I could fill this blog post about particular songs to play and which to stay away from, but I've written about that before.
Instead, here are other insider tips that will get your wedding guests on their feet and moving.
1. TIME OF DAY
In the words of the great King Harvest song, it's all about "dancin' in the moonlight." Something about daytime weddings yields a lower turnout on the dance floor (even if there are no windows in the room). It might be that people don't want to be seen dancing because they're self-conscious about their moves, so...
2. DIM THE LIGHTS AND GET SOME OTHER LIGHTS
Make sure you've told your venue that you want the lights dimmed (or all the way off) when the dancing portion of the reception gets underway. This adds to the effect that you're transitioning, as well as turn it more into a party. (Also, the fewer windows, the better, unless there are curtains you can draw.) But you'll need some lighting out there too; ask about our specials on uplighting or dance floor lights to set the mood.
3. THE BRIDE MUST DANCE FIRST
If you want your guests to dance, you have to show them it's important to you. So, once the dancing starts, the bride and groom should stop doing the meet-and-greets and spend some time out on the floor. They can always resume their shmoozing later, but seeing the bride especially cutting a rug lets people know it's ok to come out onto the floor and have a good time.
4. THE BRIDE AND GROOM SHOULD NOT LEAVE THE ROOM FOR EXTENDED PERIODS OF TIME
Apart from taking photos or quick breaks, the couple needs to appear that the party areas is the place to be if they want people to dance. I have done some weddings where the bride and groom leave the room as soon as the dancing starts, and stay out of sight for most of the night. Even if they're not dancers, the absence of the couple for large chunks of the reception makes it look to others like this is not where they should be hanging out and socializing, and hopefully, dancing.
5. GET COMFORTABLE FOOTWEAR
Some brides have baskets of sandals for the ladies to slip on when dancing gets started, and it's always a huge incentive to get them out on the floor. Otherwise, they're either barefoot, or stuck in their high heels, which will only last them a few songs worth of dancing. You can even have your names and wedding date branded on them, so it's not only a way to keep your feet comfortable, but a great party favor too!
BONUS TIP: ALCOHOL
Most people need a little help loosening up to dance, and alcohol can help in that endeavor. While some couples do away with a bar altogether for various reasons, all of which I respect, consider a cash bar or a limited bar in those cases for the guests who do enjoy a celebratory drink.