No one wants a “cookie-cutter” wedding — same as everyone else’s.

At least no one I’ve ever spoken with.  How about you? 

Perhaps you’re dreaming of a “one-of-a-kind” celebration with family and friends.  Memorable and personalized, reflecting your own special interests and passions. 

In my experience, one of the best ways to personalize your wedding is to customize your wedding music.

Many brides and grooms I speak with understand this, so the question I often hear is “HOW do I customize wedding music?” 

I frequently write here about helpful methods for customizing wedding music.

And I find that asking “Why” often leads to the most effective method.  Here’s a story to show what I mean:

Gamble Garden, in Palo Alto, is one of my all-time favorite locations for a San Francisco Bay Area wedding.  We play there often, entertaining wedding and party guests at several beautiful spots in their lovely garden. 

It’s an estate in an old residential neighborhood where amplified music outdoors is forbidden, so we always play “acoustically” there.  My favorite! 

Thanks to my friend, top photographer Vinh Nguyen, for these wonderful photos:

Magnolia Jazz Band in Palo Alto, 2015

Here we are at a recent wedding reception.  We set up next to Gamble Garden’s Carriage House patio, where the guests were enjoying their dinner and dancing.


Dancing!  That’s where Sarah and Akin, the bride and groom, customized their music.  Not exactly famous for their dancing (they told me they’d never danced before), they decided to surprise their guests with “Fly Me to the Moon” as their first dance.  They created a lovely dance routine and practiced at home to Frank Sinatra’s famous 1964 recording with Count Basie’s band.

Here’s “Why?” we customized their music:

The recording lasts about 2 ½ minutes, so we carefully practiced playing the song for exactly 150 seconds.  Then Sara and Akin caught us playing at a wedding show 2 weeks before their wedding and used their iPhone to record our version. 

A bit more dance practicing at home followed, adding a dramatic “dip” at the end of their routine, and at the reception their first dance was a tremendous hit!  The next morning, Sarah thanked us in a glowing recommendation on Yelp.

Congratulations Sarah and Akin!  And thanks to their fabulous wedding coordinator, Denise Rice, who created a gorgeous celebration and kept all the loose ends tied up perfectly!

At another wedding reception several months earlier, also at Gamble Garden, the bride and groom — a bit more on the shy side — selected soft music for their small, sedate reception.  Again their choice of music was perfect, suiting their personal style. 


Thanks to my friend, veteran photographer Harry Who, for this nice photo.  This time we set up next to Gamble Garden’s Carriage House so our soft music would reflect off the wall and carry well, staying low enough to encourage everyone’s comfortable conversations.

Over the years, we’ve helped other brides and grooms customize their wedding music with their favorite tunes, popularized by Fred Astaire, Dean Martin, Elvis, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Sergio Mendes, Cold Play, Andrea Bocelli, Christina Perri, and many more.  It’s a long list, including compositions by Bach, Pachelbel, Wagner, and Mendelssohn.

Give us a little time, and we can learn to play practically anything.  What’s YOUR favorite wedding song?

So here’s a tip.  You can customize wedding music with your own personal touch.  Select music for your wedding’s significant moments — or for the entire festive mood — to reflect your own personal style.

CLICK here to tweet this post and join our Magnolia Jazz Band fans on Facebook.  You’ll receive daily tips for planning wedding and party music, and you’ll get reminders for our public events.

Using testimonials can be very powerful.

Depending on what we want, we have many ways to use testimonials.  To gather information or to provide information.

Magnolia Jazz Band in Mountain View, 2014
Brides and party planners use our testimonials to help plan the music for their celebrations.  For example, a client recently posted a wonderful testimonial for us on Yelp, and included this photo.  Thanks, Kayla.

I recommend you read testimonials whenever you can.  Learning what others enjoy can give you eye-opening inspirations and trigger fresh ideas for you.

In my experience marketing the band, I’ve found that testimonials and reviews are the next best thing to word-of-mouth recommendations from your trusted friends.

And these w-o-m recommendations are the next best thing to your experiencing first-hand the upbeat, elegant mood we create.

So I hope that someday you can be a wedding guest or attend one of our parties. In my opinion your first-hand impression is the most effective way to learn about what we bring to any celebration.

And once you know what kind of festive mood you want, what to expect from us, and how to get the best from us, then you can begin planning the music for your celebration.

But if you can’t catch us in action, and if a good friend hasn’t recommend us, I hope you’ll read many of our testimonials. I’m doing my best to make them easy to find.

Now looking at testimonials from a broader perspective, most businesses use testimonials to help their prospects learn what their product or service can provide.

Do you manage a business? I’m sure there are dozens of ways to use testimonials for marketing your business. How many are you using?

I’ve been using a few good ones. Four of them:

  • Include testimonials in my printed material (brochures, etc.),
  • Post testimonials on my social media channels,
  • Post testimonials on a dedicated page on my website,
  • Ask happy clients to post reviews on Yelp, WeddingWire, Facebook, etc.

Recently several savvy colleagues suggested a few more ways. Thanks Jason, Yehudit, Stephanie, Sarah, Jennifer, Harry, Tri, Ken, Robin, Norman, Robert, Jamie, Denise, Liliana, Carolyn, Barbara, Auey, Christine, Joe, StephanieAnn, Karinn, and Lowell.

Four of the new ways they suggested:

  • Include a testimonial in a larger blog post,
  • Include a testimonial in my email signature,
  • Ask a happy client to send an audio or video testimonial, and post it on my website & social media,
  • Photograph a handwritten testimonial and post it on my website & social media

Do you like one of these new ways to use testimonials? Write a comment and tell me how you’d use it.


CLICK here to tweet this post and join our Magnolia Jazz Band fans on Facebook.  You’ll receive daily tips for planning wedding and party music, and you’ll get reminders for our public events.

How do I choose the band’s best promotion photos?

Are these some of our best promotion photos?

What features do I want in the pictures?

What would YOU want?

Here’s a clue to what I prefer.

Magnolia Jazz Band in Fremont,  2014

Recently my friend Eli Pitta gave me this picture of us he took at a wedding at the Palmdale Estates, in Fremont.  CLICK to enlarge photo.

Eli is a wonderful photographer, and he caught exactly what feature I think makes the best promotion photos.

Can you guess the crucial feature?

Here’s another clue:  Some Realtors tell me they like to “stage” a house so their prospective buyers will visualize the place decorated with their own furnishings.

Peninsula Grill, Charleston, SC

Still another clue:  Some time ago my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at The Peninsula Grill, in Charleston, SC.  Since then I’ve subscribed to their email newsletter, mainly to remember that evening and to see beautiful examples of their best promotion photos.  Here’s a recent one:

Got it?

I think your best promotion photos show people enjoying whatever you provide.

In my case, I like photos that show people enjoying the upbeat, elegant mood we create.  Wherever we are — at a lively party, business reception, formal banquet, or romantic wedding ceremony.

Browse around this blog to see more pictures of people celebrating with our music.

It kills me to see a hotel or a restaurant advertise their facility with a photo showing a quiet room full of tables and chairs, but no people.  Imagine you’re searching for a room to hold your next celebration.  Wouldn’t you want to visualize your festivities in a room filled with people happy to be there?

Don’t get me wrong. I like our “studio” portraits, because they show who we are.  Of course, people want to see what we look like.

But I think our most effective promotion pictures show what we DO.  How our music helps people have a good time celebrating.

So whatever YOU do, let me give you a simple tip for selecting your own best promotion photos:  Include people enjoying what you provide.

YOUR turn:  Do me a favor.  Tell me about your best promotion photos.  Show me your favorite.  What makes it special?


CLICK here to tweet this post, and join our Magnolia Jazz Band fans on Facebook.  You’ll receive daily tips for planning wedding and party music, and you’ll get reminders for our public events.

Use History to Choose Party Music

Last summer we entertained at a wonderful garden party in Woodside, and I used history to choose the party’s music. Can you guess what era I focused on? Choosing the right music for a party or a wedding can be a challenge.  I often let history guide my selections.   Of course, you can use many […]

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Selecting Garden Party Music

There’s beautiful weather outside.  Are you planning a garden party? What about your music? In several important ways, selecting garden party music is just like selecting music for a wedding reception, Great Gatsby party, or a special business event. Tell you what I mean. Last month we entertained at Gayle and Bill’s 50th wedding anniversary party.  […]

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Selecting Party Music? Don’t Sabotage Yourself.

Are you selecting party music or wedding music?  Planning should be easy and fun. Occasionally, however, small planning puzzles get out of hand and become big obstacles.  And usually they’re all avoidable. In a minute I’ll tell you why.  First, some background. Nearly every day I help people selecting party music or wedding music.  And then my […]

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Does Planning Party Music Depend on Good Luck?

Nearly every day, I help people planning party music and wedding music.  And then my band creates the perfect music at these celebrations. I’m so lucky to make a living this way! Recently I got lucky a different way.  Here I am, winning a bottle of wine at a networking meeting for special event pros.  […]

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Planning My Garden and Planning Wedding Music

I’m planning my garden already!  It’s been a mild winter around here, and I’ll be planting several weeks earlier than usual.  I love gardening, and I’m already thinking about what should go where, and when, for the results I want. Just like planning wedding music.  More about that in a minute. My garden always boasts […]

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I Help People Celebrate

What will you celebrate today?  I hope it’s memorable.  Will you include music? Our music helps people celebrate.  For example, here we are, back in October 2011, helping the San Francisco Junior League celebrate their annual Home Tour Preview Gala.  That was a spectacular evening for hundreds of guests, and it was an honor to […]

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Feelings About Music for Weddings and Parties

Feelings about music dominate many of my business conversations.   Feelings are how music conveys meaning, how music does its magic. What do I mean?  Let me tell you a story.  Here we are, entertaining at a casual cocktail party in Morgan Hill.  Thanks to Jordan River Productions for the nice photo. Nearly every day […]

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