This is the moment everyone has been been waiting for..."The Party" is the big pay off for all the research, planning, and hard work and it's time to have fun! As the meal comes to an end, the guests are beginning to anticipate the dancing... but nothing is really going to happen until the Bride & Groom are ready to make it happen.
Once the Bride & Groom have completed eating and toasting and visiting with the guests... it's up to them to tell the DJ, photographer, & videographer that they're ready to start. If there's a designated wedding coordinator, they can do this for them, but ultimately... the Bride & Groom have to stop whatever they're doing and come out to the dance floor. Sometimes the wedding coordinator (or the other vendors) don't want to seem pushy and time drags on and on while everyone waits for the signal to begin. Sometimes the Bride & Groom never signal anyone to begin, because they're just hanging out waiting for someone to tell them what to do next. This inertia can potentially can waste a lot of the party time, but it all really depends on what's most important to the couple. If they're visiting with out of town guests they haven't seen in years and everyone has to wait 15 minutes for that conversation to end...then that's what's going to happen.
Once the signal is given, the DJ will make the announcement and commence with the first dance, traditionally reserved for the Bride & Groom. Depending on the status of the parents...the Father-Daughter Dance and Mother-Son Dance usually follow. If anyone feels uncomfortable with the spotlight of attention...it's a simple matter for the DJ to fade out of any of these planned songs early...after the photographers have taken all their shots. If there's a large Bridal Party, sometimes it's nice to invite them to join the parents and Bride & Groom on the floor to kick things off. If the members of the Bridal Party are in attendance with other "significant others"...sometimes it's just best to invite everyone to come out on the dance floor. What works best for either scenario is to have the Bride & Groom stay on the dance floor and then have the DJ play a "slow love song". This is guaranteed to work, because almost everyone in attendance will most likely be there as a couple. Everyone has also just finished a great meal...so maybe they're not really be ready go "all out" with their latest dance moves. You want to lure everyone out with a slow song, in order to create a large dance floor...and then hit them with the party starter song! This proven strategy will only be effective, however, if the Bride & Groom stay on the dance floor. This is not the time to go and get a drink, or have a smoke, or run to the bathroom...wait until everyone is up dancing...in order to get things going.
The party is now underway! Everyone is having a great time and there's an incredible sense of relief. The dance floor is packed and every song that's played creates more and more energy...and then...about 15-20 minutes into the party...the caterer tells the DJ to stop the music, because it's time to cut the cake. If the cake was cut earlier before the dancing started (see Part III The Meal) there's no need to stop music. It's ok, however, if you do need to stop. Perhaps everyone needs a break anyway and a pro DJ should be able to get everyone back on the dance floor. If you do stop, this is usually a good time to take care of any planned (or unplanned) speeches or toasts that didn't happen earlier. At the conclusion of the ceremonial Cake Cutting, the only other traditional formality left is the "Bouquet and Garter Toss". If the photographer is almost done for the day...they probably will want to do this immediately after the Cake Cutting. The "Bouquet & Garter Toss" is reserved for all the single people in attendance, so this can definitely be delayed until later. There's really no harm, however, in getting it over with so the music can come back on and people can resume the dancing. This really depends on how long your photographer has committed to staying. If they started their shift at 8am during hair and make-up styling...they're probably ready to wrap it up.
Finally, at the conclusion of the evening, have the DJ announce the final song with about 30 minutes to go in the party. They can invite all the remaining guests to participate in a "Farewell Dance" dedicated to the Bride & Groom...and still have about 20 minutes left to end everything on a high note with one last set of popular dance songs. Everyone always want to hear "one more song..." and now the DJ can play several more songs and still end the event on time as planned.
Essentially, every wedding couple is unique and nothing is set in stone regarding how the wedding reception should be planned. All of the ideas presented in this series were suggestions, to help give you an idea of how the day could potentially unfold. Incorporate the things that you think will work best for the people who will actually be in attendance. The most important thing to remember is to have a general outline of the reception schedule and convey what you would like to have happen to your vendors and your Bridal Party. Selecting professional experienced vendors will alleviate a lot of your stress and allow you to enjoy the happiest moments of a lifetime!