From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
I started singing at weddings when I was 14. I was in a group called the Show Stoppers, and we would perform at the Josephine Theater in San Antonio. I was discovered there by Dub Hankins, who signed me up for his wedding band. I must have performed at over 100 weddings. I loved it. I was so young, and I was considered a professional singer, and I was getting paid. I had gigs every weekend. We had costumes, we did choreography, and we played every genre of music.

It was fun to see all the different weddings. You get a glimpse of what you like and what you don't like, and that's helpful now that I'm planning my wedding to fiancé Bobby Krudwig, 28, a sales exec. We're getting married next Jan. 5 in Texas. Actually the band that I've most recently been singing in, Center Stage, is going to play at my wedding.

As a wedding singer, the main thing I've learned—and I think the most important thing for every bride to know—is that you just have to party, have fun and realize that not everything is going to be perfect. For the wedding band, it's a four-hour gig. You start playing during dinner—with a lot of ballads like "The Way You Look Tonight." You kind of dread playing the same slow songs. So you try to work in something up-tempo and see how the party reacts. If people don't get up, you back off and go back to a ballad that everyone likes to dance to, like maybe a waltz. Then, when they're on the dance floor you try something up-tempo again, like "Celebration." Other songs we were asked to sing a lot were "My Heart Will Go On" and "I Will Always Love You." And "Butterfly Kisses." That's such a cheesy song. The worst song was "Funky Town." I had to make my voice sound like a machine at the beginning. After a while you feel like, How many people like "Funky Town"? Can we not play this song anymore?

I would always forget the words to songs. Remember that time on American Idol when I sang "Missing You" and I forgot the words? At a wedding, people don't seem to notice. I've also fallen before. I tripped over a wire on the stage and just went splat. But I got up and started dancing with the crowd, and they never noticed. I noticed when other people fell, though. That would happen a lot. They're dancing and they just fall, and they're like, "I'm okay, I'm okay," but you know they're hurting. But they just get up and keep going.

We played a lot of really ritzy weddings, and they were a lot of fun. Most of the time the bride and groom would have a table for us, and that was really nice. We'd get to eat their food and we got cake, and that was the biggest thrill of my life. My bandmate Kelly Petlin and I were always saying, "I hope the cake is good. I can't wait to taste the cake!"

My father would take me to the gigs and pick me up. But even though I always got escorted, sometimes drunk guys would hit on me. It's free alcohol, so they're having fun. I learned how to handle them without being rude. They'd get up onstage and we'd find a fun-and-games way to embarrass them. We'd involve them in the entertainment, like play with their hair. They'd freak out and walk off.

Sometimes really crazy things happened. One time the bride and groom split up. The bride's family liked to drink and have fun, and the groom's family was against it. The families had a fight, and the bride and groom took sides with their families. But we finished the wedding anyway!

Some weddings would just never get started. We'd think it was our fault—we weren't playing the right songs, we sounded bad, the sound system was bad—but it was just a bad party. Some people kind of wanted to sit and relax and never get out of their chairs. They'd clap and go back to eating. When that happened, we'd pretend we were rehearsing for our next job because nobody was listening.

A lot of older people tended to come up and tell us we were too loud. And so we'd have to turn the sound down. You know, it's their party. You please them. They're paying you. But often the opposite happened: People would be really glued to the band because it's the key to the whole wedding. We would let them know when the cake was served, when the bride and groom were leaving. People would look to us after every song like they were in our control.

Right now I'm excited about the American Idol tour. My goal is to get a record deal. I want to get in the studio and record an album. But if someone wanted me to play a wedding now, I would definitely do it. I would die for it. I love doing parties. It makes everybody happy.