There's a lot to love about a Heritage Prairie Farm wedding: The views at this Elburn, Illinois wedding venue are sensational. The food is fantastic - and much of it was grown literal steps from where you'll be eating it. And if you're looking for some unique spaces to express your personality and make your celebration memorable, you can't do better than the tents, barns and fields of Heritage Prairie Farm.
Just as long as your DJ knows how to throw a party within those unique spaces.
There's a lot to love about a Heritage Prairie Farm wedding for DJs and musicians, too. We should know - our teams worked there 10 separate times this year alone. Here's what we recommend to make the most of your wedding ceremony and reception down on the Farm ...
1. Plan sound equipment for multiple spaces.
At Heritage Prairie Farm, this isn't a suggestion - it's a must. You've got your choice of striking outdoor locations for your ceremony, and you could do cocktail hour on a separate lawn - or in the barn. Then you'll be in the tent for dinner and for dancing.
All that movement makes for a really memorable experience for your guests - but without multiple sound systems running in the right locations, leaving one area and entering another could mean transitioning in awkward silence. (You may need additional gear for off-the-beaten path events like a lantern release, too - more on that in a sec.)
Keep the party flowing with enough gear to provide music in all areas during a transition. At Backthird we include the sound setup we know you'll need in every Heritage Prairie Farm wedding package, automagically, at no change to your cost. But if you're booking with another DJ, don't forget to make sure he or she knows what's in store.
You can see the sound setups we use for Heritage Prairie Farm weddings in this post.
2. Plan a strategy for that lantern release.
One super-cool option is the ability to include a twilight lantern release as part of your reception. On its own, this is a beautiful event - but you'll want to work with your DJ to make sure it's presented in the proper context.
At most weddings, the span of time BEFORE dinner is when you'll have the attention of most of your guests all at once - that's why events like toasts and the introduction of your bridal party often happen before or during the meal. After dinner, the dance floor opens up and guests tend to flow between activities, dancing for a while, then grabbing a drink, then sitting or talking, then dancing some more. Great DJs build their playlists to allow for this flow, changing up the music as different groups become ready to dance.
But that means by the time it's dark enough to release your lanterns, you may have a lot of other activity under way. There are at least two ways to handle this: You could make the lantern release a more private moment, enjoying it with a few friends and family members - and your photographer - but leaving the party to rage on in the meantime. Or you could minimize the dance floor, letting your DJ announce the lantern release and then transition to slow dances for a few songs. This will allow guests who want to dance to continue doing so, but it will probably send most heading off to see the pretty lights. Your DJ will want to ramp up dancing gradually again afterward.
Neither strategy is wrong, and you and your DJ might even come up with some others when you talk things out. What's important is that you have that conversation with your DJ. He or she should understand your priorities (keep the party raging all night, or get as many folks as possible outside for the lanterns?) and build a playlist to suit.
3. Plan some ways to cycle and refill the dance floor.
You know what's crazy about an outdoor wedding in the Chicago area, especially in summer? Things can get hot - and nowhere will be hotter than underneath a tent roof, in the small space where hundreds of people are shaking their collective groove thang all night long.
Well, maybe not all night - because if your wedding night turns out especially warm, dancers will want to take a break and cool down now and then. What we love about Heritage Prarie Farm is that you'll have a spot for everyone - from the folks who want to sit and enjoy a cigar or watch the fire, to the folks who want to boogie down. Most guests will rotate, but if you're the type of couple who likes to keep the emphasis on dancing (and if so, we salute you!) then you'll want to give your DJ a little bit of wiggle room to help this happen.
How do you keep bringing sweaty people back to the dance floor? You keep playing music they just can't say no to. Your DJ will have a few tricks in the bag - from participation dances like the Cupid Shuffle and the Casper Slide, to special "event dances" like an Anniversary Dance - that are a bit more structured, but almost never fail to fill a lagging dance floor right back up. You might not love these songs - and if you put them on your "Do Not Play" list, we won't play them. But think twice before you do. The more options a good DJ has at his or her fingertips, the easier it will be to make your guests a musical offer they can't refuse.
4. Plan on staying flexible.
As with any outdoor venue, weather always adds a factor of unpredictability to a Heritage Prairie Farm wedding. But the Farm's indoor spaces are beautiful in their own right, and the staff at Heritage Prairie Farm seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to taking care of wedding couples - they'll let you know if Plan B is in order, and they'll make it happen without a hitch.
You just want to book a DJ who's equally flexible. Working multiple event spaces, especially when they're as spread out as those as Heritage Prairie Farm, requires a basic knowledge of the staff and venue and an ability to think through alternative solutions and sound setups, occasionally on the fly. Find a DJ with enough experience and a solid training background, and you'll be sitting pretty, rain or shine.