“Which room should we dance in for our Morton Arboretum wedding?” It’s not a question every engaged couple has to ask – most wedding venues have one dance floor to rock out on, take it or leave it. But not so at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, where your wedding DJ might be playing in a historic library, in a banquet hall overlooking a lake, or even on an outdoor patio depending on the plan you line up with event staff.

Often, the size of your guest list and the nature of your day will determine the best Arboretum wedding space for dancing. Other times, it’ll be up to you to decide where the dance floor goes.When that happens, a lot of couples call the DJ. And since Backthird DJs do so many Morton Arboretum weddings, we thought a little online advice might be in order. Here’s what we recommend for dancing during Morton Arboretum weddings.



If your wedding is in the Visitors’ Center…

The Ginkgo Room is the primary event space in the Arboretum’s Visitors’ Center. Often, couples have their cocktail hour just outside the room in Orientation Hall, or outside on the patio if weather is nice. Either plan is ideal, since waiting until dinner time to open up the main space will keep a sense of freshness to your day. If you can hold both your dinner and your dance time in the Gingko Room, do it – the space is large enough that guests who want to dance can fill up the dance floor, but those who fancy a drink or a conversation can stay toward the bar without actually leaving the room. Keeping all your guests in a single space makes for a better party. 

Some of our favorite dance memories happened in the Ginkgo Room:

photo by Erica Rose


Pinterest ready!Orientation Hall is the larger pre-function space just outside the Ginkgo Room. If your guest list is large enough, Arboretum staff might suggest doing all dining in the Ginkgo Room but moving into Orientation Hall for dancing. This ensures there’s plenty of space for a dance floor. And it works – as long as you have a DJ who can provide strong leadership when it’s time for guests to move from one space to the next.

If you’re dancing in Orientation Hall but dining in the Ginkgo, we always recommend a Midwest-style reception, with your first dance as a couple happening AFTER dinner but BEFORE the dance floor opens. Why? There’s no better way to get folks up and moving than telling them “we’re about to have our first dance, please walk this way.” Once guests have moved from tables to the dance floor, it’s easy to get a great dance party going in no time flat. Making that transition happen will be your DJ’s top priority.


If your wedding is in the Sycamore Room…

You’ve got it easy in this charming, loft-style space – dinner and dancing are almost always in the same location, which makes for a nice flow from one moment to the next. Just make sure to get outside for cocktail hour if the weather’s nice – the narrow patio outside the Sycamore is a great place to greet guests and share a drink while you come down from that wedding ceremony buzz.


If your wedding is in the Thornhill Center…

The Arbor Room is the primary dining space in the Morton Arboretum’s Thornhill Education Center. The room has a beautiful view, and the hardwood floors make it an excellent space to dance – as long as your wedding is small enough to fit both dining tables and dancing in the same space.

Dancing in the Arbor Room can be a blast:

photo by Timothy Whaley & Associates

The Founder’s Room is just down the hall from the Arbor Room – if there’s not enough space for all your guests to both dine and dance comfortably  in the Arbor Room, Arboretum staff will likely suggest you dance here later in the evening. Even if space is of no concern, they might give you the option.

The Founder’s is a unique space with an intimate feel and a quirky vibe. We’ve thrown some great dance parties here as well:

photo by Tyler Core

So should you dance in the Arbor or the Founder’s? We always recommend keeping your dinner and dancing in the same room if space allows. This simplifies transitions – your DJ can open the dance floor without asking everyone to physically get up and change rooms, and when folks hit the bar they’ll still be close enough to the party to not feel left out.

If you CANNOT hold both your dinner and your dancing in the Arbor Room, though, heading down the hall to the Founder’s Room for dancing is a nice alternative. We’ve done this often, and it works – as long as you work with your DJ to come up with a sensible plan for helping guests transition from one space to the next. As I mentioned above, saving your first dance as a couple until after dinner is one nice way to make this transition natural.

We also recommend dancing in the Founder’s Room if you’re booking a photo booth! The best place for a booth is right outside the Founder’s Room, and your booth AND your dance floor will see more action if they’re in close proximity to one another.

There are some hidden upsides to dancing in the Founder’s Room, too. I played a wedding years ago where the bride and groom did a “photo exit,” complete with sparklers, as guests sent them off from the Arboretum’s front door. But afterward, they snuck back into the Founder’s Room where I was still set up. We closed the doors, and the relative privacy of that dancing space meant they could share one last wedding-night dance as a couple, without anyone else in the room. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.