When it comes to deciding on your wedding entertainment, booking the right type for your chosen venue is really important – you don’t want to be squeezing a 10-piece band onto a tiny stage, or putting an acoustic duo in the middle of a field. Read on to find out how to get it right…

What sort of wedding venue have you decided on? Are you having a country-style wedding in the summer with your reception in a marquee or barn? Have you decided to do the whole thing in a hotel? Maybe you’re having a city wedding with a small and intimate lunch or dinner in a chic restaurant?

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There are a huge variety of places to tie the knot and celebrate your big day, and couples choose different venues for a variety of reasons – budget, location, time of year, the setting, the atmosphere and more. However, if you’ve decided to provide amusement for your guests at your wedding, you need to make sure that your entertainment is going to fit the venue you’ve chosen.

Kieran of Rock My Reception advises:

“Some venues will be noise restricted – there is no point booking a five piece band if there is a noise limit. You’ll need to check on curfew times as well. If you discover there are noise limits in place, you could book an acoustic duo or get creative and opt for a silent disco. You’ll also need to check that there are ample power points for what you have in mind, so you don’t trip the whole of the venue electrics out, though.”

When you’ve room to party

If you’ve got a large space to fill, then your entertainment choices are only really limited by your budget.

Are you holding your reception in a barn? A castle? One idea we love is holding a ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) for your guests. A ceilidh is a traditional Gaelic gathering with dancing to a live band, and this style of dancing has a number of advantages. Firstly, it appeals to all ages, from the young to the old – and it’s virtually guaranteed that everybody will have a good time. Secondly, everybody dances with everybody else, so you don’t need to have a fixed partner. Thirdly, it’s a great icebreaker and creates a wonderful atmosphere. Unlike a disco where not everybody wants to dance and enjoy the music, people find it hard to resist getting up to the foot-tapping rhythms of a ceilidh band.

An alternative, but similar, idea is to have a barn dance. It’s a bit like a ceilidh in the way it encourages people to dance, but the music is slightly different. You’ll have a caller who walks everybody through each dance before it’s your turn to take part. If people make mistakes it doesn’t matter, it’s all part of the fun.

It’s magic

Magicians and entertainers always go down well at weddings. A magician walking around performing tricks is a great icebreaker while guests are having drinks, and an added bonus is a magician can work in the smallest of spaces – perfect for a city wedding where it might be at a premium.

If you’ve a little more room and have the budget for it, how about having some jugglers or circus acts walking around the party – It’s something that will certainly appeal to younger children.

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Small, intimate weddings

If you’ve opted for a smaller venue – maybe you’re having a dinner in a private room in a restaurant – then there are plenty of ways to entertain your guests that don’t require a lot of space. If you’re having less than 20 or so guests you should forget about having a disco – it needs a critical mass of people to create the right mood.

However, you could try to create an old-fashioned nightclub kind of atmosphere if you’re having an evening do with a limited number of guests. Think of the old style Hollywood movies for inspiration – black-tie clad musicians playing classic favourites – we’re thinking songs by the likes of Cole Porter and Noel Coward. Choose a venue with a small, intimate dance floor, put small tables alongside for chatting and let your guests enjoy dancing cheek to cheek to intimate numbers. Maybe you should even have a 1930’s style dress code?

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A string quartet gently playing as guests arrive creates a sophisticated atmosphere and a talking point for people who may not know one another. The musicians take up very little room and in fact can often be placed outside the door whilst you’re dining. This is an idea that works well both at lunch and later in the evening.

You could also have a caricaturist, where your guests could take home a portrait instead of a wedding favour. A good artist will capture somebody’s likeness very quickly and they’ll have a wonderful memento of your wedding day.

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Photo booths work well in any size of venue, taking up very little room. Don’t forget to provide a box of props for the exhibitionists among your guests – a good photo booth company will usually sort this for you. Seeing friends and family don moustaches, funny noses, hats, feather boas is always a good laugh. A photo booth is also excellent entertainment for children who love watching their images appear quickly. You could also use the photo booth images in your wedding guestbook – ask people to stick their photographs on a page and write a congratulatory message alongside.

Consider the venue you’ve chosen, mull over some of these ideas and decide what you’re going to do. And don’t forget, you can always ask a question on our forum of brides who have already ‘been there and done that’.

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