There are a lot of different ways you can lay out your reception, but there are also a lot of different waysnot to lay out your reception. So instead of taking our word for it, we brought in the other experts who are more often than not the voice of wedding receptions – the DJ. These are the guys who really know how to make a party, well, a party. They’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work as far as when to lay out all of the big moments you want to happen during your reception. So, let’s get to it!
First, introductions and dances.
You will have everyone’s attention when you first enter the reception so it’s best to go ahead after your introduction to knock the formal dances out.
“We like to go ahead and knock the dances out, all the official stuff like the first dance and parent's dances,” explains Joe Bunn and Brandon Alley of Bunn DJ Company. “It’s best to get those going while we have everybody's attention.”
At the very least, you should do your first dance right away. If you want to wait on the parent dances you could have those happen right after dinner, before the dance floor officially opens.
Then, welcome, blessing and dinner.
Your guests likely had a few cocktails during cocktail hour and maybe a bite or two, but more often than not, your guests are hungry, so you don’t want to wait much longer to feed them. It’s common for the father of the bride or even the couple to give a short welcome after the dance (or dances) finish, and then dinner service begins.
Next, toasts and cake.
Right around the time dinner is wrapping up is the ideal time for any toasts to be given. You will have everyone’s attention again now that dinner time is over, and the dance floor hasn’t officially opened yet.
Some of your older guests will use the cake cutting as a signal that the party is about to start, and they aren’t going to miss any big moments, so it’s always nice to get that out of the way so older guests can go home if they want. If you do want to get some dancing in before the cake cutting, just make sure you don’t do it too late in the night!
“We don't like to push things like cake and toasts super late into a dance set, especially cake” said Joe and Brandon. “Cake is the dessert, nine times out of ten, so at the end of dinner, let's cut the cake. It’s also the unofficial signal that older guests can leave. There’s no need to sit there and hold them hostage over the cake.”
Once most of the big moments are done, your dance floor can officially open! If you plan to do a bouquet toss and/or a garter removal it is okay to break up the dance floor once later in the night, but you don’t really want to keep breaking it up. Especially if you have a good groove going, once you kill it, it might be difficult to get things back up and going again.
“If there's anything that can push until later, it's the bouquet and garter,” Joe and Brandon explained. “One, because it's a quick, short stop for the dance floor and two, it has some fun and energy to it.”
Besides, with the bouquet and garter they are always a little more fun later in the night after everyone has let loose a little more (and had a few more drinks!).
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About this week’s guests: Joe Bunn started his DJ career at the age of 14. In the late 90s, he started Bunn DJ Company. The company grew from a couple of DJs to 15 of the area’s best mobile DJs. Over the past few years, Bunn DJ Company has expanded to Charleston, SC, Charlotte, NC, Richmond, VA and most recently San Diego, CA! The award-winning collection of DJs not only rocks thousands of parties every year but also provides unparalleled customer service.
Joe still DJs almost every weekend, but in recent years has also been helping other entrepreneurs across the country grow their businesses.
Brandon Alley has been around the DJ industry his whole life but began his professional DJing career in 2011 at the Bunn DJ Company headquarters before opening an office in Charlotte.
Photo Courtesy of Bunn DJ Company.