Burning Question: Do Big-Time Pop Stars Play Weddings or Bar Mitzvahs?

Leslie Gornstein
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Oh yeah. For the right price (and with the right connections) Perry — or Christina Aguilera, Elton John, or even hipster saints like Florence and the Machine — will gig at your party. And don't limit yourself to weddings and bimah-related events. If you know the right people, there's a strong chance that some megastar — if not your No. 1 choice — could sing at your anniversary celebration, corporate booze cruise, fundraiser, quinceañera or jamboree.

According to a source , Elton John, Katy Perry, Billy Joel, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Florence and the Machine, and Christina Aguilera all have performed at some sort of private function this year — a birthday, a wedding, a bar mitzvah.

But if you want the same type of service, you'd better have the money to hire a celebrity wrangling company with serious ties to top managers, agents, and publicists.

And you'd better be a millionaire. At least.

"On the low end of celebrity spectrum, $5,000 might be [enough for] some soap and reality stars, also stars of yesteryear," says Rita Tateel, president of The Celebrity Source, a company which matches celebrities with marketing campaigns and special events for corporate, non-profit, and private clients.

"If, however, the offer was exorbitant — like $1 million-plus — even Oprah, Gaga or Bieber might say yes."

If the celebrity gigs in a foreign country for some politician or tycoon, the fee may even stretch as high as $5 million, says Brett Galley, celebrity booker at Hollywood Pop Gallery. Kanye West reportedly charged $3 million to perform at the wedding of Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev's grandson, Aisultan Nazarbayev, over the Labor Day weekend. (You can see a homemade video of the appearance for about $3 million less.)

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Together, West and Jay-Z commanded about $6 million to rap at a Sweet 16 bash for an Arab billionaire, if you believe the tabloids.

Back in 2006, Jennifer Lopez raked in a reported $1.4 million to perform at the birthday party of an Azeri oligarch; more recently, in 2011, she apparently charged a mere $1 million for a similar service for an Uzbek oil tycoon. In fact, Lopez must really like that part of the world, because in June, she sang "Happy Birthday" to a Turkmenistan dictator. (She later apologized.)

Don't have a few million lying around? No worries. Here's a rising trend: Celebrities selling a few moments of their time for a customized video greeting.


"I was recently contacted to see if David Letterman's announcer, Alan Kalter, would pre-record an announcement introducing a bride and groom, similar to what he does every night in introducing Letterman," Tateel tells me. "I thought this was a very creative way to incorporate a celebrity into a wedding, in an appropriate way.

"Video greetings in general are considerably less expensive than a live appearance, but anytime you're involving a celebrity's name and image the price tag will be in direct proportion to the popularity of the star, ranging from the low of $5,000 per celebrity up to $100,000, often made as a donation to the charity of the celebrity's choice."

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