Themed Wedding Receptions–Success Stories

So you’re planning a wedding reception! You want everyone to remember your big day forever.  Why not stamp your personal signature on your once-in-a-lifetime event through the use of a distinctive theme?  You may want to showcase a particular interest of yours, or maybe a vacation or honeymoon destination that really appealed to you. The sky is the limit when it comes to wedding themes!

Why use a theme?  Simple.  A theme sets your wedding apart and gives your guests something visually powerful to help them remember it for years to come.  And it gives you the opportunity to let your creativity shine through!

So let’s take a look at four ideas from our past clients that I thought were extremely successful, and more importantly, created vivid memories. 

Kelly and Justin Diercks got married in August of 2007.  Their Davenport River Center reception featured a garden theme.  On a scale from 1 to 10 they took their theme to an 11!  Their 420 guests enjoyed a grand selection of gardens, some of which could be walked through, and all of which were beautiful!

Landscaped Wedding Reception

Landscaped Wedding Reception

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Landscaped Wedding Reception

Johnson Diercks Wedding 009

Landscaped Wedding Reception

Landscaped Wedding Reception

Marilee and Michael Godsil selected a Hawaiian theme for their Galesburg wedding reception in June of 2007.  From décor to attire to catering, their wedding reception made you feel as though you were on the islands!

Hawaii Wedding Reception

Hawaii Wedding Reception

Hawaii Wedding Reception

Authentic Hawaii Food for Wedding Reception

Theresa and Tom Hull’s January 2011 wedding reception guests will never forget the Disney Cinderella experience that Theresa and Tom created for them.  Music and décor was carefully selected to complete the Cinderella theme.

Cinderelly Wedding Reception

Cinderella Wedding Reception

And the best theme award goes to Jessica and Salomon Andrade, who got married in the dead of Winter 2007.  Jessica chose to create an ice castle theme for her wedding reception.  Her reception hall was decorated with artificial icicles strategically hanging from the ceiling.  To complete the effect she selected an arctic white fur parka to wear for a portion of the evening, along with arctic white polar boots trimmed in white fur. 

She could not have imagined that on her wedding day a massive ice storm would shroud the area with a thick sheet of ice just before the reception.  Not only that, but the storm rendered the reception hall powerless.  It was dark and it was cold.  But with the use of a generator, we were able to provide some great ambient light from our dance floor lights which enhanced the ice effect.  We had music, we had food and we had dancing and fun!   Jessica was able to wear her arctic parka and boots the entire evening, as it was so cold in the reception hall.  People danced to stay warm.  And it was the best wedding reception ever!

Strangely enough I cannot find the photos of this event anywhere on my computer.  They’re gone.  Kaput.  But it doesn’t matter.  It further serves to illustrate my point that a great theme makes your wedding reception unforgettable.  While I used photos from the other events to help write this article, I had no photos from the “Ice Wedding”.  But the images from the event are vividly etched in my mind forever.  If a great theme can help your wedding DJ remember your wedding, imagine how much better you and your guests will remember it!

So be bold!  Find a theme and use it!  Create an event that will live forever in your memories!  For more photos and themes please visit our Facebook site under Seamless Wedding Reception series.

The Seamless Wedding Reception: High Energy Endings!

Part 3 in a series:

One of the more important decisions to make in planning your “Seamless Wedding Reception” is to determine the start and stop time of your event.   Many couples are surprised to find out that something as simple as the duration of the event can make the difference between a so-so reception and an unforgettable party!

The amount of time that the reception venue will allow you to use their facility will obviously come into play.  Many have a set time (usually 6 hours)  available for your event regardless of the starting time.  Others simply state that guests must be out of the room by a particular time.

Another factor to consider is the starting time of your ceremony.  For example, in many churches you must have your ceremony completed early in the afternoon to allow for afternoon or early evening Mass.  This poses logistical and timing issues if you are planning an evening reception.  In a case like this it is important to provide out of town guests with a list of local activities to keep them occupied from the time the ceremony concludes until the reception hall opens.  That way they will arrive at your reception with renewed interest and energy.


Some brides have stated at the beginning of the booking process “we will have the reception hall from 4:00 PM until 1:00 AM” or something similar.  That may be a generous reception hall bargain, but in terms of a great party it may not necessarily be a good idea to utilize all of that time for your wedding reception.

This doesn’t mean cutting the evening short.  It simply means relying on the expertise of your entertainer in deciding how long your event should be.   A good wedding DJ / Emcee will know how to time the event appropriately for the very best conclusion possible.


The most memorable event will end with the guests still wanting more, with a large number of guests still on the dance floor and with enough energy left in the room to give the couple a wonderful sendoff.  This is far more preferable to a party that drags on, concluding with just a few of the die-hard partiers trundling off with the tired bridal couple and family.

Here are two options to consider on an impromptu basis if the event nears conclusion and the energy level is still very high.  Many entertainers offer the option of adding time to the event on-site if appropriate and if the banquet venue allows it.  Some banquet venues also offer additional late night options for those guests who wish to continue partying into the wee hours, such as close proximity to bars, casinos and other nightlife.

Be cautious when hiring DJ companies who work on an “unlimited time” basis.  Without a predetermined conclusion time for the event it may be more difficult for the DJ to time the event properly for a fantastic ending.

A general rule of thumb for determining the length of a wedding reception could go like this:

1 hour for cocktails (if having a cocktail hour).

1 to 2 hours for dinner (this could vary depending on the number of guests to be served, whether buffet or plated, and the efficiency of the serving staff).

A minimum of 2 hours of dancing and formalities (for smaller groups of 100 or less).

2 1/2 hours of dancing (for guest counts of 100 to 200).

3 hours of dancing (for larger crowds).

A good decision on the duration of your event will help your Emcee / DJ to do their job well, that is, to properly manage the energy level in the room.  That energy level should gradually increase and be timed to peak just shortly before the event ends.  A high energy conclusion will dramatically etch your event into the memories of your guests for years to come!

Next month, in part 4, we’ll take a look at the use of incorporating themes to make your reception more memorable.  Happy planning!

The Seamless Wedding Reception – Live In The Moment

Webster’s dictionary furnishes two definitions for the word “seamless”.  The first definition is “having no seams”, typically used in the context of seamless siding, seamless gutters, seamless countertops; you get the idea.   A house with seamless siding looks better than one with seamed siding.  Seamless gutters are better than regular gutters because a seam will provide a weak spot and a potential for a leak.  Seamless is most always better.

The second definition for seamless is “having no awkward transitions, interruptions or indications of disparity”.  This is the definition we are interested in.  This will translate to “fun”!

Last month in part 1 we talked about how an event loaded with memories and fun moments will seem to be shorter, time-wise, than a boring event.  Time will pass quickly but people will later recall that a lot of fun things happened in that time.

In this month’s article we will discuss a basic step towards staging an amazing, seamless wedding reception.

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For the wedding reception experience to be fun for the guests it must first and foremost be fun for the couple.  A bride and groom, along with their wedding party, will set the tone for the evening.  If the wedding party does not engage in the fun-making, neither will the guests.   

The planning of a wedding reception involves an investment of time and energy.  Naturally, any couple wants it to be perfect.  But arriving at the event with the mind still geared towards planning can stifle the brain’s ability to enjoy the moment.   

Here is one tip that helps to keep the couple focused on “living in the moment” during the week leading up to the wedding: Don’t check the wedding day weather forecast.  The couple can designate someone to anticipate any weather related issues and then they won’t have to think about it from that point on.  The event will still happen no matter what the weather conditions.  I have never known anyone who could plan the weather for a particular day. 

Couples who started planning their wedding early, stayed on top of the details along the way and then focused on living in the moment during the home stretch generally are those who have had the most fun at their wedding reception.

A couple that enjoys their big day will remember more of it.  Their enjoyment will spread to the wedding party and ultimately to the wedding guests, who in turn will naturally create more fun moments to remember.  What could be better!

Next month we will discuss how to decide on the ideal length of time for your seamless wedding reception.  Let the fun begin!

The Seamless Wedding Reception – Part One

Some of the best wedding receptions I can remember over the last 27 years of being a “Wedding DJ” all seemed to have one thing in common. Not only did guests have fun and celebrate, but more importantly, the event flowed seamlessly from one moment to the next. The very best wedding receptions were always the ones at which time seemed to pass by very quickly. One moment people were walking into a beautifully decorated banquet room, and seemingly in the blink of an eye the event was over. But although the perception of the passing time was short, the reality was that the time was surprisingly loaded with a lifetime of unforgettable moments.

This type of event does not happen by accident. It takes months of meticulous planning to create this type of wedding reception. As a contrast, events that are poorly planned seem to drag on forever with very little memories left in the guests’ minds.

Some people have a knack for planning details and others would prefer that those details be left to someone else. Those who are skilled at planning would all probably admit that they rely on some type of tool to assist them. The numbers of little details that go into a great wedding reception are simply far too overwhelming to keep track of without help.

Almost all of our brides take advantage of the planning session that Black Tie offers as an integral part of their wedding package. Many of those brides arrive at that session armed with some type of aid, whether it is one of those big bridal planner binders with all the special pages and pockets, a professional wedding planner, a laptop with a complicated spreadsheet, or quite possibly the ultimate planning tool – the Mother of the Bride.

In any event, those who are serious about planning usually have the greatest chance of staging one of those great wedding receptions where the time flies by and people talk about it for years to come.

A few days ago I was reminded of the useful online planning tools that we offer all of our clients when I received an email from one of our Spring Brides. She wrote, “I can’t say enough about your website. The checklist (planning) has been awesome and I love the music suggestions and such. Thanks so much”, from Kasey Ciccarone. Thank you for the compliment Kasey!

In the coming months I will offer a short series of articles on the art and science of “seamlessly flowing” and “memory loaded” Wedding Receptions based on my experiences and best memories of the last couple decades. I will use a few examples of previous events and also offer some samplings of the online planning tools we provide our clients.

In the meantime we will be looking forward to another year of very happy memories!