tips for a better reception
Dim the lights when it's time for dancing.
Dimming the lights after dinner creates a relaxed atmosphere and will motivate your guests to dance. Determine the desired lighting levels for dancing when you meet with your wedding coordinator. Consider lighting levels that will compliment any candles you plan to use.
Don't let pictures dominate your day.
Choose a photographer with a confident and relaxed style who will capture your special moments in a stress-free manner. Don't be held hostage by an overbearing photographer. I've seen brides and grooms held up for over an hour taking photos. That could be 20-25% of your reception. Good photographers capture rather than create great photos. In short, don't allow pictures to become more important than your celebration. Also, make an effort to schedule all your family/group photos prior to dancing. This will eliminate clearing the dance floor for extended periods of time.
Place your DJ near the dance floor.
The location of the dance floor is vital to the success of your reception. If possible, avoid seating guests between the DJ area and the dance floor. Placing the DJ area adjacent to the dance floor maximizes the ability to monitor sound and dancers are more comfortable dancing near the music source. Avoid facilities where the dance floor is not located in the same room as your guests. Some facilities can accommodate more guests if they locate the dance floor and DJ in an adjacent room. I do not recommend this. Your guests will not be able to view your First Dance, hear toasts or see reception events without moving and such arrangements will discourage dancing.
While on the subject of seating, I highly recommend seating elderly guests away from the DJ area. Older guests are very sensitive to music volume and they will repeatedly ask the DJ to reduce the volume. If the music is reduced to a much lower level, the music may not be audible in all areas of the reception room. It's in your best interests to seat younger guests or people who don't mind music a little louder than usual in the immediate DJ area.
The First Dance : Don't wait forever to do it and don't do it forever.
One of the most special moments of the reception is the Bride & Groom's First Dance. Having your First Dance after the Grand Entrance is a great way to start the party. Once you've selected your song, practice dancing to it until you're comfortable. If your song is exceptionally long, consider fading out at a designated time. This applies to the parent dances as well. If you're uncomfortable dancing before all of your guests, consider taking a few dance lessons.
Do the formal toast immediately after the First Dance.
At no other time during the reception will your guests be more attentive and focused on the Bride & Groom than immediately following the Grand Entrance and the First Dance. It's the perfect time for a formal toast. All professional DJs have a wireless microphone for toasts so the speech can be given at or near the head table.
Champagne : Not Required
While the traditional champagne toast is a nice touch, it's often a waste of money. Very few guests appreciate and savor champagne because it's rarely served ice cold and usually warm as it's poured long before the toast is given. The end result is glass after glass poured down the drain. The idea of a toast is to "raise a glass" to the bride and groom. That could be whatever your guests are drinking. That could be a glass of wine, a cocktail, a beer, even water. You can save money by having champagne for the bridal party and immediate family only.
DO NOT SELECT ALL THE MUSIC FOR YOUR RECEPTION
Answer this one question regarding the music for your reception.
What is more important to you?
a) Hearing the music you want
b) Your guests dancing and having a great time.
Pick one, because you can't have both.
If you reviewed my website thoroughly, you've probably already read this once, but I'll say it again only because I want you to have the best reception possible. It's not in your best interests to select all the music for your reception. In fact, it could very well ruin your reception and here's a story why.
In 2003, I performed at a wedding and the bride had over 90 songs on her playlist. NINETY! Prior to the wedding I was specifically told only to play songs from her playlist. She was very nice about it and I asked if I could take requests and she said no. Being a professional, I did what my client asked, but I knew this wasn't going to work out as she hoped.
Let's do a little math. 5 hours is 300 minutes and the average song is 3-4 minutes long. That calculates out to approximately 75 songs (reception event songs included). That's 5 long hours of music ahead of me and I can't take requests from guests or play what I know will get people on the dance floor. While some of the songs on her list I could work with, more than half of the songs listed were not suitable for dancing and too many ballads. As the evening progressed and playing exclusively from her playlist, I could tell the bride was disappointed because people weren't dancing. Prior to the reception, I tried to persuade her into allowing requests, but she was adamant in having exactly what she wanted. She didn't take my advice and now her over-planning and lack of trust in me has come back to haunt her and her wedding probably fell short of her expectations.
I understand that this is your day, but for you to have the best reception possible, please consider your guest's music preferences as well. My point is that everyone's taste in music is different. What playlists you have loaded on your phone or iPod is what you like, but will it keep everyone on the dance floor all night? Probably not. Personally, I'm a big fan of the Stones and I listen to them in my truck all the time, but I understand that some aren't fans and I respect that. I would rather have everyone up dancing, having a great time than clear the dance floor with my personal favorites. Some of the music I play at weddings definitely isn't my bag, but if it packs my dance floor, I'm ok with it.
My advice : Choose 10 "must play" and 10-15 "play if possible" songs. Tell me what artists and genres to feature or avoid, but don't go overboard micro-managing the playlist. I usually perform two weddings every weekend from April through the end of November and I know what gets everyone up and what doesn't work. You're paying for my knowledge and experience. Take advantage of it.
If you need overtime, please ask at least one hour in advance.
Timing is a major factor in my performance. You may think DJs just play whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Not true. Once I go from dinner music into dancing, you may not know it, but there's an actual strategy to it. I hold back on certain songs until later in the evening because I know people will respond to them. If your reception ends at midnight, I'm not playing Livin' On A Prayer at 10:00. If you plan on extending your reception beyond the contracted time, please let me know as soon as possible so I can revise my game plan.
New England Weather : *Cool and cloudy today... hot and humid tomorrow***
Most brides obsess over the extended 10 day forecast leading up to their wedding because of our infamous, unpredictable weather. While there's nothing you can do about it, you can take precautions to minimize the impact the heat, cold or rain has to disrupt your day. If your wedding takes place during the summer, choose a reception venue that is properly air-conditioned and set at a comfortable temperature when your guests arrive. Many local churches are not equipped with air-conditioning and your guests will look forward to leaving a hot, sticky church and seek relief in the comfort of air-conditioning. If your reception venue is hot, don't be surprised if guests leave early. If you're having your reception at an outdoor facility, a tent is an absolute must. Not just for the unpredictable thunderstorms or showers that roll in out of nowhere, but to protect your guests from the sun. Short-term sun exposure during the hot summer months can cause guests to overheat and possibly faint. A tent will also protect guests with fair skin as they sunburn quickly. In cases of rain, consider a tent with sides to protect the interior from wind-swept rain.
Don't expect Saturday Night Fever on a Sunday afternoon.
If your dream wedding consists of cocktails and dancing, a Sunday afternoon wedding probably isn't your bag. Unfortunately, guests don't respond with the same enthusiasm of a wedding held on a Sunday afternoon versus a Saturday night. Unless your wedding is held on the Sunday of a holiday weekend, people will eat, maybe dance a little and leave early as most guests will have to work the next day. If cocktails and dancing are essential to your reception's success, I strongly suggest a Friday or Saturday night wedding reception.