The big day is finally here! The rings and “I do’s” have been exchanged, and now it’s time for the reception. You and your guests have witnessed and enjoyed your beautiful ceremony, and now everyone wants to celebrate! Dancing is a fun part of your reception, and it reaffirms that everyone is having a good time. If you want everyone to feel comfortable enough to bust a move and keep it going all night long, here are some tips to make sure that your dance floor stays packed for the entire night.
Set the Mood Early
Setting the mood early on will determine the pace of your reception and your guests’ interaction. Knowing your audience and who you will be catering to can help make sure your reception has the right atmosphere. Having a cocktail hour is an excellent way to start setting the mood. Your cocktail hour is a time for your guests to get into the reception space, mix and mingle, and carry over the excitement of your wedding ceremony to the reception to continue the celebration. You can get creative and really tie in the theme or mood of your wedding during the cocktail hour. Include interactive elements like chocolate fountains or candy stations to bring a unique feature to your reception. It can energize your guests and get them ready to use that energy on the dance floor.
Revisit the Guest List
Going over the RSVP list can give you insight into who will attend your ceremony so you can make decisions that include their tastes as well. Are the majority of your guests family or friends? Is the crowd a majority of older or younger guests? What are the music preferences of those guests? Ask yourself these questions and apply them while mapping out your plans.
Once you’ve decided on your vision for the mood and feel of the night, you should then decide on the vendors that can help you bring your vision to life. Now the age-old question comes into play: band or DJ? A band or a DJ can give two different moods for a reception, and once you’ve decided between the two, you should research the best options for both. To ensure your desired mood is delivered, you should give your prospective band or DJ a playlist or genre that reflects your selected music. The prospective vendors should then be able to create a setlist that reflects the vibe you desire. Reviewing the setlist that your band or DJ creates beforehand will also give you time to approve their song choices or make any necessary changes.
Start with the Right Setting
Good music can only be truly appreciated if there is a proper dance floor. It would be best if you prepared by reviewing the size of your guest list and making sure your dance floor is big enough for everyone to fit, which will entice people to get up and dance. While shopping for your venue, talk to the booking agent about the recommended guest count and keep details like this in mind when making a decision. People don’t want to be elbow to elbow dancing— they want space to cut a rug!
Decorating your dance floor will also attract guests to get up and get grooving. You will want your decorations to match the mood you’ve set for your reception, but you do not want to be too overpowering. Decorations should add to the ambiance, not take over. Also, having the proper lighting can illuminate your dance floor and attract your guests.
Get Out on the Dance Floor Yourself!
Your wedding ceremony is your special day, and guests want to see you happy and enjoying yourself. Interacting with your guests allows you to show your appreciation for their attendance and create memories that will last you and them a lifetime. Your guests want to see you having fun on your special day, so make sure at some point during your reception you get out on the dance floor and join in on the partying (even if it is for the Wobble or the Watermelon Crawl )!
Mix Up the Music
Catering to your primary audience is vital in making your music selections, but make sure you have music that will cater to everyone’s music taste to ensure your reception is enjoyable for all guests. Your musical acts should have the ability to mix it up and please everyone, and the music should be appropriate for all ages as well.
This is why selecting an experienced band, or DJ is so important. You need to be able to trust their musical direction and judgment. They need to be able to read the room and know when and how to mix up the music. If the dance floor is packed and everyone is jamming to and having a good time, you don’t want the music to abruptly change to something slow or to a new unknown song – that will surely kill the mood.
Avoid Sunday Night Weddings
When planning a wedding, most people tend to have a time of year in mind that they want the ceremony to occur. Some people have a specific date they want, and some people just want their wedding during a particular season or month and will take whatever date their venue of choice provides them. In any instance, if at all possible, avoid Sunday night weddings. You want your guests to be able to enjoy themselves, drink up (if you’re serving alcohol), and dance the night away without constantly checking the time. Having a Sunday night wedding puts your guests in a position not to fully engage in all of the reception festivities. Depending on your event guidelines and restrictions (i.e., kids or no kids), some people may have to hire a babysitter or find someone to watch their kids. With Sunday traditionally being a school night and work night, many people may decide to leave early or avoid really dancing and participating in the reception because they know they will have to get ready for work or school the next day.
Even if guests take off from work the next day, some guests may have traveled to your wedding and planned to use Monday to travel back home. Guests may also avoid drinking at a Sunday night wedding since most people aren’t too thrilled about going to work the next day with a wedding hangover. The only time you can get away with this? When your Sunday wedding falls on a three-day weekend.
Create a Solid Timeline
Timing is everything — especially when you are orchestrating a wedding with several people and various moving factors. You will want to give everyone, including yourself and your new spouse, ample time to execute while still having fun and being present during the reception. Creating a timeline that incorporates everything you want to do and still leaves time for mingling and dancing is crucial. The beginning of the reception is typically when the wedding party enters, the couple makes their entrance and has their first dance. This is also when the bride and her father and groom and his mother have their dance. You do not have to follow these traditions, but if you do plan to have sentimental moments like this on the main dance floor, you should try to arrange to have them early on before dinner is served. Get all of your “special presentations” out of the way, like the bouquet toss and toasts, so you can leave enough time for dancing and partying.
Once guests are invited to the dance floor, you want to leave it open for them to stay there to encourage dancing and interaction. It is a little more work getting guests to want to get up and dance, then ask them to sit down and get back up several times throughout the night. You also want to ensure that you get your best photos before people are on the dance floor.
Create a timeline that indicates when these intimate moments will take place to ensure the band or DJ knows when to stop and start playing music. While no timetable can be down to the exact minute, you can always leave room for incidentals and make sure you stay flexible – things happen.
Dancing and mingling is a surefire way to ensure you host an unforgettable night. Put these tips into play, and you will keep your guests on the dance floor indefinitely!