• Planning
  • planning

Planning is the key to a successful event.

Just like no two people are alike, no two receptions are alike. They are a unique combination of the tastes of the bride and groom, the nature of the audience, the capabilities of the reception facility, and the dynamics of the moment. Underlying all these unique elements are a common set of principles. The goal of planning is to apply them correctly to your particular event.

“Mark was wonderful to work with and paid wonderful attention to the details. He is genuine in his efforts to make the day/evening run as smoothly as possible.” – Brooke Gardiner


Audiences get bored easily.
Plan your timeline so the audience always has something to do, including during the times when you are occupied with other events (such as pictures). Plan your meal activities so the audience won't spend most of their time waiting in line for their food.

Everyone wants to enjoy themselves.
Everybody just wants to have a good time - but everyone has their own idea of what they consider to be a "good time".

For some it's dancing, and for others it's visiting with relatives and friends they haven't seen for a while. Provide an environment where everyone can enjoy themselves - louder music on the dance floor for the dancers, and quieter areas where the audience can sit and visit.

Everyone has their own preferences.
Each of us has our own preferences and tastes. Some aspects of the reception are all about the preferences and tastes of the bride and groom (such as the type of decorations, the music selections for the spotlight dances, and the choice of activites that will be done at the reception).
Some aspects of the reception are all about the preferences and tastes of the audience (such as the choice of music for the dance). A successful reception respects and combines everyone's preferences so that everyone has a good time.

Don't let the audience get too hungry.
Most folks are used to having meals at the same time, and if they have to wait too long past their normal mealtime, they're likely to get grumpy. Grumpy audiences tend to drink more, and are more likely to leave shortly after the meal is over.

Empty stomachs and alcohol don't mix well.
Drinking on an empty stomach tends to exagerate the effects of the alcohol. If the audience will be drinking for a while before eating you should consider providing snack foods.

Don't interrupt.
Nobody likes to be interrupted - so plan your reception so those activities that need the audience's attention are grouped together so you only need to interrupt them once to gain their attention.

Plan the photographic activities earlier in the evening.
Plan the photographic activities for earlier in the evening when you will be looking your best. This usually works best for the photographer's schedule as well.

Let folks know what to expect.
Your activities will flow smoother when everyone knows what to expect. Examples of this include:

  • letting your audience know, in advance, of the toasting activities (so they won't be scrambling to get a drink at the last minute)
  • letting the toasters know how and when the toasts will be handled (so they are prepared)
  • letting the parents know if/when they will be called on for the spotlight dances (so they will be ready to join in)
  • giving the photographer/videographer advance warning of special activities (so they won't miss capturing an important moment)
  • coordinating with the caterer (so the food is ready when the audience is ready to eat)

Keeping everyone informed is primarily a responsibility of the Master of Ceremonies, but they can only meet that responsibility when they have a complete plan to work from.

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There are many activities that you might want to consider for your reception. Some of them are easy to incorporate, and some require advance preparation in order to be successful. Be aware that different areas of the country have different traditions. Here is a partial list of the activities that are popular in the Wichita area:

  • Spotlight dances - This traditionally includes the bride and groom dance, and optionally may include a Father/Daughter dance and/or a Mother/Groom dance.
  • Cake Cutting - This is a photographic event to capture the cutting of the wedding cake by the bride and groom and the first champagne toasts between the bride and groom.
  • Bouquet toss - The bride tosses her bouquet to a crowd of all the single ladies - symbolizing the bride giving her "good luck" wishes to the lady that catches the bouquet. This can be done to include all the single ladies, or just those single ladies that are 16 or older. Check with your florist about a special "toss bouquet" if you don't want to toss your ceremonial bouquet.
  • Bouquet Presentation - This also involves giving away the bridal bouquet, but with a different intention. All married couples are asked to the dance floor to dance to a romantic ballad. Couples are then asked to leave the dance floor based on how many years they have been married, until only the oldest married couple remains. The bouquet is then presented to the couple (in exchange for advice on the secret to a long and happy marriage).
  • Garter Toss - The groom removes the garter from the leg of the bride, and then tosses the garter to a crowd of all the single men - symbolizing the groom giving his "good luck" wishes to the man that catches the garter. Frequently the best man has the honor getting down on all fours to make a bench with his back for the bride to sit on while the garter is removed.
  • Grand March - This activity is done immediately prior to the bride and groom dance. The ladies and the men form two lines (similiar to "conga" lines) and parade around the dance floor, finally ending in a circle with the bride and groom in the middle - ready to start their spotlight dance. In order to do this activity it's important to have two experienced people who can lead the two lines.
  • Dollar Dance - This is a traditional activity where the audience members pay money (dollars) to dance with the bride and groom. The money is used for the honeymoon, and it's a chance for the bride and groom to have a short amount of 1-on-1 time with each of their guests. The best man usually collects the dollars for the groom and the maid/matron of honor collects the dollars for the bride.
  • Grand Introduction of Bride and Groom - This is done when the bride and groom arrive at the reception and make their grand entrance. Special music is used to gain the audience's attention, add dramatic impact when their names are announced, and then build the excitement as they enter the room to the cheering of the audience.
  • Introduction of the Wedding Party - This is done just prior to the grand introduction of the bride and groom. In order to present this properly, the wedding party members need to be lined up (in announcement order) prior to their entrance into the room, they need to be instructed where they will stand after their introduction, and the Master of Ceremonies needs to have phonetic pronounciations of all names.
  • Introduction of the Parents - This is usually done after the introduction of the bride and groom. The parents are recognized and congradulated/thanked for their contributions.
  • Video Presentation - A special video presentation about the bride and groom can be shown. Usually the presentation run from a computer, with the audio (sound) output routed into the sound system and the video output projected onto a large screen. Typically this is shown while the audience enjoys the wedding cake for dessert after the meal.
  • Karaoke - Liven up your reception with the addition of karaoke, and your audience can enjoy singing as much as they enjoy dancing. Karaoke needs to be planned in advance so we bring the equipment needed. It also requires that the facility provide a wireless network that we can connect to for accessing the karaoke songs they like to sing (on YouTube).

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Planning Process

The reception planning process starts early. Here is an outline of the basic steps in planning for the reception.

  1. Estimate - The first step is to develop an estimate of the size of your audience and some basic ideas about what activities you want to have at your reception. You'll need that information in order to reserve a banquet facility that is appropriate for your needs and to start developing your reception timeline.
  2. Reserve your banquet facility - It's important to have a facility that is appropriate for the size of audience you anticipate - a facility that is larger than what you need may look empty after everyone arrives, and a facility that can't handle your audience size will frustrate those who have no place to sit. Wichita has a limited number of qualified banquet facilities so reserve early.
  3. Reserve your Master of Ceremonies and DJ
  4. Develop a timeline - Work with your MC/DJ to plan your reception activities and develop a timeline.
  5. Complete the Details - One month before your reception - complete any missing detail in your reception plan (names for introductions, songs for the spotlight dance selections, etc).
  6. Review for Changes - A week before your reception - review your reception plan. Identify any items that have changed and coordinate those changes with your MC/DJ.
  7. Enjoy - The night of your reception - relax, have fun, and enjoy yourself!

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How soon do I need to reserve SignatureDJ for my reception?
Typically our services are reserved 6 to 9 months in advance. That being said, our availability depends mostly on the date that you've selected (the most popular dates are booked 12 - 15 months in advance, other dates are booked weeks in advance).

Since SignatureDJ only has one mobile rig (in addition to the Petroleum Club equipment), there are a limited number of receptions that we can schedule.

How do you help me plan my reception?
The planning is done early in the process - anywhere from 3 to 9 months prior to your reception date. Kathy Latham does the planning meetings for the Petroleum Club events, and Mark does the planning meetings for all the other events. During the planning meeting we'll work with you to determine the activites that you would like to have, develop a timeline for your reception, and capture the details needed. At the conclusion of the planning meeting you will have a documented plan for your reception - a plan that you can share with the other wedding vendors that you will work with (the caterer, photographer, banquet manager, etc).

What are the "spotlight" dances?
The "spotlight" dances are the special wedding dances. Typically there are three dances. The 1st is the Bride and Groom dance, the 2nd is the Father/Daughter dance, and the 3rd is the Mother/Groom dance. The bride and groom are responsible for selecting the songs for the spotlight dances. There are many DJ websites that offer suggestions of songs for the spotlight dances. One of the sites that tracks the most popular songs nationally is DiscJockeys.com. For a list of songs that we have played recently in the Wichita area, see the Songs link at the top of the page (in the Navigation bar).

How do I book SignatureDJ?
In order to reserve the date for your event, we require a non-refundable deposit of $500. See Pricing Information for information on the cost of our services.

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