14 alternative first dance song ideas

14 alternative first dance song ideas

I’ve had a few couples mention to me lately that they are struggling to choose a first dance song, and that don’t really want to go with one of the more popular song choices that are common for the first dance.

First of all, you don’t have to do a first dance if you don’t want to. My top wedding tip as always is ‘do things your way’. And if a first dance really isn’t your thing then it might be with having a read of my previous article 8 Alternative First Dance Ideas.

However, the first dance can be a great tradition to keep. It makes for such an amazing moment with your family and friends gathered around you, with some stunning photos captured by your photographer. And it’s also the perfect moment to really kick the party off straight after!

So you want to go with a first dance but with a song that is a bit different?…

Whilst I would recommend trying to come up with a song choice yourself, I know it can be really difficult to choose one. So here are my 14, totally random, alternative first dance ideas that you might like. Or at least help you get your thinking caps on!

…and no Ed Sheeran song in sight! (sorry Ed!)

The XX - Islands

A beautiful song about searching the world to find the one. Amazing production from Jamie XX, and something a bit different from the usual ‘slow dance’.

“I am yours now, so now I don’t ever have to leave
I’ve been found out, so now I’ll never explore”

Finley Quaye - Your Love Gets Sweeter

Such a nice upbeat song from Finley Quaye. If swaying from side to side for three minutes sounds horrible to you then this song is a great tempo to have a little jig to without being too fast.

“Since I was sweet sixteen, I wanted to make you my queen
Then until the day you were, you are the loving girl who’s taken my hand”

Wannadies - You And Me Song

This song will have certainly been played many times at weddings, but perhaps not so much as a first dance. With ‘quiet bits’ and ‘lively bits’ it definitely makes for something a bit different! And the lyrics are just great.

“Then we watch TV, until we fall asleep
Not every exciting, but it’s you and me
And we’ll always be together”

The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition

Awesome, uplifting song from The Temper Trap, and perfectly structured for a confetti cannon explosion when the beat drops! Just picture it!

“And while our blood’s still young, it’s so young, it runs
Won’t stop ’til it’s over, won’t stop to surrender”

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - You're All I Need To Get By

We couldn’t really have a first dance list without a bit of Marvin! A lesser played classic that is just timeless.  Check out the Method Man and Mary J Blige cover for something a little more gangster (I’ve actually played that version as a first dance!).

“Like the sweet morning dew, I took one look at you,
And it was plain to see, you were my destiny”

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - You're All I Need To Get By

We couldn’t really have a first dance list without a bit of Marvin! A lesser played classic that is just timeless.  Check out the Method Man and Mary J Blige cover for something a little more gangster (I’ve actually played that version as a first dance!).

“Like the sweet morning dew, I took one look at you,
And it was plain to see, you were my destiny”

Taylor Swift - Lover

Could this be the next ‘Thinking out loud”?… Only released very recently, I predict this to become a bit of classic love song. Part of the song that almost sounds like fun wedding vows are very fitting. Check it out!

“Swear to be overdramatic and true to my lover
And you’ll save all your dirtiest jokes for me
And at every table, I’ll save you a seat, lover”

Noah And The Whale - 5 Years Time

Such a fun song from Noah and the Whale. Certainly a bit different to the usual type of first dance song with its lively tune. With fantastic lyrics it could be just perfect for a fun loving couple!

“And it’ll be love, love, love all over her face
And love, love, love all over mine”

Fleetwood Mac - Everywhere

Probably a slightly more popular ‘alternative’ first dance song, but I couldn’t not put it on the list! Absolute classic from the mighty Fleetwood Mac.

“Oh, I
I want to be with you everywhere”

Oasis - She Is Love

There are a few other Oasis anthems I certainly could have picked here, but for something a bit different this is a lovely little song about being in love.

“You’re in all my thoughts of passion, and the dreams of my delight
Whatever stirs my mortal frame, well, you keep it warm at night”

Carpenters - We've Only Just Begun

I bet you weren’t expecting this one from the Carpenters! Another great song with both slow and upbeat bits, and absolutely perfect lyrics for a wedding.

“And when the evening comes, we smile, so much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow, and yes, we’ve just begun”

Ray LaMontagne - You Are The Best Thing

Probably a much more popular wedding song over in the U.S. Such a good tune that sounds like it could have come from any era. Timeless.

“The way you move me, it’s crazy, it’s like you see right through me
And make it easier, you please me, you don’t even have to try”

Arctic Monkeys - Baby I'm Yours

Something a bit different from the usual Arctic Monkeys vibe!

“Baby, I’m yours, and I’ll be yours until the stars fall from the sky
Yours until the rivers all run dry, in other words, until I die”

Sam Smith/Disclosure - Latch (acoustic)

Great acoustic version of Disclosure and Sam Smith’s dance classic.  Fancy something a bit faster though?… go for the original! Awesome tune and great lyrics.

“How do you do it, you got me losing every breath
What did you give me to make my heart beat out my chest?”

Queen - You're My Best Friend

And finally, just a total classic from Queen!

“You’re my sunshine and I want you to know, that my feelings are true
I really love you, oh, you’re my best friend”


Choosing your wedding day music

What a terrible time we find ourselves in at the moment with this coronavirus situation. I’d just like to a take a moment to send thoughts and love out to everyone affected. It really is affecting us all in different ways. And if you are in the middle of planning your wedding or have had to cancel and reschedule your special day then I really do feel for you.

But, we must carry on, roll with the punches, and make the best of the time we have at home which we wouldn’t normally have. And if you are in wedding planning mode then this is the perfect time to think about music for your big day.

 

So let’s get into it, here are some tips and advice on choosing your wedding day music!

Personal or for everyone?

Your wedding is your special day and therefore should be very personal, but at the same time you will be inviting your family, friends and loved ones to share it with you, so it is a good idea to strike the right balance with music so everyone enjoys themselves.

Wedding guest partying, Lee Allison Photography
(photo by Lee Allison Photograpy)

But where do I start?!

Choosing appropriate music for your wedding can be a tricky task for some!  But it can actually be quite interesting and fun sitting down and thinking about your favourite songs that you want to have play a part in your wedding day.

First of all start by thinking about all the events of your day that may require music in one way or another. Write them down. You might find you now have quite a long list!

Next start to think of your favourite songs, artists and music genres that will bring happiness and meaning for you, particularly to the more personal moments of your wedding day. This bit may be easier said than done, but why not make an evening of it! Grab those old CDs, fire up Spotify, get on YouTube. Dig deep and have some fun going through the music you love. Once you get going you won’t be able to stop!

Whether you are going for live musicians or pre-recorded music during the day, and a DJ or band in the evening, going through this process will be really useful. And it may even help you choose which music options you actually want to go for.

Wedding timeline

Below are the different parts of a typical wedding timeline that might help you think of all the different parts of the day that may require music. 

Don’t forget: One important question to ask yourself for each moment of your day is ‘how will the music be played’?…

The Ceremony

  • Prelude – Arrival of guests before the ceremony
  • Procession – Walking down the aisle
  • Signing of the register
  • Recession – Walking back up the isle!
  • Post ceremony drinks

Wedding ceremony Becky Harley Photography
(photo by Becky Harley Photograpy)

All ceremony music can certainly be very personal to you both if you choose.  If music is important to you then you will want to be walking down the aisle to a song that you love, that maybe has significant meaning to you both. You could alternatively go for a timeless classic that everyone will recognise for those important moments.

Wedding ceremony, Lee Allison Photography
(photo by Lee Allison Photograpy)

Choosing the right music for your wedding ceremony to create the atmosphere you desire is crucial. Check out an article I wrote for Engage Weddings where I went into more detail on picking the perfect music for your wedding ceremony.

Wedding ceremony recession, Lee Allison Photography
(photo by Lee Allison Photograpy)

The Wedding Breakfast

  • Arrival of guests at reception venue
  • Arrival of bride and groom
  • Grand entrance of bride and groom, perhaps also the bridal party
  • Background music throughout breakfast
  • Post-breakfast background music

Wedding guests, Becky Harley Photography
(photo by Becky Harley Photograpy)

Wedding breakfast music is also another chance to go personal, perhaps for some of it anyway. It is a great opportunity to hear some of your favourite music that is more chilled and that wouldn’t be suitable for the evening party.  However it is probably worth bearing in mind your guests too, a wedding breakfast can go on for quite some time so your guests will want to be relaxed and enjoying themselves too.

Don’t forget about background music for when guests are arriving and mingling too. Something to create a nice ambience and atmosphere will really help set the tone for the day.

The Evening Reception

  • Background music early on
  • Arrival of evening guests
  • Grand entrance into room
  • Cake cutting
  • The first dance
  • ‘Father and daughter’ dance too?
  • Bouquet toss
  • Your favourite songs that make you get up and dance!
  • Grand exit / Last song of the night

Wedding cake cutting | JN Sounds

First dance

Possibly the most important song of your day, or even your lives – the first dance. If you choose to have a first dance then for maximum emotional impact this song should be YOUR song, a song that means a lot to you both that represents your love for one another. While the first dance seems to traditionally be a slow, love ballad this does not have to be the case. I have witnessed couples dancing to all sorts of genres of music for their first dance. Even an ‘eighties film soundtrack montage’ that included props and all! It’s the meaning the song brings that’s most important.

Wedding first dance | JN Sounds

Party time!

Lastly it’s on to the evening reception, party time!! This is where everyone involved in your big day wants to enjoy themselves and have a fantastic time dancing the night away. That’s not to say you shouldn’t prepare a playlist for your DJ of certain songs and genres you definitely want played, but I find it is important to bear in mind your guests as well so they too have a great time and get up and dance with you!

What can be just as important is producing a DO NOT play list. If there are certain songs or artists that you absolutely cannot stand or that might even upset you then add them to the list. This will make you feel a lot more at ease knowing you won’t hear ‘that awful song’ on your wedding day!

Wedding dancing JN Sounds

A good DJ will be able to take into account your musical tastes, read your crowd, and play suitable songs to get as many of your guests up and dancing as possible to make it a night to remember by all!

I hope this was a useful read for you if you’re in a rut thinking about music for you big day! For any more help and advice on choosing your wedding day music please do get in touch.

Remember, the timeline of events above is just a suggestion to a typical wedding. I for one am always keen to encourage couples to think outside the box, do things their own way and not stick to tradition if they don’t want to. Do things your way!


Top tips for planning a wedding

Wedding planning tips

Are you planning your wedding? Is it making your head hurt? Check out my quick-fire list of top wedding planning tips to get your brains engaged (pun intended!) and your creativeness flowing!

These tips come from both myself and many local wedding suppliers who have been there and done it many, many times! 

 

Plan B

Have alternative plans ready if required – an outdoor ceremony, barbecue and garden games can be amazing, just don’t forget the good old unpredictable British weather!

Budget

Prioritise your budget. Work out what’s most important to you and don’t scrimp in those areas. If they take up more than expected then try and save in other areas of the day, but walking away from an awesome day with any regrets is a no no!
Nicki, Nicki Shea Photography

Flowers

Find a florist who’s work and style you love. That way you know you can trust them to produce something you’ll love. Don’t be afraid to get in touch early to get your date secured, florists often get booked up quickly like other wedding suppliers.
Ellice, Willow & Blossom Floral Design

Find a florist you get a good feeling about on your first meeting that is personable and listens to your ideas and makes you feel confident that they will deliver the brief. It’s no good if you feel you can’t pick the phone up at any point to discuss any concerns or changes you may have.
Kim, Bloom In Gorgeous Flowers By Kim

Save the dates

Don’t necessarily send out save the dates! Don’t get me wrong, I love the stylish impact of a save the date, but do you really need them? Unless you’re having a destination wedding, are getting married on week day or bank holiday, or have friends & relatives travelling from far flung countries, you can probably save yourself a few pennies and skip straight to the invite!
Clare, Clare Gray Designs

Venues/Celebrant led

Before picking a venue consider the possibilities available by having a celebrant led ceremony. This means you can broaden your venue search to non-licensed and possibly more unusual settings
Kelly, Kelly Hawes Celebrant 

Colour scheme

Before choosing your colour scheme, look at the flooring, walls and curtains in your venue. If they are heavily patterned then choose a colour scheme that will complement it not fight with it. Your future selves will thank you!
Sandra, Fabulous Functions UK

Likes & Dislikes

Think about other weddings you have been to. What were the parts of the day you liked and disliked? Would you have done things differently?

Makeup

Definitely have a trial. Having a makeup trial before the wedding day allows you to try out some different looks to see what you feel most comfortable and confident in. You’ll still want to be feeling like you on your day, just the best version of you! I often start off with something quite natural and then build up in stages to something quite bold, taking photos on the way so you can look back on and see which you prefer.
Michelle, Michelle Nash Makeup

Cake

When choosing a cake maker ensure you actually get to try the cake. After all it’s a cake – it’s designed to be eaten!
Shelly, La Belle Cake Company

Venue dressing

If you are embarking on a DIY project to dress your venue be realistic as to what you can achieve on the morning of your wedding day! The small details take time to put in place. Hire someone to do it for you. So often I turn up an hour before the ceremony and these things are still being sorted.
Kelly, Kelly Hawes Celebrant 

Music

Music plays a key role in creating the right atmosphere, from the ceremony, to the wedding breakfast, right through to the last song of the night. Just imagine your wedding without any music!… Choose songs that you like, that represent you both, that will help create that right atmosphere and bring all your guests together for an amazing day. If you’re struggling for ideas I recommend having an evening going through YouTube or Spotify playlists to help jog your musical memory!

Suppliers

Meet with your suppliers, see their work, take up the opportunities to try before you buy and give feedback.
Vikki, Your Wedding Friend

Don’t be afraid to ask your suppliers lot of questions! I totally understand that you may feel like you know anything about my flowers, but my job is to take you through step by step! Don’t be worried about asking those questions even if you think they might be silly, they are probably not! Suppliers are always happy to help and want to help give you the wedding of your dreams.
Sophie, SA Floristry

When looking for a supplier, meet them or have a consultation with them. A 5 minute phone call is worth 10 emails. You then get to vet them. Building a relationship with them is so worth it.
Sandra, Fabulous Functions UK

If applicable, feed your suppliers, they’ll thank you for it and output will be maximised!
Kevin, Kevin Lines Photography

Do your research when it comes to booking suppliers, check their testimonials, meet them face to face and make sure you see the product they are offering before the day!
Becca, Engage Weddings

Guest numbers

Think about your guest numbers and roughly decide how many you are having before looking at venues. There is no point falling in love with a venue only to find they cannot accommodate your numbers.
Helen, H N Photography

Photography

Also when viewing venues consider if you are wanting a photographer and a videographer what space is available for them to stand/set up. Many small venues seriously do not have the space for both so you then have to compromise.
Helen, H N Photography

If you are having your photographer capture you getting ready, think about if you want to get ready at home, or at a hotel. At your house, you may have clutter laying around in the pictures, but in a nicely presented hotel room, everything will look clean and minimal.
Lee, Lee Rushby Photography

DJ/Band

Whether you decide to go for a DJ or a band for your wedding entertainment, always meet up with them first before booking. Even if it’s just a video call if a meeting isn’t possible. They will be playing a key part in your day so you’ll need to all be on the same wavelength to ensure an awesome evening party!

Don’t miss out!

Make sure you get a chance to see and try out all the wonderful things you have booked for your day; the canapes, the gin bar, the photo booth, the donut wall etc. You could even give someone the job of putting food in you hand! It can be easy to miss things during a busy day – I totally missed the mulled wine at my own wedding! You’ve paid good money for these extras so join in and enjoy them with your guests.
Michelle, Michelle Nash Makeup

Hair

Get your hair wedding ready by starting regular conditioning treatments, upping your water intake, and having regular trims.
Kim, Kim Sandford Hairdressing

Food

Everyone loves a good wedding, but everyone loves it even more when the food and drink are good! It can be a long day and hungry guests will be unhappy guests. There’s no need to go overboard, but try and provide the best food that your budget will allow.

Getting ready/timings

My tip is to allow plenty of time for getting ready on your wedding day – add in extra time for things like unexpected well wishers popping in and things to take longer than you thought, especially lacing up laces on wedding dresses – this can take 30 minutes you may not have planned for.
Jo, Josephine Gray Photography

Timings

My advice would be to consider logistics and timings of your day before booking your venue(s). If you’re getting ready away from your ceremony venue and the reception is at a different place to your ceremony then factor a lot more time for travel than you think. Moving all your guests will take longer than just the journey time on Google maps.
Rachel, Veiled Productions

And finally…

…my top tip, as always is; do things your way how you want to do them. The only things you have to do on the big day is exchange rings and vows. Everything else can be whatever you want!


A big thank you to all my wedding industry friends for taking the time to provide their tips!


All things wedding makeup

We spoke to Bedfordshire bridal makeup artist, Michelle Nash

​Wedding makeup is something we unsurprisingly know absolutely nothing about. So we thought we’d add a bit of variety to our blog and go and find out!

We had a chat with Bedfordshire bridal makeup artist Michelle, owner of Michelle Nash Makeup, to find a bit more about the life of a popular wedding makeup artist.

 

‘Hi Michelle! Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?’

Thanks for having me! I’m Michelle Nash, a professional Makeup Artist based in Bedfordshire and I specialise in natural & contemporary bridal makeup. I’ve been a makeup artist for almost 9 years now, and have worked across lots of different areas from fashion to theatre. And for over 7 of those I have been training makeup artistry for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Tom Ford Beauty.

My passion for bridal makeup came during my time at Bobbi Brown as the brand collaborated with lots of big profile weddings and wedding events. I learnt all about the wedding industry through my experience with them. I love being part of such a special morning and making someone feel their best on their big day.

Wedding Makeup Artist Bedfordshire

(photo by Natalie Stevenson Photography)

‘What kind of style do you go for with your make up? Or does it vary between brides?’

For me, the most important part of my job is making sure that “you still feel like you” on your wedding day. Just the best version of you! I specialise in the natural look, but if brides usually wear something a little more glam then we can go for a bolder bridal look that still makes them feel like themselves.

I spend a lot of time with my brides in the build up to the wedding day to ensure we get the makeup just right. And I offer a trial run so that we can play around with different looks, take lots of photos so that they can look back at them a few days later to really decide which look makes them feel their best.

Michelle Nash Makeup - wedding makeup artist

(photo by Natalie Stevenson Photography)

‘What do you feel makes you stand out from other make up artists?’

I love to be part of the build up with my brides. With everything from skincare advice in the lead up to the day to choosing the perfect bridal lipstick that I give to my brides as a gift and memento of their wedding (it’s also the only thing that will need touching up throughout the day!).

It’s so important to me to be on hand during the countdown for any questions they might have and to provide tips and advice.

‘When you are discussing bridal make-up with your clients do things often crop up that brides might not have thought about?’

Yes! The one that crops up the most is how to get the balance right for the makeup looking good in real life but also standing out on camera. You have to get it just right, my three tips are:

  • Lots of mascara or lash extensions
  • a pop of pink of the cheeks
  • and a lipstick rather than just a gloss

These are the three areas that can get completely washed out on camera, so add extra for the day.

I’ve also become an expert at wedding morning timings. I’ve been a part of lots of different wedding mornings now, so I always offer a few tips to help the morning run smoothly and to make sure brides aren’t rushing into their dress and missing a glass of fizz and some photos with the girls!

Wedding makeup artist Bedfordshire | Michelle Nash

(photo by Natalie Stevenson Photography)

‘You must have a tonne of make up and brushes to cover all different types of skin types. What brands do you mainly use?’

Ahhh my makeup collection takes over a whole room in my house!! It’s full of all different kinds of palettes, lipsticks, skincare, glitter and brushes! In my bridal kit I use luxury, high-performing products (usually all waterproof!) to ensure your makeup will be photo-proof and more importantly, party proof until the early hours.

Some of the brands I use are, Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford, MAC, Urban Decay and Charlotte Tilbury. I’ve also recently switched to using more sustainable hygiene products for my tools I only use once like cotton buds and mascara wands. I’m trying to keep my use of disposable plastics to a minimum.

Michelle Nash Makeup artist Bedfordshire

‘Are brides able to send you photos to show you what kind of look they are after?’

Absolutely! This part is really fun and it’s great to get brides looking on Pinterest and start pinning every makeup look they like the look of, and some that are also a bit out of their comfort zone! My brides often invite me into their boards on Pinterest so that I can get an idea of the look before the trial. This is what the trial is for so that we can play with a few looks from natural to bold.

And sometimes it’s fun to try something a little different to what they’re used to, just to see if they like it! It’s also really helpful to pin hair and dress ideas so that I can advise on what makeup will work with their other choices.

‘There are many bridal make-up artists out there to choose from, what advice would you give brides to help them choose the right one for their big day?’

Have a trial! It’s the only way to know if they are the right makeup artist for you. Your wedding morning is such a special and intimate part of your day, it’s so important to have someone there that feels right for you and who will make you feel and look amazing too!

Contemporary Wedding Makeup Bedfordshire

(photo by Becky Harley Photography)

‘A bride has chosen you to be their make-up artist for their wedding. What one tip would you give them to make them feel comfortable and confident in their wedding day make-up?’

Don’t hold back. If there’s something that you just want tweaking or changing slightly to make you feel more like you then your makeup artist will always be more than happy to adjust the look so you feel your best.

It’s one of the biggest days of your life so I always make sure that all my brides are 100% happy and feeling confident in their wedding makeup before I leave you to walk down the aisle!

A big thank you to Michelle for taking the time to answer questions, on a subject we had no clue about!

To find out more about Michelle and her awesome work visit Michelle Nash Makeup.

(banner photo by Becky Harley Photography)


8 alternative first dance ideas for your wedding

Are you planning your wedding?

Are you putting off thinking about a certain ‘dance’?

Do you wish you didn’t have to do it at all?First off, you don’t have to do a first dance. It isn’t part of the wedding ceremony, you’ll already be married! It’s your day so do things how you want to do them.

However, it is quite a nice tradition to keep and is a great way to kick off the evening party. Plus your photographer will get some fantastic photos of you together. But if the thought of swaying around together for three minutes in front of everyone petrifies the life out of you then do not worry. There are plenty of alternatives that can keep the spotlight off you a bit and actually make the whole thing more fun!

Banner photo by Lee Allison Photography

Just have a first song

If you really don’t fancy doing a first dance but would like a ‘first song’ to kick off the party then do that. I recently had a couple who chose to do this. The song they chose was ‘Summer of 69’ by Bryan Adams. After bringing all the guests in the evening function room I slammed in the song at full volume and that was it, the dance floor was full and the party was officially started!

Top tip: Confetti cannons are always awesome!

Alternative first dance ideas - Group dance

(Photo by Nicki Shea Photography)

Inviting your guests to join you half way through

This option is actually what most of my couples choose to go with. Rather than dancing the whole song alone, I invite guests to join you on the dance floor halfway through the song. This way it means there is enough time for your photographer to get some great shots of you together, but you’re only on your own for a minute and a half. Not that bad!

Alternative first dance ideas - Guests joining

Have a group/family dance

Another option that is quite popular is a family or group dance. If you have children, parents or other key people you’d like to join you then have them share that moment with you.

Alternative first dance ideas - Family dance

Have dance lessons

Some might consider the thought of dance lessons just as scary as the first dance itself! But having some dance lessons will certainly give you a lot more confidence before the day. And imagine pulling off an stunning, choreographed dance routine in front of everyone.

There are also two options to go down here; a more traditional dance routine, or one that is a bit more fun with some crazy moves involved! If this option sounds of interest then we do know a dance teacher we can recommend who specialises in first dance lessons.

Alternative first dance ideas - Dance routine

Flash mob!

Take dance lessons to the next level by getting others involved and creating something unforgettable! For those that don’t know a flash mob is a group of people who suddenly break into dance without others knowing. Cue your bridesmaids, groomsmen and whoever else is involved joining in. It’s likely dance lessons would be required to choreograph a routine, but once nailed the results will be amazing.

Alternative first dance ideas - Flash mob

Pets

Are your beloved pets (most likely dogs!) playing a part in your wedding? Why not involve them in your first dance to take the spotlight off you slightly, they won’t mind the attention! Obviously not for everyone, but for animal lovers it would certainly make for a unique first dance.

Dogs at weddings - Nicki Shea Photography

First Macarena!

Another idea that involves all your guests, getting them all dancing to a song that involves actions could be a lot of fun if you like that type of thing. Especially if alcohol has been flowing freely! And it doesn’t have to be the Macarena, how about a giant Conga line or a group Hokey Cokey?

Alternative first dance ideas - Party

Incorporate your hobbies

Do you have any hobbies or interests that you could incorporate into your first dance? Are you massive Star Wars fans and would like a lightsaber duel?! This is your chance to think outside the box and again create something unique. Your guests will likely know what you are into and will be excited to see what route your first dance takes.

I hope our alternative first dance ideas sparked some ideas of your own. But if you do decide to go for a traditional first dance just remember, it’s really not that bad! Everyone will be focused on you just being together for that moment, they won’t actually be worrying about whether you are dancing properly or not. They will just be enjoying the moment, watching you enjoy your moment.

If you’d like to discuss first dance ideas further with us please get in touch, I’d love to help!


Top tips for a busy dance floor at your wedding

Top tips for a busy dance floor at your wedding

One of the big fears that couples may have leading up to their wedding reception (or any other party for that matter) is the fear that nobody will dance. Whilst this fear is usually unnecessary, there are certain things to consider to really help those dance floor antics go from a ‘pretty good’ to ‘blooming amazing’!

So here are my tips to ensure a busy dance floor at your wedding reception.

 

The first couple of tips are something to consider if you are still in the planning phase of choosing a venue.

Sound limiters

Unfortunately many venues need to have sound limiters in place due to surrounding houses or residents. They work by limiting the volume of sound in the venue. If music gets too loud they will instantly cut power to the DJ or band, resulting in silence for a few moments before the power comes back. Not ideal.
It is of course the DJ/band’s responsibility to stay within the sound limiter. But this can mean that the music volume can be lacking, particularly the bass, which is sometimes not great in helping create an awesome party atmosphere.
To be fair most venues I work at that do have sound limiters are pretty good, and staying within the limit still ensures enough volume. But there are some that just have too low a limit in my opinion. When viewing wedding venues be sure to ask if they have a sound limiter installed so you are aware.

Bar location

The bar can be a big distraction when it comes to dancing. But then it is arguably a necessity to help people hit the dance floor in the first place! With the bar being in the same room as the evening entertainment, or at least very near by, it can really help.
Not only does it mean it’s only a short walk to the dance floor, but it also means people can enjoy the music while they are still at the bar, which then adds to the overall atmosphere of the room. We often see people dancing at the bar while waiting for their drinks! Something they wouldn’t be able to do if the bar is elsewhere down a corridor. Therefore bar location may be another factor to consider when choosing a wedding venue.
Further things to consider once you have a chosen venue…

 Keep other attractions near by

Are you thinking of booking other attractions such photo booth, selfie pod, fun casino etc? If so then like the bar it is worth bearing in mind their location too. Having things like a photo booth near to the dance floor can be beneficial if your goal is to get everyone dancing. And it’s always fun when the photo booth props make it on to the dance floor!

Time of first dance

Assuming a midnight finish, I find 8pm – 8.30pm a good time for the first dance. Following your first dance is the perfect opportunity for the party to really get going while all your guests are gathered around.

Do it too early and you could see guests heading straight back to the bar. Do it too late and you’ll be running out of precious partying time! Around 8pm – 8.30pm should also give time for any evening guests to arrive, mingle and then be involved to see your first dance too.

Get on that dance floor yourselves

Probably my top tip to get everyone dancing. If you are dancing then your guests will follow suit! If you are sitting down in the bar all night, guess what your guests will also be doing?…
This doesn’t mean you need to be dancing all night long. But leading by example really does help everyone relax and join in the fun!

Creating a playlist

Your DJ should always give you the opportunity to send them a bit of a playlist of your favourite songs and artists. It’s your party and your DJ will want to play songs that you like and get you dancing. However when compiling your playlist don’t forget to think of your guests too. Particularly if there will be a mixture of all ages. You know your family and friends so you’ll likely have an idea of their tastes. Your DJ will then have good list to go by. Have trust in them, they should be able to read the crowd and play appropriate music at appropriate times.
If you would like a more dance orientated set at some point (for example house, garage) it is worth allowing for this a bit later in the evening. These genres do pack the dance floor well a bit later, and you’ll also avoid the chance of scaring off some of the older generation early on.

Lighting

Nobody really likes getting up and dancing when it’s too bright. Most venues will have dimmable lights, or will be able to turn off particular lights, to create a nice ambiance. Additionally there is the option of mood lighting. Some venues do provide this, but if your DJ is able to supply it then they will be able to control the colours and sequences throughout the night. It can really enhance a room and make it more fun to be in

The right lighting certainly has an effect on people’s willingness to dance so getting it is worth considering. The right lighting will also help make the photos look awesome!


How to choose your wedding breakfast music

How to choose your wedding breakfast music

Your wedding breakfast will be a key part of your big day. After the excitement of the ceremony it is a time to relax and celebrate, and what better way to do that than enjoy an amazing meal with your family and friends.
You have your table plan set, you have made your food choices, and you have chosen how much wine to put on the tables!
Now you have just one thing left to organise that will really set the mood for your wedding breakfast. The music.

Imagine a wedding breakfast without music…

The silence while guests come in to find their seat, the scraping of chairs, the clatter of cutlery as everyone eats. But above all, the lack of atmosphere.
The right music can really help set the scene, in matching with the type of atmosphere you want to create. It is also perfect for drawing people’s attention to key events, and for filling gaps of unnecessary silence.

Choosing the right music for your wedding breakfast

The wedding breakfast is the perfect opportunity to listen to music that you love that is perhaps more chilled and not suitable for the evening party.
It is down to personal taste what you choose. It can be quite fun to have a YouTube/Spotify brainstorming session and seeing what ideas you come up with! Below are a few ideas of the type of music we often play throughout wedding breakfasts:
  • Acoustic pop covers
  • Chill-out
  • Jazz
  • Acoustic/soft rock
  • Movie themes
  • Motown
  • Soul/RnB
If you are having a themed wedding then it is a great idea to go with music to match your theme.
Above all choose what will make you happy and means the most to you. But just remember you are setting the scene for all your guests too.

Tech talk

Don’t worry, it’s not really tech talk! But the speakers that your music will be playing out of is very important in creating a nice atmosphere, without the music having to be to be too loud.
A key question to ask yourself is ‘how will this music be provided?’…  The answer will usually be one of three, a DJ, a musician, or your venue.

The Venue

Talk to your venue about the type of sound system they provide. Do they have high quality, wall-mounted speakers?… Or do they have a small ghetto blaster in the corner of the room?…
It is also important to check what playback facilities they offer. Can you provide them with a phone/mp3 player?… Do they have reliable WiFi so you can connect a phone to your Spotify playlists?…

DJs

Some DJs, including ourselves, offer an additional wedding breakfast music service. The great benefit of this option is that you can discuss with your DJ the music you like and dislike, so then they can DJ for you live on the day the soundtrack to your wedding breakfast!
Most DJs offering this service will also be able act as hosts and provide microphones for speeches. We are usually able to set up the same equipment we would use for the evening, and then play music from the start of the wedding breakfast through to the end of the night without any interruptions.

Live music

Alternatively you could always go for live music instead of, or alongside, a DJ. There are lots of great musicians out there who can provide music throughout your wedding breakfast; acoustic guitarists, harpists, pianists, saxophonists, singers, even singing waiters, to name but a few. Be sure to speak with them to check they can provide the style of music and genres you’d like to hear.

Unique wedding breakfast music ideas

As wedding DJs who provide additional afternoon entertainment, we have a few other ways of incorporating music into your meal. With a bit of correctly timed music, proceedings like your entrance into the function room and the speeches suddenly become a lot more fun!
For more information on the unique things we can do with music throughout wedding breakfasts please get in touch

Choosing the right wedding photographer

We spoke to Nicki Shea Photography

​We recently caught up with Bedfordshire based wedding photographer Nicki, owner of Nicki Shea Photography. We wanted to find about a bit more about what she does, why she does it, and her advice for couples on choosing the right wedding photographer.

 

‘Thank you for meeting us Nicki! Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?’

Absolute pleasure, as always! So I am Nicki, the name and face behind Nicki Shea Photography. I have been photographing weddings for around eight years now and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! I have adapted and altered my style over the years and am super happy with where I am at now. I work locally, nationally and worldwide. It’s pretty awesome to be in a job you adore and also travel to new and exciting destinations too!

Choosing a wedding photographer, Nicki Shea Photography | JN Sounds

‘What kind of approach and style do you adopt with your photography?’

FUN all the way! I want my personality to shine through my business, which is why I have matched my branding to ‘me’… quirky, bright and carefree! I get that that doesn’t suit everyone, which is absolutely fine. There are so many photographers out there with so many styles, that we all have our place in the industry. Give me an outdoors, happy go lucky schedule with flamingos and popcorn and I will make the magic happen! In short, I love uniqueness and standing out from the crowd. If you want formal and structured, I’m not your gal!

Nicki Shea Photography, ceremony

‘We love working with you at weddings! What do you feel makes you stand out from other photographers?’

Clearly we all have talent (yup, blowing my own trumpet there!) but what makes me stand out from all the others… I take dedication to my job to the next level. Great for the clients, not so much for home life! But that’s how much I truly love my job. I work through till the early hours most days, editing, blogging, submitting weddings, updating social media, admin… the works. I am probably a bit addicted to the computer but it ensures my couples get great responses and a timely turn around on their images.

And as previously mentioned, I don’t shy away from injecting my personality into my work. On the day of the wedding I love to talk to people… getting to know guests enables them to relax more around me and in turn, the pictures are way more natural and fun.

‘Absolutely agree there, we find the same. Being able to chat to guests and get to know each other earlier in the day often makes for a more relaxed and fun evening reception.’

Totally makes sense!

Nicki Shea Photography, rings

‘Are there any areas of wedding photography that couples might not have thought about, other than the traditional wedding formalities?’

There’s a few things that couples may overlook with regards to photography. First one that springs to mind involves church weddings… very important that couples speak to their priest/vicar/reverend etc. to ensure they allow photographers to photograph throughout the ceremony. Yup, that really is a ‘thing’. Some churches (not all) are extremely strict on photography and will only allow a photographer to photograph the entrance and then nothing from that point onwards. Or may allow photography throughout but only from the back of the church. That’s not the kind of news you want to hear as you arrive at the church, so find out in advance so you don’t have tears of sadness as you walk down the aisle!

Nicki Shea Photography beach couple

‘Wow, did not realise that! Certainly something to consider with a church wedding, that would be a worry.’

Indeed! The second thing that has to be noted is timing. A wedding is a scheduled day, no matter how relaxed it may be. It’s so important to be realistic with how much time you have to play with and how much you want capturing. I’m good with capturing things under pressure but I’m no magician! If you were to only have half an hour between ceremony finishing and the meal starting, then you’d be mistaken if you think you would have group shots, couple shots, candids and room shots in their plenty! This is something I talk through with my couples so I can manage their expectations.

Nicki Shea Photography, couple

‘As DJs and hosts we work with photographers all the time, how do you go about capturing the entertainment aspect of a wedding reception?’

I like to have a chat with DJ’s before the first dance happens to get an idea of what lighting will be used and confirm we are all working to the same time etc. Generally speaking, I find them super accommodating for the first dance and then I love watching them let loose on the crowd to get the party started. For me, capturing a full on, jumping dance floor is just the best ending to the day! You guys are an absolute dream to work with for sure. I know if I have you two at a wedding, I am going to have some cracking evening shots!

‘Ah you’re too kind!’

It’s true!

Nicki Shea Photography, wedding reception

‘You must spend quite a bit of time editing photos after a wedding. How much work typically goes into editing afterwards?’

The editing side of things takes longer than capturing the day. I tell my couples that they will receive their images within 6-8 weeks. To clarify, that does not mean that it takes that amount of time to edit their wedding alone. It allows time for uploading, backing up, culling, editing, adding to a personalised gallery etc. and there is never just one wedding waiting for this process. So it enters a queue and is then edited in date order.

‘And you won’t want to be rushing this process either’

Definitely not, it’s so important that this process isn’t rushed. It’s the time when my ‘personal stamp’ is added to the images and it’s your lasting memory of your special day, so it has to be perfect!

Nicki Shea Photography, couple b&w

‘There are many wedding photographers out there to choose from, what advice would you give couples to help them choose the right one for their big day?’

Talk to them, meet them, get to know them! If you don’t gel with your photographer it will show in your images, honestly! I invite couples into my home to meet with me, get to know me and ask me anything they wish, wedding or non-wedding related, I’m an open book! Recommendations are like gold dust, so speak to friends and family and find out who they used and if were they happy with them from start to finish.

I think it’s important to say that this does not mean a photographer you source yourself isn’t going to be any good! If your working on your own research, make sure you ask all the questions you want. Any photographer should be happy to answer all questions as we have nothing to hide. Feel free to ask to see a full day coverage of a wedding so you know their work is consistent. Check out their reviews… previous clients will be brutally honest, good and bad, so that will be a good insight.

Ultimately, do they feel right? Do you feel at ease with them and think their style fits yours. If yes, then you kinda have your answer right there!

Nicki Shea Photography, smoke grenades

‘A couple have chosen you to photograph their wedding. What one tip would you give them to make them feel at ease about being photographed?’

Don’t over think your day. You have chosen a photographer for their flair and style and talent. Let them loose with their creativeness and allow them to give you the images you booked them for.

For example, it doesn’t make sense to book a photographer for their natural, relaxed style, then give them a list of 50 ‘must have shots’ that you want taken throughout the day. It ties up so much of their time that all those candids fall by the wayside!

You’ve booked a photographer you feel at ease with, that will help on the day for sure. And remember, it’s the day of your dreams, smiles and all that mushy stuff will come naturally. It’ll be amazing!

Nicki Shea Photography, dancing

‘Nicki, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. That is some excellent advice, and your passion for your photography really does shine through you.’

‘You are most welcome guys, thank you for having me!’

To found our more about Nicki and her amazing work visit the Nicki Shea Photography website.

(All photos above taken be Nicki unless credited otherwise)


5 wedding music theme ideas

5 wedding music theme ideas

As wedding DJs we get to play a large variety of music to all sorts of different people. And this is amazing and it’s why we love our job! At many weddings what we typically incorporate our couples’ playlist with other songs we think they and their guests will hit the dancefloor to. This is usually because it’s what our couple have asked for, along with catering for all age groups among their guests.

But what if…

  • You are seriously into a certain genre of music
  • Your guests are mostly the same age
  • You are having an actual themed wedding

If so then there may be the option to go crazy with a certain type of music to really make your wedding reception stand out and be one that will never be forgotten!

Some styles of music you might want to keep to the evening only, or others you might want to extend the theme into both your ceremony and wedding breakfast. And it isn’t just music that creates a theme. There’s also things like venue/table decor, clothing, props, and food to consider too.

Having a themed wedding may sound like a bit of a cheesy idea to some, but if you are considering something a bit different then you only have to take it as far as you want to, perhaps just with the music for a certain part of the day. This is where it is important to speak with your DJ so they get to understand your tastes and give you some ideas with regards to music and entertainment that will fit.

So with that all in mind here are our 5 wedding music theme ideas:

Festival

Music: Rock/indie, dance/electronic
Next level: Take it outside! Literally, create an actual festival in a tipi or marquee. Have a DJ/band line up. Give out wristbands, have smelly toilets (hmm maybe not that one!).
We say: There are just so many options for a festival style wedding, limited only by your imagination.

80s

Music: From the 80s of course!
Next level: Go all out with some 80s decor? Maybe incorporate your favourite classic 80s films!
We say: The 80s was full of some amazing music of all genres, and we find it the perfect decade that seems to appeal to both young and old.

Ibiza/Nightclub style

Music: House, Garage, Club classics
Next level: Bring in a saxophone and bongo player to create that full on Ibiza style. And don’t forget the glow sticks!
We say: Perhaps best left for the evening only for a total change in theme, although you could consider some chillout music during the day.

Movies

Music: Movie themes
Next level: Little touches of decor, film props, popcorn machine for the evening – there are lots of options to give your day a bit of a cinema feel. And dare we say it, costumes!
We say: Probably more suited to the day time rather than evening (with much film music not being very dance-able), but a great way to create a unique day with a twist. A perfect opportunity to use film score music for things like introductions and your first dance!

Christmas!

Music: A sprinkling of Christmas favourites.
Next level: Along with a bit of Christmas music, decorations and little touches are key to making the most of this theme.
We say: If your wedding falls in December then it is almost a no brainer to up the festivities at your wedding. How far want to take it is up to you!

These are just a handful of wedding music theme ideas. If you are thinking of going for something a little bit different at your wedding and would like to have a chat please feel free to get in touch.


A chat with Veiled Productions, Hertfordshire wedding videographers

Should I book a videographer for my wedding?… we spoke to Veiled Productions

​Last month I met up with Hertfordshire wedding videographers Veiled Productions. They are an award-winning videographer team who cover Herts and the surrounding counties. I really wanted to pick their brains and find about a bit more about what it is they do and why they do it.

If you are wondering what talented videographers could do for your wedding then read on!…

‘Thanks again for meeting me guys! So please tell me a bit about yourselves and what you do?’

Rachel:  ‘Thank you so much for having us, always a pleasure to see you both! I’m Rachel and I started Veiled Productions in 2011. And this is Pete my partner who helps me with our website, is a second videographer for me if ever needed and very good with all technical things!’

‘In a nutshell we are all about capturing the fun and emotion of the wedding day. We like to tell each couple’s unique story in films they can treasure forever. The wedding day goes by so quickly for the couple because lets face it, how often do you have all of your family and friends together in the same room?!’

 ‘And what kind of style and approach do you take when filming?’

Rachel:  ‘We describe our style as filming from the view point of a guest. We have a very natural, unobtrusive approach. Nothing is staged or posed. The best comments we receive from our couples is that they didn’t notice us filming on the day but we still captured everything important to them.’

‘We love capturing the natural laughter, the hugs and kisses which makes the film full of emotion but not too cheesy.’

‘Sounds perfect!’

‘So most couples will be booking a photographer for their wedding, but maybe not a videographer. What do you feel are the main benefits of using a videographer?’

Rachel:  ‘Photos are great to have on the wall and make you smile every day but video is totally different. It preserves the words that were said and moments that over time you will forget.’

‘Totally agree, there must be potentially so many moments that could be missed and forgotten without them being captured.’

‘Exactly! And I love watching family videos of us when we were babies. It’s amazing watching my younger parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and of course us as young kids running around!’

‘It’s especially precious now that some of them are no longer with us and we are all grown up. And I feel the same is true for a wedding film. Watching the films back a few months after the wedding will bring joy and fond memories and watching it back 10 years later will be even more special.’

Pete:  ‘Having the wedding filmed means you can relive the special moments you will always remember. But also experience moments you might not have seen – the getting ready, the guests at the reception, the partying. It also means family members old and new can watch it 10 years down the line and laugh at the speeches or the dancing or whatever it may be.’

‘Are there parts of what you do that couples might not have thought about, other than having the formalities of their wedding filmed?

Rachel:  ‘The story telling element of the films is what makes having a professional so worth it. We record the day as it happens and then edit the films to the couples’ favourite songs and that’s what brings out the emotion. Our split screen editing style makes the film a bit different too, something fun and a bit more fast-paced.’

Pete:  ‘We are also super careful when it comes to the footage. We backup everything in 3 different places – one offsite – just in case a hard drive fails or something goes wrong – we will always have the footage.’

‘You can never be too careful can you!’

Rachel:  ‘I’m so careful that I even carry the SD cards in my pocket on the journey home so that the footage is always with me until it is safely backed up!’

‘So as a DJ and host I work regularly with both photographers and videographers, how do you go about capturing the entertainment side of things?’

Rachel:  ‘We love the entertainment because the dancing and the fun really begins! We always film for an hour after the first dance to make sure we’ve got lots of footage of our couples and their guests having a great time. It is at this time that their personalities really shine! We always communicate with the DJs / Bands because the mood lighting is great for creating an atmosphere but is often very dark.’

Pete: ‘Yes and because of this we also have lights which create the perfect lighting for the films. And we work together with the DJs/bands so that it’s not intrusive for them and still creates an atmosphere but also ensures it’s not too dark for us capturing the fun either.’

‘Awesome! You must have great fun doing what you do, seeing so much through your lenses! But you must spend a lot of time in the editing room too. How many hours go into a typical wedding?’

Rachel:  ‘Yes we love it so much and feel very privileged capturing all the special moments. I do love the editing too, the story-telling part is my favourite and I usually spend about 50 hours editing after the wedding day. We edit a full length film, typically between 60 and 90 minutes in duration. Plus a highlights film which is edited to one song.’

‘Watching all the clips, cutting the best bits and timing to music is quite a long process. We also colour grade the footage and then export the final films which is why we say it can take up to 10 weeks to deliver the edited films in peak season. It’s totally worth the wait as we want the films to be perfect and never rush them.’

‘Definitely worth the wait for sure.’

‘So one last question, a scenario…
A couple have booked you to capture their wedding. What is one piece of advice you would give them to make them feel at ease about being filmed?’

Rachel:  ‘I’d say it may sound a bit daunting now but we promise that we will be as subtle as possible. And you’ll be so busy having a great time with each other and your closest family and friends that you will soon forget we are there.’

Pete:  ‘The day flies by. Take moments during the ceremony, or when you are having couples photos, to think ‘wow, we are married’ and remember the feelings. The footage we capture will then remind you of those feelings 2 months, a year and 10 years down the line. We promise it is worth it. Our tag line is “goose bumps guaranteed” after all!’

‘Thank you so much for taking the time to speak guys!  Great to see you again.’

‘Thank you for having us it’s been a pleasure!’

Visit Veiled Productions website for more information on the fantastic services they offer.

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