Planning for Success: Part 2

By Elisabeth Scott Daley, WED®, ABC™ – “A Passion for Performance”

Coming from an acting and theatrical background, I have a unique understanding of all the work that goes on behind the scenes in a major production. Now, I recognize that most people have NO IDEA about the amount of prep work that goes into a theatrical performance. To them, it’s just magic! (Which is why they go in the first place.)

Backstage is filled with hundreds of talented individuals who make the magic happen. It should also be noted that the “backstage” events are choreographed just as deliberately, if not more so, than the “front of house” events. The same is true for weddings.

As performers, we must all appreciate and commit ourselves to all the “homework” and the “backstage planning” necessary in order to give our clients what they deserve, and we need to do it every time!

Expertise vs. “A Great Crowd”

If a wedding is energetic, flows well, and lots of guests dance, many people will mistakenly believe that the bride and groom were just “lucky” because they had a “great crowd.”

While this may sometimes be true, most of the time it isn’t! Great wedding receptions happen, largely due to our expertise as the Wedding Entertainer / Host / Master of Ceremonies / DJ / Sound & Lighting Technician.

We are the ones who choose the soundtrack, make sure the schedule flows on time, informs other wedding vendors about it, and generally act as the Event Director in partnership with the guests of honor.

How Do We Do It?

The Basic Information to Gather:

  • Event location.
  • When guests will be arriving and departing.
  • Number of guests.
  • Guest demographics (age, ethnicity, where they have traveled from, etc.).
  • Type of meal service (buffet, plated meal).
  • Reception hall floor plan designating proper placement for the entertainment.
  • Complete names (first and last) with proper pronunciations for all wedding party members.
  • Must play and do not play songs, requests, and general music preferences for cocktail hour, dinner, and open dancing.
  • What is the “general feel” desired by the bride and groom for the evening? Over-the-top, traditional and Fun (but not stuffy), highly interactive or low-key.

Detailed Information to Gather & Create:

  1. Create a typed, one-page agenda with timeline to share with all appropriate parties.
  2. Create a typed Grand Entrance script in BIG FONT with the names written out phonetically.
  3. Collect information about the wedding party in order to “connect the dots” for all the guests. People feel more welcome and participate more when they feel involved.
  4. Get cell phone contact information of key people just in case of an emergency (e.g., the limo is running late, the Officiates car won’t start, etc.)
  5. Get cell phone contact information for all vendors. You just might need to contact one of them, even from across the room.

Being in the Moment

Now that you know the DETAILS, you have created an AGENDA, and you have written a SCRIPT…you have set the stage for success and you are FREE to BE in the moment! This is the fun part!

You must embrace what one of my theater professors used to call the art of the artless art.” It occurs when as a performer, you transcend the written dialogue and musical notes on the page. You become one with your character, become one with your song, and you CONNECT with your audience.

Everything becomes effortless because you are in “the zone.” You go on an exhilarating journey with your audience, as they are “one” with you. They have jumped into the world you have created and embraced it! Once you get to this amazing place, your talent will really shine!

At the end of the evening, you will feel both exhausted and exhilarated…and your clients and their guests will have had the time of their lives!


  • Liz Daley, WED®, AWP™ - A Passion for Performance

    Liz Daley is a seasoned veteran of stage and screen and is the owner of Liz Daley Events, a boutique entertainment company in Virginia opened in 2004 that delivers dramatically different results. She got her first radio job at 16, but her passion for live entertainment moved her across the country performing from New York to Nashville as well as the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas! She works with brides and grooms to create Classic, Fun and Memorable wedding receptions. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Boston Conservatory of Music, she is a certified Wedding Entertainment Director® and the National President of the Wedding Entertainment Directors Guild® and an Accredited Wedding Planner™ with the Association of Bridal Consultants. She is currently co-hosting educational performance workshops for Wedding DJs and Masters of Ceremonies with Peter Merry, “The Fun Wedding Experts”.

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