You’ve booked a DJ. You’ve booked a band. You’ve coordinated with your venue, sorted out timings, lighting, song requests and playlists. The dance floor should be full all night then, right? Wrong.
I’m so sad to say it but I have been to events where no matter what the DJ played or how fantastic and energised the band were, the crowd just didn’t get up and go wild as expected. So what’s stopping your guests from letting loose and shaking their stuff? Well it’s quite a lot of things actually!
The truth is wedding and event coordination is a tricky beast and that’s why you’ll find most coordinators to be direct, well organised and quite determined when it comes to making an event fabulous! Coordinators do know their stuff, so it’s always worthwhile picking their brains if you have one, but here’s a few things from a musicians perspective that I think really help to make an unforgettable night:
1. The Design
Everyone in a party looks to refill their drinks at least a few times a night. Usually they take one or two friends with them. Sometimes they end up chatting at the bar, or going outside for fresh air and finding some others, and before you know it they’ve forgotten that they were having a great time inside and now the party is gathering outside…but you, and me as the entertainer, want them inside! So how do we do this?
Keep the bar near the dance floor. If they can see the party is happening inside, they aren’t going to want to leave the dance floor for long. If they can refill easily, they’re going to keep partying all night. It’s a win-win!
Get rid of as many tables and seats as you can.
Seats mean seated viewers- those people who never quite leave their comfortable chairs because they didn’t have to. In my opinion, the only seats that should remain for your evening party should be well away from your dance floor and bar, and should be reserved for those elders who might actually need to be sat down a bit away from the loud music (until ‘September’ by Earth, Wind and Fire comes on!).
Don’t make the outside/smoking space too exciting. If you fill it with speakers, cosy fires, tin bath bars, soft sofas, warm blankets and lovely fairy lights, it will look beautiful…so beautiful that people will gather there and not on your dance floor!
Where you can’t change the design of the venue, think about how you’re going to make your dance floor THE place to be! Maybe that’s as simple as gathering your pals and keeping yourself there and raving all night - after all you’re the main attraction!
2. The Mood
So many of my Brides and Grooms have told me how stressful their day was up until the party, which is when they decided to let their hair down… and it’s no surprise that from then on everyone had a blast!
If you’re enjoying yourself, dancing, laughing, everyone else will feel more relaxed and want to follow suit. However if you’re micro-managing, the chances are everyone, including your venue and band, will be a little subdued because they can sense your tension. Try to book acts/supliers you trust will look after you to avoid worry on the day.
If you have booked well, relax and let your suppliers do what they do best. They will no doubt have done hundreds of events and will know how to read your crowd and get the party started. This goes across the rest of the day too!
3. The Build Up
There’s a lot you can do to build up to a great night. In fact, there’s so much that there will be a whole blog dedicated to this soon!
a brief way of describing this is to picture your day like a wedding cake. The main event, or the sponge, is your wedding ceremony. The meal is your filling. The party is your icing. Now those are the main parts of a cake, but you’ll definitely want to add some extra flavour, colour and decoration to all of those to really build a showstopper!
Music is the perfect way to build your day. Something romantic for the ceremony can be followed by something uplifting for the reception, which is a perfect recipe to the morning proceedings. You’ll then want a mixture of upbeat and happy classics for the meal, before going into the dance floor anthems that will really get everyone going for your evening!
You can build this live music element by having one or two stages throughout the day performed with live musicians. Something simple for the morning proceedings, like an acoustic duo or violinist, will be perfect, but for your evening you definitely want a high energy party act!
Why not add a few surprises for your guests for the evening party to keep them excited? Things that work really well are; roaming musicians, confetti canons, glow sticks, fireworks, facepaint & glitter stations, LED batons and glitzy dancers to pull people up! Surprise live acts work really well - I’ve often gone out with a DJ and suddenly ‘appeared’ in the crowd as a pop up interactive singer, and it always makes everyone smile and start chatting and dancing!
4. Happy People, Happy Party
Keeping your guests smiling is essential and small things make a big difference!
My top tips are:
Keep drinks flowing throughout the day. This includes tea and coffee, because there’s nothing worse than the after dinner sleepy lull.
Try to keep speeches within a set time. It’s difficult to get the energy back if people have been sat for hours on end through dinner, so a little ‘guide time’ for your speech givers is a great idea.
Try to speed up your day - iI know this sounds odd, and you don’t want to rush things that are so important to you, but a 12 hour+ day makes it hard for anyone to keep up the energy. Is there anything you can do at all to make your day slightly shorter but just as fabulous?
Make your evening guests feel special too! If you have guests arriving for just the evening section, these are your energy hoarders! Make them feel special when they arrive so that they are ready to lead the way into the party.
Evening snacks or a ‘sugar table’ is a great idea to keep people energised for a late one!
That’s it from me on this one but as always please let me know if you’ve thought of any other great things to add?