What is it that is the difference between an Ok wedding and an amazing wedding?

For some guests, it will be the food for others the entertainment while for many it is the people.

Generally though the thing that really makes the difference? Is the atmosphere, which is so intangible and subjective, however, the weddings which are enjoyed by the majority of the guests are the ones where there is a special atmosphere- lots of people smiling and laughing and an indescribable buzz in the air.

What is it though that creates an atmosphere like that? It’s rarely down to any one thing. It’s a combination of factors.

I’ve performed at over 2,000 weddings in the UK, Europe and Asia. Most of those weddings were wonderful occasions, less than a handful were what might be deemed “bad” a few were Ok but an extraordinary amount were truly fantastic.

In my experience there are many factors that can help or harm in creating a magical atmosphere. Here are some of my thoughts on the following:

Probably Helpful:

The Party People– Get the party started.

The Natural Connectors– Are great for helping with ice breaking between people that don’t know each other.

The Dancers– Create an energy on the dancefloor and in the room in general

Possible Hindrance:

People with anger issues – Cause tension in the room and can single handedly bring down the atmosphere

Obsessive Music Fans- They will sometimes hassle the DJ/band non-stop to have their favourite band/singer played to the point where they become a real thorn in the DJs side- the worst cases can annoy the DJ to such an extent it hampers their ability to entertain the whole audience

At a few weddings I’ve seen people who were superficial friends and talked through the speeches and/or made inappropriate jokes throughout the speeches to gain attention to the annoyance of other guests

Probably Helpful:

When the guests are given clear, succinct information as to what is happening it makes the day flow better and more likely to run to time- This is helped enormously by a Toastmaster or MC

Possible Hindrance:

Too much information can be annoying to guests and they eventually ignore/don’t listen to what is being said

Probably Helpful:

Sunshine – Usually puts people in a good mood and helps enormously with generating a good atmosphere. However the atmosphere can be superb at weddings with rain or cold weather and can be more helpful to getting people dancing.

Possible Hindrance:

Hot weather – Can lead to many of the guests standing outside for much of the day/night and an empty dance floor which can kill the atmosphere in the room where the dance floor is. Rain and cold may be a hindrance for obvious reasons especially for summer weddings where there are no contingency plans in place for bad weather or inadequate plans.

Probably Helpful:

A good entertainer is able to create an electric atmosphere and bring the whole audience together regardless of different musical tastes as everyone is “caught up in the moment”.

Some bands/singers will go out of their way to learn your favourite songs for the first dance and other moments during the evening.

Older guests will often prefer live music

DJs can play an extremely wide range of music including from other countries with no gaps between the songs.

Possible Hindrance:

Ego- Entertainers with oversized egos can really harm the atmosphere, especially when they think the night is about them rather than the couple getting married. DJs with an oversized ego sometimes have an attitude of only playing what they consider “cool music” and will try to “educate” your guests on what is acceptable music! and will ignore many requests they receive.

Bands that leave before the end- At weddings when there is a combination of a band and a DJ, the band will usually finish their last set an hour or so before the end of the night. They will then often start packing up the equipment while the DJ continues oblivious to the guests on the dance floor. At venues where there are doors to the side of the dancefloor that lead to the carpark/exit I have seen a few bands have the doors wide open for 30 minutes when it is freezing cold outside and completely killing the atmosphere and they’ve paid zero regard to the feelings of the guests. or they’ve carried all their equipment through the busy dance floor bumping into people. It can be a better idea to negotiate a deal with bands where they are paid to not pack up until the end of the night. This may cost extra but is often well worth the cost.

Sound check- Some bands (usually inexperienced bands or those with big egos) will do their sound check very loudly regardless of what else is happening, and sometimes this might be during speeches.

Inexperienced DJs- When an inexperienced DJ is booked (often this will be a very cheap DJ) they will not have sufficient music knowledge to entertain all the different ages that make up most weddings and they may only be knowledgeable in a very narrow area of music, which will frequently impact on the atmosphere.

Bands that have a DJ – Frequently what this actually means is that between the bands sets they play an iPod with a playlist put together. There isn’t an actual DJ playing music specifically for the guests at that wedding and/or responding to the music that is going down well/badly.

iPod Disco– A few venue owners have told me that at weddings where they didn’t have a band or DJ but instead used an iPod with a few playlists on it or playlists on Spotify that the party and atmosphere has usually been not great and sometimes terrible to the point where many guests left early because of the non-existant atmosphere (Nb: You may think that this is just a DJ trying to put people off trying such an option in order to persuade people to book a DJ! It really isn’t because any couple that was thinking of using such an option would certainly not be considering booking me)

Volume – Some bands play at very loud volume levels that can be very uncomfortable for older guests. However there are also some DJs who seem unable to play at a level appropriate to the audience they have.

Gaps between songs – There are bands that seem unaware of how long they have silence between their tracks which can really bring down the atmosphere.

Probably Helpful:

The room can look  visually stunning which can have an effect on the audience, although not usually one that lasts for very long

Possible Hindrance:

At some weddings a huge proportion of the budget has been spent on making the room look visually superb to the detriment of the amount allocated to entertainment resulting in average entertainers and not a great atmosphere.

Only you can answer the following questions as different people have different priorities: Which is more likely to create a good atmosphere?

A. A visually stunning room with average entertainers

B. A good looking room with excellent entertainers

Probably Helpful:

When the timings for the whole day have been put together with the aid of someone experienced in how weddings run everything will often run very smoothly with no stress

Possible Hindrance:

When inexperienced people put the timings together it can result in a lot of stress for the cateres, photographers, entertainers which usually equates to a poorer atmosphere and/or stress for the couple getting married

When insufficient time is devoted to how long it takes to serve the food and for the guests to consume it and for the plates to then be cleared away, this can have a major impact on the speeches and many other aspects of the day and create unnecessary stress

Inexperienced and/or unprofessional photagraphers can greatly disrupt the timings if they pay no regard to the time that is planned for the start of the meal because they are taking lots of shots or have taken the couple away for a long photo shoot – It is imperative for the photographer to communicate how long will reastically be required for them to take the shots requested by the couple. When the weather is hot the group shots usually take longer because the guests are often moving very slowly or have disappeared to escape the sun; this should be taken into consideration when planning how long is devoted to the photos being taken.

First dance – If the first dance is done too early this can have a detrimental effect on the atmosphere, because the guests will only dance when they are ready to and when the first dance is done too early out of politeness the guests will gather around the dance floor to watch it, but they will then drift away to the bar or to other rooms if they’re not in the mood to dance –

Reasons for the first dance being done too early:

Couples believing they have to adhere to everything written down on a schedule rather than doing what “feels right”

Because the photographer/videographer has only been paid until 8pm

Because the photographer/videographer/toastmaster pressures the couple into doing it early so that they can go home and they don’t care that the atmosphere may be effected after they leave

An inexperienced venue duty manager/staff member carrying out everything to the exact timings stated and showing no flexibility as to what is best for the atmosphere

Probably Helpful:

Fantastic venues with creative and flexible wedding planners and helpful staff on the day of the wedding who have a degree of common sense, experience  and genuinely care about the success of the day

Possible Hindrance:

Inflexible venue wedding planners who force couples to fit into their templated weddings for the ease of their staff rather than for the success of the day

Venues that don’t disclose vital information until after the contract is signed that can have a huge impact on the atmosphere such as sound limiters, music volumes having to be halved for the last hour, forcing them to use suppliers on their supplier list

Venues that charge couples extra money if they wish to use a supplier not on their supplier list which in some cases means suppliers that haven’t paid to be on that list

Probably Helpful:

Friendly, experienced staff with common sense and a great attitude who genuinely care about the success of the wedding and making it as special for the couple as they can

Staff that regularly watch what is happening on the dance floor so that the moment somebody drops a glass they imeddiately respond and clean the broken glass up and mop the spilled liquid away so that guests don’t slip on it

Possible Hindrance:

Temporary staff who have zero interest in the outcome and are only there because it is a job they are being paid to do until a certain time

Inexperienced staff who don’t know what they are doing and may for instance not have a knife by the wedding cake for the cutting of the cake, who go for a break during the cutting of the cake and so there are no staff to move the cake table off of the dance floor so the first dance can take place, who do not keep an eye on what is happening on the dance floor and have no idea when glasses are dropped on the dance floor and so glass is left on the floor

Insufficient staff to mann the bars resulting in enmormous waiting times for the guests to get served causing annoyance

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

one of the top 5 symbols of a wedding – frequently costs a lot and the moment is underwhelming.

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Book suppliers who you feel are actually interested in you and what you want – book suppliers you actually like

Possible Hindrance:

When you don’t get to know your suppliers and their personalities it can result in unexpected/unwelcomed surprises on the day itself. This is especially important for any of your suppliers that come into contact with your guests such as entertainers, venue staff, celebrant/priest etc

Probably Helpful:

Suppliers who understand how important the day is to the couple and the stress they mind find themselves under.

Possible Hindrance:

Suppliers who are more concerned with the money they’re receiving than about the experience the couple will have on the day

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance:

Probably Helpful:

Possible Hindrance: