Top Destination Wedding Venues in Destin, Florida and the Emerald Coast – Part 1

Top Destination Wedding Venues in Destin, Florida and the Emerald Coast

Ah, the destination wedding … creating memories to last a lifetime in a location with unparalleled beauty and ambiance!

It’s no wonder that Destin, Florida consistently ranks at the top of the list for domestic wedding getaways – sugar sand beaches, emerald green waters (they don’t call it The Emerald Coast for nothing!), warm gulf breezes and friendly natives.

With a DJ and entertainment company division located in Destin – and with years of experience living and working in the local area – B-Boy Productions, Inc. has a unique perspective on recommending top wedding venues … we’ve worked at most of them!

The list of recommended venues is extensive, so we’re going to just start with a select few and make this a multi-part series!

Henderson Park Inn – Destin, FL

This romantic bed and breakfast hotel is at the secluded end of a beachfront road, and offers spectacular views of the gulf; wedding ceremonies on the beach or West or East lawn; catered receptions on the lawn or the Veranda; and luxurious accommodations for wedding guests.

Henderson Park Inn added a North Lawn across the street for larger guest counts as well as an adjacent parking area, which adds convenience for wedding guests not staying at the property (since parking is very limited at the Inn).

*Note that Henderson Park Inn is an adults-only property for accommodations, but children are allowed to attend weddings/events.

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The Venue at Crystal Beach – Destin, Florida

This open-air venue is owned/managed by the folks at Henderson Park Inn, and will be coming soon to the space right next door to the inn. This 3-1 one venue will feature a stained concrete deck area, a lawn area, and a beachfront area – all with completely unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico.

While still under construction, they do have a few artist renderings of the new space, and you can contact Christine Walker at 850.200.3614 for more information about advance booking.

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Eden Gardens State Park – Point Washington, Florida

The park encompasses 161 acres in the midst of South Walton County in the Florida panhandle, along the shores of Tucker Bayou and the Choctawhatchee Bay. The site boasts numerous gardens; reflecting pools; towering moss-draped oaks; serene waterways; and the historic 110-year-old Wesley House.

Eden Gardens State Park has a pavilion that provides an enclosed area for approximately 150 guests to sit and eat, plus a large food preparation room. The park is available for rentals by contacting the Event Director at the park office.

This FAQ will provide helpful information when considering an event at the state park — Read FAQ »

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Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village – Destin, FL

Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village offers a wide array of indoor and outdoor locations that provide the perfect backdrop for wedding ceremonies and receptions.

For those not interested in sand between their toes during the ceremony, Emerald Grande includes a breathtaking outdoor deck with a grand staircase for creating an unforgettable entrance.

On-staff event planners and culinary professionals make planning super easy, and special accommodation packages such as the Sweetheart Package and Honeymoon Package offer wedding parties great value.

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Sandestin Beach Hilton – Sandestin, FL

Consistently voted as one of the top Florida resorts – and currently ranked #26 on the Conde Nast Travelers Top U.S. Resort Spas – this beachfront hotel offers all the amenities a bride and groom could dream of, plus 32,000+ square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor space to accommodate any dream wedding plan.

Beach weddings at the Sandestin Hilton are treated with an eye for detail that gets rave reviews from wedding parties and guests: a wedding arbor with fresh flower décor, a champagne toast for guests, tiki torches with greenery, a limousine for the bridal party, and more. We also love that security comes with the ceremony packages to ensure a somewhat private space is secured for your location without sunbathers strolling by or ending up in your pictures.

One of the specialties of the Hilton is feeding guests with bountiful hors d’oeuvres and lavish dinner spreads, both for rehearsal dinners and receptions. And special touches for busy bridal parties can include Bride’s Dressing Room Refreshments and Groomsmen on the Go menus. They offer cocktail hour/reception space on numerous outside decks or inside ballroom spaces during the hot and cold months. The indoor ballrooms act as a “day of” rain alternative which can be quite the cost/location saver, eliminating the need for tents or switching venues at the last minute.

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WaterSound Beach Club – Watersound, FL

This private beach club is set among the rolling dunes of WaterSound Beach, with sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico and private boardwalk access to an exclusive beach.

There are multiple options for ceremonies and receptions at WaterSound Beach Club, including poolside among the generous terraces and 14,000 square feet of pool decks surrounded by sprawling green lawns; or the grandeur of a the Shark Tooth Golf Club with it’s sophisticated art glass windows and chandeliers, fireplaces, and natural wood and stone interiors.

The wedding team at WaterSound prides themselves on their ability to personalize a wedding to each couple’s unique vision.

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Bentley’s on the Bay – Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

There are so many things to love about this venue!

Location – Situated on the beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay in Santa Rosa Beach, conveniently located between Destin and Panama City Beach, and close to all of the little resort towns along the 30A corridor.

Space – Bentley’s on the Bay can accommodate both large and small events. They offer over 3600 square feet of covered and open deck for bayside weddings and receptions of up to 200 guests. And indoor areas with amazing views and 2200 square feet of space.

Privacy – Bentley’s only hosts one event per day, assuring that your wedding gets the attention it deserves.

Resources – This venue offers a team of event professionals to assist in planning your event; day-of coordination services; and even rentals for tables, chairs and linens.

Food – Oh yes, a dedicated caterer and pastry chef. Fresh ingredients and artful presentation.

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And to round out our destination wedding venue review (part one), here are some helpful tips from professional destination wedding planners:

  1. Pick a destination that can fulfill your needs. Think about your dream wedding and decide what best represents your vision – a wedding on the beach, overlooking the beach, underneath a gazebo for sun protection, etc.
  2. Send pictures of your ideal setup – from chairs to floral displays – to your wedding planner. It will help your planner to assure that the destination offers everything you’re looking for.
  3. Don’t forget a ceremony sound system when planning a beach wedding. Whether on a beachfront terrace or with your toes in the sand, there is always plenty of ambient noise that could inhibit your guests from hearing your vows. A ceremony sound system assures that your guests will here the all-important “I Dos.”

Watch for more Destin, Florida venue information in future posts!

(And if your wedding/reception venue is not listed yet, please feel free to contact us with your venue details and photos for the next blog post/s. Thanks!)

Songs for Wedding Reception Formalities – Part 3

Taking Off Garter

Photo courtesy of (c) Michael K Photography

It’s time to wrap up our 3 part series on wedding reception formality music.  The Grand Entrance and main family dances are all pretty well known.  But what other formalities do you need music for?  This post is going to answer just that.  Here are the typical ones:

  • Toasts
  • Bridal Party Dance
  • Cake Cut
  • Bouquet Toss
  • Garter Removal
  • Garter Toss
  • Money Dance/Dollar Dance

 

Most people wouldn’t even think about needing music for these areas but picking the right tunes can definitely be the “icing on the cake” to your reception.  While the Grand Entrance music sets the tone, these formality song choices build on the theme/vibe you’ve selected for your party.  Let’s jump right into it.


Toasts
The toast music could also be referred to as walking music.  Think about live productions like the Grammy’s, Oscars or variety shows.  When someone wins an award or a transition occurs, there’s typically always background music being played.  Why is this important?  It keeps the dreaded (and awkward) “dead air” from occurring and the energy from dying off.  It’s a subtle thing but can really make a big difference.  In the context of the wedding toast, you can go 2 different ways.  This can be simple instrumental music (think instrumental versions of pop or dance songs) or it can be a personalized song to the toaster.  The toasters are usually family members or friends that know the bride/groom pretty well, so it could be a song that is an inside joke between the two people or an artist you both grew up listening to, the college fight song of the school you both attended, etc.  The audience doesn’t always have to get it. If a bride or groom doesn’t have song picks in mind and wants to defer to us, we’ll make sure to read the crowd energy and pick something that is appropriate for that moment.  In some cases, it’s an upbeat track.  There are other times where it could be a tender moment and it would make sense to have a slower track ready.  We’ll always have about 3 or 4 tracks cued and set to fit any mood.


Bridal Party Dance
As a “stand alone” formality, the bridal party dance has been slowly fading away over the years.  However, this formality can act as vital transition between the family dances and the open dancing segments.  While our DJs are the best at getting people on to the dance floor for open dancing sets, why not use this dance as a way to generate a full dance floor before open dancing, as well as capture a moment on the dance floor with just you, your fiance and your bridal party?  For large bridal parties, you can have just them with the bride & groom.  With the smaller bridal parties, you can invite their significant other or immediate family to join them.  The key to this dance is picking something that is upbeat.  Slow songs can not only be uncomfortable (especially if you have groomsmen and bridesmaids that don’t really know each other) but it can make going into the open dancing segment all the more difficult for your DJ and your crowd.  So what songs should you use?  No, you don’t have to go with the predictable “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge song selection.  We personally like to find out what is the go to genre for your crowd and have you pick a song from there. You don’t want to necessarily pick the hottest track out, because some people will really want to dance to that.  Also, don’t go with a line dance.  The line dances (even the cool ones like Gangnam Style or Cupid Shuffle) are stuff that everyone will want to dance to, so you’ll inevitably have to play it again later if you use it for this formality.


Cake Cut
Ah, the cake cut.  This is THE formality which people always forget about picking a song for. Like the toast, this is used as walking music to move people from the dance floor to the cake cutting area and then as pictures are taken of the cake (or these days cupcake) being cut and fed to their partner.  When picking a song here, go back to the feel you’re going for with your reception.  Do you want it elegant?  Do you want it to be a party?  Do you want it comical?  Whatever it is, take the opportunity to build on that theme with this selection.  Some of the more popular ones we’ve done recently:
*Sugar, Sugar by The Archies (from the hit show “Cake Boss”)
*Cut The Cake by Average White Band (upbeat and fits the theme perfectly)
*That’s Amore by Dean Martin (iconic pick!)
*Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar (a little tongue in cheek)


Bouquet Toss
The key to the bouquet toss is picking a song for the ladies!  It needs to be a woman anthem.  This song choice usually goes in waves and is 99% of the time a top 40 type track of that time period. In the 60s, it was “Respect.” In the 70s, it was “Bad Girls.”  In the 80s, it was “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”  In the 90s, it was the “Lady Marmalade” remix by Christina Aguilera, Mya, Lil Kim and Pink.  In the 2000’s it’s been “California Gurls” by Katy Perry and “Single Ladies” by Beyonce.  So far in 2013, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen is starting to become the go to song selection.


Garter Removal
There are a lot of couples who don’t see the Garter Removal and Garter Toss as 2 separate formalities.  But they really are. By having 2 songs, it allows us to segue between the 2 formalities a lot each easier by fading out the song playing and starting the next one.  For the removal, it’s usually either a comical choice or a more sensual choice.  Everything from “Oh Yeah” to “Let’s Get It On” to “Drop It Like It’s Hot” to “Sex On Fire” has been used.


Garter Toss
This being the opposite of the Bouquet Toss, we’re looking for a male driven type song. There’s not a whole lot out there being written with this lyrical bent so typically the song pick is a bit more retro.  Songs like “Welcome To The Jungle” or the Cops Theme Bad Boys” are still great choices.  Lately, “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO has been used and fits great.


Money Dance/Dollar Dance
This formality, much like the Bridal Party Dance, has been done less and less over the years.  When it does get used, we push for the “genre medley” style.  Back in the 90s, it was a slew of love songs.  Not only is it awkward to dance to those slower tempo songs with strangers but it can suck all the life out of the party if this drags on for 25-30 minutes.  The “genre medley” is where we’ll switch genres every song and try to keep it upbeat.  It’ll go from, say, a motown track to funk/disco to maybe hip hop to big band.  This keeps people guessing and is a whole lot more fun.  This area doesn’t require song picks from the bride and groom (unless of course they want a few played).  Leave it in the DJ’s hands and they’ll pick what’s appropriate for the mood and feel of the event.

So there you have it!  All the reception formalities have been covered.  We hope this has been helpful. Of course, as clients of B-Boy Productions, we’ll be sure to give you the most up-to-date list of song suggestions that we have.  We’re constantly updating it, so you won’t be getting a list that hasn’t been touched since 1984.  Happy song picking!

Dj’ing the “Dream Weddings” at the Empire State Building

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So when arguably the most renowned international event planner, Preston Bailey, calls and asks if you’d be available to work a high profile event at the Empire State Building, what do you do?  You immediately go to your calendar praying to God you’re not already booked.  Once you see you’re available, you get back on the line and say that you are absolutely available.  This was literally how this event came about.

What was this event?  Well, to start, the Empire State Building only allows weddings at their venue 1 day a year – Valentine’s Day (good trivia knowledge for you).  Preston Bailey decided to hold his own personal wedding there at midnight to kick off Valentine’s Day.  He also held a contest where he picked 3 winning couples and designed their wedding for them.  Their weddings were to happen on Valentine’s Day in the same venue where Preston had his and the winning couples could each invite up to 30 of their friends/family to attend.  The gist of the contest was to create a 60 second video ad where you’d tell your story, why you’d want to have your wedding at the EmpireStateBuilding and what it would mean to have Preston design it.  The most creative and moving stories won.

This was my (and come to find out Preston’s) first time running 3 weddings simultaneously at the same venue.  It took a ton of planning and coordination to make this come off without a hitch and to give each couple a unique, individual feel for their wedding.  We had a few subsequent meetings with the Preston Bailey staff (all of them were incredible to work with – from Kathy Romero, Director of Weddings/Event Planning & Client Relations to Brenda Della Rosa, Director of Online Content, to Xoua Vang, CEO of the company) to come up with the game plan.

Preston has a reality show on the WE network and this was being filmed for an episode.  Additionally, there were various media outlets – from local NYC News 1 channel to the AP to People Magazine – reporting on the event.  What a way to kick off the 2013 wedding season!

In addition to Brian B. DJ’ing the reception and providing PA support for the ceremony, we were able to showcase the latest additions to the B-Boy staff, guitarist/vocalist Matthew Cutillo and guitarist Craig Graham.  Both musicians are superbly talented and the ultimate professionals.  Craig played in our cocktail hour/waiting area and Matthew played for the ceremonies and lunch hour.

We loaded in the day before the event.  In case you don’t know, security is tight at the ESB.  You can only load in at certain times during the day, must have 2 forms of ID to enter and they have a full body scanner, similar to the ones you’d find at the airport or other government buildings.  One walk around the venue and you knew this was definitely a one-of-a-kind event.  The décor was some of the most stunning I’ve ever seen and this was just on set-up day.

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We finished set-up in an hour or so and then headed to rehearsal (off-site at a different location).  The couples were all very nice and so excited to have been chosen, which made it all the more special.  Camera crews were there as well documenting the rehearsal.

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The next day we arrived at 7AM for a 9AM  start time.  All the couples and their  guests were in the waiting/cocktail hour area.  The floral décor in that room was amazing and had a window view unlike any  other.

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Craig provided the jazz music as they waited for their ceremonies to happen.

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Ceremony times were 9AM, 10AM and 11AM.  Each ceremony was approximately 20 minutes.  As soon as the ceremony ended, the ceremony décor was changed for the next couple.  It was so impressive to see the look completely change and for it to happen so quickly.  Preston decided to go with a “seasonal” feel for each wedding. One couple had a “winter” theme, another had a “spring” theme and the third couple had a “fall” theme.  They all looked amazing but I was partial to the fall.  Not only is that the season when my wedding took place, but the colors were just so vibrant …especially in person.

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Matt absolutely killed it on vocals and guitar for the ceremonies.  One of the tunes selected was “Marry Me” by Train.  Have you ever tried singing a song with that high of a melody line at 9AM?  Not many can pull it off.  Matt did so and was just exceptional.  We had nothing but compliments about his talent.

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Seguing into the lunch hour, each couple had their private dining room themed to their season.  While I was partial to the “fall” season for the ceremony, the “winter” dining room was my favorite.  The crystals hanging from the centerpieces were stunning.

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The caterer, Cardona Catering and Restaurant Consultant Group, was unbelievable.  Ricardo, the chef and owner, was completely down to earth and the food was so delicious.  Presentation?  What can I say?  It was like a 5 star restaurant experience.

After lunch, we transitioned all the guests to the reception part of the space.  This area was the exact same area that Preston used literally 12 hours ago. The walkway was decorated with different purple and pink florals hanging from the ceiling along with crystal.  LED lights through the sheer panel drapes in the ceiling helped accent the floral choices.

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Once in the reception area, it took your breath away!  The dance floor had floral print decals and the pillars were covered with flowers from top to bottom.

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It was quite a challenge to give every couple exactly what they wanted, with their tastes being so varied, but at the end of the event we know we accomplished just that. The dance floor was packed from start to finish and the couples, guests and the Preston Bailey staff had nothing but complimentary things to say.

The event was a total success.  After what ended up being a 14-15 hour work day, my amazing wife said we could order pizza for Valentine’s Day dinner and I could make it up to her the following night.  How did I get so lucky?  We hope to work more events with Preston Bailey and their team.  We’re so thankful for the opportunity to showcase our company to them and the nation.  Be sure to check out the WE TV for “Preston Bailey Dream Weddings” and see the episode for yourself.

Songs for Wedding Reception Formalities – Part 2

First Dance

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has a Grand Entrance. Sometimes, it’s a small house wedding and a Grand Entrance would feel out-of-place. Some brides and grooms want to be a part of the cocktail hour with their guests and the element of surprise with the entrance is not needed. There are yet other couples who just don’t want the spotlight on them hardly at all so they’d rather bypass the Grand Entrance.

That said, almost every couple has a First Dance. After the First Dance, the next 2 popular formality dances would be the Father/Daughter dance and the Mother/Son dance. Trying to figure out the right song to use for these can be tricky, especially if music isn’t your thing or dancing isn’t your forte. Here’s a few things to keep in mind with the formality dances:

WHY DO THE DANCES AT ALL?

The formalities are more about the pictures that are taken during them than they are about the sentiments of the dance itself. If you’re not looking for these dance photo opportunities, it’s completely OK and not against etiquette to do only one or none of these dances. Don’t feel pressured to do them. It is all about you and your significant other. In this day and age, everything is customized. No longer do couples have to feel the added pressure of doing all the formalities of past generations.

CONSIDER THE LENGTH OF THE TRACK …

More often than not, ballads can be unusually long. An average song length for most tracks is around 3 minutes. Ballads, however, can range anywhere from 4-6 minutes. That can seem like an eternity if you’re not a natural-born dancer. You may be thinking, “If we cut it short, does it hurt the photography?” Not at all. Professional photographers are snapping a to of shots in milliseconds. After 2 minutes, they more than likely have enough shots of the dance from every angle possible. So, unless the song has extreme meaning to both of you or you have choreography for the dance, consider picking a shorter song or have the DJ fade out the track after 2-3 minutes. Not to mention, the quicker the formalities conclude, the quicker you can get to the open dancing and get your guests involved and the party can really go up another notch!

MAKE SURE THE SONG HAS A BEAT …

This is so often overlooked. If dancing isn’t your strong suit, using a song that has a beat can be extremely helpful. This doesn’t mean the song has to have a rock type sound with huge drums. It just needs something where you can feel the pulse of the tempo.

ADD A LIVE ELEMENT …

This can give a creative twist to any of your formality dances. If you have a live musician for your cocktail hour, consider keeping him/her there to do the First Dance as soon as the grand entrance is over. It’s an extra 5 or so minutes after the cocktail hour but can give the song a more intimate or custom feel. Another option is to have a vocalist sing to a karaoke track. It used to be tough to find karaoke tracks. Now with all music going digital, you can find the karaoke or instrumental for virtually any song.

First Dance
Traditionally, this dance was supposed to be a song that had deep meaning between the bride and groom. While that still can be the case, these days it’s happening less and less. If the song doesn’t instantly come to the both of you, here’s some thoughts.

FIND A SONG THAT IS TIMELESS …

One of the things my wife and I kept in mind while looking for our own First Dance song was that we wanted the song to still be relevant 50 years from now when we request it at a future wedding we attend or better yet, when we’re dancing at out our own 50th wedding anniversary surprise party! This does NOT mean you have to dance to the original version of a track necessarily (although there are some great ones). So many songs have great arrangements or covers done by current artists. With YouTube, you might even find an amazing version of your song by an amateur that you want to use. Check out some of these examples:

 

THE MASHUP …

This is the latest trend in First Dances. This creates a memorable and creative way to handle a traditionally slow type of dance, not to mention that it brings energy and typically humor to the event immediately. If you’re not familiar with a “mashup”, this is where you take at least 2 tracks and mash them together into 1 song. You don’t have to necessarily create the custom track yourself. At B-Boy, we can create a custom edit for you (at no charge). Also, this is a great way to help make a “non dancer” look great because you can choreograph it! This is also something to be sure to get on video! Here’s some of the best we’ve seen.

Armanda & Joe:

 

Chad and Shawna (personal friends of ours):

 

THE SIGNATURE FIRST DANCE …

This is a custom and personal touch that we at B-Boy started in the Panhandle of Florida and have adopted in our other markets. This is where we meet with the bride and groom in person (preferably) or over the phone or virtually through the internet before the event and record them separately telling the story of how they first met or how they got engaged. We then take the “best of” from the interviews and splice it in various parts of the first dance as if they’re telling the story together. We surprise not only their guests but also the bride/groom with this gift. We give the bride/groom a keepsake of the custom song on a CD with the raw interviews. Crowds are either tearing up, laughing hysterically or both. Here’s a few of the ones we’ve done.

Graeme & Christen:

 

Paul & Kristin:

 

Father/Daughter Dance

A lot of the same concepts from above apply here as well. Dances with parents can be awkward if you’re not a dancing family. Those are the couples that tend to need our help finding a song. In those instances, I encourage them to find something upbeat and fun. The dance steps don’t have to be perfect in faster songs. The other problem that couples run into is there aren’t many songs these days ritten about a father/daughter relationship. Not to worry…pick a song about the woman. There are a ton of tracks about that. A couple popular ideas from the past year are:

 

Mother/Son Dance

By far, this is the toughest dance to find a song for no matter if you are a dancer or not. If you thought songs written about a father/daughter relationship are scarce, try finding one about a mother/son (and harder yet is finding one that isn’t cheesy). Good luck. Most men don’t dance with their moms often anyway, making the song selection choice that much tougher. A generic song about “gratitude” is always a safe route. Another idea is to defer to your mom in the selection of the song. Typically, her role in the wedding is minimal so this will give her a feeling of importance and purpose. Regardless, keep it upbeat and pick a short song. A few of the more popular selections we’ve used in the last year are:

 

Hope these tips are helpful. Again, if you’re a client of ours, e-mail us and we’ll send you a more comprehensive list of song ideas. Good luck in your selections! Our next and last installment of the formality series will deal with the other misc. formalities that need custom songs selected.

Songs for Wedding Reception Formalities – Part 1

Grand Entrance

Image courtesy of GwyneMark Photography

Almost every wedding reception has at least one formality that needs a special song selected. Having a tough time figuring out which formalities need a song and/or what song to use? Maybe you’ve already gone online and googled “wedding formalities” for ideas. If you’re like the vast majority of the couples we know, most of the songs you’ll find are either cheesy, old, played out or don’t fit you and your fiancé! In the next few posts, we’re going to dissect the formalities and hopefully, with what is now our 17 years in the business, we’ll get you on the right track to finding the perfect music for your reception. This particular post is going to be directed at the Grand Entrance. It’s such an important formality that it needs an entire post dedicated entirely to it. The other formalities will be covered in part 2 and 3 of this series.

GRAND ENTRANCE

From a DJ perspective, the grand entrance is one of, if not THE most important area to spend time picking out a song. Why? Because it sets the tone for the entire reception. Seriously, if there is one formality to really give some TLC with the song choice, this is it! Your guests’ first taste of your vision for the night is based on the music selected for this entrance. So a couple things to keep in mind:

DECIDE ON A THEME
What type of feel do you want your event to have? A formal vibe? A more Classic Rock theme? A high-energy party atmosphere? Whatever it is, once you decide this piece of the puzzle, it’ll set you on a path in picking the perfect song(s). But keep in mind, the theme must be decided first before going on.

PICK MUSIC WITH ENERGY
Regardless of the theme, the track should have some energy. Nothing can stunt the potential of your party like a boring song to start the night. And don’t think for a moment that if you pick something other than a “Party Atmosphere” as your theme that this can’t be accomplished. For example, if you want that “classic/timeless” feel, 2 of our favorite tunes to consider would be either “At Last” by Etta James or “It Had To Be You” by Harry Connick, Jr. Both have a great build-up with huge fanfare in the intro and then drop perfectly for the introduction of the newlywed couple. So it doesn’t have to be a modern track (necessarily) to achieve that energy that is needed for a memorable entrance.

CONSIDER AN INSTRUMENTAL OR A TRACK WITH SPARSE VOCALS
This is usually the last thing on a couple’s radar but makes a huge difference. No matter how popular a song is, it is tough introducing anyone over a track with vocals. Think about radio MCs. Do you ever hear them making announcements over anything other than the intro of a song? Of course not. With a grand entrance, announcing the bridal party over a song with vocals will inevitably cause something to suffer – either the MC or the track. So we suggest picking a song with zero or minimal vocals. One instrumental track that worked well for us this past year was “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. People instantly recognize this song when the synths come in so you don’t even need the vocals for this one. We’ve made custom edits to certain tracks using the instrumental for the verses and then bring in the original with the vocals for a chorus to break it up. Can’t find the true instrumental of a track? Here’s a trick. Look up the karaoke version. There’s almost always a karaoke track for just about every popular tune out there and the quality of karaoke tracks has gotten substantially better over the years.

PICK 2 SONGS FOR A BRIDAL PARTY WITH 6 OR MORE PEOPLE
Most couples coming in to meet with us think one track is all that is needed for a grand entrance. We recommend 2 tracks. Selecting 2 songs does 2 things:
-Allows for a natural segue way between introducing the bridal party and the bride/groom.
-Gives the bride/groom their own moment in the spotlight

If you only have 2-4 people in your bridal party, one track can work fine. Any more than that, we always recommend 2 songs. There have been a few clients who want to take it to the extreme in the other direction and have a different track for each person in the bridal party. Not only can that be tough for the DJ to juggle but the impact you’re trying make is going to be hard to achieve. The walk-in generally takes only 20-30 seconds which means that unless you’re doing custom edits or cueing to the hook of the song for every track, you may get just the intro of the song before the next one needs to start. Stick with the 2 song approach and you’ll create a smooth and memorable Grand Entrance.

This post wouldn’t be complete without some song recommendations. I’ve given you just a few song ideas below based on the specific themes I mentioned above (our complete list is reserved for our clients). We’re constantly updating our song suggestion list for formalities so be sure to e-mail us for the most recent list. In our next post, we’ll tackle the First Dance, Father/Daughter Dance, and Mother/Son Dance.

CLASSIC/FORMAL
At Last – Etta James
It Had To Be You – Harry Connick, Jr.
Jump Jive An’ Wail – Brian Setzer
Viva La Vida – Coldplay

CLASSIC ROCK
Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor
Rock & Roll Part 2 – Gary Glitter
Sirius – Alan Parsons Project
We Will Rock You – Queen

CURRENT TOP 40
Don’t Stop The Party – Pitbull
Let’s Go – Ne-Yo & Calvin Harris
Levels – Avicii
Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
Turn Up The Music – Chris Brown

LAID BACK VIBE
Say Hey (I Love) – Michael Franti  & Spearhead
You Are The Best Thing – Ray Lamontagne

OLD SCHOOL
It Takes Two – Rob Base
Let’s Get Married (Remix) – Jagged Edge with Run DMC

Entertainer Profile: DJ Duane Mays

Duane-Event-SpecialistRarely does an entertainer have a breakout year of the magnitude that Duane Mays has had. He started with B-Boy Productions, Inc. just 2 years ago. This year, however, his positive client reviews have gone through the roof and we attribute that to the hard work he’s put in. He’s now one of our most requested Florida panhandle entertainers. We sat down with Duane to ask him some questions on DJ’ing and specifically, DJ’ing weddings.

How long have you been in the music industry?
10 years come February.

Why did you get into DJ’ing?
I really enjoy the energy of dance music and the surprise of what I like to call “forgotten gems”. I love the look on the people’s faces when nostalgia hits and a song that they used to ‘jam out” to but have since forgotten is suddenly resurrected…it’s one of my favorite things about DJing.

What makes your style unique?
Since I have an extensive background as a performing artist, it gives me a unique perspective in reading a crowd. I am familiar with a lot more music in different genres than the typical DJ would be. Since I primarily DJ weddings, I have a knack for picking out that perfect “old school” track to bridge the gap between the young people and the older crowd. I want everyone dancing and having a good time so I focus on giving our clients and their crowd a well-balanced musical experience.

Speaking of weddings, what’s your favorite part as a DJ?
I love that moment at the reception where the bride and groom realize that they can relax with me at the helm. It’s like an “a ha” moment where it hits them that I’m taking all the pressure off of them and that I will be giving them an amazing party. It’s hard not to chuckle because I can’t even begin to tell you how many times a bride and groom are eating dinner at the reception, they glance over and give me that nod of satisfaction. It’s as if I’ve surpassed their expectations and usually when it happens, we haven’t even gotten to the dancing segments yet. I definitely consider working weddings a privilege and it never gets old.

Any advice you’d give a bride/groom as far as entertainment is concerned?
When it comes to entertainment on the big day, I’d want them to know that they can trust any DJ of B-Boy Productions, Inc. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve sat down with a bride/groom to do a planning session and the first thing out of their mouth is, “We don’t want the cheesy stuff. No Chicken Dance, YMCA, etc. The last few weddings we’ve attended were terrible…” well, I’d be one wealthy individual. They have no clue the amount of training our company does with our entertainers. Every month we get together to enhance our craft and we look for ways to get even better! Our #1 desire is to make sure that our clients and their closest family and friends experience the best reception ever! Don’t misunderstand me…that’s not to say we don’t want a bride and groom’s input. Of course, we want to know what they want and like…that’s a big part of our success at an event. The difference is that they can be rest assured that they and their guests will be talking positively about their reception for years to come. It’s a big responsibility for us and we don’t take it lightly.

To book Duane, go to the contact page and we’ll reserve him for your wedding reception!

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