Most people tend to notice things when they go wrong and overlook things that go right. So an evening of wedding reception fun that moves seamlessly from one part to the next may seem like it just simply “happened” the way it was supposed to.

However, wedding receptions that transition smoothly from beginning to end are more likely the result of good planning and preparation, along with the efforts of an experienced and talented disc jockey or wedding musician.

This is the first of two articles written to help you decide on the type of music you would like to have at your wedding reception. Often it is helpful to break down the reception into parts. This will help to create an understanding of the flow of the reception and will keep wedding guests engaged and entertained. On the wedding day, your disc jockey or wedding musicians will be responsible for transitioning from one part to the next, allowing the bride and groom to relax and enjoy the most exciting day of their lives. When planning your wedding music, consider the following reception events:

Pittsburgh wedding cocktail hour

Guests enjoy food and music during cocktail hour

  1. Cocktail hour
  2. Introduction (grand entrance)
  3. Prayer and toasts
  4. Dinner music
  5. Cake cutting

Here is a little more information to consider on each of these topics. Hopefully these thoughts will inspire you as you continue your wedding planning.

1.) Cocktail Hour
The cocktail hour is generally held immediately following the wedding ceremony, and is the first opportunity to establish the mood for the wedding reception. This is a great time to create a first impression on your guests. Along with the room décor, food, and drinks, music will be an important factor in creating a theme for the evening. Decide if you would like to have smooth jazz or classical sounds, Italian or Irish music, oldies or classic rock, live music or a wedding DJ. Indicating your taste and style early will tell your guests that they are in for an evening that will be classy, unique, energized, sophisticated, fun, or all of the above.

2.) Introduction Music
This is when the bride and groom make their grand entrance into the wedding reception, so considering music that is a reflection of your personality and background is important. Keep in mind that this will be background music to the introduction and commentary made by your disc jockey or MC, so you don’t want it to overshadow what he is saying. You may choose to have one selection for everyone or select one piece of music for the wedding party and something else for the bride and groom. Remember to keep your selections short to keep things moving so the energy is not compromised.

Pittsburgh Wedding Reception Toast

Wedding Toast to the Bride and Groom

3.) Welcome, Prayer, and Toasts
Once everyone has settled at their tables it will be time to move on to the formal pre-dinner festivities. A welcome by a parent is a nice ice-breaker and if desired can be followed by a prayer. This will act to quiet the crowd and capture the attention of your wedding guests to keep them focused on what is to come next.

Having a member of the clergy or your wedding officiant is an obvious choice to do this but you may also consider family members or friends. The wedding toasts usually come immediately after, starting with the best man and followed by the maid of honor. If the groom or bride wishes to address their guests it is generally done after everyone else, right before dinner.

4.) Dinner Music
The dinner music will accompany the meal and again should reflect something of your taste and personality. Allow the music to be present enough to be heard but not so loud as to be distracting. Many couples consider having a live musician, such as a strolling violinist, perform during this time. Soothing music such as this creates an elegant atmosphere in which your guests can relax and enjoy the food.

5.) Cake Cutting
The ceremonial first slice of the wedding cake is always a whimsical moment as the bride and groom feed each other a small bit of cake. Its’ not much more than a photo-op but the right piece of music can bring a smile to everyone’s face. Popular music for wedding cake cutting includes tunes such as “How Sweet It Is” by James Taylor or Marvin Gaye, “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies, or “Cut the Cake” by the Average White Band. Other selections that have that whimsy are “Love and Marriage” by Frank Sinatra and “When I’m Sixty Four” by The Beatles.

Part II of this series will include the last five events you will want to consider in planning your wedding reception and selecting your wedding music:

6. Bride and groom first dance
7. Wedding party dance
8. Dance with parents
9. General dance music
10. Last song of the night

Article by Steven Vance