It is often said that too big a room in proportion to the number of guests attending a any party is hard to create an atmosphere.

There is nothing worse than having a very large room with a small number of guests. The dance floor is usually too big in this case also which makes it look like the party is “not happening”.

So what is the ideal dance floor size to have for your party in proportion to the room size and number of guests attending?

Using the formulas below, you should be able to comfortably determine the square footage required for the dance floor.
Floor Space Needed for a Banquet with Dancing:
Expected to be Dance on dance floor at one time: Floor square footage needed:

60 percent 3 sq. ft.
50 percent 2.5 sq. ft.
40 percent 2 sq. ft.

If your event is for 300 people with an average dance participation (50 percent on floor at a given time.)300 (total guests) x 2.5 (sq. ft. needed per guest) = 750 (total square feet of dance floor needed)If the dance floor were close to square,its dimensions could be almost 27 ‘ x 27 ‘ or 27 ‘ x 30 ‘.(Note: Most floors come in 3 ‘ x 3 ‘ sections.)To establish the table capacity of the room, subtract the number of tables lost to the dance floor space and bandstand from the total the room is capable of holding.

We asked Garvan Rigby of star dj’s a few questions about weddings, DJing and the importance of the entertainment at a wedding
What makes a good Wedding DJ?

Somebody who can read the crowd. No matter how good a DJ you are at mixing, how good the sound is or how many songs you have, if you can’t read the crowd then you can’t be a good DJ no matter whether in a club a bar, a 21st party or at a wedding. This comes with time and experience. You have to know how to get the 60 year old aunt up while at the same time pleasing the 26 year old cousin and the college friend at the bar. You often hear of people hiring a DJ from the local bar or a band to “do” DJ. I think that is madness.

How long are you a DJ?

I have being DJing since I was around 16 years old at my first teenage school disco and have been specialising in weddings for 5 years.

How many weddings do you do a year?

About 35. My company does about 5000 events but I try to do no more than 40 weddings as I like to spend a lot of time on each event helping my clients with all the entertainment advice and organisation for their wedding, getting the right music and liasing with the hotel and other vendors. Recently I did a big movie theme wedding where I put together a full dinner play list of classic movie music in Dromoland Castle so that took a lot of work.

Ever do DJ for anybody famous?

I have played parties for many sports stars and celebrities. I suppose DJing for U2 would be the biggest name I can think of when I did their Christmas party one year.

What advice would you give to any potential client about the music?

Don’t try to play it too cool or trendy as you will loose 50% of your guests if you don’t cater for the older people. Every 17 year old knows Stevie Wonder but not every 50 year old knows the Keiser Chiefs! If you really want to avoid the “cheesy” songs you can still play well-known songs without going too trendy or cheesy.

What is the best advice you would give a Bride and Groom when hiring entertainment?

Don’t go for price alone. This applies whether it’s the band, choir or DJ. There is nothing worse than somebody who spends €25,000 on their wedding and it all goes bad because they tried to save €50 off the DJ or band and the night is ruined by a bad singer or a DJ playing the music you asked not to play. There are great value packages out there, however to add to that I would always ask for references as there is nothing worse than paying a top price and then getting the above!!!!

What makes a great wedding venue?

I think you have to decide whether it’s a food occasion or a party occasion. If you are going for food then hire the best venue with food and service, a nice room and great wine. If you want your wedding to be a great party then hire a venue that lends itself to be a great party venue with a good dance floor, good lighting and the bar in the same room so to avoid splitting the crowd and make sure the room is not too big for the amount of people attending. Put on a great DJ and then you have a great party!

Should you see the DJ play before you book him?

Not necessarily but do make sure that the DJ you meet and have a consultation with is the actual DJ that will be doing your wedding. I never invite clients along to another Bride’s wedding as I feel that I am there to impress my current clients and not to do a sales pitch for potential clients down the line. Also people should remember that if they do see a DJ he may be playing the music choice requested by the Bride and Groom so it may not necessarily be what you want or the style you might want for your event so take that into account also.

What is the best thing about being a wedding DJ?

Making somebody’s dream come true, watching a bride cry with joy to her favourite song during the first dance and of course the uncle doing that mad dance that everybody remembers and talks about for weeks to come. Honestly, I had a couple come up to me recently at the end of the night and they said that I made their wedding. That is what this job is all about.

Finally on a lighter note what is the strangest question you get asked as a DJ?

Oh, it has to be one of the following: “what songs have you got”, “have you got any songs I like” and the best is “how many songs have you got.” These are questions DJs get asked all the time but if you went into a restaurant and asked the waiter the same thing about food instead of songs you would get a funny look!!

This is an interview that appeared on the website.

With so much emphasis on the first dance as a married couple few Brides and Grooms spend enough time considering what the last song of the day will be. The last song of the day argues Garvan Rigby of the star dj’s agency is just as important to consider as the first song, after all it is the final dance of the day. The last dance is the song that you will have in your memory forever with all your friends gathered around you.

“Traditionally the national anthem was the last song not of choice but out of…..well tradition! Cliff Richard’s congratulations was also played just before the anthem as all the guests formed an archway down the room while the bride and groom would run under the arch saying their goodbyes as they run out the door”.

But traditions have changed and couples and their guests now are increasingly deciding to have more input into both the overall music selection and the last song too.

Many couples still like to end their day in the traditional fashion although the national anthem is played a lot less at most functions and discos nowadays. Garvan suggests perhaps playing the congratulations a little earlier if at all! About 50% of his clients don’t want the congratulations played at all. If they want the traditional ending he suggests it be played as perhaps the third or fourth last song followed by a number of other songs therefore creating an encore effect. Congratulations although a little cheesy does work time and time again. It gets everybody in the room on the floor. It’s a good photo or video opportunity, it gets the old and the young together on the floor and it allows you to build atmosphere towards the end.

Some couples have a specific song that is sentimental to them both but may not be appropriate as the first dance as it may be too fast to dance to or just not a romantic song. These songs can be great for the last song of the night.

A good DJ will know how to build the finale of the day in the right way. Whether you play congratulations or not, about 10 Minutes before the end of the evening your DJ will probably invite the Bride & Groom to the floor and then invite their guests to join them. This is when all the guests form a circle around the couple and dance to songs such as that’s amore by Dean Martin or New York, New York by Frank Sinatra. More recent songs to end on would include time of your life by Green Day or One by U2.

Other favourite end of the night songs includes wonderwall by Oasis, the wonder of you by Elvis or dirty old town by the Pogues.

Garvan has one bit of important advice when choosing the last song. “Whatever you chose as your last song just remember that the elder members of the audience may not know the Oasis song but the younger members probably will know the Frank Sinatra song!”

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Most people only hire a DJ once in their life and most often it’s for their Wedding Reception. Too often I hear horror stories about how a DJ ruined a reception and in this case, once is too many! As DJ’s, we only have one chance to get it right! Some of the complaints I have heard or read over the years are:

  • The DJ showed up late or didn’t show at all
  • They didn’t play what I wanted or played music that I specifically asked them not to play
  • The DJ I hired wasn’t the DJ that showed up
  • The DJ was not a professional in manner or dress
  • The equipment was nothing more than a home stereo system and a few CD’s.

Unfortunately I could go on and on. Professional DJ’s have a name for the DJ’s that fall into this category… “Hobbyists”.

Contrary to popular belief, DJ’s are not all cut from the same fabric! In most instances, you really get what you pay for. If there is one area of your reception where you shouldn’t try to cut corners, it’s your entertainment. Notice, I didn’t say DJ, I said entertainment. The same would hold true for a band, a harpist or a pianist if you decided to hire their particular service to be part of your special day.

Brides and Grooms are willing to spend thousands of dollars on food, drink and the banquet hall but try to cut corners on entertainment. This could be a recipe for disaster. No one will remember if the potatoes were overly cooked, or how nice the hall was decorated, but most will remember if they had a great time because of great entertainment. I’ll concentrate more on DJ’s since that’s where my expertise is.

Knowing a professional DJ Vs a Hobbyist

Here are some of the things that separate “Professional” DJ’s from the “Hobby DJs”:

  • Professional DJ’s use professional equipment, not a home stereo.
  • Professional DJ’s will meet with you and help you plan your reception.
  • Professional DJ’s will have many references available for you to talk to.
  • Professional DJ’s WILL NOT subcontract out your event unless they tell you at the time of contract signing.
  • Professional DJ’s will be set up on time.
  • Professional DJ’s abide by your wishes and not just play what “they” like to hear.
  • Professional DJ’s will have public liability insurance to protect you and your guests.
  • Professional DJ’s will not drink alcoholic beverages on the job.
  • Professional DJ’s will not try to be the life of the party. The Bride and Groom should never share the limelight.
  • Professional DJ’s will not invite potential clients to watch them perform at your event. A DJ cannot give your event 100% attention if they’re trying to sell to others.
  • Professional DJ’s will use contracts, to protect both them and you.

This is not an all-inclusive list but just some of the major discriminators that should help you secure the services of a Professional DJ. We’re not saying that the higher the price a DJ charges, the more professional they are.

You have to ask yourself though, if the average price for a DJ in your market is €500 and a DJ will undercut or quote you €300 for the job, why is he willing to charge so much less. Not all DJs are created equal! Use the list to help you identify the professional DJ service and save yourself the heartache of a bad DJ

With your DJ often credited with making or breaking a wedding party one of the most important things you can do is spend time to consider who to hire to provide your entertainment. Here are a few questions you can ask before hiring a DJ.

1. Are you available?

You should always start off by indicating the date, time and location of your event to ensure that the DJ isn’t already booked. Saturdays tend to fill up especially fast and a year in advance is really not to soon to guarantee the availability of that perfect DJ.

2. How much do you charge?

Probably the worst way to choose a DJ is on price alone. With prices starting as low as €250 for the night, it’s tempting to choose the cheapest one available. However, when considering the pricing of one DJ to another, it’s important to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Are you really getting the same service? How much experience does the DJ have? Will he act as an MC or just play music? Will he help
coordinate the event? How much does he charge for overtime? How much equipment will he bring? Does he provide his own music and how many songs will he have? Does he have professional equipment? The list goes on and on.
Just remember to use your best judgment and make sure that a lower price is exactly that and not a lower level of experience, quality, planning and commitment.

3. Do you use a written contract?

This is a definite must! If they don’t use written booking forms don’t hire them.

4. What is the DJ’s level of professionalism?

As you speak with DJs, pay attention to their professionalism over the phone. Did they just answer the phone, “Hello?” or with their business name? If you get an answering machine or voice mail, does it say, “Thank you for calling So and So’s DJ Service” or “You have reached the Smith residence…”. Does the dj only have a moibile phone with not fixed business address?

This may sound like a small detail, but their level of professionalism and commitment tends to spill over into their performance at the event. You want to hire someone who is 100% committed to your function, not just someone who DJs as a hobby.

5. How will the DJ be dressed for my event?

Jeans and a T-shirt may be appropriate for a summer Barbecue, but certainly not a wedding reception! Make sure they will dress appropriately.

6. Do you have experience with the type of function I am having?

This is especially important. This may be your first wedding, but it shouldn’t be your DJ’s! Your DJ should be able to act as the MC, provide pre-event planning and coordinate with the other suppliers to make sure that the event runs smoothly from start to finish. A 21st party DJ or a club DJ may not be suitable for Weddings.

7. Do you offer a written schedule of events?

A written timeline will not only prevent important events from being missed, but allows customisation also.

8. Do you provide a music list and take requests?

It’s important that the DJ has and plays some or most of the music you want to hear; after all, it’s your party!

9. Do you use professional sound equipment and include special effects?

Professional sound equipment is a necessity! It will not only sound better, but it’s designed to handle the stress of the day to day performances and will be less likely to break down during your function. Also, confirm that the DJ is not using outdated equipment like turntables, cassette decks. Special effects e.g. lighting may or may not be appropriate for your event.

10. What if something goes wrong?

Do you have backup equipment? It’s important that the DJ has a plan in the unlikely event there is an accident
or equipment failure. The plan should include a DJ that is on-call, as well as, onsite backup equipment.

11. Do you offer a consultation at no charge or obligation?

Many professional DJs will typically offer a free consultation where you can get together and learn more about their entertainment company and of course discuss what type of music is to played at the event.

12. Do you have references or performance evaluation forms from past events?

Feedback from past performances is a good way to determine the overall satisfaction of other people who have had events just like yours.

13. Do you have full liability insurance?

This is a must nowadays. Any legitimate business person carries liability insurance to protect themselves along with you and your guests. Some locations may require your DJ to have
liability insurance.