About six months ago I met with a couple to discuss the details of their wedding and in our discussion they expressed interest in some unconventional approaches to the reception traditions. I was excited to see a couple so positively immersed in the planning of their wedding. They explained their thought process for the reception and I came to understand that the two were a spontaneous and creative pair (They’d just returned from a ski trip in Colorado). The theme of their reception night was going to be “games”!
At the beginning of the dinner hour I explained their “Bean Bag Toss Game” which was a fun deviation from a classic wedding tradition. Instead clinking their glasses to induce a kiss from the bride and groom, the guests had to win at a game of bean bag toss. Moments after my explanation, a gentleman leaped from his seat and grabbed a bag. He leaned back and tossed it through the hole from fifteen feet away. The guests cheered and whistled in an uproar and the couple responded with a kiss!
The bean bag game was a success and made the dinner hour unique in its almost competitive quality. The bride and groom knew that some of their guests weren’t quite the “dancing type”. So to offer an alternative to the dance floor, the couple created a Game Table! The table was overflowing with classic games like Scattergories and Yahtzee. After the Bride & Groom dance and the Father/Daughter & Mother/Son dances, the dance floor filled with about %60 of the guests. We danced to a lot of wedding hits in the first half hour (Love Shack, Electric Slide…) and the other guests mingled or played games from the game table!
The final game of the night was the Dollar Dance—a wedding tradition that doesn’t need a special twist. As Dollar Dances go, this was one of the most fun dances I’ve encountered! The couple made the most of each dance with their guests which made every guest’s dance experience special. I think part of what made the night such a success was the balance in the planning between making things fun for the guests and making things fun for the Bride and Groom. The night was so full of activities and alternatives to dancing that whether guests were on the dance floor boogying or at one of the tables playing Candy Land: they were having a great night!
Tonight I was in Prior Lake, MN at "The Wilds" Golf Club. Man, I love golf courses (maybe I should learn someday). We were surrounded by beautiful fall scenery, and had a perfect warm fall day. Their ceremony was only complemented by the beautiful fall day. The highlight for me was the duo who did the readings, with impressive clarity.
We moved inside for the reception and enjoyed a delicious Italian Buffet. Things moved right along, and I could tell the guests were itchin' to get dancing. By 7pm we were ready to go. We kicked of the night with the formal dances with the bride and groom, and immediately followed with the bouquet toss. As soon as those were done, the dance floor flooded. I tried my best to space out and plan the night, as we had until midnight to dance the night away. (Yes, five hours of dancing!) However, I quickly learned that I didn't need to take too many breaks for slow songs, as this was a group ready to party!
A dance this long allowed me to play across the charts. I played 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s hits. I played top 40 dance songs. I played classic songs like the YMCA and the Chicken Dance. And as the night progressed the young crowed begged me to play club hits like "Get Low" and "Yeah!". Nothing was off limits, and the crowed stayed with me for the entire evening. At 9:30 (2.5 hours in) I made a played a (requested) song as a little bit of a joke to myself and the sharp ones in the group - "Livin on a Prayer." (Woaaah, we're halfway there..) It was a pleasure to DJ for them, and we fed off of each other all night. I'd play a set that would remind somebody of one of their favorite songs of the genre, and I'd be able to fit it right in. At the end of the night the bride "complemented" me on my dancing behind the decks, something that I can't control when I'm working with such a fun bunch of people.
Tonight I had the opportunity to DJ for a family friend. I was pleased to be where I had been last week, back at the Eagan Community Center.
This night was special for a number of reasons. First off, it was an absolute pleasure to DJ for a family friend. The bride actually happened to be somebody who had babysat me and my siblings from before I can ever remember. Her father was one of the leaders of my cub scout troop, and even though I didn't stick around long, I remember him helping me build my boxcar. Finally, it was the first time my parents would be able to see what I claim to do every weekend for a living. Mom, Dad, I hope I lived up to your expectations :)
The ceremony was officiated by the bride's father, something that he had never done up until that point. He mentioned that people would always ask and he would politely decline. However, when your daughter asks you a favor, you can't say no.
During his speech, the bride's fathers started talking about some childhood memories that included a song they used to dance to. It has some beautiful lyrics, and he spoke those out loud to close out his speech. Naturally, my ears perked up and I looked up the song he was speaking about. It was John Mcdermott's "Daughter of Mine" - I saved this song for later as he wrapped up his speech.
Dances started pretty early, and many guests were still enjoying conversation as I kicked off the open floor. There were a few kids in attendance, so this was a great time to play some Top 40 hits to try and drain the kids a little bit.
We did the dollar dance about an hour into the dancing, and both the bride and groom had full lines, as it seemed everyone in attendance wanted their chance. Last in the bride's line was of course her father. Of course I thought to myself, "This is the perfect opportunity!" So as he walked up to tap the bride's partner on the shoulder, I faded my current song and faded in "Daughter of Mine." The look on their faces is why I love my job.
"Did you plan this?"
"No, did you plan this?"
Then the both looked at me and smiled as they waltzed to John Mcdemott's song.
The dance continued with a packed floor right up until midnight. At the end of the night the bride's father came up to me and thanked me for the song and told me he would remember that moment for the rest of his life. I was humbled. It's simple things like this that make me love doing weddings. I'm always looking for an opportunity to make the night that much more special for somebody.
Tonight I was lucky enough to get a beautiful first taste of fall while I helped some newlyweds celebrate their marriage. The Eagan Community Center is a beautiful venue surrounded by nature, and I couldn't help but snap a few pictures as some fall colors start to arrive.
I could tell right from the start what a close-knit group of people I'd be working with throughout the evening, and the speeches were very reflective of that. The wedding party and their guests all felt like one big family, and I knew I'd be packing the dance floor with the entire guest-list.
As we finished up the first dances, we started of group dancing with the "Anniversary Dance" (Take a trip to Google if you need some background, I know I did when I started DJ'ing). I knew going into the dance that the Bride's grandparents were going to be the longest standing, as her mother told me prior to the dance that they were soon to be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary. They weren't the only experts though, most of the married couples on the floor had at least 30 years under their belt! For their anniversary and to show the crowd that they've still got it, they did a little dance to "Begin the Beguine" by Artie Shaw. I was a little bit blown away by their genuine happiness and fun spirit as they danced to this classic tune.
“Fly Me to The Moon” swung jazzily over my speakers, filling the modestly lit reception hall last night with a very classy vibe. It was as if Sinatra himself was on the premises—bringing with him the smooth gentlemanly and gentlewomanly “class” of his time. The men escorted their partners to their tables with “Vesper Martinis” in hand dotting elegant fashion clad head-to-toe. It was a fairly young crowd in attendance and they really had fun with the Sinatra/Rat Pack vibe of the cocktail hour. Between drinks, some couples rocked back and forth on the dance floor mixing contemporary and swing dance styles.
The Bride and Groom made their grand entrance to the tune of Sinatra’s “New York New York” and the 60’s Jazz-feel carried over into the dinner hour and provided an electric undercurrent to the lively conversation at the tables
After dinner and cake cutting we moved into the first dance and soon after the Father-Daughter Dance, the floor filled with excited guests to the tune of “Celebration”. I kept the groove at a swift upbeat pace for about a half-hour before introducing The Anniversary Dance (suggested to me by the Bride and Groom). The Anniversary Dance is a way of celebrating marriage in a romantically apt setting: a wedding! I called all of the married couples to the dance floor and explained the rules of the game over an eight measure loop of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” intro.
As the song(s) play on, the DJ announces incrementally for couples to leave the dance floor. To begin, couples who have been married for less than one day leave the floor (so the Bride and Groom are always the first to leave). This dance continues until just one married couple remains and everyone cheers in adoration and celebration of their long marriage. We cheered for the couples 40 years of marriage and then we cheered for everyone else’s marriages! This was a success and I followed it with “The Cupid Shuffle” to get everyone else (especially the non-married guests) back to the dance floor!
It was a smashing success of a night and the night closed with one of my favorites: “The Piano Man”. The guests crowded into a massive circle with mutual purpose: to sing Billy Joel’s lyrics until the vocal chords give out.