I’ve seen it all in my 20-year career in the wedding business, literally. The most common thing that couples have a hard time understanding isn’t the wedding ceremony, it’s the reception and keeping it going up until your exit.
Most times after I film the cutting of the cake, which is typically around the 8-9pm mark at the reception, the wedding starts to fizzle out. Well, today I want to provide you 4 secrets to help keep the reception going up until the 11th hour so it’s fun, memorable and enjoyable too!
Comfy Wedding Guests
The number one killer at a wedding reception is having uncomfortable wedding guests. Really great DJ’s understand this and they do their best to keep the party moving, but even they can only do so much.
My advice is to combat discomfort with well, comfort. For example, if the guest are getting hot and sweaty from dancing to the cha-cha slide, rent a BIG fan at place it on the dance floor at the venue or buy smaller fans and place them throughout the sides of the dance floor. This will help keep everyone cooler and allow them to dance it up longer.
Also, consider having a drink station dedicated to those dancing on the floor with tea, water and lemonade to stay hydrated. Stay away from booze and keep at the bar away from the dance floor, no one like a drunk dancing, well not at a wedding anyway!
Another great idea is to provide guests a basket full of flip flops that they change wear on the dance floor so their feet don’t hurt while dancing. Many of the ladies will simply love this because of wearing heels and it allows them to have fun on the floor without breaking their shoes or worse, their ankles!
Keep the Party Moving
No one likes a party where no one is dancing and that’s the job of the DJ, keep the music flowing in hopes that people will get out and dance it up! Some of the top-level DJ’s will even get out there on the floor to help get the dancing started and they do wonderful work. Beyond that, the wedding planner should be allowed to be in control of the eve and the timing of things. If he or she see’s that the dancing is slowing down, maybe it’s time for a break to do the garter/bouquet. They’ll know how to break up the eve a bit to allow your wedding party and guests a little bit of time to ‘breathe’ before dancing it up again.
For those that don’t like to dance and move about, have something for them to do too. Great wedding venues will have things like lawn games, fire-pits for sitting and chatting and even little surprises like a smores bar where families can make smores and sit by the campfire. Being able to think about things do to for those that don’t like to dance it VERY important, especially if it’s an older crowd that doesn’t like to dance. One wedding I did in 2013 had a bingo hall for the older people in their wedding guest list and it was a HUGE hit. Not only did the older couples stay longer, they could still see the dance floor and they felt important enough to stay and enjoy themselves too. The best part was the bingo set only cost $30 and the prizes were less than $100 total.
Food is Great Too
In addition to the normal cake/cupcake and dinner service, have a late-night snack bar where you can have small snack for people to enjoy. Snacking helps keep things going for those dancing and more importantly for those that just want to sit and chat. It doesn’t have to be a heavy or expensive thing either, it could be a popcorn and pretzel bar for example or something very unique like a pickle bar with various types of pickles to try.
I also did a wedding this year where the couple asked the catering business to take whatever was left from the buffet and make little mini snack plates full of food and set it out. It worked out great because the couple didn’t spend anything in addition to the what they already had, and the catering company made a “snack” table with the leftovers. Guests loved it because it wasn’t much on the plate, just enough to snack a bit and keep going too. Original idea!
Add a Surprise
I filmed a wedding in 2015 where the couple had a surprise wine tasting station and a Jeopardy game for those just hanging out and offered prizes too. They asked the DJ to cut everything back for about an hour while they did these two things at the same time in different parts of the venue. They hired a wine professional from a local winery to come in and do the tasting for about 40 people while about 25-30 went and did the Jeopardy game. I remember the top prize was a 32” HDTV for the winner and they had a blast!
Adding something in the midst like this for example gives guest a break from just dancing and it allows them to focus on something else for a bit. After the game and tasting the DJ broke out the tunes again and the guest dancing until 11:30pm when the couple did the exit, it was one of the best wedding receptions I’ve seen in years.
I’ve been to so many weddings where couples just expect the DJ to play music and people are expected to dance and they don’t. Keeping your guests entertained is an important part of the wedding if you want it to last throughout the evening. Being able to take their discomforts and turn them around can make or break your wedding reception so make it fun for everyone at the reception!
Thanks so much for reading the blog today, if you or someone you know is getting married, head over to my experience page and learn more about my wedding films and how I can encapsulate your wedding onto an award-winning wedding video or film.