Monday, September 27, 2010

When to Cut the Cake at Your Wedding Reception

So… When do we cut the wedding cake?

The activity of celebrating the wedding cake has been an important part of the wedding reception since the days of Ancient Rome. During that time period, things were a little different. There was no stacking and there was no crazy decorating. There was, however, a simple wheat cake crumbled over the bride's head and into her hair. Sound odd? There was a reason. Wheat at this time to this culture was a symbol that represented bounty, so this messy tradition was carried out to ensure her fertility.

Today, many things have changed at the wedding reception. While we may seem more civilized to pour crumbs over the head of the new bride, we do carry on a twist to the old cake tradition. Instead, now the bride and groom hold a knife together and cut the cake together. In some cases, the groom lovingly smashes the cake in the glowing bride's face; Not a far cry from the old tradition after all. This new tradition continues with the top of the layered cake is now saved for the bride and groom to eat, one year later on their first anniversary.

The first wedding I ever DJ’ed at where there was no cake cutting happened last week. Do you have to cut the cake? Technically no. However, cutting the cake gives your guests and your photographer a great photo opportunity and lets them all celebrate your marriage with you, and your creativity of cake choice.

There seems to be a constant battle, of late, between the DJ and/or wedding planners and the wedding hall/ caterers on when the best time it is to cut the cake at your wedding reception. Well, what is the answer?

Traditionally, the cake should be cut towards the end of the evening. After eating a big meal, dessert isn’t always right on the guests’ minds, but could be after an hour or two of dancing. Some also choose to do the cutting right after the dinner so that everyone can dance the night away without any interruptions, but again, the cake often isn’t eaten then, if at all, until later.

One thing to keep in mind… If you do notice that, during your reception, the hall is seeming to nag you for the cake to be cut and eaten right away, they probably have a hidden agenda. Having the cake cut early is often a cost-cutting factor; the hall can send home their extra staff and save money on payroll!

Whatever you chose to do, do what feels right for you! Here are some song ideas to play while the cake is being cut:

Destiny – Jim Brickman
Can You Feel The Love Tonight? – Elton John
Recipe For Making Love – Harry Connick, Jr.
I Got You Babe – Sonny and Cher
This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) – Natalie Cole
Thank You – Led Zeppelin
The Sweetest Thing – U2
Sugar, Sugar – The Archies
Wedding Song – Bob Dylan
Unbroken – Tim McGraw
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) – James Taylor
It’s Your Love – Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
Ain’t That A Kick In The Head – Dean Martin
Chapel Of Love – Dixie Cups
Love You Madly – Cake
Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
When I’m Sixty-Four – The Beatles
Love And Marriage – Frank Sinatra
That’s Amore – Dean Martin
Grow Old With You – Adam Sandler
Eat it – Weird Al Yankovic
After All Is Said And Done – BeyoncĂ© Knowles & Marc Nelson
1, 2, 3, 4 – Plain White T’s
‘Cause I love You – Lenny Williams
Whatever It is – Zac Brown Band
One Love – Bob Marley
Here and Now – Luther Vandross
I Do (Cherish You) – 98 Degrees
Cut The Cake – Average White Band
All My Life – K-Ci & JoJo
Yummy Yummy Yummy – Ohio Express
Sweet Emotion – Aerosmith
Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – Four Tops

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wedding Reception Group Photo Opp Activity

Sounds simple, but this almost always never happens. You mean to plan for a great big “everybody picture,” but you just don’t seem to find time between the business of the whole day. Why not actually stop everything for a second during the party, and create a memory that will last a lifetime?

Last week, we actually took time out of the fast-pace dancing to set up a time-slot where everybody lined up for a group shot, behind the bride and groom. The shots were incredible!

If you have a decent disc jockey, you can easily make this a fun activity. It is true. You do have to be careful with this, because any stop in pace can slow things down. This is why the bride and groom had their DJ do announce the photo opportunity immediately after the cake cutting sequence, when things slow down anyhow.

It seems to me that the extra three minutes were, in fact easy to recover from. Everybody stayed right out on the dance floor and moved right into a fast dance.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What do you do when someone pulls a fire alarm at your wedding?!

DJ Kenny Casanova is “Burning Down The House!”

True story… Last weekend, I had three weddings; a Mexican Salsa Reception in Saratoga at Tiznow, a Pakistani Wedding at Best Western in Albany, and a Six Flags Lodge Reception in Lake George, NY. There is a first time for everything.

At the Six Flags wedding reception, the guests settled into their seats for dinner right after the cocktail hour and the intro. They were just about to enjoy their salads, when all of the sudden a loud siren sounded with a blinking white strobe light from wall.

Whhhhoooop! Whhhhoooop! Whhhhoooop! A recorded voice followed the shrill alarm. “The fire alarm device has been activated. All guests, please evacuate the building.”

At this point, the wedding coordinator for the hotel ran up to me to inform me that all was okay. “A five-year-old boy pulled an alarm.” He said loudly over the siren. “It’s a false alarm. However, the alarm is going to have to run its course.”

“Ugh,” I replied. “How long is that going to take?”

“I am not sure,” he replied. “Maybe fifteen minutes? Can you make an announcement and ask the guests to stay seated?”

“Okay. I will try.” I said. For one, one of the piercing alarms was right behind me over my head, and for two, there were others around the room annoying the attendees.

I grabbed the mic and people who were gathering objects looked over at me. “Ladies and gentlemen, do not worry it is a false alarm,” I said. “The cake is not going to melt and my equipment is not going to burn, so let’s try and make the most of it.”

I quickly browsed through my computer and found “Burning Down The House” by The Talking Heads and pulled it up. A few faces started to laugh.

Now, mind you, you usually do not want to play loud dance music while people are eating, but I needed a way to entertain and cover up the annoying backdrop and the salads weren’t cutting it. The talking heads was a good start. The next step was to get the people on the dance floor to make them forget that a peaceful first course probably wasn’t going to happen for the moment.

Shift gears to a hot set… “Disco Inferno” by The Tramps, “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, “Burning Love” from Elvis, and Buster Poindexter’s “Hot, Hot, Hot.”

The guests had a blast. Somewhere in the middle of the last song, the alarm ended and everyone went back to their meals.

Later on, the manager said, “Kenny Casanova saves the day!”

Also, the Lodge was really cool about everything. They gave the guests a free hour of open bar, that they wouldn’t have had otherwise, as well as an extra half hour of hall time at the end of the night.

In my opinion, it made the night better and a fun memory.

Good times.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Planning your wedding location...

I just thought I would give everybody a little heads up when it comes to planning the locations for your wedding ceremony and reception.

From experience, I have learned that the weddings that have had the smoothest transitions from ceremony to reception have been at the same location, or under ten minutes away. I know this sounds simple, but it doesn't always happen.

I have seen many wedding receptions run late, due to, in part, the transition between ceremony and reception. We already know that pictures typically transpire during this time, and that the bride and groom will be engrossed in what usually becomes a lengthy photo shoot. Depending on the circumstances, the photo shoot alone can be the cause of upsetting anxious guests and also end up running overtime charges by the hall and other wedding professionals waiting at the reception hall. To avoid further wait time, it really is best to plan for the ceremony to be very nearby the place of reception, whenever possible.

Rule of thumb; you really only want about an hour to an hour and a half at the very latest between the ceremony end time and the reception start, and that includes the cocktail hour within that window frame. Just keep in mind, that everyone is waiting to be with you on your special day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wedding Reception Bridal Bouquet Toss Tips

Tradition has every bride throwing the bouquet behind them, at some point during their wedding reception. What is this all about? Well, this tradition is supposed to bring good fortune to the lucky single woman who catches the flowers, as she is then destined to be the next one to marry and live a long happy life, just as the bride. Along with the flowers, goes the responsibility of taking the garter that the single male counterpart caught, in a silly exhibition set to music. This activity happens nine times out of ten. We have all seen it before. There are, however, a few things to think about when organizing this activity.

If you predict that there are going to be a lot of children attending your wedding reception, you may want to set aside something for them to do, so that they have a special moment for them during the bridal bouquet toss. I have seen a number of tosses where a child has caught the flowers, and an older man catches the garter. As I DJ, I call this “Deliverance” or the outback Ravena, NY moment. The old man then has to put the garter on a young girl. Can you say, “creepy moment?”

One thing you can do to avoid this and keep the silly fun on the up-and-up, is to exclude children under 16 or so from participating. But then, before the bride tosses her wedding bouquet, toss something else just for the kids. You could toss a stuffed animal in bridal regalia, or a teddy bear or even a special smaller bouquet of flowers just for this segment. It is another great photo opportunity!

One other thing to think about is your crowd participation factor. Sometimes your guests are all about jumping in there for a good time, but sometimes, “eh.” If you really want to have everyone lining up in your groom garter/ bridal bouquet toss, then there is only one answer. BRIBE THEM.

Have your wedding disc jockey hold up a prize that you have provided for the catchers. While a dance with the bride or groom might be nice, remember, cash is king. Then, your participant base will grow, and you will have great pictures and memories for years to come!