How to Arrange Wedding Reception Entertainment

1 of 11 in Series: The Essentials of Planning a Wedding Reception

The most popular sources of wedding reception entertainment are disc jockeys and bands. Booking wedding reception entertainment should be one of the first things you do. You'll need to have a good sense of the type of music you want to be played for dancing, for background sound, and for setting the mood of your reception.

Going with a band

Before you begin band shopping, put your thoughts in order. Who are your guests? Are they all about the same age, or do they cover several generations? Do either of you have strong musical preferences? What do you like to listen to? What can’t you bear? Get opinions about music from people important to you — your parents and friends — and find out what kind of music keeps them on the dance floor.

In the end, you can’t please everybody. As with other aspects of your wedding, you must determine whose enjoyment is most important and plan accordingly.

When hiring a band, you can opt for variety or skill — a band that offers a full repertoire is probably not expert at all of it. If you’re averse to traditional wedding bands, you may wish to hire a band that isn’t primarily a wedding band. Doing so can be a great idea; just be very specific about any traditions you want to keep.

Good places to contact when looking for a wedding band include:

  • Concert promoters

  • Friends

  • Hotels

  • Internet

  • Music agencies/band representatives

  • Music colleges

  • Music labels

  • Music publications

  • Nightclubs

  • Phone books

  • Vendors (Photographers, caterers and other on-site wedding businesses)

Spinning with a DJ

While hiring a DJ for your wedding used to be a low-budget choice, these days it can be your best bet. Don’t risk hiring an amateur; go with a professional who has wedding experience. Even though a pro might have an enormous inventory, make a list of specific songs you want to ensure will be played. If the DJ doesn't have all the songs you’ve requested, many will allow you to provide the recordings yourself.

If you want your DJ to also act as master of ceremonies, be prepared to pay for two people, a front person and a spinner.

Making your selections

After you’ve hired your entertainment and written your wedding-day schedule, go over it with the bandleader or DJ either on the phone or in person. Decisions that need to be made and confirmed with the DJ or band include:

  • First dance: The name of the song, when the band should play it, at what tempo and how you’ll be introduced.

  • Dances with parents: The father of the bride and/or the mother of the groom may wish to dance to particular songs with their son or daughter.

  • Introductions: Whoever is acting as master of ceremonies will need to know the name of each member of the wedding party and how to pronounce it.

  • Breaks: When and where the band and/or DJ will eat.

  • Gag orders: Be extremely specific about how and when announcements are made.

  • Etiquette: Stipulate no eating, drinking or smoking on stage, unless you don’t mind.

  • Stage set: Ask what their setup looks like and find out if it will go with your décor. Provide a secure place for the band/DJ to store their personal effects.

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The Essentials of Planning a Wedding Reception

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