Musical transitions are key to a successfully flowing event, and we understand the roll that musical dynamics and mood can play in transitioning successfully from one part of your reception to another. Very rarely should your guests ever be jolted into dancing without a gradual build-up of tempo, or ground to a halt without a winding-down period to ease the transition. This is of course unless you’re doing this intentionally at the end of a dance set or the end of the night to leave your crowd wanting more and ending on a high note – which in and of itself is a great option!
Wedding Reception Transitions:
Wedding receptions are often chock-full of fun, special events requiring changes in tempo and mood. Sometimes, even breaks in music altogether. Understanding how to make these transitions smoothly is a crucial skill for your DJ/MC to have. Your guests should feel like they are along for the ride at your celebration – not like they are being rushed or pulled along, or forced to stop abruptly many times throughout the night.
The following is a sample time line using this approach, our “Dance Theory” if you will, and is an example of how to design an event flow that uses music thoughtfully to transition between certain parts of your reception.
Even things like the time of day, and specifics of your venue and/or room layout can play into designing an ideal event flow. There are no rules of course, and we will always work with you to construct the event that is right for you and your guests. Just remember the below is only a general guideline meant to give an insight into the careful use of musical transitions throughout your event.
First Dance – For the sake of our example, we’ll start here, assuming that dinner and toasts have just wrapped up.
Transitional/Build – Build into upbeat, open dancing slowly or quickly. You decide what feels right for you and your guests. We have different ideas about how to draw your guests to the dance floor to kick off dancing. And no… they don’t include cheesy “snowball” games, or putting anyone on the spot. Just ask!
First Open Dance Segment – Keep to slightly older, more accessible, and familiar mid-tempo music to encourage dancing by older friends and family, and those who might otherwise be inclined to leave earlier. Some folks may not want to dance to faster, more upbeat music at all, but will jump at the chance to share a special slow dance with their special someone.
Wind-Down – There are times, for example, when getting ready to stop music for cake cutting, etc. that you want to wind down your upbeat, open dancing. This will provide a nice slow transition, and will eventually (by design) clear guests off the floor. Use parent dances, anniversary dances, money/dollar dances, etc. for this effect. For money/dollar-dances, stick to slower songs, so there is not an abrupt STOP when moving to cake cutting, and also because all your guests want to share this time with you, and not all folks (think older) will necessarily be comfortable with high-paced fast dance selections and may not come up to dance with you to faster songs.
Cake-Cutting – There’s usually a sentimental, or quirky/fun musical selection while you cut your cake. Most of the time, even if doing a dessert bar, cupcakes, doughnuts, etc., the couple will still have a small cake for the ceremonial cutting.
Tosses – Use tosses, traditionally high-energy and emotionally charged events, involving several people on the dance-floor, to segue back into open dancing.
Second Open Dance Segment – Here it is! This second dance set is when you would start to pump it up with the newer songs, more dance/club/top-40 music for younger generations, current radio music, some throwback hip-hop and R&B, and maybe some hard-rock party favorites. At this point, all that “wedding stuff” is over and its time to let go and really just spend the night dancing and hanging out with your family and friends.
Wind-Down… or Climax… YOU Decide! – Use Last Dance and Last Song of the Night (if applicable/different) to slow back down in preparation for the end of the event. As an alternative to the wind-down, you could choose to end your celebration on a high-note with real high-energy selections right up to the end to leave everyone wanting more. The time your guests are having when your reception ends or when they leave will likely play a large role in their lasting impressions of your celebration, so leaving them pumping and asking for more can be a good thing too!
A thoughtful, strategically-designed send-off to cap off your night can be one of the most memorable parts of your reception, so be sure to ask your DJs what kinds of ideas they have to help you close out in style.
In the end, just remember: there ARE NO RULES! There is only what works best for you, your guests, and your event! Our expertise is geared towards helping you achieve and strike that perfect balance!