How long should the reception be?
In my experience and from speaking with other good DJs and wedding planners, it’s generally accepted that a good time frame for your reception is around five and a half to six hours total. There are variables to take into account like if you have a large guest count (you’ll probably want a little more time) or a smaller guest count (you’ll probably want a little less time). I find that with weddings of 150 guests and less, when you go into that seventh hour, that’s when the bride and groom and family can get really tired. The guests start to wear out too. A wedding weekend is a long weekend! We want to end the reception on an up note; leave them wanting more. A typical timeframe for a wedding, with the ceremony on-site, might be a 5pm ceremony with cocktails and photos then dinner and dancing, ending at 11pm. This is just a starting point and I am happy to help you work through all of the considerations with you.
Emergency Battery Power
I have a special battery pack that I carry with me to weddings. When I am providing music and/or microphones for a wedding ceremony in a location without electricity, I use my battery power. I always have it with me. If the power were to go out during a wedding, I can keep the music playing at least for a little bit!
Have your cocktail hour somewhere besides the dining area.
If the weather is nice, and I’m sure it will be, take advantage of some other additional space at your venue that is available for your cocktail hour. It keeps your guests away from their tables until you are ready for the meal. When the guests have easy access to the dining area during cocktails they tend to find their seats, sit, and stay there for cocktails and dinner. By the time you are ready for the toasts, they are really restless.
At Alycia & Colin’s Wedding they had individual cakes as their centerpieces. What a great idea! Not only did the tables look great but because each table had a cake of a different flavor, the guests were encouraged to check out the other tables and find their favorite flavor. It turned into a sort-of social mixer. Everyone had something to say so it was easy to make conversation with people at other tables.
Alycia & Colin used Kim & Jake’s Cakes http://www.kimandjakescakes.com/
I had a small sample of the mint chocolate cake and the peanut butter cake. Yum!
How to Place Dinner Tables on your Dance Floor… the Smart Way!
Sometimes due to a large guest count and space constraints at your reception venue, you might have to place a few tables on the dance floor. The catering staff will remove them after dinner and before your first dance but, you’ll want to think about who you seat at those tables. Try not to place any of the more senior guests there as they tend to prefer to stay seated most of the evening. Instead, sit some of your high school and college friends there since they will be out on the dance floor with you!
Make sure the catering captain knows that these tables are the first to be served dinner after you, the wedding party, and the parents’ tables. This will give your guests ample time to eat and relax before they are asked to relocate.