Here at bb Towers, one thing we are often asked by brides and grooms is how best to structure the evening part of their wedding. Once the more formal part of the day is over - the ceremony, the speeches and the main meal - it's time for everyone to truly relax, kick back and party! Here are our top tips to get it just right...
1. Don't Start the Dancing Too Early
Lots of couples want the dancing to start as soon as the wedding breakfast and speeches are finished. We understand the urge to do this - you want to make the most of having your band or DJ there and want to ensure your guests are entertained throughout the day. But it's often a good idea to have a bit of a break before the dancing kicks off. This gives you a chance to chat to your guests in a relaxed fashion - and get complimented on how marvellous the food and speeches were! In the summer months, remember that it doesn't get dark until later and it can feel a bit strange dancing while it's still sunny - plus it's lovely to be able to enjoy the early evening sunshine with a drink outside. If you have evening guests, starting the dancing a bit later allows them time to say hello to everyone and ensures they all get to see your first dance. Most importantly, a later start time means that once the music does kick off, everyone is ready to hit the dance floor - and stay there!
2. Enjoy the First Dance - or Ditch it!
We love a good first dance - check out loads of ideas for beautiful songs to start your married life with a bang here. You can choose to invite your guests to join you some point or do the whole thing on your own - whichever makes you feel most comfortable. By all means get a friend or even a professional to choreograph your dance moves but please don't feel stressed about getting them right on the night - your guests are your favourite people, not the judges on Strictly!
There's nothing set in stone to say you have to have a first dance. If the thought fills you with dread, we say ditch it! Get your band or DJ to play what we call a "lovey floor filler" - a real feel good track that maybe mentions the L word but will get everyone dancing along with you. Some great ones are "Higher and Higher", "How Sweet it Is" and "Happy".
Speak to your band or DJ before the night and let them know which first dance option you're going with so they can invite the guests onto the dancefloor at the right point.
3. Keep the Breaks Short
In line with tip one, once you've started the dancing, keep the momentum going and don't leave too long between the band's sets. No matter how amazing your Spotify playlist is, when it comes after a live band it will usually mean the dancefloor clears pretty quickly! Guests use this time to grab a drink and have a chat, so it's best to keep the break about 15 - 25 minutes then crack on with more great live music. If you're having a buffet or some evening snacks, make sure these are served in one of the breaks so no one misses out as they're too busy dancing!
If you're having a DJ as well as a band, then by all means have a longer "break" as the DJ should keep everyone on the dancefloor and the mood up!
4. Keep the Party Together
Lots of venues, particularly hotels, open up a few different areas for the evening part of your wedding. This can sound like a good thing as you're able to offer different things to your guests for this part of the night. But beware splitting the party up too much as it can make your dancing room a bit empty. Imagine you've got 120 guests, then you've put on a casino in one room, a bar in another, a chill out space somewhere else - if they split out evenly that would only leave 30 people on the dancefloor. If your guests are too far away from the music they won't hear what fantastic song has just started that they just HAVE to dance to!
5. Make a Grand Exit
It's the final few moments of your big day - make them count! A send off arch, confetti toss, sparklers, Chinese lanterns or a few fireworks are all great ways to make a memorable exit. Or just choose a great "last dance" song - and make sure you're in the middle of the dancefloor throughout!
We hope those tips help you plan your evening reception. As a little bonus, here are some suggested timings for your evening, based on the hundreds of weddings we have played at. These give you some wriggle room in case speeches or your meal have run over slightly, and allow for a venue that asks for music to be over at 11.30 and everyone to have left by 12. If your venue has different curfews or you want to have three sets instead of two, there's room in there to move things about to suit your evening.