Top tips for keeping people entertained at your wedding

Scottish wedding entertainment acts share their top tips for making a wedding ceremony and wedding reception enjoyable for guests

The best nights of our lives always feel magical, don’t they? It’s as if everything has somehow fallen perfectly into place, and the alchemy of events was ‘just so’ to create the most spectacular vibes ever, right?

Wrong! A good time isn’t down to chance or fate. No, it’s cold, hard science, and in order to throw a great wedding, you have to get the formula right, writes Patricia-Ann Young

To help you out, we’ve spoken to the leading minds in the field of weddings: the entertainers! Follow their pointers closely and you’ll be sure to give your guests such a good time that your wedding ceremony and wedding reception will go down in history as totally legendary!

people dancing at a wedding reception at Kinmount House
A bride or groom on the dancefloor will bring the party (Photo: Hemera Visuals Photography)

How do you get people to dance at a wedding reception?

On your wedding day, think of yourself as something of a Pied Piper – wherever you and your new spouse go, your guests will likely follow. So if you want to throw an amazing party, you have to actually party, says Mark, one of the Anti Wedding Wedding DJs.

“If you’re on the dancefloor, so are your guests. They want to spend time with you, so keep dancing and let them come to you. The more people there are on the dancefloor, the bigger the party!”

Mark believes it’s really important that you don’t break the party spell for anything – not even to refuel! “Don’t kill the vibe midway through the night by turning off the music while the evening buffet is brought out,” he insists. “Serve the food by all means, but keep the music flowing – not everyone will want to eat. And if the party is rocking, you don’t want to halt that for stovies.”

A DJ from the Anti Wedding Wedding DJs
The Anti Wedding Wedding DJs are a collective of experienced club and festival DJs. They offer an award-winning service and record bag filled with party jams (Photo: Emma Lawson Photography)

Should you have live music for a wedding ceremony?

DJ or band for dancing the night away? This is absolutely your choice and down to your personal preference. When it comes to the ceremony, however, live is almost always best, and not just because you might accidentally leave Spotify shuffle on.

“We would seriously recommend having live music for walking down the aisle,” says Siobhan of musical trio Amarone Music. “Your musicians should be experienced enough to play for just the right amount of time – and for that to include your favourite bit of the song too, which might involve cutting the music to the best part!”

If you’re going down the live music route all day, though, Siobhan has some rules: “While we can play a huge variety of different music, it can be nice to switch it up a bit. In fact, I would advise against having the same musicians all day and night.

“A sax and DJ power hour might not be your choice for creating a romantic ceremony atmosphere, but it could be a brilliant way of injecting some energy as people maybe start to wilt a little as they wait for the evening entertainment to begin. It can even be a great way of changing up the atmosphere during your evening reception.”

A person from Amarone Music playing the flute with violinist in the foreground
Having live music at your wedding ceremony creates emotion that a playlist just can’t compete with, say Amarone Music

Do wedding musicians take requests?

Don’t hire your entertainers then forget about them until a few weeks before the big day – touching base in the run up to your nuptials will keep everyone on the same page and avoid any potential disappointments.

Musicians Lauren and Paolo of Kaleidoscope Duo point out why this is an essential step: “It allows more time to pin down details such as special song requests, which makes the performer feel a lot more relaxed and prepared. And by getting to know you beforehand, they’ll come into your wedding as more of a friend.”

It’s also important not to overwhelm your musicians with special requests but to trust their judgement. “The songs in a musician’s set list are usually their best and most-rehearsed for a reason,” say the duo. “Some may be happy to learn a whole new set for you, but remember that this means it will likely be the first time they’ve played the songs live – and it’s at your wedding!”

Lauren and Paolo at Kaleidoscope Duo performing guitar and singing outside
“Live music is the perfect way to elevate your wedding and really separate it from just another ordinary party,” say Lauren and Paolo at Kaleidoscope Duo (Photo: Thomas McCabe Photography)

Get your wedding DJ to host a newlyweds’ DJ battle

You might think that once you get the first dance out the way, you can relax – but not so fast. You can’t just disappear into a night of mingling punctuated by the odd jive with your aunties.

Find a way to keep the entertainment going, says Euan at Tartan Entertainment Group: “Your wedding is probably the biggest party you’re ever going to throw, and we think you should get involved and get creative with it. We do a couple’s DJ battle where we get you up to headline your own wedding and the two of you pick three songs each to battle it out to find out who has the best music taste. At the end, your guests choose the winner!”

Euan explains that when couples are visible and interactive with their entertainment, the crowd really respond to it. “It’s all about keeping those energy levels high all night and getting involved,” he says. “Don’t rely on your DJ or band to do all the heavy lifting. Your guests love to see you being the life and soul of the party.”

A bride and groom in front of a crowd doing a DJ battle at a wedding reception
The thrill of a Tartan Entertainment Group newlyweds DJ battle could be yours! (Photo: Paul Govers Photography)

How do you incorporate bagpipes into a Scottish wedding?

You want your wedding to feel like an occasion, and turning up the drama a notch is a great way to create a sense of atmosphere on your big day. And if you’re marrying in Scotland, you’ve got an easy (and very dramatic) ace up your sleeve: bagpipes!

“It’s the look, it’s the sound, it’s the novelty,” smiles John at The Pickled Piper. “If you have guests coming from overseas, there’s a good chance they’ll never have been up close to bagpipes before. It’s a very visceral sound. I’m one of the few pipers around who wear the full kit with the fluffy hat. Together with the bagpipes, it has a lot of impact.”

It’s important not to go overboard, though, otherwise the drama can get messy. “Some couples have asked me to play the pipes during the signing of the register, for example, but I would usually advise against that,” says John.

“It’s not really what you’d call soft background music – it’s a powerful instrument. For me, it’s about bringing attention to something that’s about to happen. So piping at the door of the venue for guests arriving says ‘there’s a wedding about to happen – welcome!’. It signals the couple coming out of their ceremony to announce their marriage, and for the wedding party to come in to the meal. It’s a bit of theatre and people love it.”

If this is something you know you want for your wedding, you can read more tips for hiring a bagpiper here.

A bride and groom wedding DJ battle by Tartan Entertainment Group and The Pickled Piper wearing full Highland dress
Left: A Tartan Entertainment’s DJ battle. Are you Team Bride or Team Groom? (Photo: Paul Govers Photography); right: The Pickled Piper thinks there’s nothing quite like the skirl of the pipes to create atmosphere (Photo: Forza Photography)

See more fun Scottish wedding entertainment ideas here

Or if you’re hungry for more, check out some of Scotland’s best wedding food and drink suppliers