The wedding reception is truly one of the main focal points of any wedding day. While we like to think it is the moment a loving couple says ‘I do!’ the next best moment is when the celebration begins. As a caterer who works exclusively with some of Indianapolis’ most sought after venues, and as a caterer capable of working nearly any location, we are often consulted by our couples when it comes to choosing their vendors because of our many years of experience in the industry. We always emphasize that is it ultimately up to the couple to choose who they feel will be the best fit for their special day, but we never shy away from recommending our favorite and most professional wedding pros. Aside from hiring a photographer, the next most important vendor to consider is who will be responsible for providing your music.
The music part of the planning process may seem very minimal, but it is an incredibly important part of the day. A great DJ or band can create the perfect ambiance and level of excitement at the ceremony as well as craft the best atmosphere to have a party in celebration. Even though we are a caterer, we have a major role to play in planning wedding receptions and have seen our fair share of both great and not great DJs and bands. Follow some of these great tips from what we have learned throughout the years to help make your wedding day music perfect for you and your guests.
- Deciding Against a Band or DJ without Researching Both
This is usually one of the first music decisions to be made. If you’re a fan of live music and your budget allows it, a band might be your best option. However, if your budget is restricted or you have a distinct playlist, the DJ would be a great choice. Just like you did your research to find your wedding venue, caterer, photographer, etc… do your research when choosing music. You’ll want to know what each can offer and you’ll want to get real couples perceptions of their experiences – so ask for references!
- Crickets Before the Ceremony Starts
Guests typically arrive up to 45 minutes before the ceremony beginning (they want to get a good seat!). If guests do arrive early, silence can take away from the moment as they wait for the wedding to begin. Talking with your band or DJ to providing pre-ceremony music will help set the atmosphere as guests arrive and get them into the loving, celebratory spirit. Your music entertainment can also offer cues to guests as to when they should be seated because they ceremony is going to begin.
- Not Meeting the Band or DJ Until Your Wedding Day
Just like you’ll taste cake before choosing the flavor you want, make time to meet with your music entertainment. Many bands perform special shows so that potential couples can see them live and in action as they make their decisions. Watching a DJ work might be a little more difficult, but asking to see them work won’t hurt. They may even invite you to see them at an actual wedding (with the other couple’s permission of course). When you meet with your potential entertainment, ask them if they take requests and can they provide impromptu music and motivation to change the tone of the reception. Remember, they create the atmosphere of the party.
- Forgetting to Communicate the Songs That Must Be Played During the Ceremony and Reception
Don’t leave it to chance. If you know exactly what you want played and when you want it played – let your band or DJ know. Be sure to discuss in detail the genres of music you want played and what artists or genres should absolutely be avoided. If you are requesting something obscure or not as well know, be sure to provide that request to your entertainment well enough in advance of your wedding so that they can research and familiarize themselves with it.
- Bring the noise, respectfully
Keep in mind, this is a wedding reception, not a Friday night dance party at a club. Therefore, you and your DJ will need to be mindful of the noise level presented by the music during the reception. This will also partially fall onto the responsibilities of the couple based on their seating assignments. Review your room diagram for placement of your DJ table as well as where you may be seating those friends and relatives that are older and may not be comfortable with loud music.
- The Song That Never Ends…
The first dance is highly anticipated, but it can become boring very quickly. There is no rule that says a song needs to play in its entirety. If the song selected for the first dance is a whopping 5 minutes, consider making adjustments to the time frame. Most DJs and bands are able to create a shorter version. The same idea applies to parent dances as well.
No doubt about it: Music can make or break a wedding celebration. It’s the heart and soul of a reception. The fact that you want to hire a talented band or DJ is a given. Finding one will take some work – talk to friends, research online, shop around and make a move quickly – top talent can get booked up to a year in advance. Keep an open mind and follow your ear!