Dim and then Dance Unless you're having an event in the afternoon in a room that allows lots of sunshine in, you'll have options as far as lighting the room during and after dinner. Why does this matter? Here's a quick visual example.
Make sense? Of course this is an extreme example but hopefully you get the picture. Lighting can create a relaxed atmosphere and will help get your guests to dance. Many venues can show you beforehand the lighting levels during dinner and for dancing when you meet with your venue's coordinator. Venues that care about lighting also show their own attention to detail. A venue with only fluorescent lighting like you see at Target or Wal-Mart can only have their lighting turned on and off. You can definitely make those situations work with added uplighting and other techniques but remember the cost that may be involved to get the effect you desire.
Find Talent That Knows How to Mix Songs Together Properly
I've touched on this in an earlier blog post and in future posts I'll discuss the advantages of hiring nightclub style mixing talent. DISCLAIMER! I'm biased and passionate about this subject. However, here's why I think it's important. Beat mixing and phrasing in particular are underrated skills that a quality DJ should have. I've been told countless stories about how the DJ at this event and that event just pressed play and let the WHOLE SONG play out. Certainly there is a place for that and if the client they're working with specifically wants particular songs played fully for one reason or another that's perfectly fine. However, when creating energy and building a dance floor it's important to shorten songs correctly and make the next song flow smoothly to keep everyone entertained and energized.
The planning phase for music becomes really important so expectations can be set and everyone is on the same page as far as what style and genres the client wants the DJ to play and mix. When planning a wedding for example, having honest and open conversations about what works musically for both the couple and their guests helps to make an enjoyable evening for everyone.
Make Sure You Take Control of Your Day
There are some great Videographers and Photographers out there to choose from if you're planning a wedding. Why am I calling them out? I'm not. They have a really important job which is to get the best shots for you to enjoy for years to come. Hopefully this will be the last reception you'll ever have to plan. Make sure you get to enjoy it and have a game plan if you're thinking about getting extra posed group shots with your college buddies. Do you want to stop the party to get these shots, or have them just before dinner starts? Talk strategy with your photographer and videographer so nothing is interrupted and you don't have to leave the room for shots right before sunset. The DJ, Photographer and Videographer should work hand in hand on the day of to make sure everything is scripted and flowing exactly the way you planned it!
Plan Your Grand Entrance
Each couple is different. I get that. There are couples who don't want to be introduced. Cool. The vast majority want to honor and celebrate the people that are important to their day, and The Grand Entrance is a great place to start. It can set the tone and establish the energy for the rest of the reception. Planning and executing this is important and is discussed in-depth beforehand. There are also some details that sometimes aren't apparent. Where do you want your wedding party to go AFTER they're introduced? What door do you want everyone coming in? These are all little details that can be taken care of in the planning stage.
The First Dance - When Do We Do It?
Immediately following the grand entrance, your First Dance can be a great way to start the party and continue the energy from introductions. All of your guests would be seated and more focused on the two of you than at any other time during the reception.
You can also have it right after dinner to kick off the festivities. There is no right or wrong time to do the First Dance. Whatever you decide, make sure you're comfortable with it and discuss each option so you can decide what fits you. Make sure the song you choose is important to the both of you. It doesn't need to be a ballad. It doesn't need to be high-energy. Make it all about you.
Lead the Way to the Dance Floor!
Most couples want their guests on the dance floor enjoying the evening. Particularly at the beginning of the evening, lead by example. Ask a special family member to dance. Cameras flash. Family applauds. Guests join in.
Dance Floor Sizing & Where to Put The DJ
It's always a good idea to avoid seating guests between the DJ and dance floor if at all possible. Sure, there are workarounds like less "mature" folks near the speakers and more "mature" guests away from the speakers. The closer to the dance floor the DJ is, the more he/she can read the crowd and feel the energy and decide what's working and what's not.
Additionally, dance floor size can make a subtle difference in the energy of your event as well. If your guest list is under 100, a dance floor designed for a guest list of 200 will seem out of place. Here's a handy chart that can help ensure you have the proper size dance floor for your event. Adapted from dancedeck.com.
Dance Floor Sizing Chart
Whether your event or reception is big or small, these tips can help energize your guests and provide subtle differences that can take it to the next level!
Mike is a veteran DJ of both Weddings and Nightclubs. He's the Creative Director of High Impact Entertainment. For more information, visit highimpactentertainment.com