I want to talk about the planning and organisational side of your wedding reception entertainment. Okay, I admit this doesn’t sound like a very exciting subject, but I believe that thinking about timings and putting together an evening wedding entertainment schedule is one of the most important elements of the whole reception. There’s no point in spending weeks finding the right entertainment acts, deciding on the perfect singer, or agonising over song choices to then find that the band is playing over your fantastic fireworks display so most of your guests miss one or the other.
So, here are a few simple rules to follow when structuring your evening wedding entertainment schedule. This will ensure your reception goes smoothly and you get the best out of everything you spend your hard-earned money on….
Organise Any ‘Features’ to Work Around Each Other
By features I mean anything and everything from a live band set or solo singer, to a fireworks display or the evening buffet. If you’re booking a live band or vocalist, in most cases this will total two(ish) hours, split into two to three sets. This works well as it means you can fit things like your buffet, fireworks or other attractions in the breaks.
This is really important. The fireworks display is an obvious one as there’s no point sending all your guests outside to see the display in the middle of the band’s set! Less obvious is the buffet. I always recommend my clients arrange the buffet during the band’s break, as otherwise it tends to be a bit of a waste of the live music (or a waste of the buffet if your band is good enough!).
A good band will keep your guests up and dancing all night, so it seems silly to take your guests off the dance floor to the buffet when you can arrange them around each other.
Top Tip: Get your live music act to liaise with the venue/caterers about timings so you don’t have to worry about it. They will be used to designing a great schedule, so if you leave them to put something together this saves you the hassle and you can rest assured that things should go smoothly.
Don’t Put Your Live Music On Too Early
This won’t apply if you’ve booked a smooth jazz act to start the evening off, but if you’ve gone for a typical wedding ‘party band’, as most couples do, this rule definitely applies.
I think some couples think, ‘right, we will have finished the wedding breakfast… then what?’, so they organise their band to start straight afterwards. I find that actually, 9 times out of 10, when it comes to this point in the evening the bride and groom chat to people and catch up (especially if evening guests are arriving), and guests tend to want to have a few drinks first before they indulge in some hardcore dancing!
For a band, the worst thing in the world is playing a set too early when the audience isn’t ready for you. It tends to result in (again) a wasted set, which we hate as it means a) we don’t feel like our clients are getting their money’s worth, and b) it’s a lot more fun when the guests are all dancing like maniacs and having a fab time.
Top Tip: If you’ve booked a DJ, get them to start the evening off, perhaps playing the first hour or so to ‘warm up’ your guests before the main music act starts. If you haven’t booked a DJ, most professional bands will offer taped music from an iPod or CD for no extra charge, so ask them to play music for you. Similarly, they can play this in the breaks too.
Take Advice Over the Format of the Live Music Sets
Most bands or music acts will have a few different options for how to perform their repertoire. For example, my bands tend to offer 2 x 60minute sets, or 3 x 40minutes as an alternative option. Although we find the 2 x 60minutes option works a lot better, for some reason clients tend to be drawn to the 3 x 40s option (even though it’s the same amount of total time).
We offer the three shorter sets for when an event is particularly long without much else going on (i.e. no DJ etc). In this case it might be better to go for this option, but 99% of the time we find the 2 x 60minute option makes for a better party.
This is just an example, but most bands will have little bits of advice like this based on their own experience. Don’t be afraid to ask your act for as much advice as you need. They’ll appreciate you asking and it will definitely make for a smoother and more successful reception.
Top Tip: It’s also worth asking your act what they’d suggest in terms of breaks. They may need a certain amount of time to do costume changes, or if they’re a high impact party band they might suggest their breaks are not too long (so you don’t lose the dynamic of the evening). This will also help you decide on a start time and when to arrange the evening buffet/other attractions.
Don’t Be Afraid of a Gap In the Entertainment
Filling gaps with entertainment seems to be another thing couples worry about, but then find on the day it’s quite nice to have a break in the live music. You’ll find that everyone will take advantage of a break and go to the bar/loo/outside for a ‘breath of fresh air’.
Top Tip: Don’t feel you need to stretch the budget to allow for more entertainment during the ‘main entertainment’.
I think the emphasis with all this is planning, taking advice from your suppliers, and most of all, (in the words of Bob Marley) ‘don’t worry about a thing’. Couples tend to stress about the finer details such as these, especially when the big day is close. But with a bit of careful thinking and forward-planning you’ll find your reception goes smoothly and you’ll have time to enjoy yourselves.
Guest post by Sera Golding of MIB Music
Guest Dancing and Bride Selfie: Sayher Heffernan
Band: Matt Pereira Photography