10 (Other) Ways to Entertain Guests at a Wedding Reception

As wedding DJs, we love an awesome wedding dance, but we acknowledge there are other wedding entertainment ideas that put a reception over-the-top. This list of the best wedding reception entertainment ideas is the perfect complement to a good wedding dance—and give even your non-dancers options for fun.

Photobooth

Silly props and a chance to take the ultimate wedding photos—what about this wedding entertainment idea doesn’t sound like a good time? A photobooth is the ultimate draw for guests who want to take a break from the dance floor (especially when you use these tips for renting a quality photobooth). It’s also a great way to add more touches of your wedding theme with fun wedding props and frames.

Table Games

Table games are a great way to entertain guests during dinner—and keep them guessing throughout the night. Our favorite table games are personalized, like trivia and crosswords about the couple. If you want to make the game a group event, have the DJ make announcements about the table game periodically during the dance.

Coloring Table

This wedding entertainment idea is a hit with your youngest wedding guests—and might even be a draw for older guests. Even if your older guests don’t pick up a crayon, every parent at your wedding reception appreciates free entertainment for their kids.

Flash Mob

A flash mob is a fun surprise guests’ll be talking about long after the wedding reception is over. If you decide to include a flash mob in the night’s events, make sure you talk to your wedding DJ about recommendations for taking the surprise to the next level.

Interactive Food Station

An interactive food station is a great way for guests to mingle and enjoy. When adding an interactive station to your wedding reception entertainment line-up, make sure you strategically position the table (or tables) in an area where guests can enjoy—without getting too far from the dance floor.

Tasting Stations

A tasting station is the perfect choice for a couple who loves local flavors—and wants to bring it into their wedding reception. Your guests’ll love to enjoy local ales or wines at this unique wedding reception entertainment idea (and you’ll love to select the ales and wines for the occasion!)

Yard Games

Yard games are a guest favorite—and not always just an outdoor one. If your indoor venue allows an indoor set-up, your guests’ll love to play ring toss, corn hold, or bowling in between rounds on the dance floor.

Fireworks

Fireworks are an unexpected surprise that guests’ll love! If your venue allows you to include a firework show, make sure you ask your wedding DJ for a big announcement that draws guests out to watch.

Advice Table

An advice table brings out the serious and unexpected from guests. You truly never know what you’re going to get, but it’s always interesting!

Dance Floor Games

Even if guests don’t love to dance, they’ll love dance floor games! If dance floor games are one of your top choices, choose a wedding DJ who can take the fun and games to a whole new level.

An Enchanted Evening, Inc. named Winner of The Knot Best of Weddings 2020

Fourteenth Annual Best of Weddings Awards Honor the Top Wedding Vendors Across America

Rolling Meadows, IL/January, 2020—An Enchanted Evening, Inc. is pleased to announce that we have been selected as a 2020 ­­winner of The Knot Best of Weddings, an accolade representing the highest- and most-rated wedding professionals as reviewed by real couples, their families and wedding guests on The Knot, a leading wedding planning brand and app. This is the 10th year An Enchanted Evening, Inc. been named a winner of The Knot Best of Weddings awards.

In 2020, only five percent of hundreds of thousands of local wedding professionals listed on The Knot received this distinguished award. In its fourteenth annual year, The Knot continues its longstanding tradition of supporting local wedding vendors with The Knot Best of Weddings 2020, an annual by-couples, for-couples guide to the top wedding professionals across the country. To determine the winners, The Knot analyzed its millions of user reviews across various vendor categories, including venues, musicians, florists, photographers, caterers and more, to find the highest rated vendors of the year. These winners represent the best of the best wedding professionals that engaged couples should consider booking for their own unique wedding.

The Knot has inspired 25 million couples (and counting!) to plan a wedding that’s uniquely theirs. With a rich history of providing high-quality content and inspiration, The Knot makes it easy for couples to connect with and book the right wedding professionals to create their perfect wedding day. On The Knot Marketplace, couples can get connected to any of the hundreds of thousands of local wedding professionals across the country. The Knot Best of Weddings gives couples the confidence to find and book the best local vendors to bring their wedding visions to life. In combination with years of trusted content, The Knot’s innovative technology makes planning one’s wedding celebrations easier and more enjoyable.

Wedding professionals who win The Knot Best of Weddings are members of WeddingPro, the leading B2B wedding brand. As the largest marketplace and community for wedding professionals, WeddingPro connects businesses with more than 13 million visitors per month who are planning weddings on The Knot and WeddingWire, as well as with hundreds of thousands of pros in the industry. Through its online marketplaces, educational programs and community-building events, WeddingPro is dedicated to helping wedding professionals build relationships with couples and pros that grow their businesses.

For more information about The Knot Best of Weddings and this year’s winners, please visit https://www.theknot.com/vendors/best-of-weddings.

About An Enchanted Evening, Inc.
We are a professional production company unlike most wedding companies in the industry who are smaller, single operator, part time service providers. We have been in the industry for almost 20 years and have been the recipient of over a dozen industry awards over the last 10 years, including receiving The Knot’s Hall Of Fame Award (less than 2% of wedding professionals nationwide initially received this elite award). We have also received The Knot’s Best Of Weddings award 10 times in addition to receiving the Wedding Wire’s Couples Choice Award for the last 8 consecutive years in a row. Hiring a professional DJ can truly make or break a wedding reception… and unfortunately far too many couples don’t realize the impact their entertainment contributes the success of their reception (until after the reception is over…when its too late if you didn’t hire the right DJ).

About The Knot
The Knot is the nation’s leading multiplatform wedding resource offering a seamless, all-in-one planning experience—from finding inspiration and local vendors to creating and managing all guest experiences, wedding registries and more. The trusted brand reaches a majority of engaged couples in the US through the #1 wedding planning website TheKnot.com and #1 iOS and Android mobile app The Knot Wedding Planner, The Knot national and local wedding magazines, and The Knot book series. Since its inception, The Knot has inspired approximately 25 million couples to plan a wedding that’s uniquely them. Visit The Knot online at TheKnot.com and follow on social media: Facebook.com/TheKnot and @TheKnot on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Bride and groom sharing a special moment at the wedding leaning with their heads close together before their wedding dance

10 BIG Tips for Hiring (Great) Wedding Vendors

Hiring wedding vendors for your wedding reception is a multi-step process that can turn into a maze—but it doesn’t have to! These tips get you the best wedding vendors that make you feel lucky to have the “one(s).”

Wedding Vendors to Hire for the Reception

Once you’ve talked with your fiancé about the style, budget, and guest list, it’s time to start checking items off your wedding planning checklist. The wedding venue is the logical first step, especially because it is the foundation of every wedding detail. Your wedding venue sets the backdrop for your big day, while the wedding vendors provide the “frontline” services that guests notice: the food, wedding reception entertainment, and décor. As such, you should look at hiring:

  • Wedding caterer
  • Wedding music (band or DJ) and entertainment (i.e. lighting, photo booths, etc.)
  • Photographer and/or videographer
  • Florist

When to hire…

Wedding Vendor Months Before Wedding
Caterer 14-18 months
Wedding DJ 14-18 months
Videographer 9-12 months
Photographer 9-12 months
Florist 6-9 months

Tips for Hiring Wedding Reception Vendors

When hiring wedding vendors…

  • Watch for red flags that signal the vendor is an amateur or unscrupulous, such as if they ask for payment in full up front or won’t return your calls or messages.
  • Be cautious about hiring wedding vendors that don’t have a location to meet with you.
  • Research wedding vendors on review sites and social media to ensure that they are trust-worthy and have satisfied other couples.
  • Have a list of questions for every wedding vendor, such as about their availability, if they carry insurance, and any additional fees (i.e. overtime costs, travel fees, etc.)
  • Don’t forget to ask about every wedding vendor’s cancellation policy!
  • Ask wedding vendors if they have a contingency plan in case of emergencies (such as the wedding DJ in case a DJ gets sick or equipment breaks down).
  • Make sure you have a full list of fees and costs before signing a contract.
  • Always read through all the fine print in the contract before signing on the dotted line.
  • Be wary of DJs that don’t ask about songs you want played and not played (tips for crafting an awesome wedding playlist are here).
  • To save time, look for wedding reception vendors that offer more than one service, such as a caterer that offers equipment rentals or a wedding DJ that offers lighting.
bride and guests at wedding reception dancing to reception entertainer

5 Quick Tips about Wedding DJ Costs

Hiring a wedding DJ inevitably involves the question, “how much does a wedding DJ cost?” The answer may seem straightforward, but there are a few tips for hiring a wedding DJ that keeps your dance floor packed and your wedding budget on track.

Tip #1: Be mindful of quality during the hiring process.

When hiring a wedding DJ, it’s easy to be tempted to sign a contract with the wedding DJ that gives you the cheapest quote. However, a quote doesn’t always tell the whole story. A quality DJ keeps guests on the dance floor and creates a custom playlist specifically for the wedding. (Some DJs use the same playlist for every wedding.)

If you don’t want to get sub-par service that matches the price tag, research every DJ before signing on the dotted line. Wedding review sites are a great place to start; sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire have sections with reviews about Chicago wedding DJs. If you want to really see what you’re getting (and who), schedule a meeting with the DJ and ask to see their equipment and meet the DJ.

Tip #2: Always ask about other wedding DJ costs.

Some wedding DJs and DJ services quote a cost that doesn’t include the “other” costs. Overtime fees, travel charges, and other fees can add up quickly.

To avoid those annoying charges, couples should always ask wedding DJs how many hours are included in the quoted cost and if there is a travel fee (plus these other wedding DJ questions). Some wedding DJs offer inclusive wedding DJ packages that have a set fee regardless of the length of the wedding reception.

Tip #3: Never hire a DJ without a contingency plan.

Unfortunately, emergencies come up that can keep a wedding DJ (and equipment) from performing flawlessly on your wedding day. That’s why hiring a wedding DJ with back-up DJs and equipment is so incredibly important.

When hiring a DJ, always ask about their “just in case” plan in case they get sick or hurt or their equipment breaks down. Be cautious about hiring one-man operations with no back-ups or old and antiquated equipment; instead, look for DJ services that offer a DJ and state-of-the-art equipment PLUS the back-ups that can fill in when emergencies do occur.

Tip #4: Consider a wedding DJ package that saves you time and money.

If you want more than just music at your wedding reception, look for wedding DJs that offer packages with other entertainment services. It can be really helpful to have one service that provides lighting, photobooths, and the cocktail music—especially when juggling communications with multiple wedding vendors and an extra long wedding planning checklist.

Couples who want other services should look for wedding DJs with packages that offer those “extras.” If you have any questions about additional services, look through reviews on social media for more info or contact the service directly for other wedding DJ costs.

Tip #5: Ask about dinner hour music.

One of the biggest benefits of a wedding DJ is that most DJs provide dinner hour music as part of their service. To make sure the wedding DJ you’re hiring is like most DJs, always ask if dinner hour music is included in the wedding DJ cost. In addition, always ask these wedding DJ questions:

  • “Are you available on my wedding date?”
  • “How long have you been a DJ? Do you have a lot of experience with weddings?”
  • “Do you offer any other services (lighting, photo booth, etc.)?”
  • “Can you do….” (Ask this question if you have a really special request)
  • “What is the final total cost? Do you charge any overtime or travel fees?”
  • “How much of a deposit is needed? When is the deadline for a deposit?”
  • “What is the cancellation policy?”
  • “Does your service carry insurance?”
  • “If there is an emergency, do you have a back-up DJ and equipment?”
  • “What time will you be at the wedding? Is dinner music included in the total cost?”
  • “Do you offer any other services? What is included in your wedding package?”
  • “Do you have a wedding DJ checklist that I can write my favorite songs and songs I do not want played at my reception?”
  • “Will the DJ be in formal attire? Can the DJ be the emcee?”
  • “Is there a time we can meet?”
wedding dance floor with guests dancing to wedding theme songs

How to Choose the Best Chicago Wedding DJ

Chicago is a big city with a host of wedding DJs to choose from, but not just any DJ is right for your big day! This step-by-step guide helps you narrow down your list of wedding DJs and choose the “one” that’ll keep your guests on the dance floor and create a custom wedding playlist that feels incredibly you.

Ask friends and family for recommendations for an awesome wedding DJ.

One of the easiest ways to find and choose a wedding DJ is to ask friends and family for a recommendation. It’s a bonus if you were at the wedding where the DJ played, because then you have first-hand knowledge if the DJ was any good.

There is one note of caution that comes with the ask. Every couple should be very careful about choosing wedding DJs that are a “friend of a friend…” or “my cousin…” Though the person recommending that acquaintance may be well-meaning, never hire a friend or family member without some knowledge of what you’re getting (either through online reviews or from another customer). Unfortunately, this approach can lead to hiring an amateur DJ with a one-size-fits-all playlist and amateur equipment. Or worse, a DJ with no back-up equipment or DJ that can leave you without any reception music.

Do your research.

If you don’t have a friend who can provide a wedding DJ recommendation, let Google do the search for you. Once you have a short list of the best DJs in Chicago (either from an online search or from friends), research every one of those DJs online. You can check review sites for testimonials from other couples and social media sites for videos and reviews.

As you research DJs, make sure you look for common wedding vendor red flags. Couples should always be wary of DJs that don’t have a business address for a meeting, are unwilling to show you their equipment, or can’t give you a set price for the evening. Some DJs charge on set price for a certain amount of time and charge overtime fees for any reception that runs over.

Find a DJ that checks off many boxes.

Many wedding DJs in Chicago offer services that go beyond music; if you’re looking for those extras, such as lighting or off-dance floor entertainment, you should look for a wedding DJ that can offer those services as part of a package. In addition to saving you time during wedding planning, this approach can also save you funds when you get all those services in one package (as opposed to renting them individually).

You can find out if a wedding DJ offers any other services by asking them the question (either via message or phone) as part of your initial interview:

  • “Are you available on [insert wedding date]?”
  • “How long you have been a wedding DJ?”
  • “Do you provide other services, such as…?”
  • “How much do you charge? Does the charge cover the full reception or just a set amount of hours? Is there a travel fee?”
  • “Do you offer cocktail hour or dinner music as part of your fee?”
  • “Do you carry Insurance and can you provide proof of Insurance?”
  • “How often do you contact clients?”
  • “If there is a problem, do you offer back-up equipment and DJs?”
  • “What time will you be at the wedding venue? Have you ever worked at our wedding venue before?”
  • “Do I have a say in the playlist?”
  • “What do your wedding DJs usually wear?”
  • “When can we meet?”
wedding dance floor with deejay

Wedding Reception Schedule and Planning Tips (For a Night of Fun!)

Couples planning a wedding reception, beware: the one commonality among every wedding reception schedule is that they are all different. However, there is a general outline (and a few tips) that can make planning a wedding reception easier—and a lot more fun!

Typical Wedding Reception Schedule

Cocktail Hour

Dinner

Toasts

Cake Cutting

Wedding Dances (Wedding Party Announcement, First Dance, Mother-Son Dance, Father-Daughter Dance, Etc.)

Last Dance

Wedding Reception Planning Tips

  • Choose wedding vendors that coordinate services for a seamless wedding dance (like a DJ that coordinates the schedule with a photographer so you can make sure you get shots of your first dance).
  • Be careful about hiring vendors that a friend of a friend recommends. Always research and look for red flags so you hire the best vendors.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask venue staff and vendors for suggestions; they may have ideas you haven’t considered yet.
  • Plan a lay out that keeps guests circulating and entertained (i.e. such as a photo booth near the dance floor or wedding games in a strategic location that guests can find and enjoy).
  • Hire a wedding entertainer that can serve as emcee and make announcements. Your guests’ll appreciate it.
  • Make sure there is a beverage station near the dance floor so guests stay hydrated…and can keep having fun!
  • Give guests who aren’t dancers other ways to entertain themselves at the reception.
  • Use a wedding budget checklist to ensure that your funds are being allocated for really important items that guests enjoy (i.e. food, dance music, etc.)
  • Add a surprise to the wedding reception schedule for an awesome and memorable moment guests can talk about long after your wedding is done.
  • Make your first wedding dance different from the norm with these dance ideas.
  • Don’t skimp on wedding entertainment; while it might be tempting to hire the cheapest, the entertainment can make the evening or send guests to the door.
  • Tell your wedding dance entertainer songs you want played—and don’t want played—at your dance. Be careful about hiring entertainers that don’t ask; this night is all about you!
beautiful summer wedding with lighting and beautiful dance floor

9 Amazing Wedding Themes You’ll Love

Planning a wedding reception requires a good wedding planning guide and, in some cases, a wedding theme list. The latter is incredibly helpful if you’re a couple who wants to use a theme to start creating an atmosphere with details that are completely and entirely you.

Jazzy

We’d be remiss as Chicago wedding professionals if we didn’t include this nod to Chicago’s heritage on our wedding theme list. A jazz wedding theme can be as modern or as vintage as wanted. A more modern take may include record accents, unique lighting, and a jazzy playlist. For a more vintage wedding, consider reproducing the atmosphere of an old jazz club—even going as far as to recreate a speakeasy with card and poker tables.

Nautical

A nautical or lakefront wedding theme is the perfect opportunity to enjoy all the perks of being on the lakefront. Picture a wedding at a popular lakefront venue, marina, or yacht club filled with an atmosphere in line with a day on the water. A nautical wedding theme is an opportunity plan the ultimate menu filled with your favorite local tastes and seafood dishes.

Retro/Vintage

A retro or vintage wedding theme is a throwback event, complete with touches and a playlist reminiscent of a different era or time. This is a theme that can be as unique as the era you choose—especially when choosing your favorite touches from that period. Best yet, this wedding theme lends itself to a wedding dance filled with your favorite songs from that era. (Hire a wedding DJ or band that can make that happen.)

Romantic

This is the perfect wedding theme for a Valentine’s Day wedding or for an intimate wedding reception. A romantic wedding theme can be as unique as the couple planning it: a neutral affair with upscale floral bouquets or late-night reception filled with roses and candles.

Fairy Tale

A fairy tale wedding brings the wonder of your fairy tale to life. This is your chance to make guests feel like they stepped into a vintage story book or a more modern version. In addition to wonderful décor, this is also a chance to incorporate the theme into the wedding dance with a royal wedding entrance and a fairy tale first wedding dance. (Your wedding DJ may have ideas as well, just ask.)

Rustic

A rustic wedding can be as modern or as country, and as formal or casual, as you prefer. This wedding theme is filled with natural elements that exemplify the rustic atmosphere: wood, greenery, floral accents, and atmospheric lighting.

Urban

An urban wedding deserves a modern wedding venue with a completely urban feel. The planning should continue with every detail that lends to a feel of the wonder of the urban landscape.

Winter

A winter wedding includes the wonders of the season—what those wonders are is different for every couple. This is your chance to select your favorite parts of the season and incorporate it into a beautiful wedding atmosphere. The result can be a neutral affair that exudes a winter wonderland or a cozy setting with tones of the season.

Spring/Summer

A spring or summer wedding is an atmosphere with fresh details: floral, greenery, seasonal menu dishes, and all the beauty of the season. This is an occasion where fresh blooms and ingredients are expected and celebrated.

How long is a wedding reception?

“How long is a wedding reception?” is one of the most common wedding planning questions couples ask. Typically, a wedding reception (with meal included) lasts between 4-6 hours. The length of your wedding reception is an important part of setting a wedding reception timeline and coordinating key wedding vendors.

This guide to planning a wedding reception can help you plan an awesome 4-6 hour reception. (Plus, use our wedding reception planning checklist to organize all those details.)

Wedding Reception Timeline

Cocktail hour

Dinner (Requires serving and background music)

Wedding Cake and Cutting

Reception Dance

  • Bridal party announcement
  • First dance
  • Song for any reception surprises
  • Bouquet and garter toss
  • Mother-son dance
  • Father-daughter dance

Wedding Reception Planning Tips

Band versus DJ: What’s right for your wedding?

“Should get a band or a DJ for my wedding?” may be one of the most common wedding planning questions, but it doesn’t always come with a clear-cut answer. (And the answer can be different for every couple!)

Some couples prefer the live performance of a favorite dance band while others love the energy of a professional wedding DJ. Either way, you should always make sure to do your due diligence when researching both options; there are a lot of amateur DJs and bands that can don’t deliver what they promise (a personalized play list that keeps guests on the dance floor) OR can leave couples stuck without wedding reception entertainment in case of an emergency.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of wedding DJ questions that weeds out the amateurs and warning signs to watch for that indicate your wedding DJ is way less than professional. However, if you’re still grappling with the choice between a band a DJ, this table breaks down the question quickly and easily.

Wedding band versus DJ

  DJ Band
Keeps guests
on the dance
floor
Yes-if you choose an experienced pro! Yes-if you choose experienced musicians!
Cost Yes-Typically lower than a band No-Typically highest cost wedding entertainment
Emcee for
reception
Yes-Can make announcements and add personal touch Yes-Can make announcements and add personal touch
Play list Endless Limited
State-of-the-art equipment Yes-ask to see the DJ’s equipment (and be concerned if they can’t or won’t show it to you) Yes-usually
Dinner music Yes-ask to make sure it is included, along with these other wedding DJ questions No-not usually but some groups can customize their act so a few musicians can provide soft dinner music and a full dance band later
Lighting Yes-high-quality wedding DJs offer this (usually as part of a package) Sometimes
Back-up plan (in case of illness or emergency) Yes-ask DJs before hiring to make sure they have back-up DJs and equipment (amateurs don’t) Yes-ask bands before hiring because some won’t

Tips for choosing the best wedding entertainer

  • Always research DJs and bands before hiring (i.e. on social media, YouTube, The Knot, Wedding Wire, etc.)
  • Don’t hire a wedding DJ or band without asking important questions (i.e. amount of time included in contract, overtime fees, amount of musicians included in band, etc.)
  • Be careful about hiring entertainers that raise any of these red flags.
  • If you want a particular musician or DJ, make sure you request that individual right away. Some bands or businesses have a list of musicians and pros that alternate performances.
  • Take note of reviews, but be extremely cautious about hiring a friend of a friend that performs at weddings as a side job.
guests at wedding reception enjoying dances during wedding reception order of events

How to Choose the Best Songs to Play at a Wedding

The energy of a packed dance floor can feel electric—especially when the best songs are played at a wedding. While creating that energy might seem as easy as putting together a list of your favorite songs, the right wedding playlist is crafted from using a combination of do’s and don’ts that get guests out on the floor.

Don’t make your guests blush (with your music choice).

Even if you are hosting an adults-only wedding reception, be aware that you may still have to “PG-down” your wedding playlist. This doesn’t mean you have to play kiddy songs, but it does mean that may have to take those risqué songs off the wedding playlist. The good news is that you don’t have to cross those songs permanently off your playlist. Save them for your post-reception party with your close friends!

Do include your guests’ favorites.

It’s okay to hate the chicken dance or ban a song or two that you absolutely can’t stand. When compiling a do not play list, make sure you keep it short. You don’t want your guests to wander away because they are not playing any songs they like! (Put the bar or a water cooler near the dance floor too, so guests don’t need to go too far to stay hydrated.)

Don’t leave your reception leaderless.

As tempting as it might be to just let wedding songs play, the best wedding dances are full of energy—usually from the DJ or band. In addition to entertaining guests and uping the fun factor, a DJ or band leader can make announcements (like for your first dance and introducing your bridal party!) and steer guests to key moments.

Do take requests.

Your wedding reception is all about entertaining your guests. Taking requests is a great way to do so! Obviously, there is a risk in taking live requests. You may have to take part in the YMCA (or watch everyone else do so!) If you want to make sure those annoying songs aren’t played, you can take requests on your wedding website or via your reply cards. This approach gives you the chance to veto any wedding songs that you truly hate.

Don’t forget to connect your vendors.

If you want to make sure that everything goes smoothly and all those important moments are recorded, connect your venue staff contact with your DJ and your DJ with your photographer and…so on and so on. (A really good DJ already knows to connect with them. Make sure you ask the DJ about this with this list of wedding DJ questions.) This important step ensures that your DJ can set up on time and your photographer (and videographer) is in the right place to get the best shots at the right time.

Do hire a really, really good DJ.

An experienced wedding DJ is experienced for a reason. Take advantage of it! If you want to host a memorable wedding reception, use this list of questions to interview wedding wedding Djs and hiring tips to choose the best pro for your wedding day. You and your guests are sure to enjoy the result (and the memories!)