10 Reception Tips

We offer 10 Reception Tips to help you make the most of your wedding day. This list is based on years of experience. We’ve run into many different situations so we have a good feel what does and does not work.

1. Put your DJ next to the dance floor.
Your DJ’s location in relation to the dance floor is a critical factor in creating a high energy reception. Avoid placing your DJ in a corner far removed from the dance floor. Sound and lighting will be compromised, or cables and wires will need to be placed between tables to locate speakers and lights at the dance floor. And that’s impractical with guests and servers moving about. Also, your DJ should have a complete view of the room in order to MC reception events effectively. If you tuck your DJ away, your reception’s energy level will suffer because your DJ will have a hard time seeing and hearing what’s happening. Also, avoid seating guests between the DJ and the dance floor. Guests who are forced to sit directly in front of the DJ table will inevitably complain about how loud the music is even before the dancing begins. Your DJ needs to monitor sound levels and interact with the dancers to create and maintain a high-energy reception. He can provide his best service and maintain the energy of your reception when he is located adjacent to the dance floor.

2. Dim the lights when it’s time for dancing.
Dimming the lights after dinner creates a more relaxed atmosphere and will motivate your guests to dance. Determine the desired lighting levels during dinner and for dancing when you meet with your reception facility’s coordinator. Consider lighting levels that will compliment any candles you plan to use. Ask that your lighting preferences be included in your contract. This is an important but often overlooked aspect of your reception. Lighting that is too bright will discourage your guests from dancing and compromise your DJ’s light show. The best resorts and country clubs get the lighting right while lesser facilities pay little attention to this issue.

3. Don’t let pictures and videos dominate your day.
Select a photographer with a confident and relaxed style who will capture your special moments in an efficient and stress-free manner. Don’t be held hostage by an overbearing photographer who will dominate your time while your guests become bored. We’ve witnessed a photographer interrupt the best man’s toast to get the perfect close-up of your champagne glasses. We’ve seen the bride and groom pulled away from their just-served dinner by an over-zealous photographer who insisted it was the perfect time for the sunset picture.

4. Beware of the problems caused by sharing your facility with others.
Some restaurants will book a wedding reception in an area right next to their public dining room. Some resorts will book multiple wedding receptions in a large ballroom separated by cardboard wall dividers. Some golf clubs have homes that are directly adjacent to the reception facility. The result is inevitable. As your reception starts gaining momentum, the manager tells the DJ to turn the volume down because the music is disturbing other guests or neighbors. Music for dancing is louder than music for dinner. Normal dance music volume would be terribly annoying to a couple having a romantic dinner a few yards away. If you and your guests plan to dance, avoid choosing a facility that imposes sound and volume restriction on your reception. Such restrictions are guaranteed to hamper your DJ’s performance and diminish the energy of your reception.

5. Invest quality time in planning your Grand Entrance.
The Grand Entrance sets the tone and establishes the energy for the entire reception. Work closely with your DJ to stage a Grand Entrance that reflects your style and personality. Decide who will participate, where they will assemble and in what order, where they will go after being introduced. Clarify pronunciation of names, determine appropriate introductions for blended families and, of course, select the perfect music. All of this planning is usually completed when you meet personally with your DJ a few weeks before your wedding. Your DJ can offer suggestions and will take charge of the Grand Entrance at your wedding reception.

6. The First Dance – don’t wait forever to do it and don’t do it forever.
One of the special moments of the reception is the bride and groom’s first dance. Having your first dance immediately following the grand entrance is a great way to start the party with a flourish. As you are introduced, all of your guests are seated and more focused on the two of you than at any other time during the reception. Entering the room and going directly to the center of the dance floor for your first dance is sure to create what we call the “wow factor.” Delaying your first dance until after dinner or after you visit each table of guests will deflate the energy of your reception.

7. Don’t try to select every song your DJ will play.
Choose the song for your first dance and songs for specific reception events like the cake cutting and bouquet toss. Tell your DJ what artists and styles of music to feature or avoid, but don’t micro-manage your DJ’s performance. A professional wedding DJ can read the crowd and knows what to play and when to play it to keep the party going. More importantly, your DJ knows which requests will clear the dance floor and deflate the energy of your reception. You’re paying for your DJ’s knowledge and experience. Take advantage of it.

8. Don’t rule out the ‘cheese.’
Before you reject those so-called cheesy group dances like the Chicken Dance or Hokey Pokey, remember that these dances may be the only opportunity some of your guests will have to get on the dance floor and have some fun. These speciality dances are frequently requested, are very popular with your youngest guests and often create some of the most memorable moments. These dances may not be at the top of your list, but let the DJ play them if your guests so request.

9. Lead the way to the dance floor!
Most brides and grooms want to see their guests on the dance floor having a great time. One way to create that energy is to lead by example. When the newlyweds set the tone by dancing, guest will follow. Ask a favorite uncle or grandmother to dance. Cameras will flash. Family will applaud. Guests will join in. When the bride and groom actively participate in the dancing, the energy level of the reception dramatically increases.

10. Avoid interruptions once the party music has started
Plan to have things such as spotlight dances, toasts, cake cutting, bouquet toss garter toss and anything else already done before the DJ gets the party started. Any interruptions in the party can kill all of the momentum that has been building. There can of course be slower moments when brief interruptions for announcements can be made without killing the flow of the party. The last thing anyone should want to do is to interrupt the music while there is a full crowd out on the dance floor.