There are several ways you can personalize your wedding reception to your individual tastes, and provide some memorable moments for your guests. They have proven to be popular practically everywhere. So whether you have a Chicago DJ, a New York DJ or a London DJ, he’ll be able to guide you and your guests through some of the most memorable moments of your big evening. Here are just a few options for your consideration.
Children’s Activities – If you’re going to have many children at your reception, arrange for a separate room with children’s activities like board games, crafts, coloring books, a clown/balloon/face-painting artist, or even a movie. That way, the children won’t be thrashing around the main dining room, knocking things over and tripping over your adult guests. Be sure to have adult supervision for the kids.
Love Songs to the Bride and Groom – Typically your reception guests will clink their glasses together, to get the two of you to kiss. Instead, some couples ask their DJ to make an announcement that anyone who wants the bride and groom to kiss must sing them a line or two from a song with the word “love” in it. The guest’s entire table rises together and sings. Sometimes, they come up with some very creative songs that give everyone a good laugh.
Karaoke – Karaoke can be a big hit or a big flop at a wedding reception. It depends upon how well you know your guests. It requires a completely separate sound system (and an extra cost), a video screen to display the lyrics of each song, and a separate library of Karaoke instrumentals to back up your guests as they take turns singing popular songs. A DJ who brings a Karaoke setup usually has a library of thousands of songs from which to choose.
But beware. If Karaoke doesn’t work, you’ll get a lot of howls and cackles for the first performer, a few cheers for the second, polite applause for the third, then total boredom and impatience from you guests because your Karaoke performances are cutting into their dancing time.
Disposable Cameras – Set a camera on each table, and let the guests take their own photos. Have someone from the wedding party collect all the cameras at the end of the evening. You’ll end up with some very memorable candid pictures.
Video or Slide Show – Some couples like to produce and show a video of themselves individually as children growing up, then as a couple dating. Another option is a computerized slide show or Power Point presentation. You’ll probably need to rent a video projector. They can be found online by searching “Party Rentals” in your community. Ideally, your banquet room will have light-colored walls, and you can project your presentation onto a wall instead of a small screen, so everyone in the room can see it.
If your presentation includes its own music, you may connect your computer to your DJ’s sound system. Ask about the types of plugs you’ll need, and get a long enough patch cord with a plug at one end for your computer output, and another plug (either 1/8″ mini-plug or dual RCA plugs) to tap into your DJ’s sound system.
Centerpiece Giveaway – You can coordinate this with the banquet facility. Put a little sticker on the bottom of one chair at each table. The guest with the sticker gets to take home the centerpiece. Another way to do it, is to have the guests compare birthdays. The one at each table with the birthday closest to your wedding date, gets the centerpiece.
Choreograph Your First Dance – If you have the time and the inclination, you may wish to take ballroom dancing lessons together, and dazzle your guests with a rehearsed performance. Be sure the bridal gown is cut to accommodate such a dance. Start your lessons about 3 months before your wedding. Keep the song to 3 minutes or less if you can. Be sure your DJ has the right version of the song; and tell him in advance how you’ll alert him that it’s time to start the song. His cue can be something as simple as a nod of your head.
Dollar Dance – The bride and groom begin a slow dance together, then the guests are invited to cut in and dance briefly with either the bride or groom, for a dollar (though a smart DJ will remind the guests that there’s nothing wrong with 10’s or 20’s). Sometimes it takes two or three songs for everyone to get a chance to dance with the bride or groom. People can either pin their money to the bride’s gown if someone provides straight pins, or the Best Man and Maid of Honor can collect the money. It’s a nice way to give the newlyweds a little slush fund as they head off for their honeymoon.
Anniversary Dance – All married couples are invited to join the bride and groom on the dance floor. A slow song starts. After a few seconds, the DJ asks all couples who’ve been married less than 5 years to leave the dance floor. A few seconds later, all couples married 10 years or less must leave. Eventually, the couple married the longest remains alone on the dance floor, and a big cheer goes up as the DJ tells the newlyweds, “Here are your role models.”
“Soul Train” – Two parallel lines of dancers form at opposite sides of the dance floor, and couples take turns dancing down the middle, just as they did on “Soul Train.” It’s a great way to get everyone involved in the dancing.
Conga Line – The bride and groom lead the way, and the line forms behind them, with each person putting his/her hands on the waist of the person in front of him/her. Popular songs for a Conga line include “Hot Hot Hot,” “Party Train,” “C’mon & Ride It,” and of course, “Conga.” Always a nice photo op.
Line Dances – People love dances that they know. And there are plenty of line dances that we’ve all seen a million times — “Electric Slide,” “Cha Cha Slide,” “Macarena,” “YMCA,” “Chicken Dance,” “Cupid Shuffle,” and so forth. Even if you absolutely hate every one of them, please don’t spoil it for your guests. Even if they don’t normally like to dance, they’ll be on the dance floor for the line dances, and their inhibitions and spirits will be lifted. Remember, your reception is a party you throw for your friends. Let them have a good time, too. You can always tell your DJ not to play any line dances unless someone requests them. But putting them off-limits denies your guests some wonderful bonding moments.
Posted by Jay Congdon is President of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago Wedding DJ entertainment company.