The Perfect Wedding Day
The Perfect Wedding
Ah, yes. The perfect wedding! Who doesn’t envision this? An absolutely flawless night spent with loved ones and family members to celebrate the union of two people. A night where memories will be made and people will forever remember and talk about all the fun that was had! This is all good and fun to think about, but what DOES make the perfect wedding? As a seasoned wedding DJ, I’ve been to plenty of weddings all over the state in the last 3 years and seen many fantastic weddings, but some that were lacking. What would make a perfect wedding? Is there such a thing?
Following are some of my personal opinions on what a perfect wedding really entails if one was to exist at all:
1. Start Time: Most weddings take place in the summer and ceremonies are usually held outdoors. Temperatures in our state during the summer can reach really high peaks and depending on how long the ceremony lasts, it can be a little too much for the guests. If the ceremony is going to be outside, I think a start time of about 5-6 pm is ideal. If a ceremony is being held indoors at the venue, then it really doesn’t matter. I just know some ceremonies tend to last longer, which brings me to the next point.
2. Ceremony Duration: We have all been to weddings where the ceremony seems to drag on a little too long. Babies start crying, people get restless, weather gets too hot, wind blows some of the ceremony decorations away, and so on. I think a ceremony should be long enough to emphasize the significance of the union and create beautiful memories, but not long enough to make your guests uncomfortable. Optimal time for a ceremony? I’d say about 10-20 minutes max.
3. Venue: This is a very important one, for obvious reasons. Depending on how many people you have, you want to have a venue that’s big enough, and a venue where people will feel comfortable in. Of course, pricing comes into play here, but you want a venue big enough to fit all your guests comfortably. I’ve seen many weddings where the max for the venue is 150 and there’s 200 guests attending. That can create issues for everyone involved.
4. People: How many people are invited to a wedding can go a long way between having a blast and having your night being slightly awkward. As a wedding DJ, I personally prefer bigger crowds. There’s more opportunity to be interactive with the crowd, people are mingling more too, which makes it less awkward for everyone and the more people dancing and having a good time, the better for everyone! It creates a very fun atmosphere. Also, an energetic crowd that wants to really party and celebrate always helps things! I would say a smaller wedding crowd is a crowd under 100 guests, while a solid amount is 150+. This is important sometimes if you are wanting a lot of dancing and your wedding to be a bigger party.
5. Food/Drinks. One of the most vital aspects of any wedding in my book is food and drinks. People will always remember how good the appetizers or food was and if there was enough beer/liquor. There are many wonderful catering companies to choose from and plenty of them also provide amazing bar services. I understand some people like to cut down on spending costs in certain categories, but this should not be one of them. Especially with alcohol services. Everyone likes to have a couple drinks at a wedding and there’s literally nothing better than having free beer at a wedding. It loosens everyone up more and usually gets people dancing faster. The main question is do you want your guests to drink for free? My opinion is yes! At least having free beer is not only a nice gesture, but people will normally stick around your wedding a lot longer if they don’t have to pay for drinks. So ask yourself if you want a late party full of dancing into the night. If the answer is yes then treat your guests to at least free beer. You will love it if you do.
6. Music: How cliche that a wedding DJ would touch base on this, right? Well, the importance of a good DJ cannot be overstated. This is another area that people try to cut costs on at times and it could ruin the whole wedding. I would advise anyone to hire a DJ that has the experience to make your night run smooth. It’s not as easy as it may appear at times, and I can promise you that most weddings that go the Ipod, friend, or relative route regret it. A professional wedding DJ helps you plan your whole night, makes announcements throughout the night and keeps everyone informed of what events/dances are following, coordinates with the photographers and videographers to make sure they are ready to capture the big moments, and reads the dance floor during the reception making sure it’s always busy and people are having a good time.
7. Photographers: A good photographer is another important aspect of a perfect wedding. You want your photographer to be attentive, friendly and cooperative. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many photographers from all over the state and they’ve all been awesome. I’ve also, unfortunately, been to weddings where I’ve seen someone’s cousin be responsible for pictures with her iPhone… Let’s be smart, people. Leave it to the pros. In my book, a good wedding photographer is a photographer that is always ready and paying attention to the ceremony/reception, doesn’t steal the bride and groom away for more than 30 minutes for private photos (post-ceremony photos, sunset pics, etc.) and is flexible and able to communicate with the DJ and other vendors. This makes for a harmonious working relationship between all vendors.
Now, let’s get a little more specific and break down every single part of the ceremony/reception…
A. Prelude music is the music that plays as guests are arriving and finding their seats for the ceremony. Prelude music is played for approximately an hour and a half before the ceremony starts and should be soft music, classical music and instrumentals to really help set the tone for the ceremony that is to follow. There can obviously be songs with lyrics in them as well, as long as they fit the bill of soft, welcoming music for the guests.
B. The processional song is the song that the whole bridal party (except the bride) walks down to. This should also be a slower song, one that has a special meaning to the bride or groom. As this is one of the 3 songs that will be remembered the most during the ceremony, couples should show extra consideration to choosing a song that fits the occasion. If you have the crowd for it by all means you can pick something more upbeat for this too.
C. The moment everyone’s been waiting for! Time for the Bridal March. This, in my opinion, is the most important song in the ceremony and there are many to choose from that would be suitable. For the modern age bride, there are many beautiful instrumental covers of popular songs that would be prefect or if the bride would prefer something classic, there are also many to choose from there as well. It sounds repetitive, but a song with meaning, showing love should be picked for this occasion.
D. The recessional song is the song that plays right as the bride and groom are pronounced as husband and wife and they make their way towards the reception area or off to take pictures. This should be a very upbeat song, as the crowd is standing and applauding the new couple, a song to set the tone for the rest of the night. We have seen numerous choices for this song and honestly, you can’t go wrong here with the presumption that it is something fun!
Reception: And now, time for the part of the night that everyone has been looking forward to the most. The reception! This is what makes or breaks the night and as wedding DJs we take exceptional pride in making sure the reception flows smoothly leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that it’s going to be a beautifully ran night. Now, for reception events…
A. Cocktail hour: Right after the reception ends and the crowd starts filing in is usually the beginning of cocktail hour. The DJ gets on the mic and announces that the guests are free to grab a drink and make themselves comfortable as (most often) the bride and groom are taking a couple quick post-ceremony photos. This is a perfect time for the guests to relax and mingle. The music that should be played during this time is soft, but not as soft as prelude music. Artists like Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, The Temptations and Jack Johnson are perfect, for example. It should be music that the guests can recognize and enjoy having a drink to. What makes cocktail hour perfect is a bar that is appropriately staffed, friendly and professional, ready to serve drinks to the guests.
B. Introductions: When the bride and groom are done taking pictures, often times they like to be introduced back into the reception (sometimes the couple prefers the whole wedding party be introduced). The DJ directs everyone’s attention toward the entrance which they will be coming in from, as the crowd prepares to greet them. A fun song plays, the DJ announces the couple as Mr. and Mrs. and the couple makes their way into the reception area to thunderous applause. The song chosen for this occasion is often left to the DJs discretion, but it’s always nice when the couple likes to pick a song that they love. It’s recommended that this song is very upbeat and fun, making the crowd excited for the rest of the night.
C. Dinner: After the couple is introduced, cocktail hour continues seamlessly until it is time for dinner. Having observed many dinners during wedding receptions, I can provide my opinion on what works best. Having a buffet styled dinner with 2 lines that guests can go through is the absolutely perfect scenario. If there are over 150 guests at the wedding and only one line that the guests can go through, it makes dinner last a very long time which cuts into time for every other event that occurs after it. The order in which the attendees are released is bride and groom, followed by the wedding party, followed by immediate family and then the rest of the guests are welcome to go through and get dinner. As you can imagine, in a wedding of 250 people, for example, the bride and the groom will have already finished their dinner and dessert by the time some people are just getting up from their table to get in line. Often times, we release tables by numbers as wedding DJs, to ensure that there is not a massive line formed.
Another important factor here is the restaurant or catering company providing the food. A good catering company is set up and ready to go in time, the food is ready to be served the time that they tell everyone and they have proper experience. We’ve worked with a lot of wonderful catering companies that are always prepared, do not get overwhelmed by the amount of people going through the line and are very helpful and accommodating.
Last, but not least, dinner music! Dinner music, very much so like cocktail hour music, should be softer during the beginning part but can get little more upbeat during the end. Music that everyone in the crowd will recognize, classic hits that aren’t too dancy but not too soft either. It is important near the end of dinner to play some more upbeat music, as the dancing part of the night comes up next… But before we get to that…
D. Toasts: Toasts happen usually near the end of dinner and can go either really well or they can turn out to be pretty awkward. The DJ will announce 10 minutes in advance that toasts will be happening soon, providing ample time for the guests to grab a drink or for the staff at the venue to provide champagne. In my opinion, the perfect toasts last between 5 and 10 minutes and are reserved for the bride/groom, wedding party and a couple of family members. Sometimes, the couple prefers to keep an open mic so any guest can say a couple of words, but we’ve found out that can be pretty uncomfortable at times. People can get pretty intoxicated and go into some story that neither the couple nor the guests wanted to hear, particularly family members, so it is important to choose the people that do the toast rather carefully. A nice combination of a funny story combined with words of wisdom and love are always encouraged.
E. Cake Cutting: At the conclusion of the toasts, the event’s subsequent events begin to take place. First off, we have our cake cutting. The DJ will announce to the crowd that the bride and groom are about to cut the cake, and the crowd gathers to watch as it is an excellent photo op. I am not of the opinion that a large, beautiful wedding cake makes a big difference in a wedding. The cake is only really looked at for the 5 minutes that it is getting cut and then when it’s distributed for dessert later on in the night. As far as music goes, something with sugary or sweet references is optimal, as long as it is not inappropriate for the occasion. (How sweet it is to be loved by you, Sugar Sugar, Sugar etc.) are all popular picks for this. Cake cutting should not last over 5-10 minutes as it is just setting the tone for the important upcoming dances.
F. First Dance: This may be the most important dance of the night, as the DJ will announce the bride and groom to the dance floor to have their first dance as a married couple. The photographer is snapping pictures, the crowd is watching as the couple waltz around the dance floor. The song chosen for this occasion should be a song that holds sentimental value for the couple, maybe the song that was playing when they first met, or a song they simply both love. Often times, if the song is too long, the couple will ask the DJ to fade out of the song after the second chorus or so, or the couple might prefer that the whole song plays through. It depends on the comfort level of the couple dancing and being the focal point of attention. Personally, I think it’s optimal when the couple likes to dance to a song the full way through.
G. Parent Dances: This would include the father-bride song and the mother- groom dance. These can either take place at the same time, or as is more common, separately. Very important to choose a song, once again, that holds sentimental value between the parent and his/her child as it is a moment that both parent and child will remember for the rest of their lives. Just like the first dance, it is their choice whether they want to dance to the song for the full length, or have it fade out after most of the song has played.
H. Anniversary Dance: The anniversary dance is one of my personal favorites, as it includes many guests out on the dance floor and embodies how important this wedding day really is. The DJ will ask all couples, married or not, to please join the dance floor. Some appropriate music will be picked (songs that are soft, about love) as the guests begin dancing. In regular short intervals, the DJ will announce an amount of time, and if the couple has been married for that amount of time or less, they will be asked to leave the dance floor. The objective of this is to figure out the couple that has been married the longest amount of time that is attending the wedding. Subsequently, the crowd gives that couple a big round of applause once they are the last couple standing, they will share their words of advice with the newlyweds after introducing themselves and informing the crowd how many years they have been married. I really think this is a nice touch to any wedding, as the essence of the big day is portrayed for everyone out on the dance floor.
I: Dollar Dance: This is the dance where gentlemen line up to dance with the bride and ladies line up to dance with the groom. I cannot lie, I am not a fan of this dance whatsoever. The guests at the wedding have already spent a lot of money on travel expenses to attend the wedding, money on a wedding gift, money on a hotel reservation if the wedding is far away, and in some cases even have to buy their drinks at the wedding. It is a bit excessive to ask them to pay a certain amount of money to dance with either the bride or the groom for about 15 seconds before they have to switch. Throughout the years, this has been an event that fewer and fewer couples have been doing. This isn’t a knock on the couples that still choose to have a dollar dance, as we all know weddings can be super expensive and we respect everyone’s opinion to stick to the tradition of it, but it is also asking a lot from the guests to pay to dance. They are there to have fun and celebrate the couple’s union and in most cases don’t have that much more money to hand over.
J. Bouquet Toss: All the single ladies! All the single ladies! The bouquet toss is the long tradition of the bride tossing her wedding bouquet into a crowd of non-married women, with the implication that the woman who catches the bouquet will be the next one to tie the knot. This is always fun, and a good accompanying song should be paired with it. Any song that is upbeat, fun and recognizable would fit this occasion. (Single Ladies, Wannabe, Girls just wanna have fun, etc.)
K. Garter Toss: Right after the bouquet toss, we have our garter toss. This is a tradition that is also not as widely popular anymore, as it is considered a little too extreme from some people. I, personally, do not see anything wrong with this, as the groom flings the bride’s garter into the group of non-married men that is gathered. The song chosen for this, just like the bouquet toss, should be fun, upbeat and can even fit the occasion perfectly. (Another One Bites the Dust, She’s got Legs, etc.”
L. Open Dance Floor!! The moment everyone has been waiting for! After the conclusion of all of these events, the dance floor opens up!! The DJ takes requests all night, feels out a dance floor and plays top hit music to ensure the crowd is dancing all night. It is important to play some older hits to open up a reception, as many older people in the crowd will not be staying the whole night and they want to hear some classics from back in their day. These songs are absolutely timeless and guaranteed to get everyone out on the dance floor. This is the part of the night where all of the formalities are done and everyone can cut loose and have an absolute blast on the dance floor. Fun group dances like the Cupid Shuffle and Cha Cha slide can be performed, impromptu flash mobs can happen, people can have one too many drinks and show off their dance moves, it is a good time for everyone in general. Once again, it is important for the DJ to take requests all night and feel out the dance floor until the end of the reception.
I hope this helps everyone. Please keep in mind these are opinions and you can have your wedding any way you like. We always conduct a wedding the exact way a bride and groom wants it done and we can coordinate things anyway you like. Thanks and we’re looking forward to a huge 2016!
-Sam Dasios, RMF Entertainment
ALL PICTURES USED IN THIS BLOG WERE TAKEN BY DAX PHOTOGRAPHY. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO: Dax Photography