpet, and vibraphone. The group, which played Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks’s nuptials, can put a cha-cha spin on “(I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons” or reimagine Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.” From $2,000. lapisluna.com
NINE Sweaty Slavs
Slavic Soul Party!
Slavic Soul Party! is what happens when you combine the funky brass-band stylings of New Orleans and the former Yugoslavia. The group has opened for Arcade Fire and Gogol Bordello, played for ex-prime ministers at a pasha’s palace in Istanbul, and rocked out in the Russian baths on Coney Island Avenue. Says bandleader Matt Moran, “We make shit jump because we’re unexpected.” From $4,000. slavicsoulparty.com
TEN Latin Giants
This Cuban orchestra, formed in 2005 and led by pianist Leonel "Papo" Ortega, plays salsa, cha-cha, and guaguancó à la Buena Vista Social Club. "The tempo is just slightly laid-back, encouraging experienced and novice dancers to get up and have fun," says Ortega. Their diverse instrumentation includes the Cuban tres guitar, congas, and trombone. They have performed at Giants Stadium and at the opening of the New York International Salsa Congress. From $3,000. cubanoson.com
THIRTY Heavenly Singers
The Late Show’s Gospel Choir
Lady Peachena went live with this group in 1995 at the behest of Late Show musical director Paul Shaffer; they’ve since sung in more than a dozen sketches. But it’s not all laughs: “Hiring a gospel choir for a wedding gives it an intimate, spiritual vibe,” says Peachena, who can book up to 30 hand-clappers (or as few as 10). The group can belt traditional and new gospel songs as well as oldies, Motown, reggae, and soul. “Oh Happy Day” is a perennial favorite, as are feel-good ditties like The Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love.” From $3,000. lateshowsgospelchoir.com
From the Winter 2011 New York Wedding Guide