Illustration by Arnel Reynon
Wedding planner Jennifer McBride never imagined she would be directing a bride and groom's grand introduction at the Jefferson Hotel in the form of a Glee episode. "The bride loves to dance and was a member of her school's show choir," says McBride, owner of McBride Events. "It was her idea. They didn't want to do a big formal introduction."
When the couple was introduced, the lights began to shift, and the bridal party came up to the stage one by one, with the bride and groom leading the way. "When everyone got there, they went into a big song ("I Got a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas) like they do on Glee," McBride says. "They did a whole song-and-dance routine. It was like a show choir. I was very proud of them for pulling it off."
Couples today are opting for everything from a traditional introduction featuring names only to a lively, individualized introduction that tends to "get the party started," as singer Pink would say. "The grand introduction always sets the tone for the reception," McBride says. "It can be monotonous, or it can be a lot of fun."
Determining the type of grand introduction a couple desires starts with a conversation between the bride and groom and their wedding planner or DJ/master of ceremonies. "You need to create an event that fits the personality and style of the bride and groom," says J.B. Bostic, a DJ at Choice Entertainment. "I often have a bride and groom fill out a form with about 17 questions that includes information on each person I am introducing."
Bostic uses that information to create an introduction with personality and appeal. Simple introductions, he says, can be "pumped up by playing music that creates energy" and excitement. Introductions that involve the entire wedding party are more theatrical in nature. "They are more of a production," Bostic says. "It's a fun way to let people know who everyone is. It gets people interested and keeps them engaged."
Some DJs (including Bostic) use sound effects or other recordings when announcing members of the wedding party. For example, if someone lives in the country, his or her introduction may include the sound of crickets. "We take the spoken word and add something such as music, a sound effect or a clip from a movie," he says. "It's a way of expanding the introductions and making them more interactive. When we get to the bride and groom, we tell their love story."
Eric Herod of Eric Herod Entertainment organizes everything from mini-roasts of the wedding party to theme-based entrances. He recently directed a fun Chicago Bulls basketball-style introduction.
That Bulls-themed entrance included special lighting and wording — such as "Joe Smith, standing 5 feet, 10 inches" — to make it feel like an NBA intro. "It really brought life and personality into the introduction," Herod says. "They used a specific song, Sirius by the Alan Parsons Project, which is the song used by the Bulls."
Lighting and special effects add an extra dimension to the introduction by focusing people's attention on a particular area. "We are starting to see fog machines, spotlights and specially programmed LED lighting to make the room change colors," says Jeremy Kilgore, CEO and president of Blue Steel Lighting Design. "We had a couple in 2010 do their grand introduction walking down the staircase of this beautiful venue. We had theatrical lighting follow them all the way down into their choreographed first dance."
The key to success is time management. "People have a short attention span," says McBride. "They are usually hungry and champing at the bit."
Individual introductions can be completed in 60 to 90 seconds. "Normally the whole wedding party can be finished in up to 12 minutes," Bostic says.
Each aspect of an introduction — from song selection to walking strides — is produced and timed by the planner, DJ or master of ceremonies. Herod enjoys making the introduction a competition between members of the wedding party. "I will challenge them to outdo the person preceding them," he says. "You get some fun reactions."
Bostic always builds in extra time in case a member of the wedding party diverts from the intended path. "One time we had a groomsman start dancing through the tables instead of walking to where he was supposed to stand," he says. "The room erupted. It added personality, and that's what you want. You want to get people in the mood to have fun and enjoy the celebration."