Back in April of 2003, I had just finished setting up my DJ equipment for a wedding reception in a luxurious downtown Omaha hotel. Right on cue, the guests started to filter in, and I started the smooth jazz cocktail hour music. I headed over to the bar for a soda. As the bartender handed me the soft drink I ordered, he promptly said, “three dollars please.” Assuming he was joking, I walked away laughing as I thanked him. With a serious expression, he quickly informed me that he wasn’t kidding and that I’d better pay up on my newly acquired debt. It was then that I saw the sign on the bar. “Drinks $5.00 – Beer $4.00 – Soft Drinks $3.00.” Overhearing some of the guest conversations around the bar, I was apparently not the only one surprised by the drink charges. Big weddings often come from a cultural or family tradition, but these days more and more couples are getting married without so much reliance on their family and they also the one who find for a small wedding reception venues Melbourne.
it comes time to offer tips and advice to my customers, I have to look
back on my experiences as a Wedding DJ. In this article, we’ll cover
some tips that are often overlooked or seen as no big deal by brides and
grooms as they plan for their wedding receptions. These tips, however,
WILL make the difference between happy guests and unhappy ones at your
reception. In short, the following tips will increase the chances that
your guests will stick around and have a great time at your reception.
realize that many professionals offer a host of tips and suggestions in
the wedding industry, and at times it’s hard to take it all in.
Clearly, many things have to come together to ensure that everything on
your wedding day is a success.
After talking and interviewing
thousands of brides I noticed three distinct commonalities that most of
them had when laying out their expectiations for their receptions. They
1. Keep the events moving smoothly.
2. Keep the guests from leaving early.
3. Keep guests dancing and having fun.
a DJ, I’ve had the unique advantage of being the first one to arrive at
and the last to leave from hundreds of wedding receptions. For that
reason, I feel comfortable and confident as I offer the advice you are
about to read.
All in all I have always felt that if you want to
have a successful reception, one of the single most important things you
can do is to consider thing from your guests’ point of view.
TIP 1 – Never charge guests for drinks
it comes to weddings, brides and grooms are often restricted by the
limitations of their budget. There are certainly some shortcuts you can
take to save a little money. But be careful! One area I strongly advise
you not to skimp on is the bar. Making invited guests pay for their
drinks is not a good idea, and it will stifle the atmosphere. The fact
of the matter is that guests just don’t like paying for drinks. Plus, a
free bar is often all it takes to keep the guests who are on the fence
from leaving early.
I do not for a minute encourage binge drinking
or any kind of abuse. I have just learned that the guests will loosen
up, dance and have a better time when the bar is free (or, in wedding
terms, “hosted”). The bottom line is that if you want guests to stick
around and feel appreciated, an open bar is a must.
TIP 2 – Don’t start the reception too early
the summer of 2007, I was the DJ for a reception that started at 2:30
in the afternoon. The event was held at a country club that had large
windows all around the reception room and overlooked a beautiful golf
course. For the reception, the bride and groom expected to have lots of
dancing up until the 8:30 end time.
By 4:00, the dinner, toast and
cake-cutting were over, and it was time to get the dancing underway.
With an upbeat attitude and a desire to rock the party, I started the
dance music. Despite my best efforts, I could hardly get anyone to dance
and the reception was over by 5:30. Aside from the lack of dancing the
afternoon went well and although I received lots of compliments the
groom expressed to me his disappointment that there was very little
After hearing about the groom’s disappointment, I felt I
had somehow let him down. But in reality, the circumstances were just
not conducive to much dancing.
It is very difficult to get people
in the mood for dancing at 4:00 in the afternoon in a sun-filled venue.
Drinks don’t flow like they normally would, and people will generally
leave early knowing they still have most of their evening ahead of them.
good time to start a reception is around 6:00 P.M. in the evening. Any
earlier and you risk losing the feeling of a night out for your guests.
yet, if you are not planning a church ceremony, you may want to
consider having your ceremony at the reception venue. You won’t have to
worry about transportation, and you’ll have the luxury of timing the
ceremony closer to the reception.
TIP 3 – Avoid long time gaps between ceremony and reception
recently arrived to set up my DJ gear for a reception that was supposed
to start at 6:00 P.M. When I arrived at 4:30 to start setting up, there
were already 50 people in the room just sitting there in silence. For a
moment, I thought I was late, but I came to find out that most of the
people sitting around were out-of-town guests who had been there since
3:00. The wedding had been at 1:00 at a local church, and after the
ceremony these out-of-town guest had nowhere else to go, so they headed
over to the reception venue. By the time the reception officially
started at 6:00, these guests had been sitting around for three hours.
Most of these guests just ate dinner and left.
You must consider
the time gap between the end of your ceremony and the start of your
reception. Ideally, your guests should go right from the ceremony to the
reception. The bigger the gap in between, the harder it is on your
I realize that those who have the ceremony in their church
can’t just pick the time that bests suits them and must work around
normal church services. Many churches will want you to have a Saturday
ceremony between noon and 2:00 p.m. That’s fine, but remember that
following such a ceremony directly with the reception will mean that the
reception will start too early in the day. In order to compensate, some
couples get married early in the afternoon and postpone the reception
until later in the evening.
My advice is to have the ceremony as
late in the afternoon (or early evening) as possible and schedule the
reception to follow immediately. If an early ceremony is your only
option, make sure your out-of-town guests realize the reception will be
later, and provide them with ideas to keep them busy in between the
ceremony and reception.
Ideally, you should host your ceremony at
the same location as your reception. Many facilities can provide a nice
area for you to have your ceremony. If it’s possible, you should look
TIP 4 – Venue Lighting
There is a venue in my town
that has a very basic lighting system. The lights are either all on or
all off. There is no option to dim any of the lights, so all the lights
are usually left on. This makes it very difficult to get people in the
mood for dancing. After all, no one wants to be in the spotlight, and
bright lights over the dance floor can hinder the ambiance. This tip is
very straightforward: to create an atmosphere for dancing, the lights
must be dimmed.
TIP 5 – Don’t stand near the exit
mind that the exit is almost always in the same place as the entrance.
Once you and all the guests have arrived, try to avoid standing anywhere
near the exit. Standing by the exit at any time during the reception
gives off the impression that you are there to say goodbye to guests who
are leaving. Before you realize it, you will have (instead of a
receiving line) a departure line. To keep your party alive and moving,
avoid standing near the exit. You never want to communicate to the
guests that it’s time to leave unless it is!
TIP 6 – Have a fun grand entrance
of having a fun, dance-filled evening is starting everything off with a
bang. There is no better way to begin a reception with excitement than
to make a grand entrance. This doesn’t only get you in the mood for the
party; it also gets the momentum rolling and puts your guests in the
spirit of having fun.
As you and your wedding party arrive at the
reception, have your DJ or Emcee line you and the wedding party up to be
announced as you enter the reception venue. Pick a fun song to be
played while everyone’s names are announced. As a DJ, I always get the
audience clapping along to the beat of the music as you all enter.
is all about setting the tone for the evening, and there is no better
way to do that than to have a thrilling and exciting grand entrance with
your bridal party.
TIP 7 – Avoid offensive music
to time, I work for brides and grooms who insist that I play music that
is littered with colorful innuendos and language. This musical pursuit
for your reception is highly ill-advised. The fact is that you may not
know everyone on your guest list as intimately as you may think. Why
take the chance of offending someone with vulgar music? I have seen
guests walk out of a reception because of loud or offensive music.
TIP 8 – Dismiss tables when having a buffet-style dinner
behind my DJ table, as I looked at the two hundred guests standing in
line for the buffet at a reception, I couldn’t help but think that these
people could have been sitting at their tables, enjoying conversation.
Instead, they were weaving in and out of tables, waiting in a long line
for food. I jokingly compare this scenario to a herd of cattle lining up
for the trough.
This situation leads to awkward feelings for the
guests who are already seated with their food as well as for those
standing in line right next to them as they sit and eat. I have seen
this happen hundreds of times throughout my career, and it is always
You can choose one of two solutions for this
problem. First, you could have a plated meal (or sit-down dinner) in
which the staff serves the food directly to the guests while they are
seated. Second, if you are having a buffet-style meal, you can have the
tables released for dinner. Ask your DJ, host couple, or catering staff
to dismiss each table one or two at a time. Personally, I fell this
should be done by your DJ if you have one, because otherwise there is
not much for the DJ to do during dinner. While releasing tables, your DJ
can discover where the “fun” tables are and solicit music requests.
This will allow the guests to feel like a part of the upcoming events.
TIP 9 – Use round tables
recently DJed for a reception at a local country club in which the
layout of the tables felt like I was the announcer for bingo night at
the local legion hall. The room was full of 8 foot tables, and there
were 6 rows of the them in the room. Each row has 5 tables lined up end
to end. Guests going to and from their seats had to weave down long
aisles of people, and there were times when aisles were blocked.
crazy as it sounds, the type of tables you provide for your wedding
guests will affect the social aspect of the evening. With the exception
of the head table, you will want to avoid the standard 6′ or 8′ tables
for the guest seating. Long, 6′ or 8′ tables are reminiscent of a mess
hall or a lunch room setting and will detract from any kind of elegance.
Furthermore, long tables are not conducive to conversation.
advice is to always choose round tables for guest seating. This setup
puts all the guests on an equal playing field for socializing and
mingling. It also eliminates the theatre-like seating, in which you have
to feel guilty about getting up and moving through a crowded isle.
addition, round tables make it easier for the bride and groom to
circulate among the guests. Finally, they provide the guests with better
viewpoints of everything that is going on throughout the evening,
helping to keep them engaged.
When it comes
to planning your wedding reception, many factors can affect how engaged
your guests are and whether they leave the reception early. I have seen
the tips presented in this article get overlooked more times than I wish
to count. I just hope these ideas have inspired you to consider your
wedding reception from your guests’ point of view.
Hi, my name is Steve Bergeron.
The bottom line is: if you
are going to listen to one person on how to keep guests at your wedding
reception dancing, drinking, socializing, and enjoying themselves, you
should listen to someone whose job it is to entertain at weddings.
With over twenty years of experience as a professional mobile DJ, I will share inside secrets to keeping your guests at the wedding reception happy and having a great time.
But don’t be confused!
book is not all about the DJ you hire. This book also isn’t about cheesy
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