Image: Caroline Sada Photography

Getting married is not something you do everyday.

Whether you have a cast of thousands there, or are planning an intentional elopement, it’s one of the most personal and intimate milestones of your life. Because of this, it is so very important that you feel comfortable with the person doing the marrying.

Every marriage celebrant can make you married. But a great celebrant, is one that you click with.

There’s a celebrant out there for everyone.

Image: It’s Beautiful Here

There are entertainers with a huge personalities, word weavers who will tell you story with authenticity, joy and kindness, celebrants who cater to the cosplay crowd and others that ground their ceremony in ritual and love a good hand-fasting under the full moon.

Your relationship with your celebrant starts long before you say ‘I do’. A good celebrant listens to you, and what your hopes are for your wedding. They don’t try to force you into a ‘cookie cutter’ ceremony, or tell you how your ceremony HAS to be. Instead, they are a resource to help you create a moment in time that will be unforgettable and uniquely you.

Image: Kim Cartmell

You form a one of a kind relationship with your celebrant. Your celebrant holds the space for you on your wedding day and the ritual you are undertaking. They facilitate an experience for everyone present. They generate the energy and vibe for your whole wedding celebration. A wedding that is done right, will make the ‘getting married bit’, the highlight of your wedding day.

Image: Sarah Godenzi

So with all this in mind make your choice of your celebrant the first choice you make in your wedding planning. Take the time to look around. Consider more than just the price they charge and whether you’ll get a set of steak knives if you book before the EOFY.

Instead, consider how they make you feel.

Consider whether they are someone you would like to get to know.

Consider whether on your wedding day, when you are standing across from your best friend in the whole world, about to make your vows to each other, whether this celebrant is the person you want to be making this memory with.

Image: Dijana Risteska

Ms Floral Says: This is so true, Megan! Thank you for reminding us all of the importance of connecting with your celebrant.

About Megan Jordan: Megan Jordan is a Melbourne based wedding celebrant who loves bold bright prints and statement earrings. She takes the time to get to know you and what you love about each other. The end result is a wedding ceremony that is light-hearted, warm and full of all the delicious detail that makes it authentically you. She creates ceremonies that are all heart and laughs, making sure that your wedding ceremony is the highlight of your wedding day. When she’s not marrying the best people in town, you can find her digging around in her garden and drinking wine – sometimes at the same time.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

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Image: Sayher Heffernan via Tara & Andrew’s Bespoke, Creative & Joyful Surprise Wedding

Cocktail hour or pre-dinner drinks, is the period of time between the ceremony and dinner. It essentially is the beginning of the reception portion of a wedding.

I am certain that most have heard the truism “you only get one opportunity to make a first impression”, yet many couples don’t realise the benefits that having a professional DJ during cocktail hour will make and sadly, often resort to a self-programmed playlist or asking a friend or relative to look after the soundtrack for this portion of their wedding.

Don’t Burden Family or Friends

Foremost, every couple wants their guests to relax and enjoy themselves on their special day. Asking a family member or friend to look after the music really places a huge responsibility on them. So instead of enjoying the celebration, they will most likely feel like they are on duty the entire time and may not be experienced to appreciate other factors which need to be considered in order to meet the couple’s wishes, which I will cover in the next two points.

Image: Emily Abay

Setting the Mood for the Reception

The cocktail hour is an opportunity to get the guests in the mood to celebrate your love. Think about it, your wedding guests are feeling wonderful after the ceremony and are looking forward to having a great time as they mix, mingle, reminisce and catch up with old friends, loved ones and even new acquaintances throughout the reception.

A DJ who is experienced in performing at weddings will ensure the right songs are played at the right time, building the energy to the appropriate upbeat level, whilst observing guest demographics and their body language, which will be different for everyone. Of course, it goes without saying that the cocktail hour music can be personalised to reflect the desires of the couple whilst still keeping it upbeat and inclusive of guest’s demographics.

In my experience, people’s moods tend to mirror the soundtrack. When upbeat music is played, guests will sing-a-long or mouth the words, tap their toes or sway to the music and it will subconsciously get them excited for the good time that will follow. Don’t believe me? Imagine only hearing ballads during cocktail hour or worse, if there was no music at all. What do you think the guest body language would be like?  What do you think their expectations would be for the rest of the celebration?

The Right Volume

A DJ will ensure that you have appropriate volume levels throughout the cocktail hour. As more guests arrive, the conversation level will increase incrementally, the volume should also. Not so as to compete with the conversation, but to ensure that the music can still be heard.

Image: Juddric Photography via Carly & Pete’s Rustic Queensland Hinterland Wedding

Choice of Location & Second Sound System

Some couples may wish to have their cocktail hour at a location that is far away enough from the reception location where a second sound system may be required. In addition, there may not be power available at that location. Most DJs are able to provide a second system, battery powered options or have a generator to accommodate the couple’s wishes – so cocktail hour by the lake at the other end of the property is not problematic. This also enables a seamless transition between the end of the cocktail hour and start of reception as there is no urgency to break down the system, shuffling as fast as possible for a reset at the reception location.

Unique Opportunities for The Couple

Think outside the square and get creative! Some suggestions I have made to couples in the past are;

  • the couple could join the guests at the beginning of cocktail hour and have the DJ facilitate the cutting of the cake, then proceed to have photographs taken. The wedding cake can then be served as ‘afternoon tea’ of sorts. This frees up some time during the reception and increases the likelihood that the cake is actually eaten by guests, or
  • the couple could join the guests towards the end of cocktail hour and have the DJ introduce their first dance. The wedding party could join them if the couple wished. This ends the cocktail hour on a high and once again frees up some time during the reception which be utilised for additional dancing.

Image: Michelle Jarni via Kate & Julian’s Elegant Rooftop Garden Party Wedding 

I hope that you now have a better appreciation of some of the benefits in having your DJ provide the entertainment for your cocktail hour. Allow your guests to relax and enjoy themselves and leave the details to a professional!

Ms Floral Says: You make such a convincing argument, Serge! Music is so, so important, as is allowing your guests to relax and enjoy themselves!

About DJ:Plus! Entertainment is a premium, boutique style, wedding DJ & wedding MC entertainment service, designed to offer creative planning to make a wedding so much more personal, engaging and meaningful, resulting in an original celebration that totally represents each couple and is heaps of FUN.

Based in Sydney, Australia, Wedding DJ, Wedding MC and Ceremony services are available in the Sydney Metropolitan Area, Southern Highlands, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Illawarra, South Coast, Central Coast and other locations by arrangement.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

Are you planning a cocktail wedding with formalities? There are a few tips to keep your wedding aligned with the less formal and casual approach that is a cocktail wedding.

In most cases cocktail weddings have the ceremony and reception in the same location, this is in keeping with the notion that a cocktail wedding is less formal. Most couples prefer their guests to have less time downtime between the ceremony and reception as well as not having to travel to different locations.

Images: Ridhwaan Moolla

When the ceremony and reception are in the same location generally the ceremony is later in the day so the celebrations can flow continuously.

The trick to including formalities but keeping the casual vibe is to keep the schedule tight and to always think about your guest experience. Remember your guests are standing for a long time so make sure there are plenty of different seating opportunities so guests can sit and stand freely as well as lots of food in constant circulation and of course an epic feature bar!

Our recommendation is to put all the formalities at the front end of the reception, so they are done and dusted quickly, and you can your guests can mingle more and get to the dance floor.

Images: Aimee Jones

Here’s a run-sheet of a typical cocktail wedding, showing you can still have formalities!

4.30 pm – Ceremony

5.00 pm – End of Ceremony, celebrant announces order of service to the guests as part of the housekeeping. (You can also have an order of service sign at the reception, so guests know what is happening & when)

5.00 pm – Couple to walk towards the reception area for congratulations.

5.00pm – Bar open

5.30 pm – Canapé service to commence

5.30pm to 6.00pm – Family Photos

*Depending on when the sunset hour is will determine when the Bridal Party leaves the reception for photos.

6.00 to 7.15pm – Bridal Party Photos / Couple Photos.

*An important note – when your ceremony and reception are in the same space leaving for two hours for photographs is a long time! And your guests notice, they are there for you and they can get bored quickly, so keep your time away for photos as short as possible.

7.15 pm – MC to ask all guests to fill glasses and be ready for the bridal party return. (Bridal Party to eat some food before entering reception).

7.30 pm – Bridal party returns to the reception (food service to stop).

7.35 pm – MC to announce speeches

*The biggest tip is to keep speeches short! 3-5 mins per person when at a cocktail wedding.

7.35pm to 7.40pm – 1st Speech (Parents)

7.40pm to 7.45pm – 2nd Speech (Parents)

7.45pm to 7.50pm – 3rd Speech (Best Man)

7.50 pm to 7.55 pm – 4th Speech (Maid of Honour)

7.55pm to 8.00pm – Couple’s Speech

8.00pm to 8.05pm – Cake Cutting

8.05pm to 8.10pm – First Dance

8.10 pm onwards – Continual food service, mingling, dancing!

Images: Aimee Jones

Our last note… Your attire can still be formal, even at a cocktail wedding!

Ms Floral Says: These tips are a must-read for anyone planning a cocktail wedding but still want some structure to their proceedings! Thank you for sharing, DUO!

About DUO events Creative Studio: DUO is a full service planning, design, floral and production studio; they create and execute one-off event designs. Their events are more than a gathering they are an exceptional experience. Every detail is bespoke and every element considered suiting your vision. DUO are distinctive, flexible, considerate and meticulous and these principles drive the quality of their work.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!