It is as much a part of wedding tradition as “Just Married” getaway cars and inappropriate best-man speeches. The wedding party arrives at the reception after posing for about an hour’s worth of post-ceremony photos, and a band member or disc jockey announces the couples one by one, culminating with the grand entrance and subsequent first dance of the bride and groom.
The format is elegant, understated, simple — and safe. Recently, couples are taking more risks in their wedding party introductions. For evidence, look no further than YouTube.
Type in the words “Michael Jackson Thriller wedding reception dance,” and 240 results pop up. In one (which has been viewed by more than 12 million people), the camera rolls as five groomsmen slowly stumble into an unsuspecting reception hall behaving like zombies. They hit their “marks” and turn to face the camera as the unmistakable sound of “Thriller” interrupts the casual conversations going on at the buffet table and open bar.
Suddenly the groomsmen abandon their zombie-like state and break into a near-flawless synchronization of the dance made popular by the “Thriller” video. The audience erupts in applause and laughter. The wedding party has officially arrived.
Numerous other themes dot the YouTube landscape. “Star Wars” entrances are popular, many of them replete with light sabers and Darth Vader costumes. MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” video is another oft-spoofed theme at weddings these days. Ditto Grease’s “You’re the One That I Want,” with bride and groom assuming the roles of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
Each one gets a noticeable rise out of the reception guests who are clearly delighted to get a performance to go with their vodka-cranberries and bacon-wrapped scallops. Perhaps that’s why the practice has become so common.
More and more, brides and grooms are adding a creative touch to their wedding party introductions, elegance and formality taking a backseat to entertainment value and flair. And Vermont is no stranger to the phenomenon.
Newton Wells of Peak Entertainment Inc., a DJ company out of Morrisville, sees it all the time. Thriller? Star Wars? Check, check – he’s been asked to do those. “I’ve Got a Feeling,” by the Black Eyes Peas, is the most common introductory theme Wells has come across. Some brides and grooms eschew any particular theme and just want each couple in their wedding party to be introduced to a different song.
“Sometimes there’ll be eight couples, eight tracks. Plus one for the flower girl, one for the parents,” Wells says. “It requires quite a bit of setup on the DJ’s part — you have to make sure you arrange everything in order.”
Wells has been playing music at weddings since 1996, but only started getting themed wedding intro requests in the last two or three years. He thinks it all started when a video of a wedding party dancing down the aisles of an actual ceremony to the tune of Chris Brown’s “Forever” went viral. (Quick YouTube check: Yep, there it is. Sixty-one million views. Probably 10 times as many laughs.)
Most couples who elect to go the performance-intro route tend to be in their 20s, Wells says. Many of them are from out of town.
“Eighty percent of our clients come to Vermont because they don’t want the cheeseball wedding in the city. They want something unique,” Wells says. “(Themed introductions) spice things up a bit.”
Eric Lane of Stowe’s Storied Events, a wedding planning business, is no stranger to the trend either. A lot of young couples will “do something a little different,” like have their bridesmaids wear boas and groomsmen wear funny glasses and wigs.
Lane says announcing the wedding parties — themed or not — “went out of favor for a while, but has made a resurgence.”
Technology may have something to do with it. Wells says that such elaborate introductions set to music may have proven too difficult until recently.
“CD burners weren’t common enough that many DJs could do it 15 years ago,” Wells notes.
Even with the benefit of advanced technology, pulling off a well-choreographed wedding party introduction can be a DJ’s nightmare. But it’s worth the hassle, Wells says.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. If you get it right, it looks pretty hot.”