The Haight in Elgin has become an overlooked gem for Chicago-area weddings. With an urban loft look, an intimate "family dining" feel and a host of quirky features to discover (see below), a Haight wedding has a flavor all its own.
But those quirky features mean some unique challenges for a DJ, too. Here's what your entertainer can do to make sure your wedding at the Haight is all it ought to be.
1. Modify the sound setup for the Haight's long room.
We've been working with the Haight since it opened, and if there's one thing we've learned it's this: The reception room is no ordinary space. It's long and narrow, with a dance space on one end and dining tables for your guests concentrated at the other. It's really two rooms in one.
And you know what? That's kind of awesome. What's great about the Haight's dinner-and-dance space, when it's time to party, is that it lets your guests who want to get down congregate on the dance floor, where the music is the loudest. Guests who maybe want to grab a drink and chat first will stay in the dining area - but they're still right there in the same room.
Don't underestimate this type of integrated floor plan. It means guests who want to talk are never more than a few steps from the dance floor - and never out of earshot of the music. It means your DJ can turn over the dance floor easily, cycling through different types of songs and different groups of guests throughout the night, while still keeping a feeling of togetherness.
The downside? Dinner time. If guests are seated too far from your DJ's sound system, it'll be hard to hear your toasts and speeches and feel like part of the party.
The best solutions: Your DJ can use the Haight's built-in system to supplement the main system during dinner, making it easier for guests to hear what's going on during toasts and speeches while still keeping the bulk of the music volume on the dance floor later on. But your DJ should be familiar with the Haight's system to make this work.
Backthird's Haight wedding packages are designed with this in mind. When the Haight added in-house sound, we made a personal visit to the venue to make sure our team would know just how to make the most of it. We'll arrive ready to make sure ALL your guests can hear what's happening during dinner. And when it's time to dance, we'll run the in-house sound system at a lower volume so guests in the dining area can enjoy the music without it inhibiting their conversations.
2. Modify MC style, too.
Sound reinforcement might be the most obvious trick in working with a longer room like at the Haight in Elgin - but it's not the only one. Guests don't just need to hear what's going on - they need to see it.
That means working with a DJ who's got some awareness of how to get your guests' attention and direct it. It means a DJ who's also trained as a thoughtful and self-aware master of ceremonies.
You'll know if your DJ is a thoughtful MC when he or she gets out from behind the DJ booth and directs your party from a spot where guests can see and feel engaged. It's a simple thing - but it makes a big difference. If your DJ stays behind the DJ booth in a wedding space like the Haight, she'll be too far away to really help your guests and oversee your timeline.
At Backthird weddings, your DJ always works with an Assistant DJ for this very reason. The assistant watches the music and volumes so your lead DJ is free to move and engage.
3. Plan something special for cocktail hour.
At Haight weddings, you might choose to hold your ceremony upstairs in the same space where your dinner and dance party will take place. The Haight staff know how to transform that room for maximum effect:
But once you've said "I do," you'll probably move downstairs for your cocktail time while your main room is transformed.
That's a great thing - the Haight's downstairs cocktail space is like no other place we know. It's full of quirky touches and intersting artifacts for your guests to discover:
Our favorite weddings are the ones that offer something special for your guests to hear during this time as well. There's a vinatage piano in the cocktail bar that always puts us in the mood for jazz - and while we don't usually recommend using that instrument for music (it's too quiet once your room is full of guests), we've found that adding a solo pianist or jazz duet for your cocktail hour can make a great compliment to all the eye candy your guests will be enjoying.
4. Prep your wedding party downstairs, not up.
After cocktail time, your guests will head upstairs to find their seats for dinner - but if you're like many couples, you'll want to hang back with your wedding party.
Why? Your DJ, if you want him to, will welcome guests and introduce you before dinner starts. It's time for your grand entrances.
Your guests will see you enter from upstairs, behind a curtain, when your DJ introduces you. But all of my DJs told me gathering the wedding party in the downstairs area, then walking upstairs as a group before you make your way up, was far better than simply gathering behind the curtain to begin with. Meeting downstairs helps your DJ the ability check your names and faces before introdcution time.
And that last walk upstairs with your wedding party, just before you make your entrance to the celebration? Our couples tell us that's a pretty memorable moment too.