Entertainment ideas for a wedding without a DJ or dancing

08 Nov 2021

It's an odd concept, but Covid's now expired 'no dancing' rule has forced couples to think outside the box when it comes to their wedding entertainment

Images: Getty

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The to-do list when wedding planning can be long and often stressful. From the choice of venue to menu planning, dress code and not least the entertainment, whether that be DJs, magicians or live bands – there is plenty of choice. Yet, where do you find yourself if a DJ and dancing isn’t what you had in mind for your wedding entertainment, or what happens when your chosen venue limits any of your entertainment choices because of certain imposed restrictions?

Couples should think about what is important to them and their big day when choosing a venue. Large stately homes and venues of cultural importance look great on the invitation and in the photos but they often come with dos and don’ts. Whether it’s having candles on the table or fireworks, venue rules are often put in place to safeguard the venue and its contents. Guidelines about entertainment are rare, but always read the contract and chat to your event manager before signing on the dotted line.

As it so happens, post-pandemic, many couples are turning their back on a traditional wedding day, making their day more about their likes, hobbies and personalities instead of creating a carbon copy of every wedding they have ever attended.

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DJs and dancing may not be your cup of tea and nothing says you can't break the mould. One size does not fit all when it comes to a wedding, so if you have set your heart on a wedding venue that comes with restrictions that affect your entertainment options or you don't fancy a night on the dance floor, then now is the time to break from tradition and seek out some fun, alternative wedding entertainment ideas.

One such venue with dancing restrictions is Apothecaries’ Hall, a Grade I listed building that dates back to 1706. Located just behind St Paul's Cathedral, the oldest livery hall in the City of London, the venue throws up some interesting challenges for couples wanting to host their wedding breakfast there. Its Great Hall imposes a 'no dancing' rule due to the heritage and history of the building, with some parts dating back to before the time of Henry VIII.

There are a myriad of ways to entertain guests other than a DJ and dancing. Dean Drury, business development manager at Party Ingredients who manage several London’s oldest livery halls across London, shares his alternative ideas: 

1. Murder mystery experiences

Hosting your big day in a unique historical venue is about playing to its strengths. Whether that is its history, utilising rooms differently, or just the way it is decorated, each venue offers a great opportunity to get creative.

At Apothecaries’ Hall, where Agatha Christie sat her medical exam, one wedding couple decided to host a murder mystery experience for their wedding party guests. The theme came from Christie’s 1942 novel, The Body in the Library. Guests dined by candlelight and puddings were served complete with a bottle of poison.

A body was discovered in the Library and guests spent the evening in character identifying the murderer. So why not ask your chosen venue for some historical insights into the building and see whether a Cluedo-style murder mystery event could be the basis of your entertainment for the night?

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2. Cocktail mixology classes

Learn how to mix the perfect Negroni or create your own couple's signature cocktail and have your guests learn how to mix it. Once cocktails have been created, you and your guests could sit back and enjoy the splendour of their surroundings while indulging in some live opera performances....

3. Hire performers from a theatre or classically trained opera singers

If opera isn’t your style, why not work with your venue to find a genre of music that would fit well with the period of your venue building? Then hire a singer of that genre to perform for you and your guests.

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4. Historic masterclass with venue tour

If you are opting for a venue with huge historical importance, speak to your venue about having someone from the venue give an after-dinner masterclass.They can cover topics such as the history of the venue, interesting facts and timelines, before inviting you and your guests to tour the venue.

Asking your wedding planner or event manager about what works well in your venue is often a good starting point. Alternatively, contact an entertainment company with a variety of acts on their books so you can get creative. Their little black book of contacts will be well-stocked with entertainment ideas, from singers to stilt walkers, and historians to culinary masterclasses. 

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Above: James Bold via Unsplash

5. Put your guests in the spotlight

Encouraging your guests to be the entertainment is also an emerging trend, whether it’s an open mic night to stand-up acts, who knows what talent your guests will bring to the stage. It’s all about having fun and creating a relaxed atmosphere, but the most important thing is to have a wedding day that reflects you as a couple. 

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