13 Tips for a Wildly Successful Wedding

I’ve been a professional DJ and emcee for over 11 years and have led hundreds of weddings, parties and events. Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years to improve the likelihood your wedding will be a raging success!

Set Expectations

Let your guests know in advance there will be dinner and dancing at your reception. This will help put them in the right mindset and help them plan what to wear. You can include this on your invitations, social media, mass text or whatever it takes. If people don’t know you are expecting them to stay the whole night, many of them will come for a few minutes, say “hi,” grab a snack and leave. If you hope they’ll stay, tell them beforehand! 

Dim the Lights for Dancing

People feel more comfortable dancing when the lights are low. They don’t feel like everyone is staring at them. If you’re outdoors in the summer, plan dancing for later in the evening. Indoor receptions are great because you can control the room lighting to encourage more dancing.

Smaller Dance Floor, Bigger Vibe

Having a dance floor that’s a little too small is better than having one that’s too big. A smaller dance floor creates the illusion the floor is full. (Would you rather go to a restaurant with a line out the door or one that looks like only a couple people enjoy eating there? Yes, standing in line is a hassle, but if the restaurant is popular then the food has to be good right?) People are more likely to dance when the floor is packed. If you don’t have a dance floor you can strategically block out an area with chairs, tables or whatever you can find in the moment. 

Finish Formalities Before Dancing

It’s best to finish dinner, cake cutting, toasts, photos and other traditions before you start dancing. Planning events in the middle of a raging dance party kills the vibe and decreases the energy. The goal is to slowly build momentum throughout the evening and end the party with open dancing. If people know they have all the formal events and photos out of the way, they are able to relax, let down their hair, loosen their ties and turn their gyration up to ten. It works every time!

Play the Hits

Weddings are unique because the age range of your guests varies wildly. It’s important to choose a few tracks from a range of decades as well as genres. You’ll also want to stick with the most recognizable songs. If people know the words to a song, they are much more likely to dance to it. Love songs are obviously great choices, but don’t limit yourself. Any popular song that brings feelings of cheerfulness, youth and nostalgia will work great too. Steer away from obscure songs and lean into the big hits. I’m a master song chooser…like I have an advanced degree in song choosing from Harvard. Just kidding, but I do this a lot. Give me 10-15 tracks to get started with, then I’ll gauge the crowd and work my magic keeping the dance floor packed.

Bar and Cake Close to the Dance Floor

If the bar and food are in another room, your guests will most likely leave the dance floor empty. If possible, bring them together in the same room. Also, consider keeping the bar open as long as you want people to stay at the reception. When you close the bar, it gives the impression the party is over. Nothing says please go home like, “Last call for alcohol!”

Seat Older Guests and Babies Away from Speakers

Older guests and small children can be more sensitive to loud music. It’s best to seat them away from the speakers. They’ll be able to hear conversations easier and have a more enjoyable time at your wedding.

Plan Something Special at the Beginning and End

People tend to remember what happened first and what happened last at events. Carefully curated cocktail and dinner music sets the atmosphere for a powerful grand entrance. Picking the perfect song and having guests form a serenade circle around you at the end are memorable moments that can take a decent wedding to one that people rave about. Dream a little with your DJ on ideas to get the party started and finish strong. The important thing is to think through it and actually plan something instead of just seeing how it goes.

Hold the Rehearsal Dinner Two Nights Before

Sometimes bridal parties drink too much at the rehearsal and they’re hung over for the actual wedding. Try adding a day in between to rest and recover so everyone can bring their best energy to the real party.

Avoid an iPhone Wedding 

A skilled DJ will use their personality, ability to communicate, musical knowledge, lighting and interactive dances to create a memorable event. The greatest playlist, algorithm or app can’t do that. Your phone is awesome at a lot of things, but what happens when your Bluetooth connection drops mid-song at the reception? How do you react when you realize the person who promised to bring the cord to plug into the house sound system forgets it? What happens when Spotify accidentally plays an explicit song in front of grandma? You get the picture. Hiring me will decrease your stress and allow you to have way more fun!

End the Party on a High

Ending the party while people are still dancing leaves the impression the dance floor was packed all night. Contrast that with playing well past midnight for only a handful of people on a mostly empty dance floor. This can leave the impression of a party that just fizzled out. Finishing the celebration while your guests still have some energy left gives the perception that this party was one of the greatest of all time. People will also be able to bring big smiles to your send-off photos. If everyone is still really hyped up, you can always funnel this energy to an after party downtown. For most Northwest area weddings the perfect end time is usually around 9 or 10 p.m.

Be Flexible

Weddings can be stressful. Hollywood has been hyping up this day since you were born. The dresses, the makeup, the hair, the love songs, the food and the dancing. But the truth is, no wedding is perfect. Someone will be late, forget their matching socks or spill wine on their dress. The trick is knowing beforehand little things will happen and being prepared with a flexible mindset. Tripped on the way down the stairs during your grand entrance? Get back up, laugh it off and move forward. Someone’s late? Lean on your vendors to help come up with a plan to adjust on the fly. The best parties happen after careful planning and lots of flexibility on the actual day.

Don’t Skip Entertainment (Even if You’re on a Budget)

If you absolutely must cut costs, don’t skip out on a professional DJ. A great DJ will help you be more organized, improve communication between vendors, encourage guests to stay longer and pack the dance floor. They’ll also communicate well with your photographer and videographer to make sure they are capturing the memories you create.

The easiest thing for wedding guests to remember is the entertainment. It’s not just about playing music. It’s human interaction, compelling comments on the mic, fun activities, smooth transitions between events and dancing that makes hiring a skilled DJ/MC the best decision you can make for your party. 

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