Oregon Wedding Pros Offer Advice on Keeping Your Dance Floor Packed

Keep the dance floor alive with these expert tips for wedding entertainment.
Written by
Mackenzie Sylvester


Oregon Bride Fall/Winter 2023

Get the expert advice on all things wedding entertainment with these tips and ideas from top vendors in the industry. Find something perfectly suited for your individual taste and style. If there's one thing that is a guarantee, it's that your guests will be dancing all night long. 

What’s your best piece of advice for couples when planning wedding entertainment?

Event Team Entertainment: “I recommend that you spend some extra time and interview a variety of DJs and/or bands. It’s a one-shot opportunity to have the time of your life. You should get exactly what you want. I recommend you work closely with your DJ. You will find they are a wealth of knowledge and have tons of ideas and experiences to share. You should provide some feedback, but also place some trust in your DJ. I always remind each couple that it should be a fun and collaborative process.” —Shawn Whittemore, Owner and President

Lit Productions: “Never underestimate the power of great entertainment. Every guest remembers weddings as being beautiful, but the difference between just a beautiful wedding and a great wedding is how they felt in that moment by how much fun they had. For entertainers, make sure you pick someone that matches the energy you want for your wedding...eighty percent of guests will remember the entertainment the most out of all the vendors at a wedding. Lastly, if any vendor doesn’t have a contract for you to sign, run!” —Jordan Morales, Owner

Blue Wave Band: “It’s helpful to have a general idea of what you’re looking for: your venue aesthetic, guest count and what kind of music you like. From there, an experienced band can help guide you on what band size is perfect for your event and can help put together a set list of songs and genres that you and your guests will love.” —David Dawda, Head Producer

The Afterparty Band: “It’s helpful to have an idea of what you’d like the vibe to be for the night and to have clear expectations for your entertainment. Don’t be afraid to ask your entertainment vendors questions about what they typically do or recommend. Every band and DJ is different. Ask for videos of live footage if you can. Meet the owners or leaders if you can. Get a clear sense of who you are going to be working with, not only in the process leading up to your wedding day, but also on your wedding day.” —Tristin Rupp, Band Consultant and Singer

Paradox Productions: “My biggest piece of advice for couples above all else is to enjoy the process. Take the venue and wedding planner vendor referral lists seriously. The wedding industry is small, and venues and planners know who is worth working with.” —Zacch Williams

Blue Wave BandPhoto courtesy of Blue Wave Band

What are some things that couples typically are unaware of when it comes to planning their wedding entertainment?

Event Team Entertainment: “A DJ or band is NOT just music. They are uniquely skilled artists that have taken years to fine-tune their skills. If you are hiring a DJ, make sure you ask if they are also a qualified spokesperson and can be your Master of Ceremonies. Today’s DJs are also providing sound support for ceremonies with speakers, microphones and music, so the rates quoted typically include more than what you might expect.” —Shawn Whittemore, Owner and President

Lit Productions: “When you are booking entertainment, you should make sure you are aware of any rules the venue might have about sound levels. Another thing to remember is that if the wedding is outside, any sound equipment needs some form of cover/shade. Heat can put a lot of digital equipment like a DJ laptop into a huge pause or even distort the signal coming through speakers, but rain is something that can kill equipment altogether.” —Jordan Morales, Owner

Blue Wave Band: “First, it works best if a couple gives their entertainers a list of three to five must-play songs and favorite genres. Then let the band use that guidance to work their magic reading the room on the night. Second, some venues are subject to noise ordinances or have decibel restrictions, especially if they are in a populated area. Make sure to plan your day-of schedule accordingly so you can maximize the party time and won’t be surprised by an early cutoff.” —David Dawda, Head Producer

The Afterparty Band: “Most couples don’t understand the difference between bands or DJs that are a family or have a single owner/operator versus ones that are corporations, agencies, or franchises that have a roster of DJs or a huge roster of musicians that they will call upon to do a date. It is crucial to ask your vendors who you will be working with and who you will be getting for your wedding, and if they practice together.” —Tristin Rupp, Band Consultant and Singer

Paradox Productions: “When selecting the proper entertainment for your wedding, couples need to keep in mind the various types of people that will be attending their wedding. Be sure to work closely with your DJ or live band on the various types of music EVERYONE will like at some point in the night. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep the bar or at least one of the bars in the same room as where the dancing is taking place. It is one of the biggest ways that pulls people away from the dance floor and even if someone’s favorite jam comes on, they’ll never know because they were in a completely different room.” —Zacch Williams

What creative entertainment and/or photo booth ideas do you suggest?

Event Team Entertainment: “I love a fun and interactive Grand Entrance. You can highlight each wedding party member with a unique soundtrack and a short intro bio. If it’s a non-dancing crowd, you could offer a Feud-style game show or a Music Bingo experience. [For photo booths,] I favor a simple open-air style that allows large groups to gather and enjoy. I would make sure you are still getting prints, because the real value is walking away with a great pic. You will find new options like 360 Spin and Sketch Bot [AI-based drawing bots] that will actually draw your caricature after taking a picture of your face.” —Shawn Whittemore, Owner and President

Lit Productions: “Personally, I’m a huge fan of the Wedding Llamas here in Portland. As far as DJ entertainment goes, my favorite entertainment piece to bring to weddings is our Club Cannon, a handheld gun that shoots Co2 gas in a fog/cloud effect. It allows our couples the ability to cool off their guests who have been dancing hard and especially when the weather forecast is in the 80s and above. I [also] love when digital photo booths have GIF/Boomerang capabilities.” —Jordan Morales, Owner

Blue Wave Band: “It can take an event to the next level if you have a stage for the band and a designated dance floor. It can make your event feel more like a concert and really allows your entertainers to play to the crowd. We also love when a parent or loved one asks to perform a special song with the band.” —David Dawda, Head Producer

The Afterparty Band: “We love when the bride or groom wants to play with us. We’ve also performed for choreographed dances (be it first dances, mother and son or father-daughter, or groups such as sororities and fraternities, just the wedding party, or even all the guests)! And this may not be for every couple, but we love surprise songs. We also highly recommend props and costumes that go with the ones we already bring and wear if you really want to throw the party of a lifetime.” —Tristin Rupp, Band Consultant and Singer

Paradox Productions: “It kind of seems like we’re coming out of the era of doing the [traditional] bouquet and garter toss during reception. The groom could do a Nerf football toss that perhaps has a $100 bill taped to it or some lottery tickets [and] perhaps something fun is hidden inside the bouquet too.” —Zacch Williams

Paradox Productions, Courtney Love PhotographyPhoto by Courtney Love Photography

What song do you recommend for the first dance? And any advice for choosing one?

Lit Productions: “I am a huge fan of covers of songs that aren’t normally wedding songs. Brent Morgan is a fantastic artist who makes a lot of covers of normally upbeat songs. Boyce Avenue has also mastered this. Teddy Swims also has a nice collection of covers including his version of Shania Twain’s ‘You’re Still the One.’ For original songs, I’m a big fan of ‘Consider Me’ by Allen Stone from Seattle, ‘Beyond’ by Leon Bridges, ‘All I Need’ by The Green, and ‘Don’t Let Go’ by Spawnbreezie.” —Jordan Morales, Owner

Event Team Entertainment: “There are so many great songs from way back all the way through today. It’s such a personal choice, but a few favorites are ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran, ‘Thinking Out Loud’ by Ed Sheeran, ‘Speechless’ by Dan + Shay, ‘From the Ground Up’ by Dan + Shay, and ‘Crazy Girl’ by Eli Young Band.” —Shawn Whittemore, Owner and President

Blue Wave Band: “Some of our favorite first dance songs include classics like ‘At Last’ by Etta James, ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ by Elvis, and more modern hits like ‘Lover’ by Taylor Swift. We also curated a playlist on Spotify with many first dance recommendations.” —David Dawda, Head Producer

The Afterparty Band: “The right song is going to be whatever feels right to the couple. Be it fast, slow, funny, romantic, classic, brand new, an original song, a cover of a song done a cappella, with a string quartet or some unique way that they both love.” —Tristin Rupp, Band Consultant and Singer

Paradox Productions: “My favorite piece of advice is to tell couples to think back throughout their relationship and find songs, artists or concerts they experienced together and try to come up with three potential first dance songs. Then have a nice dinner date together, go home with a bottle of wine and dance to all three songs in the living room. Not only is it a perfect date night, but you will also find the perfect first dance song.” —Zacch Williams