There is so much work that goes into planning your wedding (thats a whole other post in the making there), but there are a couple of big tick items that you will be thinking about. And these are important, because they will have a massive impact on the feel, mood and emotion of your day, and will even in some case directly impact how smoothly the day runs.
So I’m going to go over these (based on my experiences). Celebrants, MC’s, Musicians and DJ’s. Get the right ones and your day is magical. The wrong ones and it becomes an exercise in damage control.
To start with, Celebrants. After all, up until the moment you guys first see your celebrant on the day, its all a bit abstract. The Celebrant carrying the official documents makes it all very real.
Your choice of celebrant is a very personal one. It is about them having a personality that matches the mood you want for the day, and that clicks with you guys as a couple. A good professional celebrant will coordinate with all other vendors, stays tuned to everyones emotions and will make your ceremony effortless and seamless. They will inject the perfect amount of fun for your personalities, they will help stir the emotions of your guests and they will make sure that your ceremony is picture perfect (ie they know how to stay out of the first kiss photo). The wrong celebrant for you will just not make the ceremony feel as smooth and effortless. You want a professional that can handle anything that is thrown at them, and keep you guys calm, relaxed and in the moment. A good celebrant will also be excellent at wrangling your guests, so that they are all seated nicely or arranged clear of the Aisle for your arrival.
The (chronologically) next thing to think about is Musicians for the Pre/Post ceremony time when your guests are mingling, and maybe even to be live music for your walk down the aisle. There are so many ways to go with this. Maybe you will just have a friend running a Spotify playlist through the Celebrants PA, but in my experience, nothing tops live musicians. I’ve see everything from String Quartets, to Harpists, to Acoustic Solos and Duos. The one thing I like to mention to my couples is this. A friend running your iPhone with a Spotify list goes wrong as often as it goes right. Locked phones, flat batteries, no internet to access the music, distractions making them forget to cue music up resulting in the next playlist starting up, blasting everyone with your random death metal angry music…. It is a bit of a gamble. When you hire a live musician to at least take care of the pre/prost ceremony mood music, you have a team who are focussed on their job, and are in constant communication with the celebrant to make sure that the music is correct, that they play when the time is right. Also, live musicians stopping to prepare for your arrival is a subtle nudge to your guests to take their seats and get ready for you.
Some of my favourite musicians for these times of the day are
The MC can make or break your reception. They can keep it moving smoothly like a well oiled machine, out they can be running around herding cats in an exercise of chaos management. Whether you choose to use a friend or family member, or bring in a pro, there are a few things to consider.
Its not just about making regular announcements of what is happening next, mixed in with some witty comments, your MC is the point of contact for all of your vendors during the reception. They wil be coordinating with the Caterers, the Bar, the venue management, the band, the DJ, the videographer and the photographer. They need to keep each vendor oin the loop as the night unfolds, communicating any timeline changes. They should also be listening to the photo/video crew with regards to speeches and time gaps between other events, to ensure that they have time to switch set ups as needed. Going from speeches to cake cut to first dance isn’t just about relocating and pointing the camera in a different direction, it often requires moving lights, retesting the set up and getting it all dialled in so that the images are perfect.
A good MC will also exercise effective crowd control. keeping people where they need to be when they need to be there. getting everyone seated for speeches. Getting people clear of the dance floor for the first dance. They will listen to the requests of the other vendors to make each phase of the night work how it should. They will keep all the speeches happening in the one spot so that the video/photo crew done have to scramble and shift gear with no time to test it, so that all the photos, video and audio are as high quality as possible.
A pro MC will know all this from experience, but you need to make sure that your non pro friend MC listens to the people that do this every week and follows their guidance.
A good MC wil keep things flowing, but will make sure everyone is enjoying themselves. In all honesty, the MC’s job is probably one of the hardest of the day, they really will be flat out all night, but need to keep a calm manner to make sire everyone has a good time. In the words of Peter Parkers Uncle Ben “with great power comes great responsibility” so choose your MC wisely.
Now the list of professional MC’s is short, because here in Tasmania, they really aren’t that common. I can recommend Nikki Zhao MC, based out of Sydney, but never frightened to travel.
Your reception entertainment is a totally personal choice. You may prefer live music, you may want rock, you may love acoustic. You might want a cover band, a solo performer or a DJ. Really you just need to choose the entertainment that is right for you and the people you will be spending the evening with.
When choosing your entertainment however, you will need to decide if they are going to be playing all night… the ambient dinner music, the first dance and the party time afterwards, or whether you will run with a mix of pre-recorded music and live.
You might also be considering running pre-recorded all night, using your own, or a third party sound system. If you are thinking about going this way, you need to plan for all contingencies, and also take to other vendors (specifically videographers) about how this will impact them. I have seen flat phone batteries, loss of internet with Spotify play lists, no way of connecting the phone to the sound system (prompting rushed trips to JB HiFi), wrong playlists, and just times where no-one remembers to set a song going… If you are going to DIY, plan for all contingencies.