It can feel overwhelming, planning a party or wedding reception without a professional wedding planner. So based on my 15 years of experience, entertaining at receptions and parties, I have broken it down to 5 easy steps. List these 5 at the top of your pages and then let's get started. The 5 include Atmosphere,Invitations, Food, Entertainment and Activities.
Atmosphere - This includes the venue and what you want your party to look like. This area will directly affect all the other areas. Do you want an old barn with a country feel, a backyard with a family BBQ feel or do you want a classy hotel ballroom feel? This will determine table decorations, food and entertainment, plus give you an idea how many guests to invite. I have been a DJ and entertained at all of these places and can guarantee that each can be fun.
Invitations - 2 areas here. Who to invite and how to invite them. Formal invitations from a wedding store or the internet, Facebook or social media, word of mouth all can be effective. Plan on a call, text or email follow-up as many will fail to RSVP.
Food - This area includes hor' devours or snacks, cake, food and bar or drinks. Either the venue will provide food, you can hire an outside caterer, bar service and cake maker or you can Do-It-Yourself and have your sisters, aunts and cousins cook the food and friends or relatives handle the bar, (At Fort Wayne area receptions you must have a licensed bartender.) Your budget will play a big part in this. Often it is cheaper to hire a caterer when you start to add up the costs of food, utensils, plates, etc. and ways to keep the food warm.
Entertainment - You can hire a band or a professional mobile DJ or use a speaker and an Iphone. Naturally I recommend a DJ as they are so flexible and a good one has excellent MC skills to make all the introductions and announcement plus he or she is knowledgeable in all genres of music. Bands can be fun but are more expensive because the good ones have regular gigs on Saturdays. and normally play one genre of music. If your theme is 80s and you hire an 80s band, it can work. Just make sure the announcements such as the toasts are covered. With Fort Wayne DJs, I have worked together with many local bands and it has been very effective!
Activities - At some receptions, the main activity is dancing. At others they have inflatables for the kids and corn hole for the adults. At one barn dance, they placed a tarp on a hill, sprayed it with a hose and made their own slip and slide. After a lot of beers, even the adults were sliding in their tuxedos. (The bride never went down in her dress though!) Kids tend to become wild and crazy on the dance floor if no activities are planned. See my blog on this. Always remember your guests. Unlike a business cocktail hour, they come into the venue, sit down and look at the other 7 people at their table for an hour. They get bored easy so do not allow to0 much time between when they arrive and you arrive.
I know our goal at Fort Wayne DJs is to make your reception or party as romantic as possible and the guest's experience over the top. That should be your goal as well. Happy party planning!
Dan Surface is owner of Fort Wayne DJs, Golden Oldies DJ Entertainment and You Are The Star Karaoke. He is in high demand in the Fort Wayne area and a respected authority nationally in the Mobile DJ industry. Dan founded the 165 member Wedding Vendor Alliance of NE Indiana. He can be reached at 260-466-4600.