How to make your reception swing
When planning a Destination Wedding, it is often easy to overlook the entertainment, in particularly, the Music. So to put things into perspective, we invited Thailand's most prominent Wedding DJ, Steve Bray to guide us through the ins and outs of Making your Reception Swing!
By Steve Bray.
Music obviously plays a big part and can easily set the scene right from the start. For this reason it’s important to set your stall early. First impressions count! Think about the music you want your guests to hear the moment they step in to your arena, be it a villa, hotel or even on the beach.
Ensure your music is played from a pre-downloaded source and is good quality. Usually a minimum of 256 bit rate (this is the iTunes standard. Also gaps in-between songs can be a little off putting, a pre mixed list or even playing from your mac or PC as opposed to a phone/ pod would be better as they offer more features to allow a smoother mix. This may all sound a little too much to worry about in which case you could put it all in the hands of a DJ. It’s the DJs job to ensure this all happens with ease and no fuss.
Of course budget can and probably will play a part so it’s best to ask your planner about the price for an all day package or indeed just for a certain period. From experience most people usually book from dinner to the end of the evening, as this is the time that really matters. Some people prefer a live band, however finding an act that can do everything a DJ can do at the touch of a button can be quite challenging especially in remote parts of Thailand. Of course the cost is infinitely higher too, that being said a good band can certainly rock a party!
How to prepare for your evening.
Once you’ve decided which route to go, do a little research on your performer(s). How long have they been playing this kind of music? A lot of DJs will tell you how long they have been playing but not what they’ve been playing!! There is of course a difference. It takes a certain skill to play many genres to many people, from young Mikey aged 16, to Granddad Bob at 61, and make it all work.
Once you’ve found the act or DJ of your choice it’s always good to touch base usually via email, when planning a destination wedding. Each group is slightly different in their preferences. I tend to find 25 to 35 year olds like 90s/ Old skool hip-hop and R&B from this period. Over 40s perhaps more 80s. Just giving your act the heads up makes a big difference on the night. Of course it’s important to give the DJ poetic license on exactly what gets played and when. Be sure not to clip their wings with a list of what not to play as this really spoils the flow. A meeting at the venue is always a good idea. Get your DJ or bandleader to help you when floor planning. My golden rule is: dance floor in front of the DJ, the bar next to the dance floor and the toilets close by. This way it keeps the whole group together; dancers and none dancers!
From a technical perspective, if your wedding is outside, ensure there is a plan for rain. Usually in Asia it will rain hard for 20 minutes and then totally stop! So, ensure your entertainment has adequate protection, as the show must go on even if you have to scramble for cover it’s nice to keep the energy alive. Also quality of sound, ensure if you have a group over 30 or so that you have a sub bass speaker to give it warmth. Lighting is nice but not essential, as the wedding planner will invariably add ambient lighting.
The schedule plays a massive part and of course so will your MC. As people walk in to dine, the music should be a little upbeat and happy and then settle down somewhat over dinner and again build toward the end. A good performer will know this. Maybe think of an entrance tune for the bride and groom and wedding party. Get your MC to announce your arrival! Its important to note that the MC should work hand in hand with the DJ, letting the track finish first before any announcement and letting the DJ know when the announcement or speech has ended. There should be no prolonged pauses with people looking at one another confused as to what is happening!
Generally when all the formalities are over it’s usually time to cut the cake. I find this is a good breaking point to let people stretch their legs while the staff cut the cake and offer it to your guests. Usually a good 20 minutes if time allows. This leads us nicely in to the first dance. Get your MC to have everyone to surround the dance floor. No one should be left sitting down!!! An MC with the right personality can coax them to their feet! Once the first dance has started this opens up PARTY TIME!!! From this point on let the music play. All of the formalities or side shows such as fire lanterns/ fire works etc should have occurred. There’s nothing worse then being stopped in full flow with a happening dance floor, only to have to re-start the party because someone wants a photo of the bouquet being tossed. Given the chance, people will sit down and usually stay there for the rest of the night. Don’t give them that opportunity! One very important element is the length of the time you expect people to dance. From experience 2 to 2 1/2 hours max is long enough, especially in a hot country. Ideally at the end of the night most people should still be there and indeed dancing.
The Last Dance
When your guests and indeed yourselves look back on the day and the evening with fond memories they are usually the first, the last and the outstanding. Therefore, ensure the night finishes with a bang if possible. Think of that last tune that will get everyone up and ideally singing, hugging, kissing, crying (with joy)! A perfect example especially for the Australian market is: John Farnham ‘‘you’re The Voice’’ its not fast or really that dancy but it just works. Again this is s very personal choice just like your first dance!
Above all on the day just enjoy every moment and rejoice in the anecdotes, craziness and unexpected. Its very rare it will all go exactly to plan and there may be some hairy moments but these are the tails you’ll be telling your grandchildren in years to come!
To discuss booking DJ Steve to perform at your Thailand Wedding, just talk to your Wedding Destinations Planner for rates and availability.
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