Music, dancing and lots of laughter – isn’t that what we all want from a wedding? Just follow Patricia-Ann Young’s top tips to get the party started!
We get so caught up in all the details and decisions of planning that it’s easy to forget that a wedding is really just a great party. Whether you’re having a big bash or an intimate gathering, you’ll want your friends and family to have a wonderful time celebrating with you – but getting it right can be tricky.
Despite the best of intentions (and, in many cases, thousands of pounds), some weddings end up as, well, a bit of a dud, with more than just the grannies eyeing the door for an early exit. This, of course, isn’t going to happen to you. We’ve spoken to entertainers across the industry to find out what really makes a wedding pop – so all you have to do to throw the best party ever is to read on!
Do consider the ambience
There is much you can do to orchestrate the mood you want for your day, whether that be relaxed and chatty, or high energy and exciting. An easy cheat for giving an instant atmosphere is live music – it never fails to generate a buzz from guests, and what the musicians play will literally set the tone for what follows.
Siobhán Daly at Amarone Music thinks live tunes are instrumental (no pun intended) in establishing the right vibe: “Live music does so much to bring a wedding to life – guests immediately feel that they’re at an ‘event’. It is especially helpful during the ceremony – we are able to play a piece of music for as long or as short a time as you need. For example, there’s no awkward, abrupt stop to the music as soon as you reach the end of the aisle!” It’s true – Spotify just can’t read the room the way a live musician can.
Don’t try to be the DJ
Look, we get it – we know there are lots of you who can’t stand traditional party pop. While we’re with you on the Slosh being cringe, it’s also true that your (undoubtedly excellent!) taste in music might not be as party-friendly as you think. “Clients often ask us if they can choose every single song we do and if they can design the sets,” says Ciadhra McGuire, lead singer in wedding band The Old World News.
“We usually say we’re happy to take input and suggestions from our song list, and we do offer a bespoke cover of the couple’s choice, but we have been doing this a long time and we usually work with only vague set lists – we tend to feel out the crowd and see what is landing well and choose our next song based on the energy of the room. If it feels like people are a bit lethargic from dinner or just wanting to chat, we’ll play more chilled songs, but if we sense that the crowd are up for a dance and ready to party, we’ll play something more upbeat. We find that this kind of flexibility is more difficult to do with a prescribed set list.”
Do get bums off seats
Some guests just don’t know what’s good for them – so it’s up to you to give it to them! Whenever you can, get your gang up and engaged in what is going on. The obvious way to do this is to get them on their feet for your first dance as a couple – you might even want to invite them to join you on the floor before the song is over. “Having guests up and around you rather than in their chairs for the first dance makes it a more memorable intimate moment – plus it’s then only one step onto the dancefloor!” says Euan Lawrence at Tartan Entertainment. “It’s a great way to kick off the evening.”
Don’t rely too heavily on your guests’ goodwill, however. It’s your wedding day, of course, but it’s important not to make absolutely everything about you. “It’s becoming popular to do a first dance, a father/daughter dance, and now a mother/son dance too,” says Dee McLaren of wedding band Splendid Gentlemen. “This means that guests have to stand about for three full songs before they get to dance. Chances are their enthusiasm will be running low by the end of the third one.”
Don’t just play songs!
A wedding reception often consists of hours of good tunes, a wee buffet break, more dancing and then a group rendition of ‘Loch Lomond’ to round off the night. It’s very much a ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ set-up, but you don’t have to rock the boat to have a little more fun with it. Wedding DJ Stuart Maclennan at Fresh Entertainments suggests adding some “extra layers”. He explains: “It’s not just the music, it’s about creating a party atmosphere and your guests feeling they’ve been entertained.
“We encourage the couple to take part in our newlyweds’ battle. We get them individually to choose three songs they feel will get everyone up on the dancefloor, and then their guests select the winner using our judging cards.” That sounds like a good laugh. “It is! These sing-offs/dance-offs are a way of encouraging people to get up and dance without them realising it’s happening,” says Stuart. “Everyone loves the fact there is a bit of friendly rivalry. It really raises the energy levels and, once it’s done, guests are on the floor and usually stay up dancing.”
Don’t forget about the kids
It’s great to have youngsters involved, but weddings are not always their idea of fun. Pop Up Play Village brings mess-free play set-ups that children will love, meaning both they and the grown-ups can party the way they prefer. “Taking young children to a wedding where there is no entertainment for them or nothing for them to do is really hard for parents,” says owner Kay Clarkson. “You’re exhausted by the end of the day. That’s how I felt taking with my own two children. I had a lightbulb moment where I realised that wedding entertainment for kids is desperately needed!”