Stop Planning The Perfect Wedding: Why A Fun Wedding Is Better.
Why you should stop trying to plan a wedding where nothing goes wrong, and start planning a wedding where you'll actually enjoy.
Written from the perspective of a wedding photographer
Quick Reality Check
Look folks, I've photographed a LOT of weddings, and I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty by now - there is no such thing as a "perfect wedding." I've yet to attend a single wedding where at least one thing didn't go as planned. I've seen it all: flowers not delivered on time, the best man forgetting his pants at the hotel, technical issues of every kind, and of course the one everyone fears most - bad weather.
Here's why this is actually good news
I've never seen any of those things ruin a wedding before. In fact, often those are the things that become the best stories! And at the end of the day (literally) you're only going to come away with one thing from your wedding - memories. These might be in the form of photographs, videos, written notes, gifts, or just in your head. But keep your eye on the prize here: the goal should be to create an environment that is conducive to great memories.
So what's the worst kind of wedding you can plan? A boring one.
I've been to a lot of boring and fun weddings, and I've noticed some common trends separating the two. So below are my tips you can follow to make a celebration that's fun for you and all of your guests.
(Follow these tips and you'll also get way better photos and videos. Hint hint)
7 Tips To Have A Fun Wedding!
Tip #1 - Book the right venue
This is so critical, it has to be number 1. Booking a venue is THE most important decision you'll make about your wedding. It is the foundation of everything else that comes after it. So make sure you some time shopping around for the best one you can afford. You should look for a space that's big enough to accommodate everything and everyone you need. It should have an amazing aesthetic that matches the theme you're trying to achieve. But looks for things most couples don't, like:
Do they have a large space for dancing?
Do they have great lighting?
Have they held weddings similar to yours before?
How accessible are they for people with mobility issues?
Do they have nice bathrooms?
Look closely at their online reviews. See what people say about the management of this venue. And make sure you read your contract over with someone who knows what they're doing, like a wedding planner/coordinator.
Tip #2 - Book a GREAT DJ
Most couples tend to just think about the music when they book a DJ. This is a huge mistake. A wedding DJ is so much more than just the music they play. They're also in charge of announcements, toasts, ceremony audio, and any aspect of your wedding that requires amplified sound. As someone who does wedding videos professionally, a DJ is CRUCIAL to how well the audio will turn out for a wedding video. Check out the differences between a good and bad DJ.
Ignore the audio recorders we set up to capture sound. They might crank up and distort the audio going into them, or cut off the feed accidentally. Either way makes it essentially useless - (hope you like silent movies!). Side note: this is why we capture audio at every point we can, so we're not solely dependent on the competency of a DJ.
Play the music either too loud or not loud enough. They never go out of their booths to check if the music is at an appropriate level.
Will use very unreliable equipment, particularly in the microphone department. Cheap wireless mics love to do one thing - drop out. That tends to distract the person making a speech or reciting their vows. Good wireless microphones cost money if you see them using something designed for a karaoke party... RUN.
Have very little or no lighting. While the venue is responsible for the ambient lighting, the DJ is responsible for the... DJ lighting. That's why they call it DJ lighting. People won't want to dance under fluorescent lights or in the dark.
Won't interact with the crowd. They're just there to push the play button
Will take great care of the video team's audio equipment. They'll routinely check that the recorders are getting a good healthy signal, cables are plugged in properly, and that the batteries didn't unexpectedly die.
Will Play the music at the perfect volume that makes people want to dance but not so loud that it deters people who are sensitive to overly loud sounds.
Will have reliable equipment that won't cut out constantly. And they'll bring wired backups in case something does go wrong.
Will have an amazing lighting array that will keep people on the dance floor.
Will make announcements, present speakers, and hype up your guests. A great DJ is an entertainer.
Tip #3 - Bring fun activities your guests can do
A lot of people don't like weddings, because they haven't been to a fun one yet. It's up to you to change their minds! Always keep in mind that there are going to be a lot of guests who don't drink alcohol, don't like dancing, and might have a hard time making conversation with strangers. These are the people I often see just sitting at their tables the whole night. But just because the traditional wedding activities may not be their jam doesn't mean you can't get them to enjoy themselves.
Consider adding activities for all ages. These don't have to be expensive. Consider bringing some of these activities for guests to enjoy. It'll get people mingling and having a great time.
Interactive Games: Twister, Giant Connect Four, Giant Checkers, Giant Jenga
Outdoor Games: Cornhole, Horse Shoes, Ring Toss, Bad Minton
Brain Games: Couples Trivia, Treasure Hunt
Video Game Station: Smash Bros, DDR, Mario Cart, Guitar Hero
Table Games: Poker, Uno, Pokemon, D&D
Competitions: Sack Races, Tug-O-War
Kid Activities: Coloring Books, Lego Station, Face-painting, Fake Tattoos, Bounce Castle
For More Ideas, Check Out These Amazing Articles!
Tip #4 - Photo Booth
If there is one sure-fire way that I've seen to get people to have fun, it's the Photo Booth. Guests go absolutely nuts for them. I could've put this in Tip #3, but honestly, it deserves its own tip.
Make sure whatever get comes with a cool background (I've seen sparkly gold ones that are fantastic) and lots of cheesy props for people to be goofy with... which leads into the next tip.
Check Out This Article To Learn More About Photo Booths
Tip #5 - Bring Props
Don't just bring props for the Photo Booth, bring them for the dancing! Here's some ideas of props you can pick up for real cheap on Amazon or your local party/dollar store.
Anything Glow-In-The-Dark: Glasses, Wristbands, Wands, Balloons
Anything That Lights Up: Sparklers, LED Wands/Foam Sticks
Party Masks: Masquerade, Star Wars, Marvel, Animal Masks
Inflatables: Microphones, Guitars, Swords, Hats
Props For Aisle/Exit: Confetti, Bubble Makers, Sparklers, Bird Seed
Check Out These Cool Articles For Prop Ideas!
Tip #6 - Fun Food
One of my favorite trends that I've seen lately is to have fun and interactive food stations. Gone are the days when you had to choose between chicken and fish. Not only can you get just about anything you want for the main course thanks to the availability of specialty caterers and food trucks, but you can also set up your own food stations. They're fun, can be customized to match your wedding's theme and personality, and might even save you a few bucks! Here are some ideas that you might want to implement for your wedding!
Ice Cream Sundae Station
Milk And Cookies Station
Beer & Pretzel Bar
Build Your Own (Burgers, Hotdogs, Tacos, Pizza, Spaghetti, etc)
Theater Popcorn Machine
Self Serve Buffet
If you're hurting for ideas, just search "interactive food station" on Pinterest. See you in 5 hours. Also Check Out These Delicious Posts About Creative Wedding Foods!
Tip #7 - Book A Fun Photographer!
Now, what kind of blog would this be without a shameless plug for my own photography services?! But in all seriousness, find wedding vendors who enjoy what they do and can help you navigate the day. Bonus points for photographers with great comedic timing and a sharp whit! You're gonna be hanging out with your photographer pretty much all day, so make sure it's someone you'll want to hang out with!
I recommend scheduling a Zoom meeting before you book any vendor to make sure your personalities are a good fit for each other.
Try to plan a wedding where you won't worry about the little things that might go wrong because you and your guests will be having too much fun to care. Your wedding is likely going to be the biggest party you ever throw. Make sure it's one people talk about for the rest of your life!
Fun > Perfect
Author: Todd McKernan / Lead Photographer @ Forever Frame