There’s nothing worse than a wedding with an empty dance floor, especially for a fun-loving couple who expected to see their friends and family boogying all night long. Most brides and grooms don’t even consider having to tackle this problem, but often wedding guests need a little push to get the party started. Read on for Zola’s tips on how to get wedding guests on the dance floor and keep them there until you and your partner make the grand exit.
Tip #1: Choose an Awesome Wedding DJ or Band
Let’s lead with the obvious. An iPod on shuffle can’t hold a candle to professional wedding bands or DJs and even then, not all bands or DJs are prepared to meet your needs on the big day. We highly recommend vetting these professionals and getting recommendations from former couples, friends and family, and from any wedding vendors you’ve already hired. Meet your band leader or DJ in person to ensure they’re the person—and the personality—you want setting the tone at your reception. This goes double if this person will also serve as your emcee. If you’re planning on hiring a live band, listen to a video demo to get a sense of their sound. You may even be able to do this with your DJ.
You want to find someone who’s practiced at reading a crowd and knowing just when to change the tempo to keep you and your guests on your toes and out of your seats.
Tip #2: Get Out There Yourself
This is a big one. After all, who better to set the tone at the reception than the people of the hour? Wedding guests will feel awkward hitting the dance floor if the newlyweds haven’t made it out there yet. Why? They’ll worry that they’re jumping the gun before other formal wedding day ceremonies like the first dance or cake cutting have happened. Let your invitees know the time is right to cut a rug by grabbing your new spouse and showing off your best moves. If they see you enjoying yourself, your guests won’t hesitate to hit the dance floor and bust a move alongside the happy couple.
Tip #3: Create a Wedding Day Timeline
There are so many reasons to create a wedding day timeline, not the least of which is to keep the entertainment running as planned. You’d hate for your guests to start dancing too early only to be called back to their seats for the dinner or toasts. If this happens, they’ll be wary to hit the dance floor when the time is right for fear of interrupting another important wedding day event. You want them to know just when to start dancing and the way to do this is to create a detailed wedding day timeline and share it with your wedding entertainment. Your band or DJ can direct the flow of events by turning down the sound to alert guests that a toast or other important moment is coming up.
Tip #4: Get a “Goldilocks” Dance Floor
And by that we mean, find a dance floor that’s juuuuuust right. If your dance floor is too small, few people will be able to fit on it (and you run the risk of having to abbreviate the Cupid Shuffle). If it’s too large, it may feel empty even if the majority of guests are already dancing. So what’s the right way to figure out what size dance floor you need? The general rule is to assume that only half your guests will be dancing at a time and that each dancer needs 4.5 square feet of room. So, if you’re having an intimate wedding with only 32 guests, a 12’x12′ dance floor will be perfect. If you’re having an average-sized wedding with 150 guests, go for the 24’x24′ dance floor. And, if you’re having a huge wedding with 350 people or more, go with what is generally considered the largest: 40’x40′.
Tip #5: Allow Guests to Suggest Songs
The best way to ensure that your wedding guests will get their backs up off the wall is to allow them to make suggestions. A fun way to do this is by requesting one song recommendation from each guest on their response cards. Before your wedding day, give this list to your band or DJ (in addition to a “Do Not Play” list, should you think you need one) and ask them to play as many of the recommended songs as possible throughout the night. More simply, you can ask your band or DJ to make an announcement at the beginning of the evening letting your guests know that requests are welcomed. That way guests can approach the band or DJ throughout the night with requested songs.
And there you have it. 5 simple ways to keep your guests footloose and that dance floor crowded. Now where did we put our boogie shoes…?