Can I share a heartbreaking moment with you that I have seen play out at many wedding receptions? Allow me to paint a mental picture.
“The lovely couple have landed their top pick for a reception venue. Their theme is “rustic/farmhouse” and their decorations are on point! The caterers are one of the hottest food trucks in town and they are setting up a buffet style spread that is responsible for a room full of watering mouths. One hundred fifty people arrive to welcome the lovely couple and their bridal party as they make their grand entrance. One hour after the grand entrance dinner is still happening and there are one hundred people remaining, Twenty minutes after that, toasts have happened but nothing else. Fifty people remain and thirty-five of those people are family! There are still 2 hours left for your party but aunt Becky and a few cousins are the only ones left on the dance. Seems like this party is, unfortunately, winding down.”
Sadly, I witness scenarios like this enough to write a blog post about it. Couples spend so much time, energy, and money planning their receptions to create an amazing environment for their guests that it is truly heartbreaking when people leave early. So, how can you prevent this from happening on your big day? Here are 3 tips to keep people from leaving your reception early.
This is honestly the biggest mistake that I see happen and is the leading cause in people leaving receptions early. Most people will hang around until dinner. After that, if you aren’t jumping into the wedding festivities immediately you risk losing people. In theory, it makes sense to spread things out, but practically, people get bored or have grumpy children. My suggestion would be to go back-to-back with all of your wedding festivities so that the maximum amount of people will experience them. Here is an example of a timeline that I think flows perfectly.
6:00pm- Grand Entrance
6:05pm- Dinner starts
6:30 pm- Toasts/ Speeches (People might still be wrapping up eating but that’s ok, this will give them something to watch while they eat.
6:35pm- Cake Cutting/ Dessert Table Open
6:45pm- First Dance/ Father Daughter Dance/ Mother Son Dance
7:00pm- Sno-ball Dance/ Dance Floor Open
7:45 pm- Boquet Toss/ Garter Toss (If you wanted even less downtime you could push this back to 7:30 pm)
This is just an example and by no means the only way to schedule a reception. My hope in showing you this timeline is to give you a real example of what a reception with little downtime looks like. In less than 2 hours you can keep your reception moving and most likely retain a high level of your guests. The rest of your night can be spent dancing the night away and chatting with your guests who remain!
Sure anyone can press play on an iPod or even keep the music going at your reception, but not everyone can keep the attention of a large room.
A DJ’s job is to keep your guests engaged, communicate information when needed, and generally keeps the event moving. Hiring a DJ that isn’t engaging will suck the life out of your party and cause it to be short-lived. A great DJ will also keep guests informed about what is coming up next.
They might say something like “Ladies and Gentleman in five minutes we are going to start toasts so be sure to have a drink!”
When you are asking for recommendations about DJs ask pointed questions like:
* Were they engaging?
* Were they fun?
* Were they well spoken?
* What did you like about them?
Asking these types of questions will help you find a DJ who will keep your party rocking through the night!
Okay, this might seem like a no-brainer, but it really does help keep people engaged and celebrating through the night with you! I know that cost might sometimes be a deterrent, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on an open bar. I have seen people get creative with cost-effective ways of providing alcohol without breaking the bank. You can provide beer and have a cash bar available for people who want to purchase something else. Another option might be having a bar and covering the first $500 spent and after that, it turns into a cash bar. At a minimum, I would suggest at least having a cash bar. There is nothing that keeps the dance floor filled like mixed drinks and beer!
If you only take away and apply one thing from this blog post, keep in mind that how much downtime you have between events matters! Be mindful of that when you are discussing these details with your planner, photographer, and Dj. I’d love to hear any other advice you might want to share on great ways of keeping people from leaving your reception early.
May 7, 2019