You have one chance to wow your family and friends for this reception! It may be the first event you have ever planned! You may have put together the most picture perfect wedding ceremony, found the most beautiful venues, and invited all the 'right' people. But...with the wrong choice of musicians, your guests will not hang around for the night! Next to the food, your wedding reception music is the most important key to satisfying your guests and ensuring everyone leaves talking about the best party EVER! (Read about the importance of food in our earlier blog entitled "What Great Food Means to Your Reception".)
People expect to be entertained and want to party for your special day! After the formality and 'pomp and circumstance' of your wedding ceremony in the earlier part of the day, the reception is where your guests can now let loose, celebrate, and are ready to party with you! Great musical entertainment can accomplisth that for you!
You basically have three choices in selecting your reception music: first, you could put together a playlist of self-playing music; second, hire a live band; or lastly, hire a DJ. If you have very strong opinions about your music, do the playlist...but know your crowd and pick the "BEST dance party" selections! If you are going to simply hand the DJ the entire playlist for the night asking for no deviations, save your money and play your self-playing playlist. That option is mainly for the party where you are not concerned with your guests dancing, you just like a particular type of music. However, the plus about using a DJ is that they can feel the mood of the crowd and make adjustments to keep the party jumping all night!
The majority of weddings select the DJ or band. It's very important with either of these options to select the best songs for your crowd. The songs must appeal to the majority of your guests...your young friends as well as your older relatives and friends...so find that mixture of songs that will appeal to all of them. Consider asking guests for their favorite dance song(s) on your invitations' RSVP cards...that will make the reception more personal for them!
Solicit your bridal party to get people dancing for you! You and your new spouse should even plan on being on the dance floor as much as possible throughout the night...that's the best way to keep your guests on the dance floor with you too!
You may not like certain types of songs or some songs in particular; but, think of your guests and what will make a great selection of dance music! Also, you should let the DJ or band know exactly what songs you definitely don't want to hear. A simple rule of thumb for wedding music is that 90% of the music played should be known by 90% of the wedding guests. The last thing you want to see is your dance floor cleared out when the DJ plays obscure songs that no one has ever heard of or are hard to dance to.
Also, do your research on your musicians. You should either select people you know, musicians you have heard before, or get recommendations from your friends and family. Your musicians should be people who not only have true talent but are outgoing personalities who know how to thoroughly entertain your crowd! Ask your venue for recommendations of musicians that have really rocked a party there. Ask the musicians for references and check out their websites--many will have demos. Sample their online demos/YouTube videos before you set up a meeting with them. Attend one of their events, if you can. Talk to former clients. They will let you know if the band or DJ kept their guests dancing all night or were not able to read the crowd and had them leaving early.
Also, for a live band, ask them how they will handle breaks. Do they have recordings of dancing music to play during the breaks? If not, this is the perfect time for your self-playing, dancing playlist!
Think of your crowd...if your friends are line dance lovers, a DJ will be your best bet! If you want to really get your crowd going, hire dance instructors to teach your guests how to do the latest dances and/or line dances. There is absolutely no better way to get everybody on the dance floor having fun! If it's a special decade-themed event, why not hire a 70's, 80's or 90's themed band to set the mood...in full costume!
Make sure your contract stipulates that a specific DJ or lead singer of the band will be present at your event with no substitutes (unless discussed). Ask if your contract includes: use of wireless mics during the night or emcee services for special events (such as cake cutting, garter toss, bouquet toss, etc).
So...don't skimp on the budget with the musical performers. To summarize, ensure you select a professional, experienced DJ or band that knows how to read the crowd and play the music that will get them moving. Now book those fabulous musicians and have a great celebration!