Ever wonder how that one gal from high school managed to get John Legend to perform at her wedding reception? Or how celebrities like Taylor Swift manage to catch wind of their fans’ big day and show up unannounced? For one expert, whose job description is brokering celebrity appearances at events and weddings, the bridge to bringing the stars to soirees is none other than herself.
“My role is to help people turn their dreams into a reality,” says Rachel Dalton, the founder and president of her own namesake company. “I help my clients secure their favorite celebrities to perform at their events or help them create a unique gift experience, such as dinner with their favorite fashion designer, tennis lessons with their favorite professional, or cooking lessons with their favorite celebrity chef.”
Of course couples oftentimes demand a guest appearance on their wedding days and other related events. “People often call me to help secure their favorite musical artist to sing the first dance song at their wedding,” she says. “Others want to surprise their guests with a fun musical artist later in the party, or have a celebrity DJ for the afterparty… Other ways that I can be involved in the wedding festivities include bringing in celebrities for the bachelor party (think Eli Manning of the New York Giants hanging with the guys) or having Padma Lakshmi do a cooking demo for the ladies during a bridal shower.”
Proposals are also a prime opportunity to involve a favorite star, she says. “Such as having John Legend sing one of his love songs during the special moment.”
Mostly, clients find Dalton via word of mouth and directly through party planners. “Working with celebrities is a job unto itself, and my legal skills come in handy,” she muses. “My clients are delighted that I can protect them on the legal front. I handle all the contract work, insurance, and negotiating, as well as all of the technical aspects of the production.”
Once a couple decides to work with Dalton, she then requests a talent budget to see if the artist is available within the limitations. “For instance, if a client wants Ed Sheeran, I will check with his agent to see if he looks to be available on that date and confirm his talent fee,” she adds. “I now most of the agents in Hollywood and NYC, having been in the business for the last 18 years. If the client wants to move forward, then I’ll submit a formal offer on behalf of my client, which is binding if the artist accepts. Once the offer has been accepted, we are off and running.”
With nearly two decades of experience in the industry, Dalton says she takes pride in each celebrity secured for clients, but one career highlight of hers was a rather emotional one. “I secured Good Morning America’s Amy Robach, herself a cancer survivor, to speak at the opening gala for The Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha,” she recalls. “And her speech, describing her own personal experience [with cancer], brought everyone in the room to tears. Her participation helped the facility raise substantial funds for cancer research, which is truly fulfilling to me on a personal level.”
Dalton also negotiates riders, which is a luxury for most couples working with stars. “Certain artists have had interesting demands. One required a private plane from their home in Europe, which really threw a wrench into the budget,” she laughs. “Another wanted a certain type of champagne that was very difficult to get. Another needed a specific type of chrome microphone, which was not easy to find. [So] nothing really surprises me anymore.”
And she’s flexible about budgets. “I work within all price points. There are some artists that are quite reasonable and many that are more reasonable than one would think,” she adds. “For the money that many people spend on a big band, they could afford some level of celebrity talent (and I recommend getting a more affordable DJ to handle the rest of the party).”
Overall, Dalton sees weddings as an opportunity to bring spectacular memories to loved ones. She previously orchestrated a moment when Ne-Yo came out to surprise guests ahead of a couple’s first dance. “I love that moment,” she concludes. “When we add a celebrity to that moment, as we did recently Ne-Yo, it really is a game-changer for the event. It heightens the emotion in the room, almost to a spiritual level, for all in attendance.”
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