I Read this article recently and it got me thinking about wedding formalities.
I loved the article not because I necessarily I agree with all of them, but because it reminds us that there should be a conversation with EVERY wedding couple and their Planner/DJ to discuss formalities and how they might fit into the timeline (or not!)
Since we’ve been nominated (and won) the “Best Wedding DJ in Los Angeles” award from California Wedding Day several times, I figured we have the expertise to sound off on with some recommendations based on our experience. (Yes, I was bragging just now)
As your wedding DJ & MC our job (along with a good planner) is to help guide you in crafting a reception that feels personal and is reflective of your style and personality. Too many times I think clients end up doing a formality (or skipping one) because they feel social pressure or too much advice from family or friends that have recently been married.
There is a time and place for most of these formalities and keep in mind that many of them are more/less relevant depending on the part of the country you live. Here in Los Angeles many clients prefer to have a more laid back affair with less formalities, but if they have a lot of wedding guests coming in from the East Coast or Midwest then they might expect more interaction, games etc…
Our slogan has always been “DJs that please without the cheese” but does that mean we will NEVER be cheesy? Of course not!
Sometimes a little cheese in the right spot can make the party but it’s all about customizing our performance & style to suit your taste.
I wanted to share this article just to get your mind thinking about what general atmosphere you wish to create for your guests on your wedding day.
It’s 100% your day, but you are also hosting a party and so considering which activities will make your guests uncomfortable or feel there is a disconnect between who YOU are and what’s happening in the room should be avoided, while the right activity can be fun, a great photo op and and bring all your guests together.
Let me give 2 viewpoints on a couple traditional formalities for you to consider.
(Both sides are valid, so think about which apply to your style and personality)
The MONEY (HONEYMOON) DANCE-
Viewpoint #1- It’s in poor taste to ask your guests for cash after they’ve already invested time & money to dress up, travel & bring a wedding gift.
Why I hate it as a DJ- It can really kill the energy in a room and sometimes make guests feel awkward/uncomfortable as not many people carry cash anymore.
Lastly, it can look a little tacky if you don’t have a classy way to collect the cash.
It’s a tradition and allows loved ones to help contribute to your new life together.
Plus, are you paying for the wedding yourself and buying everyone dinner? YEP!
If you have a large guest count, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to visit every table and greet every guest so it gives everyone a chance to connect with you.
Often we’ll rename this the “Bride & Groom/Guest” dance to remove “Money” from the title and explain that it’s an opportunity for any guest that wants to have a personal moment with you to come up and do so. Also, if it’s a long reception (more than 4 hours) or the guests aren’t in a dancing mood then it can be a great time filler while guests are resting and getting ready for the next dance set.
If you choose to do the money dance, perhaps using a nice silk bag (Yes the make these specifically for this function) instead of the bride looking like a stripper!
You’ve paid a lot for that beautiful pile of sugar…so you should show it off!
Plus, cake cutting is a way to demonstrate your synergy as a couple working on your first common goal as married couple. We’ve surprisingly had guests complain when (per the couple’s request) we didn’t announce the cake cutting. It’s a very popular photo op for your friends & family.
If not timed properly, making the DJ kill the dance floor and room energy to force guests over to watch you cut the cake can be annoying if they are more focused on the bar, photo booth & dancing. If not rehearsed (or have your planner/photographer guide you) then it can appear very awkward.
Cake cutting is usually the nemesis of the DJ because it often pulls guests away from dancing.
(Many guests will go sit back down once the cake is cut because they worry if they are not at their table, they will miss out on cake)
A great compromise is to have the couple sneak off and cut the cake without disrupting the dance floor. This way, they still get the photo op for their wedding gallery but the room energy stays high.
TIP- Unless you’ve already discussed it, smashing cake in your new partner’s face could backfire and not be the spontaneous moment you imagined.
Honestly, we don’t have an opposing viewpoint to this formality.
It’s always nice moment with guests enjoy watching, but I do have a few general tips:
-When picking a song have your DJ guide you (or double check song lyrics) to make sure the words are appropriate for a parent and child dancing together.
-Discuss in advance how long you and your parent want to be dancing to make sure you are on the same page. 1:30-2 minute is ideal. Anything longer and as sweet of a moment as it is, your guests may start to get bored. (Just being honest) If Dad has a bad hip or Mom is really excited to dance with her son, then it’s a huge error on the DJ’s part to leave them out there too long or end the song too early and rob the parent of that moment with their son/daughter.
– Per the past tip, many couples are now doing both parent dances SIMULTANEOUSLY to 1 song. This still showcases everyone but it’s shorter and less of an assembly line if you go from First Dance to Father/Daughter (or similar) & Mother/Son (or similar) back to back.
This is done to honor the couple in attendance that has been married the longest…often a grandparent or couple close to the family.
Traditionally it’s done by having all the couples already on the floor and starting by asking any couples who have been married one day or less to leave the floor. Then couples are weeded out at one year, five years and so on until you end up with the longest married couple on the floor. At that point everyone applauds and it’s a nice touch to have the DJ play the song that was played for their wedding.
This formality can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes which cuts into regular dancing time.
If the party is jamming it can kill the energy in the room a bit.
It’s a great way to incorporate the older guests that might not feel comfortable dancing to contemporary party music.
TIP- If you do this dance the traditional way, you have systematically emptied your dance floor, and it’s hard to get guests back out.
We suggest reversing the order and start with inviting couples that have been married less than 1 day, 1 year, 10 year etc…
Then you’ll use this formality to re-fill your dance floor after a break!
Quite possibly the most controversial topic of wedding formalities.
This gives your friends/family a moment to speak and share their thoughts and best wishes.
Typically done by a parent, Maid of Honor, Best Man etc.
A nice way to honor some of your guests that have traveled far or are part of your wedding party.
Another great moment to capture on photo & video.
Can go way to long and burn up time that would normally be spend on dancing.
Potentially awkward & uncomfortable moments with guests going rogue.
You should only have 2-5 toasts during the reception maximum, so give other guests that wish to speak time during the rehearsal dinner.
Toasters should be limited to 2 minutes and made aware they are timed so they write & practice their speech.
Tell them that they will have to submit their speech to the wedding planner for approval (for inappropriate jokes), which will make them plan more carefully.
Have your DJ work with your toasters on how to hold/speak into a mic and other best practices.
BOUQUET & GARTER TOSS-
One of the most popular formalities to incorporate the wedding party during the reception.
A bit outdated & cheesy and forces guests to compete when they aren’t comfortable doing so.
A great photo opp and way to bring guests back out to the dance floor after a break.
TIP: We recommend doing garter FIRST, followed by bouquet so you end up with the bride and all her friends on the dance floor, which is more likely to kick off another dance set. If you do Garter second, you end up with a bunch of awkward dudes on the floor!
If you don’t like the idea of doing a toss, you can just present the bouquet & garter to a guest of your choice, either by having the DJ announce or doing it privately while guests are dancing.
Couples spend a lot of money on florals and it’s a shame to see them go to waste.
The DJ can simply remind guests they are able to take the florals with them at the end of the night, or you can make it a fun game!
Totally depends on if you think playing games is cheesy or not.
We have lots of ways to do a giveaway, but the easiest is to announce whoever at each table has a birthday closest to the wedding date is the winner.
See more wedding tips to insure an AMAZING Wedding Reception here:
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