How Wedding Planners Can Intervene to Help Liven-Up a Wedding Reception
By Lisa M Morris

It’s every couple’s nightmare.

That’s the wedding reception that has, for one reason or another, simply gone ‘flat’.

The symptoms

The symptoms of this can be many and varied.

For example, the meal has concluded but guests are stubbornly refusing to leave the tables and are simply sitting there looking around or perhaps engaging in some low – key conversation.

Another variation on the theme can arise when the tables have been cleared for dancing but, once again, simply nobody is moving on to the dance floor.

Of course, ultimately the only thing that counts is the type of wedding reception that the bride and groom wish to have. If they’re happy with one that simply isn’t ‘gelling’ and a reception which is becoming library – like in its sedentary nature, then fine.

Many won’t be though and some will expect the wedding planner to do something about it.

Causes & cures

The psychology of group interactions is complicated and even today, poorly understood.

It’s unlikely that you will be able to be sure just what it is that is causing such a stagnant atmosphere to develop but there are a few classic problems and some of those you may be able to do something about.

• Music. The tone for the atmosphere in the room for the entire day is often set by background music used during the meal itself. The tendency to use light ‘floral’ tunes as a gentle background is fine but be aware that such music can also serve as something of a soporific.

Recommendation – make sure music is varied and includes at least some more vibrant genres.

• Gender and age mixes. It is something of a crude generalisation but it’s a good idea to avoid seating tables that consist of largely one gender or one age group.

Recommendation – mix people together.

• Inhibitions. This can be a big issue in terms of getting people up and dancing. Not everyone is naturally the life – and – soul of the party and it can be difficult to get things started after the traditional Bride and Groom first dance.

Recommendation – Once the initial formal dance is out of the way, select some foot – tapping music to get things going.Try to avoid extended sessions of things such as waltzes or lounge music, as that can get people worrying about their dance technique rather than just simply joining in and having a good time.Make sure you to speak to some of the close family and friends of the new couple beforehand and ask them to be brave enough to lead the dancing, thereby encouraging others to get up too.

• Nothing to talk about. However well you have mixed up the ages and genders, if people on a number of tables don’t know each other, the conversation might be at best stilted.

Recommendation – encourage the Bride and Groom, plus their immediate families, to circulate around the tables at appropriate points during the meal. That alone will generate conversation after they have left a table.

A point of warning

Try to keep in mind that although the Wedding Planner can help in the above ways, ultimately it is not your job to play the role of ‘The Lord of Misrule’ or Court Jester.

This point is often made on event planning courses.

So, don’t be tempted to jump onto tables and start ‘strutting your stuff’ or trying to emulate one of the lead characters in the Saturday Night Fever film. It’s just not your job!

Lisa Morris is an author of this article. Wedding Planner Academy offers courses and training for wedding planning for those who who enjoy planning events and wedding parties and start career in event management. For more info please the website

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