Introduction to the Book
I’m passionate about weddings. In my role of Disc Jockey, Master of Ceremonies and wedding Party Host I’ve attended hundreds of weddings large and small. A wedding is a unique family celebration. The Wedding Ceremony and Reception are a reflection of who we are and what lies ahead for the Bride and Bridegroom. In many ways the kind of wedding, and the style of the reception, is a social statement and as such, the pressure is on to create a bigger, better and different experience for the guests to enjoy.
The title of this book, “Wedding Day Secrets – things the industry would prefer you didn’t know”, is possibly being a little unkind to professional wedding suppliers and advisors in the United Kingdom. It is a sweeping statement, and I apologise to those to whom the description does not apply. They are the exception which proves the rule.
I would also like to point out that keeping a secret implies there is a fact, which is being withheld, and not divulged. In many cases there is no secret to hide, for the advisor is blissfully ignorant, and totally unaware, of much of the content in this book.
I’ve met thousands of Brides-to-be at wedding fairs over the past thirty years. They invariably have a vision as to how their big day should be. When I’ve probed them further about their vision, it often transpires that, in order to transform their vision into reality, a great deal of planning will be required. Brides will often say things like “I want everyone to enjoy themselves”, “the music has to be perfect”, “after our first dance I want everybody on the dance floor” or “I want everyone to be up dancing all night long”. All of these are easier said than done. Achieving each of these wishes requires more than trusting to luck and careful music choices. Where entertainment is involved, staging, production and direction, are critical for success. The old adage, “it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it, which gets results”, has never been more true.
Within the pages of this book, I will share with you aspects of the different elements of a successful, fun and memorable wedding day. I’ll illustrate many points, with practical examples taken from my own experience, and those of my colleagues from around the country. Some of the content may appear negative at first glance. It is not my intention to dwell too much on what I believe to be wrong, however I need to “tell it like it is”, in order to demonstrate how things can be so much better, given insight and a little guidance.
I get very angry when a Bride is dictated-to by a venue. For some reason choice is becoming increasingly rare. It makes my blood boil when a Bride is told, “your first dance will take place straight after you cut the wedding cake at 7.00pm”. What!
Why! Who says so, and on what basis has this decision been made? In my experience this could be another of those dreaded situations, were no one joins the Bride and Bridegroom on the dance floor, or worse still, many of the evening guests have not arrived, and therefore will miss this important and special moment.
Without wanting to sound patronising, “Brides don’t know what Brides don’t know”. It’s not their fault: they are simply being misinformed or manipulated, for the benefit and convenience of others. This book is intended to set the record straight and inform and empower Brides to stand firm and enjoy the wedding of their dreams. I only know what I know because I’ve seen or heard about hundreds of examples of Brides being badly advised, to the detriment of their guests’ enjoyment of this very special day.
The way weddings used to be
I can remember when weddings tended to be smaller and more intimate. Traditionally, all of the guests were invited to the ceremony and joined the Bride and Bridegroom for the wedding breakfast and stayed on for the evening party. This all-inclusive wedding ensured everyone was involved, and were a part of the celebration. The whole day flowed seamlessly and all of the guests were able to absorb the events of the day without interruption. The newlyweds would often depart before the end of the party, and guests would gather to “send them off” to a secret location where they would spend their first night together as husband and wife.
Changing times and economic pressure have created a totally different template for most Brides to follow in twenty first century Britain. Some weddings still follow the example above, but most do not. Nowadays, the celebration is often divided into two halves, the daytime and the evening. I can understand how this has developed, especially when you see how much the cost of feeding people has risen over the years. This new template for a wedding reception has also created a number of challenges. The time-line has now expanded. Formerly a wedding would, on average, be six to eight hours in duration. Today, a wedding may well be something in excess of twelve hours. This creates new challenges with regard to keeping guests engaged, and entertained, throughout the day. It also means that the guests who attend only the evening party are disadvantaged, because they lack the emotional connection generated earlier in the day.
The emergence of the evening reception has created a disjointed event. The addition of an evening buffet meal has also produced a number of challenges, especially from a logistical and entertainment perspective. There is a need for someone to take control, and his or her role is to join all of the segments together, in such a way as to engage the guests, and help them transition from one stage of the proceedings to another.
Recently, a growing number of professional DJs have been retraining, and seeking ideas and methods to unite the party, and entertain in more ways than simply playing music.
Filling a dance floor is the least of their challenges. They have chosen to take responsibility, to ensure a first dance is well received, and that all guests are encouraged to join the newlyweds when required to do so. More importantly, the new DJ / Master of Ceremonies / Party Host, will suggest ways other members of the bridal party can contribute to the memories of the day. He or she will also strive to reduce the effect of stopping for the buffet meal, at the very time the party is just getting started.
I have been working very closely with over a hundred wedding Party Hosts over the last five to ten years. Together we have looked at the way wedding receptions are celebrated in other parts of the world, most noticeably in North America and Canada.
Their wedding receptions are very much like ours used to be. This is not surprising when you consider that most of their population originated from Europe. Some of the American weddings can be over the top, and a little too brash, for our tastes over here, however the concepts behind them hold substance. The challenge has been for me and my colleagues to adapt their ideas, and produce interactive introductions, and spotlight moments, which British people can embrace and enjoy. Fortunately, a lot of what goes into an American wedding, consists of ceremonies which originated right here in the UK and central Europe. It appears we simply forgot about them!
Read on and explore what really makes a wedding ceremony and reception truly fun, unique and memorable. It’s not about us the DJ / Master of Ceremonies / Party Host; it’s all about you, the Bride and Bridegroom, and the enjoyment of your guests. A friend and colleague, Dave Windsor, once said, “Without memorable entertainment a wedding reception is little more than a very expensive dinner party”.
Thank you for buying this book and being receptive to the ideas and suggestions within its pages. Congratulations and good luck. I wish you good health, wealth and happiness in your married life”.
Derek Pengelly [Also known as] DJ David Summers
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