Order of Events at the Reception

Cocktail Hour

By beginning with a cocktail hour, you will give your guests a chance to gather at the reception facility, deposit their gifts, and meet and mingle with other guests. It will also provide time for lost guests to find their way to the reception. Meanwhile backstage, this time can be used by the photographer to take portraits of the wedding party. If desired, the bridal couple can arrange to eat at this time, ensuring that they will indeed get to eat, thus freeing up their time to mix and mingle with guests later on during the lunch/dinner portion of the reception. The cocktail hour usually takes place at the reception hall.

Receiving Line

The bridal couple can open up the reception hall with a receiving line and invite everyone inside. This will ensure that the bridal couple will have the opportunity to greet each guest at least once during the festivities. The reception line traditionally includes the bridal couple, the couples’ parents, the best man, the maid-of-honor, and any special guests.

Introduction of the Wedding Party

Once the guests are inside the reception hall, the wedding party is then introduced by the emcee as they parade inside. First comes the
groomsmen and bridesmaids, then the flower girls and ring bearer, the parents, and the bridal couple.

Dancing (Option #1)

The First Dance, Father and Daughter Dance, etc. can occur before dinner immediately upon the Bride & Groom’s introduction to the reception area. This will allow the dancing to begin much earlier in the reception thereby eliminating a lull in activities that so often happens. Once the bride and groom have danced, and then the parents and attendants, then the guests will feel comfortable dancing while others may be eating or in a buffet line. This will allow many of the guests who know how to ballroom or maybe Latin dance to do so on a non-congested dance floor.


The best man will then make the first toast, followed by the maid-of-honor, the father-of-the-groom and the father-of-the-bride. If they so choose, the bridal couple can make a speech thanking the guests for coming, the parents for paying, and anything else
they may wish to say.

Lunch/Dinner is Served

During this time, the bride and groom (if they have already eaten) can mingle and make informal visits to each table, or even have table pictures taken by the photographer. If guests wish to make speeches, sing songs, tell jokes, do a skit, this would be the ideal time.

Dancing (Option #2)

If the bride and groom haven’t danced their first dance yet, they may now take the opportunity to open up the dance floor with their first dance. Then the father/daughter dance, then the mother/son dance. The attendants then join in the dancing and then the guests are invited to dance as well.

Cake Cutting

The bride and groom cut the cake for dessert. Additional toasts may be made at this point.

Bouquet and Garter Toss

More Dancing, if time allows

Departure of the Bridal Couple

Amid sparklers, confetti, bubbles, birdseed, or rice.

Departure of the Guests

In structuring your reception timeline, make sure to consult with your photographer, your disc jockey or musicians, your reception facility representative and/or caterer, and your bridal consultant if you have one. Also make sure your master of ceremonies is familiar with the scheduling of events.

Your Valentine’s Day Wedding

Planning a Valentine’s Day wedding? Here are some tips to ensure it is perfect and not cheesy. Valentine’s Day has been around since 496 A.D. and over the years its been a day of romance and dedication of love to someone. So why not use this special day and make the ultimate statement of love.

Show Your Love
If you are looking for ideas, then why not start at the beginning. Look to your own love story for ideas. Think about where you met or some of the adventures you have been on together to inspire your wedding.

Show Your Colors
Everyone knows that the traditional Valentine’s Day colors are pink and red. Don’t get stuck in the same old routine – mix it up a little. Black and white with splashes of red and pink color will look far better than plain pink and red.

A deep red bouquet will look stunning with your white wedding gown. You can carry the theme through with an all-white wedding cake – or even add in splashes of pink and red.

Let There Be Romance
Candles, lots of them. Nothing screams romance like hundreds of candles giving your reception hall that soft flickering glow.

Say It with Flowers
When you think Valentines Day most people think of red roses. There are however some alternatives that are still romantic and will break the bank. Amaryllis is one showy winter flower that’s dramatic and gorgeous, but it will provide the contrast you are after. Then look at some red calla lilies and cockscomb.

Romantic Music
Your first dance will inevitably be a romantic song – perhaps something that is special to you and your partner. Keep this theme going with romantic songs all evening and while you are eating your dinner.


To Finish Off
Everyone knows that Valentines and chocolate go hand in hand, so why not send your guests off with some excellent quality chocolate wedding favors?

Learning to Dance Can Make Your Wedding Truly Unforgettable

by Linda and Chester Freeman
Got2Lindy Dance Studios

The location. The cake. The dress. The invitations. The honeymoon. The vows. The photographs. The food. The music. There’s so much to think about when getting married that most couples forget one of the most important elements of all: their wedding dance.

The wedding dance is your first step forward as man and wife. It is your opportunity to show everyone how beautifully you move together.

“My fiancee and I started taking swing dance lessons to prepare for our wedding,” reports Hudson Valley resident Emma Stokes. “We had no idea what we were getting into, and had no previous experience dancing together. Wednesday nights quickly became our favorite night of the week. The instructors, Chester and Linda Freeman of Got2Lindy Dance Studios, create a comfortable atmosphere for learning. We spent most of our time laughing, and we actually ended up being pretty good! We never thought we would swing dance at our wedding, but by the time we were done with the classes, we had so much fun that we signed up for private lessons. Chester and Linda designed a series of swing moves for our song, and we swing danced as our grand entrance! Dancing was a wonderful way for us to take the time to connect as a couple during the stressful planning periods, and we will certainly be back for more!”

There is nothing more beautiful than watching a couple in love dancing together. “My sister watched us practice our dance a few nights before the wedding,” adds Emma. “She was moved to tears and rewrote her speech to say how touched she was by the obvious connection we had, and the joy and pride we had in each other while dancing.”

At our Got2Lindy Dance studios, we’ve helped hundreds of couples like Emma make their dance dreams come true. But any skilled instructor should be able to work with you and your song, or help you select a song and appropriate dance style. The earlier you can begin lessons the better since you’ll be able to feel completely comfortable by the time you get to the wedding if you’ve had sufficient time to gain skills and confidence. But even if you can only squeeze in one or two lessons, they will help you look more at ease and not succumb to the stand-and-sway of most couples.

Learning to dance together is not only a great way to look fantastic on your wedding day, it’s a great way to bring a new hobby into your married lives. And don’t forget lessons for the father daughter dance, mother son dance and for the entire wedding party!

Linda and Chester Freeman of Got2Lindy Dance Studios have taught all over the world and on cruises. They specialize in providing private dance lessons to wedding couples. They also teach swing and ballroom in Kingston, Highland, Gardiner and Marlboro and run monthly dances in Port Ewen. Visit www.got2lindy.com for more information.

Not the Same Old Song and Dance

by: Stephanie Padovani
The DJ Solution

If you’re like me, music is really important to you. REALLY important. And the last thing I wanted at my Hudson Valley wedding was the same old, cheesy dance songs you hear at every wedding. You know the ones. “Celebration,” “The Electric Slide,” “Old Time Rock and Roll…” Shall I go on? You think you’re sick of them? Heck, I’m a Hudson Valley wedding DJ. I hear them all the time. Jeff and I work with a lot of couples who are determined NOT to be cheesy. And oftentimes they present us with a very extensive play list and an equally impressive Do Not Play list.

How do we handle it? Well, it’s your day. We get the privilege of partying with you on one of the most important days of your life…and we get paid for it! Bottom line: you get to hear everything you want…and nothing you don’t. But if you ask your DJ to play every song on a very long list, it will probably impact the dancing at some point. Meaning, you won’t have as much dancing. Even if you have a great list of songs, it’s tough to make your crowd bend to a list. Songs have to be mixed and a momentum has to be established. Otherwise, it creates an awkwardness that could clear the dance floor.

It’s a balancing act that works best: avoid all the songs you don’t want to hear, play all your Must Plays and as many of your other requests as possible WHILE keeping the dance floor packed at the same time. It takes trust. You’ve got to know that your entertainer “gets” you. That takes time and some dialogue. But we’re committed to making your music a true expression of your personalities…totally “you.”

Before I skidaddle, a quick story…
I planned a surprise birthday party for Jeff’s 40th birthday. (He doesn’t look that old, does he? That’s my sweetie.) Anyhow, I hired a belly dancer to embarrass him. You should have seen him blush! She told me she’d do a Middle-Eastern belly dance, then play a few standard party songs for everyone to dance. I asked the belly dancer to please, please NOT play any songs, “like the Chicken Dance, YMCA or Celebration.” I figured she knew what I meant. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask her NOT to play the Electric Slide.
That’s how I ended up doing the Electric Slide in my living room.

Lesson #1: BE SPECIFIC about what you mean by “cheesy” songs.
Lesson #2: If you end up forgetting to list one of those “cheesy” songs and you end up cutting a rug with a belly dancer in your living room, it’s not that bad. Really. You’ll even laugh at the photos…after many years have passed.

How To Pick the Perfect Song For the Parent Dance

by Stephanie Padovani
The DJ Solution

I always say picking the music is one of the fun parts of planning your wedding. But sometimes the Parent Dance songs make a liar out of me. You want something that fits your relationship…something different…but not too different. The perfect Mother Son Dance is sentimental without being sappy…short…easy to dance to…and preferably something he doesn’t have to pick.

When it comes to picking parent dance songs for your wedding, it’s the guys who seem to have the most trouble. I’m guessing it’s because he feels a little uncomfortable with all that emotion. He wants to make Mom happy without spending four painfully long minutes in the spotlight with her sobbing over his shoulder. Here are a few tips before you start beating your head against the wall in frustration over finding the “perfect” parent dance song:

*Ask your mom or dad if they have a particular song in mind. If they come up with a song that’s special for them, it’s one less thing you have to worry about. Job done!

*Think back to your childhood. Is there any song or artist who makes you think of your dad? Does he have a favorite singer? If so, this could point you to the right song for your parent dance together.

*Don’t over-analyze the lyrics. (Most people don’t listen that closely anyway.) If you find a song that’s meaningful to you, it doesn’t matter if it’s an “official” parent dance song. You and your dad will get it.

*If you do choose a less traditional song for your parent dance, ask your entertainer to provide a simple explanation for your audience. For example, “Jennifer chose ‘Sittin’ On the Dock Of the Bay’ for her special dance with her father because he sang it to her when she was a little girl.” Instantly an unusual parent dance choice becomes perfect.

Some of My Favorite Specific Mother Son Wedding Dance Songs:
“Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)” by the Dixie Chicks – If you fancy a sweet, country tune, this is it. ‘Course, you’re gonna want tissues handy for mom. If my step-son gets married I am lobbying for this one.

“Mama” by Il Divo – I heard this one for the first time in 2008. A bit operatic (think Josh Groban) with great lyrics for a mother son dance.

“My Mother Said” by Mr. Heath – Okay, this one is a little outside the box, but I love it. I dug this one up for a groom who wanted a “goofy, silly” song to dance with his mother. It is totally silly, but still sweet. Steph gives it two thumbs up.

I didn’t have a dance with my father at my wedding. Since it was rather non-traditional (Jeff and I had our dance on our backyard patio just after the ceremony) we decided to skip the formalities. But now, years later, I wish I’d had that dance with him. I know just what song I’d pick: “Daddy’s Home” by Shep and the Limelites, the song my father sang to me when he came home from work every night.

The father and daughter dance is a special moment and one I recommend (from hard earned experience) that you take advantage of. I mean, how many times will you dance with your father in your lifetime? If you don’t have a song that reminds you of your dad, try these on for size.

Some of My Favorite Father and Daughter Dance Songs:
“Daddy” by Kendall Payne – This one is a definite tear-jerker. A sweeter than honey voice with heart-felt delivery and piano accompaniment. Great lyrics!

“Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright III – A bit more light hearted, a sweet and true bluegrass tune. Sung from a devoted father’s point of view.

“My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw – Country fave Tim McGraw sings straight from the heart, there’s no denying. It gets me every time.

Still stuck on a song? Visit www.WedAlert.com for a long list of Parent Dance Song suggestions, along with audio samples so you can actually listen to them. Ask your entertainer for suggestions and throw in a personal dedication to make it the perfect fit your relationship. I promise it will be a moment you’ll remember forever.

Choosing Your First Dance

By DJ Bri Swatek
Spinning with Style

For a bride and groom, selecting your First Dance is an important aspect of your wedding, in terms of expressing the overall style of your event to your friends and family. Naturally, you want to choose a song that speaks to your taste in music. Lyrics that reflect your feelings toward each other are equally important.

However, as the owner of Spinning with Style, a full-time professional disc jockey company in the Hudson Valley specializing in weddings, I, DJ Bri Swatek, feel that “dance-ability” is often overlooked and deserves serious consideration. Some songs are best described as “listening music” as opposed to “dancing music.” These are songs that sound great in your car or on your iPod or mp3 player, but don’t translate well to the dancefloor. If you truly love a song that is not easy to dance to, consider using it during another moment in your wedding, such as during the ceremony, during your reception’s grand entrance, after a special toast, or even during cake cutting.

How do you determine what songs will work best for a First Dance? Professional dance lessons can be very helpful in narrowing down choices. However, if you want to make a more casual choice, simply put together a CD or mp3 playlist of your first dance possibilities, and then try dancing to them together. It may seem a little silly at first to try out a First Dance in, say, your living room. However, fairly quickly, you will both get an idea of which songs are too slow, too fast, have too many changes, or may be just plain awkward (what do we do during that guitar solo or rap break, anyway!?) Keep in mind as well that you may be asking your wedding party or all of your guests to join you on the floor during the First Dance. This option may further influence your song choice, including possibly selecting two songs–one for yourselves and a second song to share with your guests.

Over the past few years, Standards from the Great American Songbook and Contemporary Country Ballads in particular have seen a resurgence in First Dance choices at weddings. This is mainly due to their dance-ability and the fact that they appeal to a wide range of audiences. However, contemporary pop ballads, 80’s rock ballads, and R&B selections from the 80’s to today continue to remain popular as well. In the end, selecting a First Dance is all about finding the rig ht song to fit your unique style as a couple.

Choosing a special First Dance is just one of the many ways you can customize your wedding to share your unique style with your friends and family on your wedding day. For more ideas, visit Spinning with Style at www.djbriswatek.com.