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Wedding Reception Formats

If you've never planned a wedding meal service and are not familiar with how all of this works, you may not know that more than just food may be on the menu.  You can also inject the dinnertime with some entertaining ideas.  Here are a few different ways in which we can conduct the meal service to set the tone and mood the client prefers.  If these methods don't appeal to you, feel free to invent your own.

The "Typical" Wedding Reception Format

A typical 5 or 6 hour reception for an average sized group of 100-150 guests, usually begins with a social period that lasts an hour. Sometimes this is extended to an hour and a half, even two hours.

During this time the DJ will play background music as you request. It can be a mix of what I refer to as "The Crooners" (Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Harry Connick Jr., Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, Diana Krall and newer artists like Nora Jones and Michael Bublè) to pop sounds like Sade, Jason Mraz, George Benson, James Taylor, Taylor Swift, Marvin Gaye, Jack Johnson and Jimmy Buffet to name a few. The tone of these selections are all are on the peppy, yet comfortable side. Ultimately, it's your choice, so let us know what you'd like.

After about 45 minutes of formal portraits back at the church, the wedding party heads for the reception. The DJ/Master of Ceremonies meets the group and lines everyone up for the introductions. Most of the time the newlyweds will have their first dance as they enter the room. Then a few formalities such as; a blessing, toast and centerpiece giveaway is common.

The meal usually comes out next. Be it buffet, hors d'oeuvre stations or plate style, it should take about 1½ hours. During the meal, we like to remove the vocals and drop it down a notch. Smooth modern Jazz, New Age, Big Band, Classical, soft instrumentals...whatever pleases you! Again, the final decision is yours.

When the meal is finished, the final 2 - 3 hours is wide open to work in the remaining formalities and get the party moving.

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The "New York Style" Reception

This format works best with the Plate Style meal service, as it goes in stages. After social hour has run its course and the opening introductions and initial formalities have been taken care of, the disc jockey will then drop in music sets of approximately 15 minutes in length after each course served. So after the first course is served, maybe the DJ will pop in a Big Band set, then after the second course, an oldies set, after the third perhaps a set of current dance and hip hop. You get the idea. This format is designed keep your guests from getting too lethargic. After dinner, the dance floor opens.


The "Low Profile" Reception


Some clients prefer a very low-key presentation and want nothing to do with a bouquet or a garter. Sometimes these clients are a little older than the average bride and groom, are going around for the block for a second time or simply desire a softer "no cheese" approach that doesn't put them in the spotlight as much. I have had wedding receptions of this sort that have included a few simple formalities like a toast, cake cutting and first dance, to others where all we did was announce "no smoking, please" at the beginning and kept the music playing. This style can feel a bit like an extended social hour. After dinner, the dance floor opens.


"Cocktail Hour" Style Reception


Some prefer to keep Social Hour or Cocktail Hour running for several of hours with a more casual and relaxed approach. A few opening formalities could be incorporated, but otherwise we play some upbeat or "edgy" tunes to keep the energy up in the room. There is no formal meal service, but rather "heavy" Hors d'oeuvres at buffet stations located around the room. The dance floor opens after that.

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