Receptions: Smooth Transitions
By David Seel
IN THE WORDS OF EMINEM “IF YOU HAD ONE SHOT, ONE OPPORTUNITY, TO SEIZE EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED, IN ONE MOMENT, WOULD YOU CAPTURE IT, OR JUST LET IT SLIP?”
The bridal party introductions have just concluded. Each member of the wedding party, rocked into the room to a high energy, purposefully selected music clip that reflected their personality and punctuated the personalised introduction. The guests are on their feet as the music transitions into a romantic instrumental. It takes us a second to register that the newlywed’s vows are now playing in scripted tempo and alignment with the music. Mum, who managed to hold it together in the ceremony, loses it at this point as a tear rolls down her cheek. Fortunately this was expected so, not only did Dad have a tissue handy, the photographer and videographer were primed to capture this touching emotion. As the vows draw to an end and the music builds, the new Mr & Mrs Smith are welcomed into the room to vigorous applause packed with emotion and energy. The guests are on their feet clapping in time to the music, ready to start the party.
And then it happens – that awkward pause as everyone wonders what happens now … Fortunately Uncle Harry, the MC, has it under control as his program shows dinner is served next. As he makes the announcement he is tapped on the shoulder by the venue coordinator. After a couple of whispered words, he announces “the meal is still about 10 minutes away, talk amongst yourselves and I will let you know when it is ready”.
There are so many special moments throughout a wedding. Each ceremony, each tradition, each event needs to seamlessly transition into the next. The order of these will impact on both the flow and ease of transition. Taking your guests through a rollercoaster of emotions utilising all the senses, will ensure memories are locked in and you have them talking about your wedding for years to come.
Careful planning and scripting will highlight and eliminate potential challenges. Work with the various service providers to understand their needs, factor this into the schedule and document the roles and requirements for each stage. Venues will often have a wedding coordinator available, just remember their input is typically from a venue’s perspective and may not capture all details needed for a successful reception.
Think about the feelings, mood and emotion you want your guests to experience at each point. What will be done to create those? How can you transition into the next -will it be seamless or a strategically designed step change?
The MC is most often the person executing your plan and facilitating the transitions. It is vital they are part of the planning process, that they know your wishes and are familiar with the detail behind your decisions so they can make informed choices on the day.
While your plan is a starting point, assume there will be some unexpected changes on the day. Contingency plans should be discussed and agreed. For example, if the wedding party arrives at the venue early or the meal is running late, will we delay the introductions, or do we have an alternative transition and activity to fill the time?
Share the schedule with all those involved in its delivery and ensure each participant understands their role and responsibility on the day. The MC should rehearse and refine all announcements and ceremonies they will be presiding over.
This is one of the most important, and yet often overlooked roles. You need someone to be responsible for carrying out your plan on the day. For example, this will be the person that will check with the kitchen before the introductions take place and invoke any contingency plans when necessary.
It is traditionally assumed the family MC or another family member handles this role, although these days it is becoming more common for a wedding coordinator, professional MC or other wedding professional to take on this responsibility. Using a professional allows your family member to relax and enjoy the day and means you can tap into the years of experience, skills and talent those professionals have, leading to less stress and a better outcomes on your special day. Unless they are also the MC, their role is generally unseen by guests as they discretely coordinate with all the people involved and ensure everything runs to plan.
Investing time before the wedding day planning the transitions, order and flow will mean you get the reception you want. Sample schedules, checklists, tips and reference material can be found on – www.theperfectwedding.co.nz