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  • Writer's pictureLuke Delaney

The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Entertainment [Expert Tips]

Updated: Dec 22, 2023


wedding guests holding a sign saying "They did it! Lets party!"

Want to know how to keep guests entertained at your wedding? You're in luck...


Your wedding day is a celebration of love, a gathering of family and friends. It is 24 hours that remain in your memories for a lifetime. Integral to creating this unforgettable experience is the entertainment you choose. It sets the tone, lifts the spirits, and ensures that every guest feels part of your special day. In this ultimate guide, together, we will explore the exciting range of entertainment options available for your wedding, from live bands and DJs to cultural performances and interactive activities. One thing is for sure, when you finish reading this, you will have enough inspiration and knowledge to ensure your wedding guests will not be bored on your wedding day!


1 - Live Music and Bands

a man plays an acoustic guitar
Photo by Gabriel Gurrola

The power of live music to transform a wedding celebration cannot be overstated. It creates an ambience, evokes emotions, and brings energy to the event. Live music, be it a romantic string quartet, a lively jazz band, or an energetic pop group, offers a personal and authentic touch that recorded music simply cannot match. It never fails to captivate wedding guests.


Types of Live Music Options


Bands

In the UK, wedding bands range from traditional cover bands playing classic hits to genre-specific groups such as folk, ceilidh, or indie bands. Consider the regional specialities, like a ceilidh band in Scotland or a sea shanty group in coastal areas.


The Roaming Revels

Acoustic Band

Who doesn't love an acoustic band at a wedding? They never fail to get guests' emotions flowing, and the party warms up. Whether it's a rework of one of your childhood anthems or a toned down version of a club classic, there is a place at every wedding for an acoustic band.


Make Mine a Double

Solo Artists

Solo artists, including professional singers, guitarists, pianists, or harpists, offer a more personal touch. In the UK, it's not uncommon to have a classical guitarist perform during the ceremony or a classical pianist during the cocktail hour.


Emma Katherine - Wedding and Events Singer

String Quartets and Orchestras

For a touch of elegance, a string quartet is a popular choice, especially in traditional English weddings. Larger orchestras or chamber music groups can also provide a luxurious auditory experience suitable for grand venues.



Saxophonists

A saxophonist adds a modern and sophisticated touch, especially popular in urban or contemporary UK weddings. They can perform solo, with backing tracks, or alongside a DJ, offering versatility from smooth jazz to upbeat dance numbers. If you need some inspiration, we have compiled the best saxophone wedding songs to help make your wedding day extra special.


Bring some Ibiza to your wedding day!


Cat On Sax

Percussionists

Percussionists, particularly those skilled in genres like Afro-Cuban or Brazilian rhythms, can add an energetic pulse to the celebration. They can perform alongside a DJ or as part of a live band, enhancing the rhythm and engaging guests on the dance floor.


Sam On Drums

Unique Options

Embrace the local culture by incorporating unique regional music. Bagpipers in Scotland, Irish fiddlers, or Welsh choirs can add a quirky cultural flavour to your wedding.


Choosing the Right Genre for Your Wedding

wedding guests dancing on a dancefloor inside a white marquee
Photo by Aiden Hampson

Your wedding's musical genre should reflect your personal tastes and the atmosphere you want to create. Consider a genre that resonates with both of you and fits your wedding theme perfectly.


Pop and Rock Bands

Think high energy, think electrifying performances. They're the heart-thumpers, the crowd-pleasers, the ones who can coax even your most dance-averse aunt onto the floor.


Soul and Motown Bands

These bands are a blend of soul-stirring rhythms and feel-good vibes, perfect for adding a touch of timeless class to your celebrations.


Jazz and Swing Bands

Step into a world of suave sophistication with these bands. They’re the embodiment of classic charm, ideal for creating an air of elegance and nostalgia.


Acoustic Folk Bands

Imagine soft melodies floating through a rustic barn, fairy lights twinkling. Folk bands are the essence of charm and warmth, ideal for a countryside or Cotswold wedding.


Indie and Britpop Bands

Tailor-made for the couple who loves festival weekends or indie record shops. These bands bring an edgy, modern twist to the party.


Tips for Hiring Live Musicians

  • Watch Live Performances: Before booking, try to see the musicians perform live, or watch their videos, to ensure their style matches your vision.

  • Check Availability Early: Popular bands and musicians can be booked months in advance, so start your search early.

  • Discuss the Playlist: Communicate your preferred songs and any special requests. Also, discuss their standard setlist to ensure it aligns with your expectations.

  • Consider Logistics: Ensure the wedding venue can accommodate the band's space and technical requirements.

  • Understand Contract Terms: Pay attention to the contract details, including duration of play, breaks, overtime charges, and cancellation policies.

2 - DJ Services for UK Weddings

Cheltenham DJs founder DJ Luke performing at a wedding
Cheltenham DJs Founder DJ Luke

The Role of a DJ at a UK Wedding

In the UK, a wedding DJ does much more than play music; they often become the heart of the evening's entertainment.


They are responsible for setting the tone of the wedding reception, keeping the energy high, and ensuring the dance floor remains vibrant and engaging throughout the night. A DJ will make or break your wedding celebrations, no pressure there then.


Crafting the Perfect Wedding Playlist

  1. Personal Tastes and Cultural Nuances: In the UK, with its wide range of cultures, a wedding playlist might need to cater to a diverse range of musical tastes. Discuss with your DJ how to blend different genres, from classic British hits to Bhangra, to create an inclusive party.

  2. Classic British Hits and Modern Tunes: A mix of timeless UK classics along with current chart-toppers can appeal to guests of all ages, ensuring everyone finds a moment to enjoy the dance floor.

  3. Dance Floor Dynamics: UK wedding DJs are skilled at reading the room and adjusting the music to keep the dance floor energetic. Share with them your expectations about how you envision the dance floor (e.g., non-stop party, family-friendly, etc.).

  4. Special Requests and Do-Not-Play Lists: Be clear about any specific songs or genres you want to be included or avoided. This is particularly important for songs that may have special significance or may be deemed inappropriate for your wedding guests.

DJ James Stephens

DJ Equipment and Setup Essentials

  • Quality Sound Systems: In the UK, where venues range from grand halls to outdoor marquees, it’s essential that the DJ’s sound system is adaptable to different environments.

  • Lighting and Effects: Many UK DJs offer lighting setups that can transform a wedding venue. Options like mood lighting, disco balls, and intelligent lighting can enhance the party vibe.

  • Microphones for Speeches: Ensure the DJ provides microphones for speeches and announcements, a key component in many UK weddings.

Specific Considerations

  1. Venue Restrictions: Some venues have sound limiters or specific rules regarding music volume and time constraints. Make sure your DJ is aware of these.

  2. Backup Plans for Outdoor Weddings: Given the unpredictable weather of the UK, if you're planning an outdoor segment, discuss backup plans with your DJ. A switched-on DJ will already have it covered.

  3. Public Liability Insurance and PAT Testing: Ensure the DJ has Public Liability Insurance and that their equipment is PAT tested, which is a requirement at many UK venues.

A good DJ can make a world of difference at your UK wedding. There is nothing worse than an empty dancefloor as the biggest celebration of your life.


Cheltenham DJs hold a proud reputation in the Cotswolds for keeping the dancefloor full all night. If you're planning a wedding and don't want lethargic guests, feel free to request a quote here.



3 - Dance Performances

wedding guests dancing
Photo by Mitchell Orr

Different Dance Styles Suitable for Weddings

Dance performances can be a spectacular addition to your wedding entertainment, offering mindblowing movement and cultural richness. From classical ballet to fiery Latin dances, there's a wide range of styles to choose from. Consider ballroom dancing for elegance or a hip-hop crew for that modern twist.

Hiring Professional Dance Troupes

When hiring dancers, view their previous performances to ensure their style fits your vision. Discuss the venue space and flooring, as some dance styles may require specific surfaces. We wouldn't want any accidents!

Incorporating Wedding Guest Dance Activities

We've seen some couples take wedding entertainment to the next level by adding a short dance lesson for guests. This can be a fun way to get everyone on the dance floor to learn salsa, swing, or even a simple waltz.

4 - The First Dance

a bride and groom have their first dance
Photo by Thomas AE

Significance of the First Dance

The first dance is a cherished tradition in UK weddings, symbolising your first unified steps as partners in life. It's a moment filled with emotion and meaning, often one of the most memorable parts of the wedding reception for both the couple and their guests. Let's make it a good one!

Choosing the Perfect First Dance Song

  1. Personal Significance: The song should hold personal meaning to you. It could be related to a special moment you shared, a song with lyrics that resonate with your relationship, or simply a tune you both love.

  2. Musical Style: Consider the style of music that suits your personality and wedding theme. Whether it's a classic ballad, a contemporary hit, or even an upbeat number, the song should reflect who you are as a couple.

  3. Danceability: Think about how comfortable you are with dancing. If you're not a confident dancer, a song with a simple rhythm might be best. Alternatively, you can take dance lessons to prepare for a more complex routine.

Choreographing Your First Dance

  • Professional Choreography: Many couples in the UK opt for professional dance lessons to choreograph their first dance. This can add a level of polish and confidence to the performance. If you're local to Gloucestershire, check out Balance Dance for dancing lessons!

  • Personal Touch: The dance doesn't have to be a professional-level performance. It can be a simple slow dance, a fun routine, or even an impromptu sway, as long as it feels right for you.

Coordinating with Your Band, DJ or Wedding Entertainment

  • Live Band Considerations: If a live band is performing your first dance song, check if they can play your chosen song or if you need to provide a recording.

  • DJ Requirements: If a DJ is handling your music, discuss the exact version of the song you prefer. Also, talk about how to transition into and out of the first dance to maintain the desired energy.

Capturing the Moment

  • Photography and Videography: Ensure your wedding photographer and videographer are briefed about the timing and details of the first dance so they can capture this special moment from the best angles.

  • Lighting and Effects: Discuss special lighting for the first dance with the venue or your AV team. A spotlight, soft ambient lighting, or even a smoke machine can add to the magic of the moment.

The first dance is a deeply personal and emotional highlight of any wedding. Choosing the right wedding entertainers, the right song, preparing for the dance, and ensuring it's seamlessly integrated into your wedding entertainment schedule will make this moment truly unforgettable.

5 - Interactive Wedding Entertainment

wedding guests dressed up with wigs and hats in a photobooth

Interactive Unique Wedding Entertainment Ideas

Want to make sure your wedding is fun and less boring? Some of the best wedding entertainment ideas get your guests involved and make them a part of the celebration. This can include photo booths with fun props, a live painting where an artist captures your wedding scene or interactive food and drink stations.

Benefits of Engaging Guests with Activities

Interactive elements keep guests entertained, especially during periods when the couple is occupied with photos or outfit changes. They also provide opportunities for guests to mingle at smaller weddings and help keep them from being awkward.

Examples of Successful Interactive Entertainment

  • Photo Booth: Always a hit, offering fun and instant keepsakes.

  • Live Art: Artists create real-time paintings or caricatures.

  • Games: Lawn games for outdoor weddings or table games for indoor settings can add a playful touch.

  • Silent Disco: A popular choice and fantastic idea for the evening party, especially for venues with an early music cut-off.

6 - Wedding Comedians and Hosts


The Role and Importance of MCs and Comedians

A Master of Ceremonies (MC) or a comedian can add a lively and personalised touch to your wedding. They help manage the flow of the event, make announcements, and inject a healthy dose of humour to keep the mood light and enjoyable.

How to Choose the Right Host for Your Wedding

Select someone who understands your humour and personality. If opting for a comedian, ensure their style and material are appropriate for your guest demographic. Professionalism and experience in handling diverse crowds are crucial.

The Balance Between Humor and Ceremony

While humour is a great element, it's important to strike a balance. The MC or comedian should respect the importance of certain moments while keeping the overall tone light and celebratory. After all, the day is about you, not them.

7 - Seasonal Wedding Entertainment in the UK

a couple pose for a photo in summer
A summer Wedding - Photo by Wedding Dreamz

The charm of a UK wedding lies in its ability to transform with the seasons. Summer and winter each bring unique atmospheres, influencing the choice of entertainment to ensure your special day is both memorable and seasonally appropriate.


Summer Wedding Entertainment Ideas

  • Outdoor Music and Performances: Embrace the warm weather with live bands or acoustic musicians in garden settings for a more intimate vibe.

  • Interactive Outdoor Activities: Outdoor games such as crazy golf or axe throwing, interactive food stations, or even a mini-festival theme can make the most of the longer daylight hours.

  • Evening Spectacles: Consider fire dancers or outdoor cinema screenings as a magical end to a summer evening. Don't forget the traditional ice cream stall!

Considerations for Summer: Even though it's summer, you still need to have a weather contingency plan. Don't forget to check in with the sound restrictions at your wedding venue, especially in rural or residential areas. Sometimes the limiter will kick in, and the party will be forced to come to a stop prematurely. Boo!

Winter Wedding Entertainment

a groom stood in front of a wintery snowy backdrop
Photo by Amanda Vick
  • Indoor Musical Acts: Jazz bands, classical musicians, or choirs can create a cosy and elegant atmosphere well-suited to indoor acoustics.

  • Interactive Indoor Entertainment: Magicians, photo booths, or a themed murder mystery can add intrigue and fun to a winter wedding.

  • Seasonal-Themed Acts: Ice sculptures, winter wonderland dancers, or themed performers can bring the magic of the season to life.

Considerations for Winter: Ensure there is enough heating and warm lighting to maintain a comfortable and inviting environment for wedding guests. You don't want to be remembered for having a cold wedding!

Adapting to the Seasons

  1. Venue Alignment: Choose entertainment that complements your venue and the season. A historic castle might lend itself to classical music in winter, while a country garden would be perfect for an acoustic band in summer.

  2. Guest Comfort: Regardless of the season, consider the comfort of your guests. This includes planning for heating, cooling, or shelter as needed.

  3. Seasonal Themes: Embrace the season with your entertainment choices, whether it's a summer solstice singer-songwriter session or a cosy winter saxophone player,

Whether you're planning a summer celebration under the stars or a warm winter gathering, adapting your wedding entertainment to the season will enhance the overall experience of your wedding day.

8 - Unique and Unusual Entertainment

Exploring Unconventional Wedding Entertainment Options

To make your wedding truly memorable, consider adding unique and unusual entertainment options like the bubbleologist above! This could include aerialists performing high above the crowd, a live sand artist creating a story through sand animation, or even a flash mob surprise.

How to Surprise Wedding Guests with Unique Acts

The key to successfully incorporating unique acts is the element of surprise. Plan these performances at unexpected times, like during a transition between the wedding ceremony and evening reception or as a grand finale.


What better way to surprise and entertain your guests than for your waiters to break out into song and dance? Check out the video below from the incredible Undercover Artists.


Safety and Logistics Considerations

When planning for unique entertainment, prioritise safety and logistical planning. Ensure your venue can safely accommodate the performance and that all necessary permits and insurances are in place. Smoke alarms and fire breathers don't mix...

9 - Children's Entertainment

Wedding Kits for KIDS (that they'll actually USE!) - Jamie Wolfer


If you're expecting younger guests, providing entertainment for them is essential. It keeps them engaged and allows their parents to enjoy the celebration. If it's not in your budget to hire entertainment, think about putting together a wedding kit for children like in the video above.


Ideas for Kid-Friendly Entertainment

Options include hiring a children's entertainer, setting up a craft corner, or providing a mini cinema room where kids can watch movies. Interactive activities like a photo scavenger hunt or a mini dance-off competition can also be fun.


Balancing Adult and Children's Entertainment

While it's important to keep children entertained, it's also crucial to balance this with the overall wedding atmosphere. Plan children's activities in a separate area or during specific times to ensure they complement the adult festivities. You definitely don't want them finding the beer pong area!


10 - Audio-visual and Lighting for UK Weddings

neon lights and spotlights shine over a set of decks at a wedding

Essential AV and Lighting for Your Wedding Day

Quality audio-visual equipment and thoughtful lighting are key components of a wedding, ensuring both clarity of sound for speeches and creating the desired atmosphere throughout the venue. In the UK, where weather can be unpredictable, it's particularly important to have reliable AV setups, especially for outdoor or marquee weddings.

Latest Trends in UK Wedding AV and Lighting Technology

  • LED Dance Floors: Gaining popularity across the UK, these floors add a modern and energetic feel to the dance area.

  • Wireless Sound Systems: Ideal for historic UK venues where running cables can be challenging, offering high-quality sound without intrusive wiring.

  • Mood Lighting: UK weddings are increasingly using mood lighting to transform venues, from fairy lights in barns to sophisticated uplighting in manor houses. Don't forget to light up the wedding cake!

  • Gobo Lighting: Custom gobo lights that project patterns or monograms add a personalised touch, popular in many UK weddings.

Tips for Coordinating with AV Professionals in the UK

  1. Venue-Specific Considerations: Many UK venues, particularly historic ones, have specific requirements or restrictions regarding AV equipment. Ensure your AV provider is aware of these.

  2. Weather Planning: For outdoor segments, discuss contingency plans for bad weather, a common concern in the UK.

  3. Sound Limiters: Some UK venues have sound limiters due to local regulations. Check this in advance and inform your AV team.

  4. PAT Testing and Insurance: Ensure that all equipment used complies with UK safety standards, including PAT testing, and that the providers have appropriate public liability insurance.

  5. Site Visits: This is especially important in the UK due to the variety and uniqueness of venues, from castles to countryside barns. A pre-wedding site visit allows the AV team to plan for any logistical challenges.

With the right audio-visual and lighting choices designed to the unique needs and styles of weddings, you can create an enchanting atmosphere that brings your day to life.

From live bands and DJs to unsual performances and interactive activities, the world of wedding entertainment offers endless possibilities to make your special day truly memorable. By considering your personal style, guest preferences, and wedding theme, you can select entertainment options that will delight your guests and put on an event they will never forget. If you're looking for wedding entertainment for your own wedding day, request a quote from Cheltenham DJs today. Cheltenham DJs is an experienced entertainment company that provides the finest local musical talent for special events across Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds. They offer everything from DJs, sax players, percussionists, live bands, vocalists, and all the equipment needed for an incredible party!

 

About the author - DJ Luke

cheltenham djs founder DJ Luke posing for a photo during a set

DJ Luke is the founder of Cheltenham DJs. and is a renowned professional DJ with two decades of experience, Luke is highly sought after and has performed at elite events globally. His illustrious career includes regular appearances at The Ministry of Sound, The Wimbledon Tennis Tournament, and The Emirates Stadium. His notable corporate clientele encompasses leading brands such as VW, Westons Cider, H&M, and New Look Men.

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