Add More Fun! Increase Your Wedding Entertainment ROI

wedding djToday we welcome an amazing contribution from my friend Joe Saul-Sehy!

Hello, I’m Joe. I was a wedding disc jockey.

Hi, Joe!

Now you’re imagining me with a blue ruffled tuxedo, aren’t you? Hey, just because I was a wedding DJ and could lead a mad Hokie Pokie didn’t mean I was a slimy dude in a cheap tux. On the contrary, I had some wicked great chicken dance moves. I should stop while I’m ahead. So, with Lance’s wedding right around the corner, I thought I’d write a post for people planning a celebration. You pay good money for entertainment. Let me give you some pointers from the other side of the table.

Think carefully through your entertainment as you plan your event. There were some events that I knew before loading up my truck and heading to the venue, that they were going to be busts. Whether you’re hiring a DJ, finding a magician, or asking your sister to sing opera, it’s a great idea to think it through. Your entertainment is about value…and especially if you’re spending money on entertainment, you want to wring every dollar out of your investment.

Think About The Venue

Horror Story #1

– I was asked to play records (that dates me, doesn’t it) at a party in a barn. I knew the floor was going to bounce as people danced. I spent most of my night trying to find ways to stop my records from skipping. The crowd spent the evening booing me. This was a disaster before I’d even arrived.

Instead:

– Take a look at your venue. What type of entertainment fits best? A wedding hall might be the best spot for a disc jockey, but in a park you might be better off with some music playing in the background and outdoor activities like carriage rides or a nice bonfire. That barn would have been a great spot for a country rock band.

Think Through Your Requests

– Someone asked me to play a reception with strict music requests of obscure songs and didn’t allow alcohol at their event. I’m not saying you need alcohol at a party and played plenty of great parties where everyone had a fun, sober time. However, don’t be too let down when you require your guests to listen to music they don’t appreciate, keep them sober AND ask them to have a good time.

Instead:

Ask your entertainer for suggestions instead of dictating terms. If you’ve done a good job choosing someone, you did it based on their experience. Why tie one hand behind their back by bossing them around? In my DJ prime, I probably played 30 weddings a year….and you’ve maybe gone to five, total. Clients who asked me for tips and let me feel out the crowd were going to be better off. Another tip – Watch disc jockeys or bands play live a few times before choosing one. If you watch a performer play an event you’ll have a better idea if it’ll be a fit for your crowd.

– Last year I hosted a party for my kids and hired a disc jockey. I didn’t tell this guy what to play, but I did give him as much information about the crowd as possible. I made sure he knew the venue, what else I was planning, and how the night would run. It was no surprise that he was a huge success with the crowd because I let him to his thing in an comfortable an environment as possible.

Plan Special Events

People love surprises. Some that happened at events I worked:

– The bride and groom didn’t show the wedding cake ahead of time. Instead, they presented the cake with a flourish after dinner. It made a nice statement and took something mundane at every other wedding and turned it into additional fun.

– One couple pretended they weren’t having any entertainment. My speakers and disc jockey equipment were cleverly hidden where we could quickly move them into place. After the dinner they surprised everyone with ME! (I know, what a let down, huh?) I’ve seen this trick on a few occasions and have used it myself at parties. Don’t tell anyone you’re hiring that guitar player…just wait until the right time and surprise everyone. Your guests will love the feeling that your nice event became something special in an instant.

Remember Other Special Events

I loved it when the bride and groom acknowledged other events happening on the same day/weekend as their special day. One couple made cupcakes for a cousin’s birthday and distributed them while leading everyone in “Happy Birthday.” Another had a chili dog bar at the end of the night to celebrate another couple’s anniversary. It was cheap and was a nice way to appreciate some special friends while everyone was together celebrating the wedding. At the very least, acknowledge these people for taking the time to celebrate your fun day instead of their own.

Some people just hired me to play and then hoped that I would make their day special. I tried my best at every party, but the ones that went off best were well orchestrated. I had a feel for the crowd ahead of time from the bride and groom. I knew what special events we had waiting for the guests. I even then planned a few special events myself just because I was so fired up by the great planning vibe coming from the hosts.

On that note: enjoy yourself on your wedding and ask a good friend to be your host/hostess. They help the entertainer, food people and others so that you can be free to enjoy your guests. I loved working with a host rather than the bride and groom (or worse, mother of the bride), because they were generally calm and just carrying out orders.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to good, solid wedding fun? What are some great wedding entertainment tips you’ve witnessed?

Joe Saul-Sehy this week launches the Stacking Benjamins blog, where he shares stories about earning, saving and spending with a plan. He’s also co-host of the popular Stacking Benjamins podcast.

photo by: Josh Freshy

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Comments

  1. We didn’t hire any entertainers for our receptions.

    Our first reception was in a natural sciences museum, and we had a small DIY dance floor. We figured people could entertain themselves in the (DINOSAUR!) exhibits, which they did and we received many compliments on our choice of venue.

    Our main entertainment at our second reception was a round of “The Shoe Game.” We had the guests write questions for myself and my husband on index cards, and then we had our best man read them to us. We sat back-to-back each holding one of my husband’s shoes and one of my shoes. All the questions were phrased to be answered with one or the other of our names, and we each held up a shoe to indicate our answer (we couldn’t see the other’s answer). The questions were like “Who is better at ___?” or “Who did this first?” or “Who is more likely to ___?” People seemed to really enjoy it and we got some huge laughs!

    • I loved it when you wrote about your wedding, Emily. What I liked was that you took the time to think about your guests and make sure the entertainment fit the venue and your friends’ personalities.

      • If we had had another kind of wedding I would have liked a bigger dance component with a professional DJ. But my husband’s family is Southern Baptist and pretty uncomfortable with dancing! But I enjoy it at our friends’ weddings.

  2. Although it was not a wedding, we hired a DJ for my son’s Bar Mitzvah 20+ years ago. Being near Hollywood, there are many wannabe performers who DJ until they make it. This DJ was one of them. Unlike many wannabe performers, he made it. He was on That 70s Show. It was very entertaining and he definitely helped make it so.

  3. We hired a local band to play our wedding. They describe their music as “Kilt Rock.” The bagpipper even played the my wife down the aisle to “Highland Cathedral.” They were less expensive than a DJ (probably because we have been friends with them for a few years). The part that worked out best for them was our reception was a venue they had played a couple times and wanted to play again so they were able to use it as a psuedo audition for the managers. It worked and they have played there several times since!

    • That’s awesome, and perfect. Not only did you already know them, but they also already knew the venue. I think that’s a marriage made in heaven ;-)

  4. Joe I think you need to show off your skills at FinCon this year. :-)

  5. Hokie pokie and chicken dance moves Joe you are the man. I am inviting you to all my events from now on. I like that you pointed out the venue to place with the music and I wouldnt understand why someone would not allow the DJ to have some say in what music would be played but I guess it could happen. Bad music with only soda and water makes people unhappy.

  6. Hey, just to jump in here for a moment…..thanks to Lance for letting me guest post here and for helping me launch my site. He knows what a struggle it is to find new readers and always seems to be there when I need help ;-) Thanks again, man!

  7. A friend of mine DJ’d for years. His stories about how much people overplanned things really blew me away! He was sometimes handed hundreds of songs for 2-3 hours of play time.

  8. Nowadays, you don’t even need to hire bands and entertainment for a wedding! You have everything you need as far as music on an iPod playlist. But we’ll still be hiring a DJ just because he’s a good friend and we want to incorporate him somehow.

  9. Having a good DJ at your wedding is key! No one will want to dance to horrible music, and if no one dances, your reception will be a total flop.

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