Any one who knows me knows that I love to dance...
I'm not very good at it unfortunately, but that never stops me! And because I love to dance, the reception atmosphere at my wedding was very important to me. I wanted people to feel comfortable going on the dance floor and busting some moves!
Since becoming a photographer, almost all of my couples have felt the same way I did. When describing their dream reception, they always use the words intimate, party, and fun. The first two might sound strange together but it totally makes sense when you think about it! Most weddings have guests from both sides of the family, so they are essentially strangers to at least half of the people there. This might make them a little shy to dance. So, in order for Uncle Harry and Aunt Sally to feel comfortable on the dance floor, there has to be an intimate atmosphere.
I have been to and photographed so many weddings that excelled at this, but I have also been to weddings that missed the mark a little. I realized that most people do want their guests to get out on the dance floor but maybe don't know how to ensure this happens during the planning process. So, I wanted to create a quick list of tips and songs to help you create a reception atmosphere that will help all your guests feel like they can throw their hands up in the air at some point during the night!
Tip 1: Build an Intimate Atmosphere...
This means that you need to make sure the guests feel like they are in an inviting place. You can create this in a few ways. Think of your favorite restaurants! A lot of the time they have comfortable seating, some kind of mood lighting, pretty decor, and great music!
Tip 2: Make Room For the Dance Floor!
This is a must! One of the biggest mistakes I see at a reception that wants to encourage dancing, but it doesn't happen is the size of the dance floor! If you want dancing, you gotta make room for everyone to feel like they can bust some moves.
Tip 3: Dim Those Lights!
Again, this is another thing I have noticed from photographing weddings. Whenever the lights are left on too bright, the dancing never gets into full swing. Talk to your DJ beforehand about dimming the lights after a certain point during the night. Or turn them completely off and have fun lighting or even glow sticks for guests to use(I did this at my wedding and it was a HUGE hit!). For some reason, the rule of thumb tends to be, the darker it is the more 'lit' the dance floor gets...I couldn't resist ;)
Tip 4: Have A GREAT Playlist!
There are a million songs out there that are great to play at weddings and if you are hiring a DJ, I am sure they are already prepared to play them! However, this is a list of ten songs, that from my experience, people can't seem to resist getting out of their seats for!
1. Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheran (This is the modern day slow dance favorite!)
2. Don't Stop Believing by Journey (It's cliche but definitely for a reason)
3. I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston (Whitney Houston will always be everyone's favorite)
4. Cupid Shuffle by Cupid (The modern day electric slide...everyone knows it and so they love to dance to it!)
5. Wannabe by Spice Girls (I hear this at every wedding and it never gets old and always brings people to the dance floor!)
6. Shout by Isley Brothers ( Another oldie but goodie that everyone knows the words too and they aren't afraid to show it!)
7. 24K Magic by Bruno Mars (It's pretty much magic getting people up and moving ;) )
8. Can't Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley (Great song for every generation!)
9. The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson (This is my favorite, but pretty much any MJ song is a hit!)
10. Bye Bye Bye by NSYNC ( Seriously...if you play it, they will come to the dance floor!)
Bonus: Give into Me by Leighton Meester & Garrett Hedlund (Had to throw this in here because it was Preston and I's first dance song!)
The best advice I can give for choosing songs is to make sure you choose ones that people can not only dance to, but sing! Most of the time wedding dance floors get packed when they know the words to the songs because there is a fun connection to it!
There are seriously so many great dance songs out there to get all generations out on the dance floor that it was hard to narrow it down! I hope this is a helpful read while you are planning the wedding of your dreams...I would love to hear what you thought of this article and if you find it successful at your own reception!