A New Wedding Tradition? Part 2: The Reception

New Wedding Tradition Or Is It Here Today Gone Tomorrow?


In the first of this two-part series on new wedding traditions, I focused on the wedding ceremony itself. In this concluding article, I will focus on the wedding reception.

Since 1975, BobHawkins.com has taken part in more than 6,000 wedding receptions in everything from banquet hall to backyard tent, and from black tie formal to casual. With all these weddings under our belt, we have seen a large number of fads and new traditions; as there are too many to mention here, I shall focus on a few of them. Here they are broken down into several categories.

Special Effects:


Uplighting is the “in” thing at wedding receptions. The difference between uplighting and other special effects is that uplighting has staying power. Uplighting can change the mood of a room and accent the decor. The color of a dreary four-walled warehouse style of banquet hall can be transformed to a couple’s wedding colors, and that means that anything else is possible. Uplighting can be used to accent the wall behind the head table or the lighting can be spread out strategically and symmetrically throughout the room for a wash effect.

Uplighting is a great way to add that “Wow!” sensation to a wedding. DJs provide uplighting and other special effects as part of the “entertainment” package.

Dry Ice:

Popular at European weddings dry ice is a great effect for the “first dance” photos. Dry ice produces a low lying fog that covers the dance floor that swirls around the couple as they have their ceremonial first dance. It’s as if they are dancing on Cloud Nine! Adding Dry Ice to a reception can be quite costly, however, as it is labor intensive. Also, dry ice cannot be stored before use for very long, as it is colder than a freezer.

Helpful Hint:

If you plan to use dry ice at your wedding, use it for your first dance directly following your grand entrance. Since, the cloud of dry ice will condense water vapor on the dance floor, leave sufficient time between the first dance and the dancing that follows so that the floor has time to dry.


Pyrotechnics have been banned by the majority of halls, and require special licensing from local and provincial bodies for indoor events. In the late 1990’s, before the tragic White Snake incident in the United States, almost every banquet hall allowed pyrotechnics as part of either the grand entrance, or the first dance. The commonest type of pyrotechnic used was silver gerbs – also known as fountains – that lasted from 10 to 15 seconds. These fireworks produced a jet of sparks. Today, Pyrotechnics occasionally still appear at weddings but in a different fashion. A spectacular outdoor fireworks show may occur at a wedding if it falls on a major national holiday, or if the couple just want that extra bit of “wow” for their guests. Fireworks displays are best suited for golf courses.

Flutter Fetti:

Also known as Kabuki, Flutter Fetti is not allowed at some banquet halls due to the mess that is left behind. Flutter Fetti came entered the scene as the use of Pyrotechnics began to drop off, because it was harmless. Flutter Fetti is launched from something like a small cannon; once released, the airis filled with 1 inch by 2inch rectangles and streamers (usually in the wedding colours). Flutter Fetti can be used during the grand entrance, the first dance, or the last dance to emphasize the importance in the evening.


Keepsake CDs:

A popular bomboniere (Italian for wedding favor) when CD Burners first came on the scene, keepsake CDs were a way for the couple to share the music they selected for their special dances, as well as some of their all-time favorite tunes with their friends and family. Unfortunately, keepsake CDs are illegal. By the way, the risk of being caught is real. A couple in Manitoba faced heavy fines due to supplying her guests with Keepsake CD’s.

Keepsake Wine:

Another great bomboniere that became popular when craft-your-own wine shops exploded onto the market place, the keepsake bottle of wine can be a favorite type of wine or even an ice wine. Keepsake wines may be bottled with special labels to commemorate the wedding. Also, bottling the wine can be a fun way for the families of the couple to enjoy.

Helpful Hint:

Make an extra case to put away for special occasions in your life together, such as your first anniversary, the birth of a child, the purchase of your first home, and other milestones, but ask the shop owner how long your bottle of wine can last – most wines don’t last too many years.

1st Dance Plaques:

Another blast from the past, the 1st Dance Plaque was popular in the 20th century. The DJ would mount a CD of your first dance song on a plaque and below it a small plate inscribed with your names, wedding date, and the name of the song. It was a good idea, but usually became a piece of clutter.

Today, the plaque is making waves once again, but instead of a CD that focuses on your first dance, DJ’s are professionally mounting the Gobo (that is, a template inserted inside or placed in front of a light source – the name means “go between”) used to project your personalized monogram on the dance floor, should you add this enhancement to your reception.

Food & Drink:

Signature Cocktail:

Made popular by numerous wedding television shows, the signature cocktail has now faded away. A signature cocktail is a drink designed by a “mixologist. Usually, the cocktail would be in the wedding color, and sometimes both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options would be available.

A Cake Made of Wheels of Cheese:

Instead of the standard dessert style wedding cake, each tear of the cake are made out of different wheels of cheese. The cheese is then cut up and used as part of a Charcuterie display for the latenight snack.

Ice Sculptures:

Ice sculptures are not seen very often nowadays except for the odd late night seafood buffet. Gone are the days of the big heart sculpture or the flying doves. Ice Sculptures have a short lifespan, especially in hot weather, and cannot be used for much other than as the centerpiece on the buffet table.

Chocolate Fountains:

Chocolate fountains were very popular for most of the last decade, but have apparently fizzled out – killed by its own popularity to the point that people could buy home-use models.

Cupcake Trees:

Cupcakes became popular over the last decade with all of the cake shows on TV. They are an interesting alternative to the traditional wedding cake; on average we see approximately 40% of weddings are opting for cupcakes. Guests can take one home to enjoy later, and they come in different flavors.

Helpful Hint:

If you decide to have a cupcake tree, consider also having a single-tier cake top for your cake cutting photos.


Photo Booths:

The Photo Booth is today’s big thing for weddings. Like the Chocolate Fountain that came before it, the Photo Booth may be with us for another two wedding seasons ,and then fade into the sunset, reappearing ever so often. There are many reasons I say this, one being market saturation. While attending Disc Jockey Trade Shows over the past two years, I have seen more and more exhibitors selling photo booths to DJ’s, leading to more and more couples using them at their weddings. Since most couples want their weddings to stand out in some way, once the market has moved on to the next innovation, photo booths will lose their popularity.


The photomontage or slideshow is a great way to share the past of both the couple and their families with the wedding guests. There are three different ways of doing a photomontage at weddings today. The first and still most common way is for everyone to watch the slideshow at some point between the speeches. Another way is to present the photomontage on a computer screen at the gift table, and the third way is to project the photomontage on a screen during the cocktail and dinner hours.


Signing Mat or Board:

The signing mat has become rather common over the past number of years as a replacement of the guest book. Guest books tend to be put away, sometimes never to be seen again. With a signing mat, the couples can put it in a frame to hang over their wedding picture as an ever present reminder of the big day. A new version is a metal signing mat that the guests can etch with a special pen.

Helpful Hint:

Instead of putting the signing mat on an easel to sign, make sure it is lying flat on a table. It is easier for your guests to sign it this way, and reduces the chances that your mat will be smudged.

Other Ideas:

Throwaway Bouquets

Nowadays, many bride's want their bouquet as a keepsake; therefore, it is becoming common for the a bride to toss a “throwaway bouquet”. Most are smaller than the bride’s main bouquet; in some cases, the thruway bouquet consists of three white roses and some greenery.

Helpful Hint:

If you are looking to do something a bit different, ask your florist make a bouquet that is made up of 3 or 4 mini bouquets that can be untied just before throwing.

The Anniversary Dance:

The anniversary dance is a great substitute for bouquet toss, if there are not that many single ladies attending the reception. It works like this: All married couples are invited to the dance floor. After ninety seconds of a slow dance song, the DJ asks everyone married for less than 24 hours to sit down. Thirty seconds later, the DJ asks everyone married less than six months to sit down, and then 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and so on until there is only one couple left dancing on the floor. That couple is then recognized for their years of marriage and are presented with a bouquet.

The Wedding Party Dance:

Having a special dance for just the bridal party is becoming less common. In the past, following the couples’s first dance, the Bride(s) would dance with her father, the Groom(s) would dance with his mother, and then the couple would dance with their wedding party before everyone joined them on the dance floor. It’s a great opportunity for the photographer to capture some special photos.

The Shoe Game:

Some of you may know the shoe game as the napkin game. The couple sit on chairs back to back in the middle of the dance floor. They then take off their shoes and switch one shoe with each other so that each of them is holding one shoe of their own and one shoe of their spouse. Then the Emcee asks a series of questions with the answer being the one spouse, the other spouse or “Both”. To answer the question, they raise the shoe that corresponds to the answer. While fun for guests, this game is usually a filler between courses of the banquet; it’s not too common.

In Closing

Part Two describes only a few of the many different items that have been added to wedding receptions over the years. It’s up to you to decide what you will include at your reception, all with the desire to make it memorable. As I have stated earlier, our experience with wedding receptions is vast, and we are eager to share it with you as you plan your wedding.

Part one can be found here: https://bobhawkins.com/uncategorized/a-new-wedding-tradition-part-1-the-ceremony/

Robert Hawkins

BobHawkins.com Professional Disc Jockey Service