Your date is set.  You’ve chosen an AWESOME site for your wedding reception.  You’ve found THE band or DJ to entertain you, your spouse-to-be and your guests.  Now what?

Well, you should probably start out by taking a bit of a breather before digging into the planning of your reception.  The excitement of getting engaged gave way to panic and stress when you realized that planning needed to begin.  But you don’t need to panic.  Take a deep breath.  Understand that YOU’VE GOT THIS.  ALL of it.  There will be no shortage of people who will offer assistance or words of wisdom.

The beauty of the process is that you’re not alone.  You’re choosing people talented in their fields with the promise that they’ll take your vision and turn it into reality.  You’ll have discussion upon discussion as you hone in on what you want and how you want it.  Trust the process…  Go with your gut, but always make sure to verify.  That is paramount.

Eventually, you’re going to get to work on painting the picture of how the night is going to flow where the entertainment is concerned.  Based on my experience as a wedding DJ, this piece of the puzzle tends to be the most stressful part of the planning for most couples.  So, what’s a girl/guy and the love of their life to do?

This is where a detailed conversation with your DJ is going to be of the utmost importance.  Of all of the vendors that you have chosen for your team, it usually falls on the DJ to guide your night in the way that you have always imagined.

To begin with, you should have received a Planning Form from your DJ.  It could be a paper packet or an online form; regardless, the first thing that you’ll want to do is carefully look through it to see what information your DJ will need.  A professional DJ will use the information that you provide as their “bible” for how your reception will progress.  This is where the magic happens for your entertainer; it allows us to get a better feel for your personality as a couple, as well as an understanding of what type of celebration you’d like to have.  A great example of necessary information would be how you’d like to be introduced as a married couple: Mr. and Mrs. Optimus Prime or Mr. and Mrs. Ken and Barbie Doll?

One thing that I personally look for is the level of interaction that is desired of me when it comes to the crowd.  Yes, this is YOUR celebration, but your hope is that all of your guests have a great time.   After all, it’s always a blast when people recount the great time that they had at your reception YEARS later.  Regardless of how conservative or wild and crazy your crowd will be, you want your entertainer to understand so that they can deliver what you need.

When I got married, there were a few things that I needed our DJ to keep in mind.  First, my wife’s family is far more conservative than mine.  In our case, as with many others, our families had never met prior to our wedding.  Our DJ needed to know this so that they could navigate the crowd.  Secondly, I’m a dancing machine; while my wife likes to dance, we weren’t sure just how much she would actually dance that night.  The DJ needed to know this because what I might dance to and what she might dance to (not counting slow jams) would probably be different.  Thirdly, we weren’t having a big wedding.  Mostly close friends and family; the DJ’s approach in that situation could possibly be quite different from a reception with a head count of 200 plus.  These are things to consider for your reception.

Then there’s the music.  For some, figuring out the music is easy.  For others, not so much.  One of the keys to remember is that you’re not alone at your reception.  You’ve got all of these friends and family that you’ve invited along to celebrate alongside you.  Ideally, there will be something for everyone in attendance.  It’s a good idea to have grandparents (if applicable) in mind when choosing the music, as you may find them dancing together for the first time in a long time.  It’s also a good idea to possibly have a song or two in mind for the kids to give their parents a few moments of relative peace.  Obviously, you want songs that you and your partner-for-life enjoy.  Let’s not forget your friends: the people that you party with, the ones that have stood by your side through thick and thin.  Clearly, you want to share some moments on the dance floor with them because they’re your girls or your boys.

We can’t forget the events; those extra moments that often stand out in the minds of all who witness them.  Will you throw the bouquet or will you lock it into a box and hand out keys to all of the single ladies to see who’s the lucky girl?  Will you honor all of the married couples in attendance with an anniversary dance?  Will you dedicate a song to one or both parents, taking a few moments to show your appreciation to them and FOR them for their role in getting you to this point?  Your DJ needs to know all of this and will work with you to put it all together in a way that establishes a particular flow; much like a conductor of an orchestra or the director of a play.

Then there’s the pièce de résistance…  Your first dance as a married couple.

For my wife and yours truly, this was the most difficult piece of the reception puzzle to pin down.  My wife and I didn’t have a song that we considered our song, but we understood that the first dance was the centerpiece of the reception itself, second only to the ceremony that day.  All eyes are on you as you take center stage.  Being a wedding DJ, everything leads to this point: the grand entrance, the dinner, the toasts and speeches.  The first time that you formally dance with your new spouse, with all of your friends and family looking on; that is INTENSE.  I would dare say that, as a wedding DJ, I believe that everything else at the reception is essentially built around the first dance.  Just remember that that song is for the two of you…  You’re the ONLY ONES that it really needs to have any meaning for.  Go with that and you can’t go wrong.

To reiterate: when it comes to planning your reception, keep your cool.  You’ve got a professional DJ assisting you; call, email or text whenever you feel overwhelmed.  Take your time with setting up your celebration.  Imagine the possibilities.  Work with your DJ and make sure that (s)he understands your expectations.

Lastly…  When the big day arrives, relax and enjoy.  After all, THIS party is for and about YOU.