Six ways to get people dancing at your wedding reception
This week, our band manager Mike Paul-Smith answers the question "how do I make sure everyone is dancing at my wedding reception?"
Title image courtesy of Veiled Productions
Couples often ask me how they can make sure everyone is dancing at their wedding reception. I've got a few small tips I've picked up over the years - if you follow these, you're almost guaranteed to get everyone dancing, partying and having a great time.
1. Who to book: Choose a fantastic live band with a diverse repertoire list
One of the best ways to get people dancing is to book a great band. A wedding band such as our most popular party band The Get Downs is fantastic at engaging with an audience, and with the music being completely live, there’s an extra energy you just don’t get with recorded music (or bands which use click tracks or backing tracks).
If you want to get everyone dancing, try and find a band with a varied repertoire list covering lots of styles. You might love dancing to 90s rock and pop music but your older relatives (and even some of the younger ones) might not - so your safest bet is a band with a broad repertoire list.
Down for the Count's music covers everything from 1930s and 40s vintage swing music all the way through to modern day pop, so there really is something for everyone - and we love seeing a mixed audience of old and young people partying together. One of our favourite ever bits of feedback was "you got all ages on the dancefloor - from age 4 to 90!"
Of course I'm biased, but I think that booking a live band is one of the smartest investments you can make for your wedding. Chances are people won’t remember many of the smaller details of the day, but they will definitely remember if they had an awesome party with incredible live music.
2. Timings Part 1: Choose when to start the band carefully
If you want your guests to dance, try not to start the band straight after dinner - unless you really have to.
Usually people have been sat down for two to three hours by this point, and I find that the end of dinner and speeches is time people want to stretch their legs and do a bit of drinking and socialising - the dancing seems to come a little later on.
I've thought about this a lot and I think that you need at least an hour between the end of dinner (or speeches) and the beginning of the band’s first set to really make the most of the band's performance.
3. Timings (Part 2): Don’t serve your evening food halfway through one of the band’s sets
This is such a simple and obvious piece of advice but it's so commonly overlooked. If you want to keep people dancing, do whatever you can not to serve evening food or a buffet halfway through one of the band's sets.
When this happens, some guests will invariably disappear (worried that they'll miss the best of the buffet, or that the hog roast will go cold) and even losing a few guests means you lose some of the energy of the party.
It’s much better to have a longer break between band sets and only start serving the evening food when the band has finished their set. It's also worth getting your venue on board and asking the to make sure they don't start serving until the end of the set.
4. If you're having our swing music - hire swing dance teachers
Hiring professional swing dance teachers is a fantastic way of entertaining your guests, and it’s also a brilliant way to get people on the dancefloor.
Our Vintage Swing Collective is a collaboration between live musicians and our amazing swing dancing colleagues - some of the hottest vintage dancers on the London scene today.
The dancers can teach you some fun new moves whilst the band is playing; or if they take a lesson, they will encourage guests to keep changing partners, which is an excellent ice-breaker and helps your guests get to know each other.
5. If you're having soul music - choose a band which performs medleys
One advantage of having a DJ over a live band is that they can "mix" songs seamlessly together with no gaps between songs. Some bands, like Down for the Count, have arranged lots of their music into medleys - in our soul and pop sets, we'll play songs back to back for 10 to 20 minutes with no gaps at all between songs.
It's a great way of keeping people on the dancefloor as it removes the temptation for people to sneak off to the bar in the short pause at the end of a song.
6. And finally: Make sure the bride and groom are dancing!
My final bit of advice is probably the most important. I've learnt over the years that at weddings, people congregate towards the happy couple. If you’re both on the dancefloor, partying and having the time of your lives, it’s almost guaranteed that most of your guests will be too. However, if you've been whisked off to have photos, or are propping up the bar or the buffet, you'll probably find that either (1) that's where the main party is at that time, or (2) the whole celebration gets dispersed with people in smaller groups throughout the different parts of your venue.
It's one of the other reasons to think really carefully about your timings, so you can make sure that you're not busy with other wedding duties when the band is performing - if you're at the front dancing, we guarantee that your guests will be too.
Becca and Ben's wedding in Oxfordshire. We're not entirely sure what's happening here - but the bride and groom were on the dancefloor all night and therefore so was everyone else! Photo by Heline Bekker. Read more about Becca and Ben's wedding here.
If you're looking for a great band who can get you dancing at your wedding reception, get in touch today and let us talk through the various line-ups we have to offer.