At a fun-filled, smooth-flowing wedding reception, there is a certain energy that develops and intensifies as events unfold and your guests experience the facility you've selected, the menu you've planned and the entertainment you've chosen. GCStar Punta Cana offers ten tips to help energize your wedding reception.
1. Place your DJ right next to the right-sized dance floor.
Your DJ's location in relation to the dance floor is a critical factor in creating a high energy reception. Avoid placing your DJ in a corner far removed from the dance floor. Sound and lighting will be compromised, or cables and wires will need to be placed between tables to locate speakers and lights at the dance floor. And that's impractical with guests and servers moving about. Also, your DJ should have a complete view of the room in order to MC reception events effectively. If you tuck your DJ away, your reception's energy level will suffer because your DJ will have difficulty seeing and hearing what's happening.
Also, avoid seating guests between the DJ and the dance floor. Guests who are forced to sit directly in front of the DJ speakers will inevitably complain about how loud the music is even before the dancing begins. Your DJ needs to monitor sound levels and interact with the dancers to create and maintain a high energy reception. He can provide his best service and maintain the energy of your reception when he is located adjacent to the dance floor.
The DJ's setup location described above assumes that the dance floor is both centrally located in the reception area and is of a reasonable size for the number of guests. Dance floors that are too small or too large will diminish the energy of your reception.
Some country clubs and restaurants have been known to book more guests than they can comfortably accommodate and then drastically reduce the size of the dance floor, seat guests in separate rooms, or even locate the dance floor in an adjacent room. All of these situations will discourage your guests from dancing. At the other extreme, some resort ballrooms will provide a dance floor designed for 300 guests even though your guest list is under 100. An overly large dance floor results in some dancers feeling conspicuous since they can't blend in with the crowd. Both arrangements are guaranteed to diminish if not destroy the energy of your reception no matter where your DJ setup is located, because your guests will not be comfortable on the dance floor. Insist that the dance floor is centrally located and of reasonable size to accommodate the number of guests you anticipate.
A 15'x15' dance floor will accomodate 50-75 guests comfortably; add 3' to both length and width for each additional 25 guests. Therefore, a reception for 150 would be comfortable with a 24'x24' dance floor.
2. Dim the lights when it's time for dancing.
Dimming the lights after dinner creates a more relaxed atmosphere and will motivate your guests to dance. Determine the desired lighting levels during dinner and for dancing when you meet with your reception facility's coordinator. Consider lighting levels that will compliment any candles you plan to use. Ask that your lighting preferences be included in your contract. This is an important but often overlooked aspect of your reception. Lighting that is too bright will discourage your guests from dancing and compromise your DJ's light show. The best resorts and country clubs get the lighting right while lesser facilities pay little attention to this issue. A hall with only fluorescent tube lighting presents a challenge in that such lighting cannot be dimmed, only turned on or off.
3. Don't let pictures and videos dominate your day.
Select a photographer with a confident and relaxed style who will capture your special moments in an efficient and stress-free manner. Don't be held hostage by an overbearing photographer who will dominate your reception by taking an unreasonable amount of time posing shots while your guests become bored. We've witnessed a photographer interrupt the best man's toast to get the perfect close-up of your champagne glasses. We've seen the bride and groom pulled away from their just-served dinner by an over-zealous photographer who insisted it was the perfect time for the sunset picture.
Choose a video company willing to use comfortable lighting unless you and your guests want to be squinting and shielding your eyes throughout the reception. In short, photos and videos are important, but not more important than the event itself.
4. Beware of the problems caused by sharing your facility with others.
Some restaurants will book a wedding reception in an area right next to their public dining room. Some resorts will book multiple wedding receptions in a large ballroom separated by cardboard wall dividers. Some golf clubs have homes that are directly adjacent to the reception facility. The result is inevitable. As your reception starts gaining momentum, the manager tells the DJ to turn the volume down because the music is disturbing other guests or neighbors.
Music for dancing is louder than music for dinner. Normal dance music volume would be terribly annoying to a couple having a romantic dinner a few yards away. If you and your guests plan to dance, avoid choosing a facility that imposes sound and volume restriction on your reception. Such restrictions are guaranteed to hamper your DJ's performance and diminish the energy of your reception.
5. Invest quality time in planning your Grand Entrance.
The Grand Entrance sets the tone and establishes the energy for the entire reception. Work closely with your DJ to stage a Grand Entrance that reflects your style and personality. Decide who will participate, where they will assemble and in what order, where they will go after being introduced. Clarify pronunciation of names, determine appropriate introductions for blended families and, of course, select the perfect music. All of this planning is usually completed when you meet personally with your DJ a few weeks before your wedding. Your DJ can offer suggestions and will take charge of the Grand Entrance at your wedding reception.
6. Hire a DJ who knows how to beat mix a two or three song set.
Most songs played at weddings are 3 to 4 minutes long. Yet, the average dance couple's energy span is about 10 to 12 minutes. When a 3 minute song ends, many dancers will start to leave the dance floor UNLESS the DJ is able to seamlessly begin another great song with the same BPM (beats per minute). This is a skill called beat mixing. It applies to all tempos and styles of music, both fast and slow. A DJ who is skilled at beat mixing songs is more likely to keep your guests on the dance floor and maintain the energy of your reception than a DJ who can't beat mix.
Club DJ's play extended versions of popular songs and may beat mix a set of 30 minutes or more. Since wedding DJ's are expected to play a wide variety of music, the typical wedding mix is about 2 to 3 songs or 10 to 12 minutes. When evaluating DJ's, ask them to describe one of their favorites mixes. The best wedding DJ's will be able to quickly respond with something like this: one of my favorite mixes is Elvis's Can't Help Falling in Love and an edited version of Rod Stewart's Wonderful World, a mix at 108 BPM that's guaranteed to bring your guests to the dance floor and keep them there. A DJ who can't beat mix will diminish the energy of your reception.
7. The First Dance - don't wait forever to do it and don't do it forever.
One of the special moments of the reception is the bride and groom's first dance. Having your first dance immediately following the grand entrance is a great way to start the party with a flourish. As you are introduced, all of your guests are seated and more focused on the two of you than at any other time during the reception. Entering the room and going directly to the center of the dance floor for your first dance is sure to create what we call the "wow factor." Delaying your first dance until after dinner or after you visit each table of guests will deflate the energy of your reception. You can further enhance your first dance by adding a Sweetheart Gobo to your dance floor.
Once you've selected your favorite romantic ballad, practice dancing to it until you're comfortable. Of course, your first dance doesn't have to be a romantic ballad. A recent couple dazzled their guests by dancing to the upbeat Michael Buble version of 'Save The Last Dance For Me.' Consider having your DJ fade out the song at a designated time if it is exceptionally long (over 3 min.). All of this applies as well to the newlyweds' dances with their parents. If you are uncomfortable at the prospect of dancing before your guests, consider taking a few dance lessons. Your DJ can usually recommend dance instructors who specialize in this service.
8. Don't try to select every song your DJ will play.
Choose the song for your first dance and songs for specific reception events like the cake cutting and bouquet toss. Tell your DJ what artists and styles of music to feature or avoid, but don't micro-manage your DJ's performance. A professional wedding DJ can read the crowd and knows what to play and when to play it to keep the party going. More importantly, your DJ knows which requests will clear the dance floor and deflate the energy of your reception. You're paying for your DJ's knowledge and experience. Take advantage of it.
Most professional wedding DJ's will hesitate taking on your wedding if you intend to present them with a complete and precise playlist for the reception. On the other hand, most skilled wedding DJ's will have no problem accommodating your reasonably-sized list of 'must play' songs. If you're planning to bring your won music and just have your DJ play it, don't waste your money on a professional wedding disc jockey. Just rent some DJ audio equipment and have a friend press the play button on your iPod or laptop. Would you go to a nice restaurant, hand the chef a bag of groceries, and tell him that's what he must cook for you?
9. Consider using party props and don't rule out the 'cheese.'
A few colorful leis, party hats, inflatable guitars or one of the latest innovations, LED party props, can have an amazing way of energizing your reception. Doing the YMCA with all the right hats is always a crowd pleaser and provides for great photo opportunities. Professional DJ's can provide party props at reasonable expense.
As the lights dim for dancing, your reception will explode with energy when your guests make their way to the dance floor with their bright flashing LED rings. For about a dollar a person, you can transform an ordinary dance floor into a sea of dazzling, pulsating color. These soft, rubber-like, light-weight rings have a flexible band that fits any finger and a battery that keeps the ring flashing all night. These amazing rings are a great motivator for dancing.
Before you reject those so-called cheesy group dances like the Chicken Dance or Hokey Pokey, remember that these dances may be the only opportunity some of your guests will have to get on the dance floor and have some fun. These speciality dances are frequently requested, are very popular with your youngest guests (and some of the oldest ones as well!) and often create some of the most memorable reception moments.
These dances may not be at the top of your playlist, and you may even decide that you absolutely do not want any of them played at your reception. That's fine too. Just let your DJ know ahead of time.
10. Lead the way to the dance floor!
Most brides and grooms want to see their guests on the dance floor having a great time. One way to create that energy is to lead by example. When the newlyweds set the tone by dancing, guests will follow. Ask a favorite uncle or grandmother to dance. Cameras will flash. Family will applaud. Guests will join in. When the bride and groom actively participate in the dancing, the energy level of the reception dramatically increases.