Most often, this is the first wedding for the bride and groom, and it’s only natural to have many questions. You want everything to go perfectly, and there are many different ‘issues’ that will take place during your wedding reception. Here, I will give you some advice and suggestions that I have used at the many weddings I have performed. Remember, these are only suggestions and not ‘written in stone’. It’s YOUR wedding, and you should have it the way you want it -- whatever feels comfortable to you.
After the ceremony, many times the photographer will keep the bride, groom, and others involved in the wedding to get some of their shots at the location of the ceremony. Guests will start arriving at the reception location before the bride and groom. The music should start playing upon arrival of the first guests.
When the bride and groom arrive at the reception hall, the best thing to do is to have someone pinpointed who will tell your DJ/band, that the B&G have arrived and are ready for their entrance. At this point, your DJ/band should announce that everyone take their places, or be seated if possible, but be certain for them to clear the main dance floor area. With the B&G standing outside the room, ready to enter the room, with someone at the door to open it, the DJ will then make the ‘big announcement’ at which point the B&G will enter the room.
What I find works best is for the B&G to go to the center of the dance floor and have their first dance. Everyone will be there paying attention and they will all enjoy seeing this. This is something that always works well. With that said, there is nothing wrong with delaying your dance, if for some reason that is what you want.
Also, some B&Gs want the whole bridal party announced and some want just themselves. Either way is fine. You may also want your parents announced. The usual order would be, Parents of the Bride, Parents of the Groom, then the flower girl, either along with the ring bearer, or separately, then each bridesmaid usually escorted by a groomsman.
When all of the bridesmaids and groomsman enter, they are followed by the best man, and maid/matron of honor. Finally, the most important couple of all will enter -- the Bride & Groom. Again, someone should let your DJ know when everyone is ready. The only difference in announcing only the B&G or announcing the whole bridal party is that, for the whole bridal party, we will go out personally to double check that the list I have from the bride matches the order of the people about to come in. We also bring a duplicate list for them to have. There are times that the bride may make a change in the order, but forget to tell me. This is understandable with all that’s on the bride’s mind -- that’s why I check on that. Or, at times someone’s not there yet, but the entrance is still going to take place. You don’t want this once in a lifetime announcement of your bridal party announced with the wrong names. So again, it is details like this that are very important, and some DJs just don’t realize this, or just don’t have the experience. Also, I will let your bridal party know where to walk, and stand, when they do come in the room. Each room is different, so I’ll have to see the exact location to know that best area for the bridal party to stand as the bride and groom enter. Sometimes it works out better for them to go to their seats, but sometimes it is just great for them to be standing as you walk in. That’s also something that can be decided by the B&G, and again, may depend on the room layout. Great consideration is made for all of your guests and their ability to see everyone and not have their view blocked.
After the B&G do their first dance, it’s usually a good time to then have the bride dance with her father, followed by the groom dancing with his mother. There are many different songs that will be appropriate for these dances. If you prefer, I also have played one song that these same couples dance to at the same time. Some people don't want all of the focus on them, and this is a helpful way to avoid that. Either way works. Also, usually I will fade out the song before it ends, unless you want me to play the whole song. Some songs are quite long, and being up there alone can seem like forever for the couple, but I do make sure that the photographer is able to take the pictures they need, then fade the song out. Fading the song may also be a good idea for the first dance, but I’ll always talk to the bride beforehand about that.
When there is a step-dad, or step-mom also involved, it is perfectly fine for the bride or groom to dance with both dads or moms. Sometimes those dances can also be done later on, or right after one another. Each case is different and any way is acceptable.
After the dances take place, it usually is time to eat, whether it’s a sit down dinner or buffet. If someone is going to ask the blessing, now is the time for that. If the dinner is not going to be served yet, I can also get everyone in the bridal party on the dance floor, and then have the rest of the guests join in. Again, it really depends on the timing of the food, but it’s good to be flexible if need be, and know that whatever is going on, everyone will have a good time.
At some point the toasts will take place. This really can be at any time, either before, during, or after the meal, and is usually done by the best man, and/or maid or honor or just started by them. Sometimes the fathers’ of the bride and/or groom may want to say something too, or an uncle, friend, etc. It may even be a last minute decision on their part, so I’m always ready for anything, and sometimes those are very special moments.
We work closely with your photographer, and also your wedding ‘coordinator’ if you have one. We speak with them before the wedding on what they 'plan' on doing on certain things such as, garter toss, bouquet toss, and cutting of the cake. Try to have your photographer stay for most of the party because, as the party gets closer to the end, they'll get better 'party' dancing pictures, and fun stuff, etc. I see some of them wanting to take their pictures early and leave as soon as they can, and in my opinion, the B&G miss out on a lot of great pictures if the photographer leaves too soon. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you need help with still photography and videography for your wedding or reception or both. We have packages that include these services.
It is very important to have a DJ/band that knows how to work with each different aspect of your wedding. There are more things than you may know that take place and, in order for it all to flow smoothly, the experience of your DJ is the key to all of this. He truly is your ‘coordinator’ of entertainment. If the photographer were to go out there and ‘do their own thing’ without working with the DJ, and visa versa, things will not go smoothly or perhaps special moments will be lost. Same thing applies to the caterer. For example, when the champagne for the toast is being poured, I’m always sure to make an announcement that this if for the toast, so please wait for that before you drink it. Believe me, that announcement needs to be done, and with tact. I also check with the caterer before they pour so that I know exactly what to expect and when to expect it. I advise the main person to tell their staff to mention this to the people as they are pouring. Most of the better catering houses may do this already, but some don’t, and I try to help all aspects of your wedding, not just the music. The same thing applies with the cake, garter, bouquet toss, etc. A good DJ really acts as a ‘wedding coordinator’ in all of this, and can also see and avoid any potential problems. By the same token, a good DJ can take advantage of some ‘fun times’ when he sees the opportunity and sees that an upbeat and fun-loving crowd are ready for some special songs or dances. This is another area where the experience is so valuable.
Having just the right song at just the right time is so important. This is a talent and an understanding gained from experience with performing for dancers for years. The wrong songs at anytime can alienate your guests from the fun of the event and even drive them away. Too many parties end too soon for the lack of understanding of the entire crowd. There needs to be something for everyone and an ability to help blend the different genres in a way that keeps things upbeat and fun for everyone. When everyone feels special and included in the fun of the party, you will have a GREAT party that your friends, family and loved ones will remember with great joy for many years to come!