Wedding traditions happen for a reason. While many couples are tempted to do away with particular customs when they are planning their wedding reception, they often find that changing things up just to be different can be a mistake. That’s why it makes sense to understand the reasons behind some of these traditions before doing away with them all together.
The Cocktail Hour
Following the ceremony and prior to the dinner reception, there will normally be what is known as a cocktail hour. While it might be tempting to do away with this tradition, it actually exists for a very good reason. Typically, right after the wedding ceremony has taken place, this is when the bride and groom, the bridesmaids and groomsmen, and their families will get their pictures taken.
This important event can’t happen before the ceremony, because it’s considered bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the bride walks down the aisle. And if you wait too long, it will be impossible to get all these people together in one location. Many people will want to change out of their formal clothes as well.
The cocktail hour is the perfect way to keep your guests entertained while the pictures are being taken. It also allows time for a change of venue, if the reception and the ceremony are in two different places. A DJ will be able to play upbeat background music for the guests while they mingle, snack on appetizers, and refresh themselves at the bar.
Another reason to have the cocktail party is it helps facilitate the grand entrance. The grand entrance takes place through a designated door for the bride and groom to walk through as they are announced and introduced as husband and wife for the first time. You’ll want to coordinate with your DJ or AV person to make sure you have someone ready to make the announcement at the right time.
The DJ or MC will formally introduce wedding party members during the grand entrance. This can include the parents of the newlyweds, the grandparents, flower girl(s), ring bearer(s), ushers, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and, last but not least, the bride and groom.
Your food selection and timing are essential considerations for your wedding day. And it’s not just a consideration for your many guests. They may have had an opportunity to graze on appetizers while drinking cocktails during the cocktail hour, but the bride & groom and the entire wedding party may not have eaten for several hours.
Providing a schedule to your entertainer beforehand can help facilitate the process. You should also direct when you want the venue to begin serving dinner to the reception guests and bridal party. Venues take great pride in their food preparation and friendly service during receptions.
Keep in mind a reception dinner lasts about 60 minutes. As newlyweds, take your time eating and socializing. You are the primary focus for friends and family approaching you for pictures, hugs, and a lot of congratulations. To preserve energy to handle the next 4-5 hours of mingling, eat!!
After dinner is over, the DJ will announce the beginning of wedding toasts. Grab those drinks! This is an important tradition, and you’ll want to put some thought into where and when this will occur, and what kind of sound equipment you need to ensure all your guests can hear. While it’s not always the case, generally it will be smart to do the toasts while most of your guests are still seated for dinner.
The best man and maid/matron of honor will each toast the bride and groom. Parents of the bride and groom will propose a toast for their children wishing them the best in their new lives together. Next comes your remaining bridal party. Let them get creative with their speeches. Allow them to speak from the heart and share the memories they hold dear.
Cutting the wedding cake together is another wedding ritual. This ritual symbolizes a couple as “unified.” Traditionally, the groom feeds the bride first, and then the bride feeds the groom. They can also feed one another simultaneously. A champagne toast can also be included before or after the cutting and feeding of the cake. (Cake face smashing anyone?)
This is another sentimental moment that will mean a great deal to all the participants, especially the parents of the bride and groom. This is when the happy couple will dance together for the first time as husband and wife. The first “dance” is a symbol of your new life together and gives the parents of the bride and groom a chance to dance with the newlyweds.
Traditionally two dances take place with the parents: the father and daughter dance, followed by the mother and son dance. Obviously, you’ll want to put a lot of thought into the music that will be used at this special moment. It is best to choose a song that reflects the intimacy of your relationship to that parent.
If your family consists of stepparents as well as biological parents, you may want to include all parents. The entertainer can ask the biological father of the bride to join the bride on the dance floor and half way through have the stepfather step in to share the dance. Whatever choices you decide on, it’s important to communicate the plan to your DJ or MC, so that they can help make sure everything proceeds in a smooth manner.
No wedding would be complete without the dance party at the end. The purpose of open dancing is to allow the guests to celebrate with the newlyweds. A key piece of advice we as DJs can offer newlyweds is to create a successful dance music playlist for the guests to jam out to with you on the dance floor.
Remember that you are the nucleus of the party. Wherever you are is where your guests will be. Our DJs give you the option to pick as many songs as you desire for your dance party. If you are unable to decide or don’t have time, we can select songs we know as professionals will work. Often, it’s enough to provide a theme or certain styles of music that you want the DJ to follow.
Finally, rather than a full set list, you can provide the DJ with a list of a few songs that you definitely want played, along with a do not play list.
Planning a wedding can be stressful. Hiring the right entertainment can help alleviate that stress. The professionals at DJ Cutt Entertainment can do more than just play music. We can provide full lighting and sound equipment, videography, and more to make sure your special day is truly special.
Contact us today to learn more.