You've picked the venue, invited your guests and now its time to plan your wedding reception!
I put together 5 tips for you and your partner to consider when planning a great reception and help keep your dance floor rockin’. Mind you, I am writing this from a DJ’s perspective, but these are some great takeaways from my past 5 years as a successful wedding DJ in the Triad. Now, let’s dig in and check out my five tips on how to give your guests a great experience!
#1 . Get Organized - Hire the right people! A great event planner and DJ are going to give you the best chances of having your wedding reception become a success.
Sometimes overlooked, an event planner or day of planner will go a long way with making an awesome experience for you and your guests. The event planner will focus on making sure your timeline goes as planned and steer the night along if the occasional hiccup arises. An experienced planner will be able to communicate with all of your vendors to make sure everyone is on the same accord. For example, you want to make sure the photographer is in place when the DJ plays that special song you've been waiting for, so that moment can be cherished forever. Also, a planner will be able to take the load off of you and your new spouse so that you can enjoy your day and interact with your guests; this is very important because you are the HOSTS!
Sometimes having an event planner or day of planner is not in your budget, and this is where it is critical you hire an experienced and talented DJ. A lot of times the venue manager will take on some of the responsibilities of a day of wedding planner if one is not present, but I would definitely not rely on this happening because typically that is not their job. I have had plenty of situations where I have taken on wedding planning responsibilities the day of the wedding, just to make sure everything flows smoothly and on task with our timeline. So keep in mind, if you are not going to hire a planner, you will want to invest in a DJ with experience and initiative. A DJ who is willing to go above and beyond to make sure everything goes perfectly.
#2. It’s a Celebration for everyone! - Something to consider when planning a reception is that, while it is your big day, the reception is meant to be a “THANK YOU” for everyone that traveled to celebrate your union and attended your wedding ceremony. You will serve food and beverages and hopefully supply an awesome night of fun and dancing. Something to keep in mind while you are making your wedding day playlist is that this part is for them and not just for you. I will expand on this later in my upcoming “how to make a wedding playlist” blog.
Part of being a good host is making sure your guests are taken care of and are having a good time. And while you may be a die-hard “Phantom of the Opera” fan, and want to hear the entire soundtrack during dinner, your guest may not feel the same way. This part of the night is critical, you definitely do not want to bore your guests and send them home early. A good DJ will recommend increasing the energy as the night goes on, so it is important to heed that advice! For dinner time and leading up to dancing, it would make sense to play familiar tunes that everyone would enjoy while picking up the energy as the meal goes on. I usually start with classic wedding music and move on to some light dance music to get everyone’s toes tapping. That way your guests are engaged and primed for an exciting night of partying!
#3. Plan your Timeline - When creating your wedding day timeline its important to make sure to put yourself in your guests shoes. Try to limit the amount of locations your guests have to move to throughout the reception. Make sure the event flows to where once dinner happens, there is not too much more moving around except to the dance floor.
My advice is to create a reception timeline where there are not too many breaks in the action. Once people are up and the party is rolling, the goal is to keep them up! A poorly timed break in the action will suck the energy right out of a room. I understand, there will be stoppages throughout the party, for cake, bouquet/garter toss etc. Just make sure the break makes sense and leave room for allowance if your guests are up and having a great time on the dance floor.
#4. Create a Vibe - If your goal is to create an awesome party that people will remember and talk about for a long time, it is very important to create a vibe in your venue. Up-lighting and dance floor lighting is a necessity for transforming a venue into your dream event. Most people go to dance at nightclubs because it is comfortable, a dark situation, lights bouncing off the walls and floors and the pulsating sounds of their favorite tunes. That, with a little libations, all but guarantees an epic evening. Thankfully, with the right DJ you can easily transform your wedding dance floor and give it a night club feel, with all the safety and comforts of your venue.
I have done a ton of great weddings held during the daytime, but without a doubt my favorite receptions have been performed at night. Think about it, would you be more comfortable letting loose in a sun-soaked room or a dimly lit room with ambient lighting? Lowered inhibitions, less stress, easiest way to a great time! There is a science to it, all you have to do is follow the blueprint.
#5. Selecting your music - Weddings are like snowflakes, each one is unique and special, so your DJ’s set should never be pre-programmed and always customized to fit each client. Make sure to let the DJ know all of the special songs that have a unique meaning to your friends and family so he can create that special moment that you can cherish forever.
Aside from the special songs you request, the DJ should be able to handle the bulk of the dance playlist. The most important part of being a great wedding DJ is being able to read the dance floor. If the clients I’m working with are not too familiar with their guests tastes in music, I like to read the room as early as the cocktail hour and see what sounds people react to. That way once its time to hit the dance floor I’ll be able to produce a more focused playlist that will work with that particular crowd. Of course, line dances will get people on the floor but it will be your DJs job to keep them there!
It is also important to make sure your DJ is open to taking song requests from your guests, and has an extensive library of music so he/she can curate an epic night of music wherever the sound takes it.
That’s all I have for now! If you consider these 5 tips when planning your wedding reception. Its a great start to ensure that your wedding will be a hit, and your guests will have a great time!
If you like this post or found it helpful, please share it! Hopefully, it will be an aid to whoever is reading it. Until next time!