After we finished taking our couples portraits, it was finally time to party! (and eat dinner!) We were so excited for FOOD as many couples are when they get to this point of the day. Once all of the nervousness wear off after the ceremony, you really start to feel hungry even if you haven’t been able to eat all day, but it wasn’t time to eat yet!
We rejoined our bridal party and got lined up for our grand entrance. I won’t even lie, I love this part of weddings. There is something so fun about making an entrance. We all stood outside of the large barn doors and our groomsmen and bridesmaids were all introduced and did fun little dances as they went in the Barn! Then, it was our turn! As all the guests cheered, we were announced “Mr. & Mrs. DJ Painter!” and we danced into the barn. DJ spun me around (which was one of my favorite things to do in my dress), and we immediately went into our first dance.
For our first dance, we wanted to have a little bit of choreography, but not enough that we couldn’t enjoy ourselves. We learned the cha-cha which is really just two steps and then added in some fun spins and dips to pull it all together. It was very unprofessional and simple, but it was sweet. We danced to “Dance With Me” by Morgan Evans which is such a sweet song! Listen to it HERE. After our first dance, I went right into the father/daughter dance with my daddy. This is a moment that every girl dreams of, and I was blessed to be able to share it with my dad. He cried basically the whole time. We danced to “My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw. Listen to it HERE. Then, it was DJ’s turn for his mother/son dance. This was SUCH a special moment on our wedding day. You see, DJ actually has several mother figures in his life. He has his mom, his stepmom and his Mema who he lived with for several years of his life. It was super important to him that he show all of these women how much they mean to him, so we put together a surprise where he would dance with all of his moms during this moment. They all cried when their names were announced to join the dance floor, especially his Mema who absolutely did not expect it at all! They all danced to “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw. Listen to it HERE.
After we did our dances, my dad made a toast just thanking everyone for coming and our officiant blessed the food before we all headed into the tent to eat. Our reception space was BEAUTIFUL! I was so obsessed with it! The smilax wrapped around the poles of the tent perfectly and the hanging ladder draping in greenery above our sweetheart table was our favorite! Everything was exactly like how I envisioned it. We sat down to eat and our catering staff brought us our meals. As with every wedding, we most definitely had people walking up to us to say congratulations and hugging us while we were eating. We were fine with it, but if you are not, I definitely recommend having your DJ make an announcement that you will be visiting every table after you eat but to please hold off on coming up to you before then AND having your coordinator or her assistant kind of stand watch around your table to intercept any unwanted attention. We quickly ate as much as we could and then started visiting tables. My social butterfly of a husband couldn’t leave each table quick enough without getting lost in conversation, so we didn’t end up getting to visit everyone before it was time to begin toasts.
We had 3 of our bridesmaids do a toast and 2 of our groomsmen. These were all kind of joint toasts in which only the last groomsmen and the last bridesmaid actually “toasted” to the couple. They were short and sweet, and we really appreciated them. Our friends were all super nervous to give a toast, so it meant a lot that they did. I will say, it is kind of awkward to stand during toasts. I would have preferred for us to be seated at our sweetheart table and THEN have toasts begin. We stood during all of them which was just awkward for us. Also, make sure your DJ knows how long these toasts will be because our DJ thought that he had time to go to the restroom in the middle of our toasts, and he definitely did not which left us waiting for him to get back to announce the next person to toast. Awkward silence! This was totally not his fault though; we neglected to tell him that our toasts would be super short!
After toasts were complete, it was time to head back in the barn to cut the cake! We got our cake from Publix, and it was a strawberry cake with cream cheese icing. I was totally obsessed with it. It was delicious, and there wasn’t a single piece of it left! DJ was very nice about feeding each other the cake, and we didn’t get any cake on either of us during this moment. I was pleased haha! Also for dessert we had Mema’s pies! DJ doesn’t really care for cake, so he requested to have pecan pie made by his Mema. Of course, she gave him exactly what he wanted and made 15 pies in various flavors! Everyone LOVED the pies!
Then it was time for open dancing. I was honestly disappointed that more people didn’t want to dance, but I guess that is because we had to trim our guest count so much due to COVID-19, and most of the guests there were older family members. Basically, it was just our groomsmen and bridesmaids dancing which was fine! We had a great time with them! Our groomsmen really got into the dancing scene and were the life of the party for sure!
About halfway through, I noticed that several people were starting to leave. They would come and say bye, of course, but I was hurt that they didn’t want to stay and party with us. I signaled to the DJ to go ahead and do the bouquet and garter toss to try to grab everyone’s attention back which worked for a while. That part of our wedding was pretty uneventful. I threw the bouquet, one of my bridesmaids caught it; DJ took off my garter, one of his groomsmen caught it. It was your typical bouquet/garter moment! The party was a little more fun after that since several of our friends started to enjoy the bar more!
About an hour before the party was supposed to end, we noticed that a huge chunk of our guests had left, and we were down to less than 1/3 of what we started with. I made the decision to have an early exit, so that we could still use our sparklers and have a full photo about 30 minutes before the timeline said “party over.” No one even noticed that we cut it short honestly, and we were both tired from the long day of festivities. I do wish that people would have stayed for the duration of our event, and that was my number one “regret” from our wedding even though I had nothing to do with it personally. Because of this, I brainstormed a few ways to keep the party alive and guests engaged throughout the night so my clients don’t have the same experience. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Have some form of entertainment BESIDES dancing and conversations to keep guests interested. This could be something like a Photo Booth, late night bites, cigar bar, etc.
2. Have a killer DJ. Our DJ was great, don’t get me wrong, but I wholeheartedly believe that having an awesome DJ who can really read the room to get people on the floor moving is what it takes to keep the party alive. DJ’s are the unsung hero’s of wedding days.
3. Consider how far away your guests live and possibly offering a hotel block or transportation. This is where we fell short for our wedding. Our wedding was only about 18 minutes from our home, but it was about an hour from our family’s homes. If your guests live really far away, they will likely leave early as it gets later simply because they have a long drive. By offering a hotel right down the street and a shuttle to take them there, they are more likely to stay longer because they don’t have to worry about driving.
One of my favorite moments of our reception was our private last dance right before we had our sparkler exit. I totally recommend everyone doing this! Usually before the sparkler exit, the couple just stands in an empty reception space waiting for their cue to exit, so you might as well take advantage of it! We told our DJ that we wanted to have that moment just for us on our wedding day with no one around expect our photo/video team to really soak in the last moments of our wedding day, and it was perfect. We actually danced to “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran for this moment. Listen to it HERE. Then, we had our sparkler exit, gathered our belongings from our getting ready spaces, said goodbye to our guests and headed across the street to the Stantliff (a property owned by Summerfield Farms) to spend our wedding night.
Overall, our wedding was a huge success. Considering how much turmoil we went through with postponing and replanning plus all the other headaches that wedding planning can cause, we truly had a great time, and it was 100% worth it. This experience has taught me that wedding planning is a huge production nothing like any other event you will ever have in your life, and you definitely need a team that knows what they are doing to support you through it. I hope you have enjoyed this wedding series all about our wedding, and if you are recently engaged or planning your own wedding, please know that I am always here to help! I would love to guide you through the process and give you the best wedding experience possible. Reach out to me HERE to get started today.
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