From about 1975 until I retired from hosting wedding receptions a couple of years ago, I played music for literally hundreds. I saw just about everything.  Maybe I can pass on a few tips. Here are today's:

  • Removal of the garter - The groom reaches up under his wife's wedding dress and takes off the garter she wore during the ceremony and tosses it to the group of waiting unmarried men. The man who catches the garter will supposedly be the next to marry. It has been my experience that most males run away from the garter, and it just lays lonesomely on the floor. I have seen a few receptions where the bride has an extra pair of panties under her dress that the groom finds instead of the garter and tosses to the men. Good for a laugh. Sometimes embarrassing.
  • Toss of bouquet - Gather all the single ladies and have the bride toss her bouquet. The lady who catches it will be the next to marry.  It's always cute when a little girl catches it.
  • The first dance - After the meal is finished and the cake has been cut and served, it's time to begin the party. The usual first dance is the bride and groom slow dancing to a song that has a special meaning to them. Sometimes the couple stops about midway through the tune and changes to a fast song and does a dance routine they have rehearsed. This is usually a crowd pleaser.
  • Other first dances - The father/daughter dance is popular. Usually a song is played that has special meaning to them. When I was hosting weddings, "Butterfly Kisses" was popular. It was over five minutes long. I would not choose a tune longer than three minutes. You may also want a mother/son dance. Back in my time, "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd was popular. Usually the first dances also include a wedding party dance. All the bridesmaids and groomsmen pair up for a dance or they chose partners from the other guests.
  • Special dance - I used to auction off the first dance with the bride. The couple can always use a few extra bucks to begin the honeymoon. Hopefully, there is a rich uncle or two in the crowd who will bid a couple hundred bucks for a dance. Sometime a bidding war can bring in very big bucks.
  • Very special dances.- We are in the Midwest and many old traditions still hold on. More than once I saw a strange scene where the groom is carried in the room  by the groomsmen while straddling a rail while other folks follow beating pots and pans. Then the unmarried sisters of the bride dance in a pig trough on the dance floor.  I imagine this tradition dates back to Germany. Very interesting.  I always did this special dance: I invited all married couples on the dance floor and played a nice slow tune. After a few seconds I asked everyone who had been married less than a year to sit down. After a few seconds, 10 years sit down, and so on until we had the couple that had been married the longest. I would take the mike to them and ask them to tell the newly married couple the secret to being married so long. I got some very funny answers. I recall one little lady who must have been 90 years old saying, "Be sure your ups and downs are under the sheets". That brought the house down.
  • Traditional dances - This seems to be the "chicken dance" capital of the world. I suppose the "hokey pokey" and "cha cha slide" are still around. I believe the older folks at the reception expect them.  If you're going to have little kids at your reception, they seem to love these dances.

I hope all this helps you have a great wedding reception. Please remember no matter how small or elaborate your reception is--you will be just as married when the night is over.