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So You Think You Can Dance…At Your Wedding Reception?

Arthur Murray Dance Studio Houston

Used to be a time when a freshly wed bride and groom could shuffle sheepishly ’round the floor, flash a smile at the cameras and call it a first dance. Not so anymore. Thanks to the massive popularity of TV shows like ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” and FOX Broadcasting’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” even the average Joe knows his rumba from his cha-cha, and probably is a fan of both. Which means that your reception guests are going to come with expectations, if not score cards.

When you head out on that dance floor for your first foray as husband and wife, make it a moment for the memory books. In a good way. Here in Houston we are so lucky to have not one, not two, but three locations of the famed Arthur Murray Dance Studios—at nearly 100 years old, the nation’s most venerable dance-instruction organization. Arthur Murray instructors have taught Broadway dancers and Hollywood stars alike. And they can teach anyone–even your average Joe (or typical Tom or ordinary Ed or whatever dance-averse-but-otherwise-perfect dude you’re planning to marry).

Maria Johnson, who owns Arthur Murray Dance Studio Cypress–The Woodlands and Memorial are Houston’s other locations–reminds brides that the first dance is your first public moment as husband and wife. “Don’t overlook the importance of how a beautiful first dance can be a wonderful lifetime memory,” she advises. Uh, no pressure, right?

Right. Because you, smart bride, are going to sign up for dance lessons. You’re going to get some professional first-dance choreography for yourself and your hubby. Heck, you might even corral your bridesmaids and groomsmen for a group lesson or two—a great idea for a couple’s shower, particularly when followed by drinks, food and maybe even…dancing?? Good thing Arthur Murray Dance Studios of Houston offer all these instruction options and more. And not a single score card in sight.

Arthur Murray Dance Studios Houston

Before You Say … “I Do?” Woo-hoo!

Events in Bloom - Photo: D. Jones

If you’re one of the more than 1,000 lucky brides and assorted family and friends who attended the Jan. 24 Before You Say … “I Do!” soiree, you’re probably still reeling from the thrill of the experience. We know we are.

This year’s show featured nearly 80 in-demand Houston wedding experts and purveyors of wedding beauty and bounty (thank goodness for that
Java Pura coffee bar…with so much to see and such divine cuisine and drink from the ever hospitable Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, we needed a caffeine kick or two!)

We want to thank the wonderful Lisa Hopkins, director of catering for The Houstonian, and her amazing staff, without whom the soiree would not have been possible. And this year’s show wasn’t just possible, it was “fabulous,” notes Weddings in Houston publisher Radhika Day. “Gorgeous weather, great turnout and incredible displays” were all on hand, she says. As for those designer tablescapes and cake displays? “They were show stopping! And the cocktail reception was a big hit with the brides.” Shocker, huh? But it was the Houston BoyChoir, which performed on stage just before the spectacular soiree fashion show, that really wowed the crowd. As Day says, “Their angelic faces and beautiful voices stole the show!”

Houston Boychoir - Photo: Nhan

We’ll have more Before You Say … “I Do!” wrap coverage coming up, but take a look at these photos for a little taste of our sweetest soiree yet!

Mia Bridal Couture - Photo: Nhan

Wedding Music Alternatives

Don’t know why, but we’re in a musical mood today. Maybe it’s because we were just grooving to this
sweetly hilarious song (scroll down to Bulletin Board) from KRBE’s Special K and Phoenix created specially for Roula Christie and hubby Tasos Kostas in honor of their recent wedding (how cool is THAT)?

Well, whatever the reason, we’re all excited to talk tunes—specifically, slightly offbeat, but truly sensational alternatives to the standard Ceremony Strings, Cocktail Combo, Party DJ triumvirate.

OK, so everyone loves a good string section at a wedding ceremony. But instead of lulling guests with the sonorous sounds of acoustic music, why not go electric? We’re not talking Hendrix here, but instead the marvelously deep, rich sound of an electric harp. Or how about an electric violin, assisted by a loop station, which lets the performer play multiple parts in real time—along the lines of this violinist, playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D , an enduring ceremony favorite. Imagine how beautiful this would sound in your ceremony site…

As for the cocktail interlude before the big bash, we love the idea of music with a theme. You might not want to have bluegrass fiddlers or a tabla-sitar combination or soundtrack music from your favorite science fiction flicks for the ENTIRE night, but the cocktail reception is a great place to personalize your wedding with music that means something special to you and your new spouse. Coordinate hors d’oeuvre and/or specialty cocktails with your themed music for a true guest treat!

At dinner, it’s all about dancing. But that doesn’t mean you have to stick strictly to pop classics, beloved oldies and wedding standards, Houston bride. Have your DJ mix it up a little with music that might be unfamiliar or unexpected—but is irresistible to dancers. We’re fans of Egyptian belly-dancing music, Bhangra remixes, Turkish Darbuka drumming, Cuban hip-hop, South African choir music, Southern gospel—we could go on and on, but our feet are tired!

Just promise us one thing: No Chicken Dance. Really.

Band or DJ?

It’s a classic wedding conundrum: Create an ambience of grandeur with a fine live music ensemble…or give ’em something they can really move to?

If you find yourself trying to decide between a band and DJ, ask yourself these simple questions, and you may find the choice an easier one than you’d anticipated:

How important are our favorite songs? If you and your fiancé have a list of songs you absolutely MUST hear on your wedding day or you’ll forever feel the lingering ache of disappointment, a DJ is probably the best choice. Any DJ worth his salt will be able to source your favorite tunes, from ’70s classics to country hits to the latest hip-hop tracks, and make sure they are played (repeatedly, if need be). A band with a set repertoire, not so much.

Do we want one particular theme or type of music? There’s nothing like an experienced band, complete with the right instruments and attire, to enhance a wedding theme, evoke cultural traditions or create an air of authenticity. If you and your fiancé are mad for salsa, or you met in a swing-dance class, or you’re marrying at a ranch and you want to get the full effect with live fiddlers and such, an authentic band is the way to go.

How much room do we have? A smaller venue typically means a smaller stage area. A smaller stage area means a small band. A small band may end up sounding, well, small—not what you want guests to experience on your big day. In this case, a DJ is a better bet, and can offer a bigger sound with a minimum use of space.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime event—shouldn’t it include once-in-a-lifetime entertainment? A live music performance is a totally in-the-moment, one-time deal. For sheer intensity, there is nothing like the experience of watching expert musicians do their thing, or enjoying the many thrilling, unscripted moments of a live show. If spontaneity is your thing, a band will truly make your heart sing.

What can we afford? Yes, music is vitally important to your wedding—but don’t go broke for it. In almost all cases, a live band, with multiple live performers who need to be paid for their work, not to mention fed and tipped, is a considerably more expensive option. If you want a band and can afford it, go for it—this is your wedding, after all. But don’t forgo beautiful floral or delicious hors d’oeuvre, or overextend yourself financially, just to get a tuxedo-clad, 12-piece ensemble on your wedding stage. Houston has plenty of outstanding DJs to fit every taste, budget and need, and with a little wise shopping—through referrals, in-person meetings and careful review of any prospective DJ’s work via video, etc.—you will find the one who’s right for your perfect night.