This Is the Best Time to Do Your First Dance

If you're not sure what the best time is to have your first dance, find out where to include it on your wedding reception timeline here.

by Ivy Jacobson

Photos by Rich

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There's so much emphasis placed on your first dance: the song choice, dance moves, and any surprise elements—but when's the best time during your wedding reception to actually have your first dance? Putting together your wedding timeline can be challenging (we can help you with our handy wedding day timeline tool!), but luckily, there are really only two good times to do your first dance. 

The first time we recommend doing your first dance is immediately following your grand entrance into the reception. You can enter to a fun song while your guests clap and cheer, and then you can head straight to the dance floor to keep the momentum and excitement going. It also makes it the first thing you do at the reception, which is great if you're both nervous and want to do it without further delay, or if you're doing a surprise dance for your guests and want to show it to them or involve them early on. (You can also cut your wedding cake after that too, if you want.) And if you want to get all of the dances done upfront, you can do any parent/child dances after the first dance as well. What can follow is everyone sitting down for the first meal course. 

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The second time we recommend doing your first dance is after the meal is over. Everyone will be paying attention (you may not get the same type of crowd if you do the first dance while salads are being served), and you can easily segue into everyone being welcomed onto the dance floor right after (or after the parent/child dances, if you do those then too). 

Your wedding plannerDJband, or entertainment can also help you with your first dance timing for any other factors. 


Article here :

20 Secrets to a Fun Wedding Reception

Okay, they're not really secrets—just awesome ideas we encourage you to steal.

by The Knot


While your wedding ceremony is both special and crucial (it's when you'll actually get married!), the reception is probably what you and your guests are most looking forward to—who doesn't want to eat, drink and dance? The best celebrations incorporate personal, fun and unique touches to keep guests smiling and talking about it long after the last dance. Get inspired by our favourite reception ideas, from simple planning tricks to wow-worthy entertainment below, and by taking our fun Style Quiz. Then start planning your party here.

1. Arrange Seating Thoughtfully

It sounds obvious, but don't discount the importance of a solid seating arrangement. Place guests with people they'll know and get along with. It might seem like a great idea to play matchmaker, or force your guests to sit with strangers to make new friends—but at the end of the day, they're there for you, and to catch up with their own farflung pals. Put another way, a well-thought-out seating chart leads to great conversation, which leads to a great dance party, which leads to an unforgettable night. So seat your tween cousins with other kids their age and let your college friends sit together.

2. Hand Out Awesome Favors

Wedding favors should be the cherry on top of a fabulous reception. Let your guests know how much you appreciate having them there by offering a take-home treat (think: doughnuts, hot cocoa mix and marshmallows, a bag of your favorite coffee beans or jars of local honey), a cute succulent plant or a pair of sunglasses branded with your initials and wedding date.

3. Keep Toasts Short and Sweet

Wedding toasts are all about quality over quantity, so ask anyone who's speaking to make sure their toasts are no more than two minutes. If they have any longer anecdotes, they can feel free to share at the rehearsal dinner.

4. Have a Plan for Kids



To keep the little ones entertained throughout the night (and to give their parents an opportunity to hit the dance floor), give them their own designated area. In a separate room, arrange for a babysitter to set up and oversee movies, games, crafts or a kid-centric dance party. You can also set up a few tables topped with coloring books, crayons, games and small toys.

5. Shake Things Up for Your First Dance

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All eyes will be on you during your first dance—it's the perfect opportunity to wow your guests with a fun surprise. Start with a romantic dance to "At Last," or other classic first dance song, then suddenly switch gears to a energetic Latin dance or break it down to Bruno Mars. 

6. Offer an Interactive Food Station (or Two)

Great food makes for a great celebration, but offering dishes that everyone can customize to their liking is even better. Interactive food stations, from a mac-and-cheese bar to a sushi-rolling setup, where guests can create their own ideal bites will leave you with happy, well-fed friends ready to have a good time.

7. Rethink Dinner

Instead of a typical three-course menu of salad, entrée and dessert, stretch out dinner over four or five smaller courses (but don't stretch it too much if you're still hoping to get everyone on the dance floor). Plan small surprises between dishes, like a short toast from your hilarious aunt, a sweet poem from a lifelong friend or a professional performance, like a vocalist or dancer. It'll give your guests the experience of a fun night out, complete with dinner and a show.

8. Change Into Something Comfortable

Let's put it this way: You won't have a good time at your reception if you can't take two steps without snagging your train, right? So after the first dance, brides can swap the veil and bustle for a fabulous little white dress or jumpsuit, and grooms can change to a more relaxed suit. If you and your new spouse are comfortable enough to move freely, you'll dance more, chat more, laugh more and eat more cake—that'll rub off on your guests.

9. Plan Surprise Entertainment

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Sometimes the best parts of a reception are what guests don't see coming. Surprise your loved ones with unexpected entertainment during the cocktail hour or reception, like a magician, mariachi band, aerialists or a salsa dancer.

10. Make Sure Your Band Has Great Break Music

Everyone's been to that wedding before: Just when the dance floor starts heating up, the band takes a break—and the party seems to as well. To make sure this doesn't happen at your wedding, ask potential bands how they plan to handle breaks before you hire them. Some bands will rest in shifts and split off into a smaller two- or three-piece band, while others will turn on filler music. If yours is planning on the latter, ask whether you can provide the playlist, or at least check and approve their picks before the party.

11. Find a DJ Who Gets You

Okay, this is a little more obvious, but we have to mention it because music is a major reception fun factor, and has a lot to do with how long your guests will stay. The last thing you want to see is your dance floor clear out when the DJ plays obsure songs that are hard to dance to. Talk to your DJ about your do-not-play list upfront.

12. Play Music Everyone Can Dance to

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Whether you've hired a band or a DJ, if you want to keep the dance floor packed, plan a playlist that will please the whole crowd, not just you two. You may love obscure indie rock, but now isn't the time to show off your discerning taste in music. Sure, mix in a few of your favorites, but don't leave out the past and present hits, otherwise you risk an empty dance floor.

13. Have a Lounge Area

If your site and budget allow, set up comfortable lounge chairs and couches in your reception space. Instead of having your guests sit around the same tables all night, even after dinner's over, a change of environment will promote conversation, give your energetic dancers a resting area and keep your nondancing guests entertained. It's also an elegant and comfortable way to let elderly guests relax and chat while others take to the dance floor. Look into renting or borrowing couches, chairs and other furniture to create stylish, cozy vignettes complete with pillows, flowers and votive candles in your wedding colors.

14. Hire a Day-of Coordinator

You may have a ton of fun ideas lined up for your reception, but no matter how organized you are it's much more difficult than you'd think to keep each of those plans and moving parts in check. If you already have an event planner, you're all set. If not, look into booking a day-of coordinator to oversee the details (trust us, it's worth it). Check out the different types of planners you can hire.

15. Roll Out a Tasting Station

A full bar is a must-have for a great reception, but take it up a notch with an interactive drink experience. A wine, beer or whiskey tasting lets guests sample different drinks and learn a few tasting notes. A hand-rolled cigar station also fits the bill, as does a make-your-own margarita bar—who could say no to that?

16. Create a Nice Flow Within the Space

One of the less obvious keys to a succesful celebration is movement. The best parties encourage lots of dancing, with mini breaks for mingling and snacking. For maximum dimension and circulation, divide your reception into distinct areas for dancing, drinks and chatting, and coffee and cake. Arrange a few cocktail tables near the bar, offer outdoor seating or set up a table of desserts or late-night bites.

17. Serve Good Food

It doesn't get more 101 than this. Ask yourself what you'd want to eat, both as a wedding guest and in general. Love spaghetti bolognese, dim sum or tacos? Chances are your caterer can find elegant, creative ways to serve it to a large crowd. Another option is to skip the sit-down dinner altogether and pass hearty, satisfying hors d'oeuvres with cocktails.

18. Don't Let Your Guests Get Hungry

Want a guaranteed all-night crowd? Arrange for the catering staff to bring out late-night food like French fries, pizza or doughnuts after midnight (or before, if you just can't wait). Offer a DIY coffee bar complete with flavored syrups and toppings to keep them on their feet. If you stick with low-key favorites, your friends will never want to leave. 

19. Plan a Fun Surprise

Here's a secret for you: Keep guests celebrating by planning a surprise for the end of the night that everyone can look forward to. You and your new spouse can perform a song with the band for the last dance or prep a memorable reception getaway like a fireworks send-off.

20. Host a Welcome Dinner

Okay, this tip isn't technically for your reception, but it'll make the reception more fun. A casual event where all your guests can meet and mingle the day before the wedding means everyone will have already gotten to know each other, and old friends will have had a chance to catch up, so when reception rolls around, your guests can skip the pleasantries and get right down to celebrating.


Post Booking / Wedding Day Timeline & Workflow

Your Wedding Day & Me

I thought I would write a little about what to expect if you have booked me to shoot your wedding day.

Chapter I : The Morning

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The wedding day morning is usually quite chaotic with all the things that are happening, I usually turn up around 10am depending on the time of the service, armed with a couple of cases of camera things, maybe some stands and other toys I'll play with.

At this point I'll be busy trying to make sure I have captured some of the details you have prepared, the shoes, the dresses, hangers & flowers, sometimes I'll be filming and shooting short timelapse footage as well.

I always tell everyone to just ignore me, and just enjoy yourself.

Regardless of what might be happening, I'll always try to shoot a portrait of the bride somewhere before the day really gets going.

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Chapter II : The Service

The service is always a bit different, vicars in churches are well known for not being keen on us photographers hanging around, but sometimes they do make a huge effort and help to make the day a great experience for everyone..

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I'll usually be somewhere at the front, (trying my best to not get in the way) shooting the groom and best man, and waiting to hopefully get that moment he sees the bride walking up the isle.

Chapter III : The Group Shots

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The group shots of friends and family, yes every wedding has this section of the day, as guests we hate it, and as bride and groom, it's just trying to round people up, who usually end up at the bar..

I'll always try to start with the older & youngest, so they can sit down or go and play knowing their job is done.

Almost everyone just wants to get this bit of the day over with, but it can be quite valuable as you have all your friends and family in the same place, why not get some pictures together. 

Chapter IV : Speeches, Cutting the Cake & First Dance

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So we have done the morning and everyone getting ready, the service is over, and we've battled our way through some family pictures and we can at last start enjoying ourselves a bit more.

The champagne, Wine & beers are usually flowing by now and no doubt talks of the "Best mans speech" are already circulating.

During the wedding breakfast, I'll take this chance to recharge my batteries a bit, as well as clean some camera gear, grab some food and maybe even have a beer, and prepare myself for the evening events..

This section of the day always holds a few surprises, the best man usually delivers some laughs and occasionally the father of the bride will floor the room with emotion.

Sometime in the early part of the evening I will try and take Mr&Mrs outside to try and shoot some images of the couple whilst the sun is setting, or something lovely and memorable, I'll also encourage them to bring their drinks along.

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Chapter V : The aftermath / sorting & editing

That's it, the day is over, the party is in full swing and by now I probably ache everywhere, time to load out the stands & cases and go home.

Now the real work begins..

The following day I'll transfer probably 2000 images and video footage from multipal memory cards and start to organise them, I will at this point edit about 60 images across the day and publish to your page I will have made here for you as a "preview" whilst the day is still fresh..

Now I will sit in front of my computer selecting all the good images, working through each one making adjustments and making them all look great.

Chapter VI : Epilogue 

That is about it, I don't really spend a lot of time posing people, I do my best to make sure the day goes ahead as smooth as possible, even if it is raining/snowing/freezing cold or windy.