As for the reception, as with the majority of the day prior, this part of the day will be largely very photojournalistic. Before the start of the reception, I will photograph all of the wonderfully beautiful details you have spent months planning and putting together. I will be capturing your various events and moments as they unfold candidly. Lastly, in addition to pictures with your guests posing and smiling for the camera, I will be sure to get plenty of candids of them getting down and dirty as the night progresses.
Sample Reception Schedule
8:00 p.m. Guests head from the cocktail hour into the reception and find their seats.
8:15 p.m. Your emcee begins introducing the wedding party, starting with your parents.
8:20 p.m. The first dance.
8:25 p.m. A welcome speech or a blessing. If you're not having either, begin the toasts now -- best man followed by maid of honor.
8:30 p.m. Dinner is served. The emcee asks guests to take their seats. Music should be low enough so guests can talk at their tables.
9:00 p.m. The music volume starts to increase gradually to get people who finished their meals out onto the dance floor.
9:30 p.m. The father-daughter dance, which is followed by the mother-son dance.
9:35 p.m. A dance set begins with more upbeat songs to entice most guests out of their seats.
9:45 p.m. DJ or band plays a couple of slow songs.
9:50 p.m. Back to more upbeat songs.
10:30 p.m. The cake cutting.
10:35 p.m. Some mid-paced songs play as cake is served so guests can dance if they want.
10:45 p.m. Guests are seated for cake.
11:00 p.m. The bouquet toss, followed by the garter toss, if you're doing them.
11:10 p.m. The final dance set. Time to play those songs you felt funny playing while all the elderly guests were still there!
11:55 p.m. The last dance, followed by your grand exit if you're making one.
Capturing the details.
Before the start of the reception, I ask the couple to allot approx. 20-30 minutes for me to photograph all the lovey details of your wedding. Many times the bride and groom don't even have the time to really absorb how all their planning has come together. When you are in the moment of the big day, you are likely consumed with spending time with your friends and family, as well as the overall emotions of the day. Couples are always thrilled to see the detail photos after the wedding and really only then can really appreciate the beauty of the details they have contributed to putting together. It's a lovely keepsake to be able to look back at these details. During this time I will be sure to photograph room shots, the table settings, center pieces, sweetheart table, gift table, lobby/welcome area details with sign in book and any other details. Additionally any other important details of the reception will be photographed at this time.
We love grand entrances! This is the moment you, and all of your bridal party have been waiting for. This is their moment in the spot light. Their time, and the couples time off course to really shine and have fun! The grand entrance song starts to play, and one by one your bridal party is officially introduced to the congregation of excited guests. My recommendation during this time is to encourage your bridal party to really go for it, and just have a good time!
The order of where the first dance and when the formal events take place, is completely up to the couple, and the coordinator. Typically, right after the grand entrance the couple will transition directly into their first dance as husband and wife. Immediately following, the couple may choose to share dances with their parents or another loved family member. For example Bride and her father, groom and his mother, perhaps bride and an older brother, etc. During this time, I off course am moving around the dance floor, creatively capturing these important moments. I am also cognizant to capture the reactions of your guests during this time. Lets say the bride and her father are sharing a dance. Certainly, I know I can find the mother of the bride somewhere balling like a baby watching this tender moment. It's is important to me to capture these moments for the bride and groom to appreciate later.
My recommendations during this time are as follows. Many couples may be consider combining the daughter + father, mother + son dances into one song. I urge the couple to reconsider this option. The night is yours. I recommend honoring each parent(s) individually, as this also has some benefits for photography. When there are two equally important events going on at the same time, that only limits the time I have as a photographer to get as many awesome shots as possible. Having the dances separately, allowing me to focus on one pairing at a time, ultimately gives me the opportunity to not miss a single moment.
During the toasts, I may direct the speaker to stand in a certain place that may be best photographically. This is typically going to be somewhere with a pleasing background and close to the bride and groom. This will allow me the opportunity to capture both the speaker and the couple reaction at the same time.
My recommendation for toasts would be to schedule them either before dinner, finishing no later than the finish of salad serving. The couple may also choose to schedule this for after the dinner service. I do not recommend having toasts during dinner service for a few reasons. Firstly, your guests should be able to enjoy their dinner without feeling the need to stop and give their attention instead to the speaker. Certainly the speaker would also like the undivided attention of your guests. Additionally, this is the time that I usually will take a small break and grab a bite to eat. This is the best time for me to do so because your guests are enjoying their meal, and there are no major events happening.
Some couples may choose at some point during the reception to go around to each individual table and be photographed with each tables seated guests. Some couples love this idea, some couples do not. This is totally up to you. This is not something that I will automatically perform as it is really up to the bride and groom if this is something they want to partake in. In your pre wedding questionnaire, you will be given an opportunity to note if this is something you would like to request. If table photos are something you would like, as opposed to the bride and groom going around to each table, I instead recommend the couple remaining at the sweetheart table, and having the DJ or MC announce for each table to join the couple for a photo one at a time. I find that this is a much quicker and more organized way of doing table photos.
Usually the traditional cake cutting transpires at some point after the dinner. This however may also be done before the dinner if the couple desires. Either way, the cake cutting is always a fun part of the ceremony.
My recommendation would be to have the cake cutting as soon as possible after the dinner, for a few reasons. Many times after dinner, some guests may start to depart. For this reason I encourage couples to keep the schedule of the formalities as tight as possible. You want to have things like your formal dances, cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc. done if not before dinner, then shortly after, rather than lagging on and leaving them until very late in the night.
Its party time!
All the formalities are over and its time to let loose and party!
My advise for this time goes back to your day 1 planning. Very simple, hire and awesome DJ or band who's going to really get the party going and encourage your guests to get out there and the dance floor. Lastly, have fun! After all, that is what the day/night is all about. Kick off those wedding shoes and get down and dirty! Yes! I look forward to capturing all of those uninhibited, perhaps slightly intoxicated, awesome party pictures of you and your guests dancing the night away. I want you and your guests to forget that I'm even there, forget the possibility the capture of them mid cha cha slide may end up on facebook soon enough. You will laugh for days at these timeless photos of your loved ones.