Global gathering: take your guests round the world with your entertainment

Ceilidh Experience
Ceilidh Experience

Start the honeymoon early by giving your reception an exotic, far-flung flavour with music from every corner of the globe

Words by Gilly Furmage

Plain old British grub is great, but these days we all eat sushi and stir-fries as much as sausage and mash. Take an equally international approach to the entertainment for your reception and you’ll find just as much to satisfy your appetite. From mariachi madness to stompin’ salsa (not the edible kind!), Scotland has some fab global acts to wow your guests.

Classic ceilidh

Ceilidhs are the ultimate ice-breaker: they are pretty much guaranteed to get your guests up off their seats and onto the dancefloor, where they cannot help but get to know each other. Your old auntie and his best workmate will chat, giggle and have a great time, whether they get the steps right or wrong. One band with an edge is Ceilidh Experience (available via Warble Entertainment), who are known for mixing conventional celtic tunes with experimental rock and funk-fusion styles. They are in the Guinness Book of Records for playing to 5000 dancers on Edinburgh’s meadows – the biggest-ever eightsome reel!
Another legendary ceilidh band is Reel Time Band, from Reel Time Events. They play fiddles, bagpipes, drums and electric guitars for a mix of traditional and modern sounds.
Bands will generally play two or three 45-minute sets and prices start from £700.

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Um, bongos!

One of the perks of drumming is that it’s pretty versatile – you can have a performer play the bongos, giving chilled-out vibes while guests mingle during cocktail hour, or a whole troop of drummers who’ll whip the audience into a frenzy at your reception. David Imevbore, also known as Bongo Dave, is a percussionist with nearly 30 years’ experience. After honing his skills at church, he now performs at events and weddings. Among the options he offers are short stand-alone performances from a him or a group of drummers, a solo performance playing along to a backing track, a duet with a DJ (or a saxophonist, a guitarist or a violinist), or an African dance troupe supported by live drumming.


Oktoberfest has won us over, so why not further embrace Bavarian style and hire an Oompah band – they won’t be forgotten in a hurry! Kolonel Schnapps is a six-piece band consisting of two trumpets, a euphonium, trombone, tuba and drums. The players wear the full gear (including lederhosen) and will have guests singing along to their Bavarian tunes. Whether you’re German, a beer-lover or just a fan of great music, this will give your party some oomph (pah pah).

Gospel truth

If you’re after a little bit of soul and spirit, why not fill your venue with the voices of a gospel choir? They could serenade the bride and groom with a swoonsome ballad for the first dance or break out some Aretha Franklin anthems. Inspire Gospel Choir have a huge repertoire of songs that will entertain guests and fill the room with a wall of sound. They usually perform as a three, four or six-piece accompanied by a musical director, but can provide as many as 18 singers for a wedding.

Drums of steel

Turn the Scottish chill into the heat of the Caribbean by booking some mellow and upbeat steel drum players. The relaxing trill of the drums will add to the festivities and bring a tropical vibe to a traditional wedding. Sofia Steel Drum Entertainment was founded by Sofia Mills, who has spent two decades playing and teaching the steel pans at a professional level in her native Jamaica, Trinidad and across Europe. She and her band embrace a wide array of music and different cultures, and cover genres such as reggae, soul, ska, pop, classic and folk.

Arabian nights

It’s a lovely thing to bring together different cultures to celebrate the backgrounds of the bride and groom. If you’d like to highlight your Arabic roots (or are just planning a very on-trend Middle Eastern feast for the wedding breakfast), why not do it with some gorgeous exotic sounds? Babylon are a four-piece Edinburgh-based band playing a wide range of Arabian songs. The musicians – Iraqi, Scottish and English – led by Mohammed Nafee, can play the oud (one of the most popular instruments in Middle Eastern music), the flute, accordion, double bass and cello, as well as various percussion instruments. Arabic costumed dancers are also available to book if you’d really like to put on a show.

Bagpipes meet brazil

Your chosen party music doesn’t have to be one particular style. Why not mix things up and go for a diverse act that is Scottish with an international flavour? MacUmba fuse Brazilian and Scottish sounds to create a truly unique entertainment option. The eight-piece group, who bring together bagpipes and samba, have generated a sound that’s all their own and reflects the excitement of two colourful cultures. If you like the music, there is also the opportunity to add some Scottish or Brazilian (or both!) dancers to the fun. MacUmba have a selection of fun costumes (including kilts) and their unusual style and perky percussion is sure to get your guests chatting and grooving.

Mariachi mayhem

Turn your after-party into a Mexican fiesta with a high-energy mariachi band. Rapido Mariachi are a five-piece outfit whose upbeat tunes and irresistible rhythms will keep the dancefloor buzzing. Rapido are well known for pulling everyone into a conga so keep the tequila flowing and make sure the cameras are out to snap all the silliness. The band members like to go all out, fully clad in sombreros and their distinctive sharp suits. Playing a mixture of romantic ballads, rancheras and fun fiesta music, they can capture the mood and fire up the party, whether it’s a couple’s sweet first dance or the entire guest list shaking their booty on the dancefloor.