As the lead singer in a New York City wedding band for over a decade, I have learned a thing or two about what makes—and what breaks—a bomb wedding reception. When a bride and groom hire my band, it is quite literally my job to make the most important night of your life an absolute blast and keep your friends and family reminiscing about it for years to come, and that is something I take very seriously.
While I CAN control the quality of music being played, many things are out of my control that can mess up the party vibes, but after enough time seeing the same things, I’m here to tell you to do and what not do to ensure your wedding doesn’t suck.
1. Make Sure The Dance Floor Is Near The Bar
When choosing a venue, this is key. How far is the dance floor from the source of alcohol? Think of the bar as the “kitchen” of your wedding venue. When you’re throwing a house party, people tend to congregate in the kitchen, so the same logic applies at your wedding. One night my band and I did a wedding where the bar was in a completely different room. People were waiting for their drinks at the bar and stayed there. They couldn’t even see the band, let alone hear the music, and the dance floor was essentially empty the entire time. Not everyone will cut a rug on the dance floor, but even if they don’t, they are at least congregating around the dance floor and part of the party. When you separate the bar and the dance floor, you are essentially ruining the opportunity to throw a banging dance party by dividing your guests.
2. Rethink Having A Dessert Buffet And Opt For Passed Desserts
Ahh, the dreaded dessert buffet. As a wedding singer, this is a massive nail in the metaphorical coffin of your dance party. There is nothing worse than having a jam-packed dance floor, only for the dessert bar to cause a mass exodus and completely ruin the last bit of your reception. Everyone lines up (usually in another room) to eat dessert and might be too full to return to the dance floor. The party ends, and instead of going out with a bang, your big night ends with many people sitting around in a food coma. Womp, womp.
Instead, opt for dessert hors d’oeuvres like mini cupcakes or ice cream cones that can be passed on the dance floor to keep your party intact. Don’t leave that dance floor… deserted. Muahaha.
3. Don’t Stop The Party To Cut The Cake
For the love of God, please do not stop the party to cut the cake. Once the alcohol starts to hit and you have the energy right where you want it on the dance floor, there is no greater buzzkill than stopping the music so everyone can watch you cut a piece of cake. People go off to the bathroom, sit down to rest, and the dance floor is now empty. Perhaps make an announcement for Grandma who would like to witness the special moment, but it’s simply not worth killing the vibe of the party.
4. Don’t Try To Dictate The Playlist And Let The Band Read The Crowd
I’ve dealt with plenty of bridezillas who essentially handed us a curated setlist, and they NEVER work. An experienced wedding band or DJ knows what they’re doing, and it’s best to let them do it. Some songs you love may be great for vibing out in the car but simply don’t work on a dance floor. Also, we know how to read a crowd to figure out what kind of music is bringing the energy for your guests in particular.
I have also been in a situation where the bride requested some disco music for the older crowd. We played a disco song, and tumbleweed started rolling through the dance floor. When we switched back to 90s hip-hop, the crowd was back in action. We will undoubtedly honor any specific requests you have, but keeping the dance floor pumping is our first priority and should be yours too. If oldies music isn’t quite doing it for anyone, have it played during dinner and let us decide what works for the prime party hours.
5. Don’t Have Too Many Speeches, And Make Sure They Are Under 4 Minutes
In my 10 years as a wedding singer, I have seen many speeches. NOTHING kills a buzz like a speech that goes on too long or too many speeches. You may think your MOH getting on the mic to tell everyone about how much fun you had at the sorority house, along with every fucking inside joke, is cute, but the truth is, no one cares. Have her write you a letter and keep the speeches short and sweet. The Gettysburg address was under two minutes. Don’t waste precious party time on boring speeches.