"How To Maximize Your Reception Time And Reduce Stress At Your Wedding" Part II - The Cocktail Reception by Jason Aquino

A long last...the Part II installment of "How To Maximize Your Reception Time & Reduce Stress At Your Wedding"!  I know...it's been 6 years since I wrote Part I...but I've been busy doing DJ stuff.  Most people should be able to relate to this.  Whenever you have a multitude projects or tasks associated with your job, sometimes you need to prioritize and things that don't seem important get put on the back burner. I didn't understand back then that blogging would allow me to give other people a unique perspective about what DJs do, that often goes unnoticed.  This year I'm definitely making the blog a priority and I'm starting over fresh with this first installment for 2019.  If you've been waiting for me to come back...thank you for your patience!  Here we go...

The Cocktail Reception immediately follows the Wedding Ceremony, but a few things have changed over the years with the advent of multi-purpose wedding venues.  A lot of people now opt out of having their ceremony and reception at separate locations.  I understand this completely.  There's no need for additional travel for you and your guests, there's less chance of somebody being late, there's no invasive religious screening process to undergo,  and the cocktail party can start immediately!  All of these things will definitely maximize your time and reduce your stress the day of the wedding.  The result of this trend, however, has been the elimination of  the Traditional Receiving Line.  

The Receiving Line used to be the perfect opportunity for friends and family members to be introduced to each other.  It was classy, it was cool, and it forced everyone to say hello to each other upon arrival to the reception.  The Bride & Groom, the parents, and the Maid/Matron of Honor and Best Man would all line up, side by side and greet everyone as they arrived to the party.  After passing through the Receiving Line, members of the wait staff would be standing by to offer pre-poured wine or champagne to all the guests.  If you have 200 guests at your reception, chances are you won't know everybody there.  This is a nice way to get the awkward introductions over quickly, because the next person in line is right behind whoever you're welcoming to the party.  If everyone that comes to the reception is already at the venue, organizing the Receiving Line is a simple task.  At the conclusion of the ceremony,...have everyone line up near the entrance to the bar area and keep it moving! 

One important thing to consider before incorporating a Receiving Line is the time required by the photographer, to take any post-ceremony pictures.  Discuss the number of pictures and the types of shots the photographer is planning to take AFTER the ceremony.  This will give you a pretty good idea of how much time you'll actually have to enjoy the cocktail reception.  You may discover during the consultation, that some of the photographer's plans for the pictures are just really "cheesy" or time consuming. Make photo decisions in advance so you can come up with a good working game plan together, and omit any shots you don't want to do.  Whatever game plan you decide upon ...it is essential that you brief  the bridal party beforehand on the importance being cooperative. Make sure everyone understands what your expectations are for completing the photoshoot.  Coordinating a group of people in "party mode" to take pictures quickly and efficiently is a unique photographer skill unto itself.  If the bridal party is all over the place...it will be difficult for the photographer to do their job and it will result in a substantial waste of time at your party.  A seasoned professional photographer will know how to interact with everyone and be able to capture a lot of good photos in the time allotted to them.  Be deliberate in the selection of your photographer, they will be instrumental in how everything flows the day of your wedding.

As the cocktail "hour" comes to an end, people are feeling good.  They're having fun, but it's time to transition to the meal and the formal introductions.  What is the best way to accomplish this quickly and efficiently?  Have the bartenders stop all bar service and have the DJ make an announcement, inviting everyone to begin seating for the meal. This needs to be a coordinated effort on the part of the bartenders, the DJ, and the designated wedding coordinator.  One action without the other will result in delays. The Bridal Party Introduction cannot happen until everyone is seated in the dining area.  Stragglers hanging out at the bar trying to get one last drink will delay everything... including the timing of the food service.  Nobody likes to eat cold, dried out chicken...shut the bar down when it's time to do it.

As guests begin to file into the dining area, the DJ will begin lining up the parents, bridal party, and the Bride and Groom for the Grand Entrance.  This is another potential delay that can be avoided with a little advance planning.  Again...the parents and bridal party should be briefed beforehandto meet the DJ (outside the main entrance)...when it's time for the formal introductions.  A good time to review this with everyone is the night of the rehearsal dinner.  Lining up the bridal party and parents can be challenging for a number of reasons: Someone might be involved in a conversation...someone is in the restroom...someone had to go their car...someone has to change the baby...someone has to smoke a cigarette... or maybe, someone is just really, really drunk already.  Get the picture?  This part of the reception can be like organizing cats.  The parents and bridal party need to be made aware of their responsibilities in advance and report to a designated area at the same time (when the bar closes and the DJ invites everyone to be seated).  Once everyone is lined up in the correct order, the introductions will happen fairly quickly, but If you know your group might take awhile getting organized, there's another option to avoid delays. Simply have everyone be seated at once, including the parents and the bridal party.  This is also a good option if anyone in the group is physically challenged, injured, or just doesn't really have a lot of stamina.  The DJ can just introduce the parents and bridal party while they're sitting at their seats.  When they hear their names announced, they can stand up and acknowledge the crowd by waving to the guests.  Once all the important people in attendance have been acknowledged...the Bride & Groom can make a Grand Entrance with the DJ introducing them to a standing ovation!

Check out the next installment of "How To Maximize Your Reception Time And Reduce Stress At Your Wedding" Part III - The Meal


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