The timing and flow of your wedding reception is so important to the final outcome, and there are many different strategies for how to layout the evening.  If you want to have dancing at your celebration, you can either save all dancing for after the dinner is completed, or you can intersperse dancing throughout the evening.  Event planners, music providers and catering directors may all have preferences for which strategy is right for each party.  Certain details, as well as hiddden costs,  could arise which  should factor into your decision.
Very often the logistics of then venue determines which scenario is best. If the band will be set-up in a separate area from where dinner will be served, is often best to save dancing for after the guests have enjoyed dinner and are ready to move to a different room.  You could even serve dessert in the new area, and approach this as a “dessert after-party.”
to consider-
A. You still want some live background music during the seated dinner, which might require additional equipment or additional musicians in the dining room. If there will speeches during dinner, you will certainly need a sound system and microphone, which your venue might or might not provide.  Bands and DJ’s can provide this for you at an additional fee.
B. Most bands will need a short break after about an hour of playing, depending on the total length of performance time.  This will need to be factored in.
If you are planning an elegant meal and want to make sure the guests are seated at all times to enjoy not only the offerings, but the food service as well, you might want to consider serving the courses back-to-back. This will ensure an elegant environment and generous time for talking and visiting at the tables.  During the meal you might have live musicians playing soft background music and then break into dancing music after dessert has been served.
to consider- the band and sound system will need to be completely set-up and tested before the guests enter the dining room. This might need to be included in the band’s contracted playing time, or will require an additional fee for extra time.
This flow is very popular in Manhattan for many weddings. Often the ballroom is opened with inviting music where guests may (or may not) find their way to the dance floor, even before the appetizer is served. The bride and groom are announced and go directly into their first dance, which segueways into inviting all guests to dance, and kicks off an evening that is high energy throughout.  The music softens and guests are seated for each course, creating an elegant and soft atmosphere for all food service, and in between courses ample time is allotted for fun dance music and partying.
This is an open, free flowing type of party where guests are less “directed” by the schedule of events, and are more inclined to mingle and dance as they choose. It is definitely a more casual approach.
to consider-
A. If you want dance music throughout the event, you might want to consider having a DJ to alternate with the band for when the musicians need to take short breaks. Most bands play continuous music throughout the entire event, but need to scale back to listening music at a few points. This is something to disuses with your music provider.
B. Having a full dance floor creates a vibe that accelerates the excitement of a party.  We want to be sure that many guests are ready to dance at the same time, in order to help create this energy. There might be times, at an event laid out this way, where some guests are dancing while some are eating and others are visiting, which can affect the number of people on the dance floor. We may want to find ways to maximize having the most people dancing at the same time, for example: inviting people to join a “father-daughter” dance.
There are many ways to conceive an event, and many approaches to the flow and timing. There is no right or wrong scenario, only different options to support your priorities and preferences.
Music can be used to enhance and create so many different types of moods and environments, and with the right “consultant,” you are able to design your own perfect party.
Please offer any thoughts, responses or comments below. We love to hear from you.