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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