5 tips to keep your wedding guests happy
We have all been to those weddings when it’s about as exciting as watching beginner badminton classes, so you need to make the right choices to make a long day enjoyable for your guests. I have performed at over 500 weddings and I have seen it all. I can usually predict when it’s going to flop, and when it’s going to be a hit. Below are 5 tips that I suggest you consider when organizing your main players.
1: Choice of Celebrant
The first impression your guests are going to get re how this long but hopefully exciting day will pan out, is the personality of your celebrant. Don’t just go on the recommendations of others, try to dig in and find some footage of how they speak, their confidence level and their general demeanor. Online photo’s can be deceiving so at least have a substantial conversation with them on the phone. Listen out for how this person is suited to you. You may want someone really chirpy and energized, or someone who is just plain funny, which would help you relax. Some celebrants are very well groomed and look really slick and professional, while others not so. There are some that are very economical with their words and others who may like the sound of their own voice, so choose carefully. You definitely want someone comfortable in their own skin to pull the ceremony off and leave your guests enthusiastic about the reception to come.
2: Your MC
Probably the most crucial choice to make or break your reception. This person needs be confident on a microphone, but not too confident. I have heard MC’s go on and on to the point where everyone is embarrassed but them. They have no sense of this. This can often happen when the couple feel obligated to assign the duties to a family member that is ‘The obvious choice’. This can be fine, but don’t feel obligated if you know this family member likes to waffle on. In my experience, someone that is again, comfortable in their own skin, with a good sense of humour and a quick wit. This person needs to realize that they are there to celebrate the bride and groom, not try out a comedy routine while they have a crowd.
DO NOT choose someone with little confidence. This will completely ruin the vibe of the night because they have no control over the room, and people will get bored very quickly. It is a fine line between too confident and not confident enough, but if you go with this type of personality, it’s going to be BORING. (No disrespect, I like quiet people).
3: The Music
The choice of the music one listens to is subjective. So when we choose what we listen to at home, there are no rules. Whatever you like. But when it comes to a room full of different personalities, ages and musical tastes, you need to cater for that. So when you choose a wedding singer, or a DJ, or both, please don’t supply them with a playlist for the whole night. Because although YOU love those songs, not everyone else does. My suggestion would be to pick a handful of your favourites for certain times during the night, and then let the Wedding DJ do their thing. They are most likely more used to reading crowds than you. Believe it or not, it is quite an art to choosing the right song at the right time. Whether playing live or DJing. So give your wedding entertainer creative license for the most part. It will make the night flow smoother.
I would also add that you might want to do the same thing as you do with the celebrant and have a chat with your musician or DJ to get a glimpse of what kind of personality they have. If they are overconfident and a bit cocky, they will generally be the type that plays whatever THEY think is cool, and not bother reading the room as much as a DJ who knows that this is the most important thing. If they are sensitive to your needs and are friendly, then generally the ego will be in check.
Wedding speeches usually go one of two ways; clever, funny and entertaining, or boring, monotone and uninteresting. Sometimes this is unavoidable because usually it’s family who talk, and there’s not much you can do about that. But if you have a few of them to choose from, choose the more confident ones if possible. Some people are brilliant when just speaking off the cuff. They have a quick wit and are interesting story tellers. Some people are not the best public speakers, but have gone to a lot of trouble to write out their speeches and if written well, the speaker will grow in confidence as they get a few laughs etc.
So this one is not something you can generally control, but you can ask your speech makers to come up with something at least 5 minutes long, and put some effort into writing. I have heard best man speeches that are one sentence long with 3 swear words in it. It is embarrassing and I think disrespectful to the honour of having been asked to be best man. So choose someone who has half a brain and realizes that this is an important moment in your life. A bit of ribbing is good, even obligatory for the best man or maid of honour, but keep it pretty even and end with the nice stuff.
Ceremony Music Advice
MUSIC FOR WEDDING CEREMONIES:
Ceremony music is an important decision. Music is so emotive so choosing the right songs for the right moments is crucial. Invest a little more time thinking about this than perhaps your music playlist for the reception. Don’t rush into this because you have a favourite song, think about the feel of the ceremony. A ceremony is a very formal affair. An important half hour and quite a dramatic thing. (In a good way).
THINK ABOUT THE EVENT ITSELF
When choosing the music, whether it be live or from a CD or iPod, make sure you factor in the emotional feel of the event itself. This is arguably the most important few moments of your life, so make it powerful. Music can create an atmosphere like nothing else. As a musician I would offer this advice. Select something that means a great deal to you, but also something that has a rhythm and feel conducive to an epic event to set the ‘dramatic’ tone of the ceremony, especially for the walk down the aisle.
WHAT NOT TO CHOOSE
Try to avoid choosing your favourite party song or anything that is too ‘happy’ or fast. Although this is a very happy event, having happy music can often make light of an event which deserves more serious reflection. I would suggest using your favourite party song for the first song after the bridal dance at the reception, when all the formalities are over and it really is time to party.
LIVE OR CD?
Live: It is nice to have a live musician to play for the ceremony, it adds not only the live sound, but a visual addition to the ceremony. It is also a nice feel for when guests arrive. A little tip: Make sure you ask your musician to start playing prior to your arrival as some will just play from the walk down the aisle. Specifically ask them to ‘warm up’ your guests with some nice background music that isn’t overpowering and just sits nicely behind the excited chatter of your guests. The only downside of the live option is that it can be expensive for this option because the musician has to take time to set up and play for just a few songs, so they will generally charge a few hundred. I charge 3 – $400 for ceremonies depending on location.
CD: If you have favourite songs that are from divas such as Mariah Carey or Celine Dion, it may be best to choose the CD option. Similarly if you want something that is highly produced or requires a big sound such as an orchestra, it is impossible for one musician to recreate that kind of sound so go with the CD. If you are timing your walk because you have a few in the bridal party and you want to arrive at a certain climax of the song, it may be best to rehearse with the original track so you know exactly where you are and when.
WHAT SONGS FOR WHEN:
I have done hundreds of ceremonies and it almost always breaks down into 4 song choices. 1: The Processional. (The walk down the aisle). This song needs to be the most dramatic, emotional and powerful song of the bunch. 2 and 3: The Signing. Many couples only choose one song for this but it usually times out to be one and a half songs. These songs can be nice love songs with a positive vibe. Not as emotional as the first, but more emotional than the last. 4. The recessional: This is when your celebrant will announce to the world those famous words, “I now give you, for the first time as husband and wife, Mr and Mrs Johnson” The music needs to jump in right at that moment and be a very up-beat, happy tune, preferably something that most people would know.
Remember these are just guidelines from my experience as a musician and there are no hard fast rules. If you want to walk down the aisle to The West Coast Eagles or Dockers theme song, then go for it. It is your day and you are the boss so go with what you think will make a memorable wedding ceremony to remember for all time.