Ideas to manage the Buffet Line?

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Jun 11, 2018
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#1
I'm looking for ideas for activities to manage excusing people to the buffet line. Years ago (in phase 1 of my DJ career - 1990s), I would sometimes excuse the head table, and then have trivia questions or challenges for the other tables. Things like:

- First table that can have at least three people sing part of a Beatles song.
- First table that can name the Groom's high school.
- First table that can name the Bride's dog.
- First table that can tell me who won the 1995 World Series.
- First table that can sing the theme song to a children's TV show.

etc., with a mix of challenges for different age groups and demographics.

Has anyone ever done something like that? Or is there another way to make dinner a little more interesting then just "everyone go stand in a big long line"?
 
Likes: steve149

rickryan.com

DJ Extraordinaire
Dec 9, 2009
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www.RickRyan.com
#2
Nope, no games. I keep it simple. When the event is decent size then I release the bridal party and immediate family and tell them that someone will be around to release each table. Sometimes the caterer or venue will do it but most of the time it's me, going table to table and releasing them. It keeps things orderly and it gives me a good chance to connect with the guests. Venue folks seems to appreciate it as well and I get brownie points for referrals.
 

djtaso

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 4, 2017
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#3
I'm looking for ideas for activities to manage excusing people to the buffet line. Years ago (in phase 1 of my DJ career - 1990s), I would sometimes excuse the head table, and then have trivia questions or challenges for the other tables. Things like:

- First table that can have at least three people sing part of a Beatles song.
- First table that can name the Groom's high school.
- First table that can name the Bride's dog.
- First table that can tell me who won the 1995 World Series.
- First table that can sing the theme song to a children's TV show.

etc., with a mix of challenges for different age groups and demographics.

Has anyone ever done something like that? Or is there another way to make dinner a little more interesting then just "everyone go stand in a big long line"?
I def wouldn't do games... I feel when dinner comes, people would rather just converse anyways. Personally I'd do one of two things depending on how the timelines are by you. Keep in mind 95% of my weddings are sit down dinners so the buffets are mostly at sweet 16's which have different timelines.

If your timeline has no dancing before dinner then what Rick said is best. Start w head table and parent tables, then privately go inviting table by table so its orderly. I personally try to ask a staff member to do it as I don't want to appear associated with the caterer.

If there is dancing before dinner, then I coordinate with the venue or caterer to privately invite those that are seated and not on the dancefloor, by the time they finish getting food I then slow things down on the dancefloor and invite the guests that were dancing to the line. Keeps the energy going longer, and the line flowing without building up too much.
 

ittigger

Hundred Acre Industry Icon
Feb 1, 2011
14,865
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Western Maryland
#5
Nope, no games. I keep it simple. When the event is decent size then I release the bridal party and immediate family and tell them that someone will be around to release each table. Sometimes the caterer or venue will do it but most of the time it's me, going table to table and releasing them. It keeps things orderly and it gives me a good chance to connect with the guests. Venue folks seems to appreciate it as well and I get brownie points for referrals.
+1
 
Likes: TwinSpinDJ

DJ TJ

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 20, 2013
1,268
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#7
Any DJ that would make me do stupid assed trivia or sing a song for my supper would get a crack over the head with the lid off a chaffing tray!
Seriously, when it's time to eat it's time to eat and when people are hungry they don't want to screw around and get treated like Pavlov's dog beforehand.
 

steve149

Urbane Legend
Sep 26, 2011
20,442
28,980
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Prospect, CT
#8
Any DJ that would make me do stupid assed trivia or sing a song for my supper would get a crack over the head with the lid off a chaffing tray!
Seriously, when it's time to eat it's time to eat and when people are hungry they don't want to screw around and get treated like Pavlov's dog beforehand.
No soup for you !
 

dunlopj

DJ Extraordinaire
Aug 14, 2008
4,356
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Belair MD
#9
I only did that maybe 4 times in 25 years...and always because the client asked "what else can we do to make this event FUN?".

And in all cases, the client knew their guests very well as it went over great! Even got a few referrals from one at a higher end venue....
 
Likes: ittigger
Jun 26, 2018
89
64
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#10
Scanning your list - some trivia questions *may* be ok. Singing/Dancing/Touching/Standing...No.

"Fun" is subjective. We are a no-cheese Dj service. What some might find "fun", others might find objectionable as they are being put on the spot and forced into group participation activities against their will. Ultimately, you do not want to ruin any guests' night, and if someone is embarrassed because they were forced to sing, or called out because they were the only one who didn't - that might just do it.

I normally will dismiss Bride, Groom, Bridal Party and Immediate family through the microphone and then do "table touches" around the room for everyone else. This way I am not distracting everyone and making their event sound like a fast food or chain restaurant as I bark orders through the mic while people are trying to socialize and eat. That being said, there is nothing wrong with visiting tables and trying to have "fun" with people in small groups at a time. Let it come naturally and organically. If you approach a table and ask "How would you like to be next?" and someone volunteers to sing for their supper - great, let them. Just don't put anyone on the spot. After the singing table, perhaps dismiss the quiet table next to even things out. "Touching tables" also allows you to screen your guests - what do they want to hear, how is the volume etc.

If you insist on using the mic for your table dismissal and make it "interactive", perhaps integrate something relevant that doesn't put people on the spot...
Dismiss tables of Aunts and Uncles
Everyone married Over/Under X years
Anyone at a table of coworkers etc.
Friends from elementary school
Friends from college etc.

It may give you more of a conversation piece than "Can you believe I am being publicly humiliated by the Dj"?
 

Chuck The DJ

I know people.
Sep 28, 2006
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#11
I am going to throw this out there and let it fly.

I do not release tables. I let the cater do it. When I meet with the B&G I explain this to them and write it up on the timeline.
I don't want the cater to tell me when to play a song, I am not telling them when to feed people.

I know that some, if not most will disagree with this, but it's how I roll. Now WILL I do it? Sure, but I have other things to do at that time.
 

djtaso

DJ Extraordinaire
Apr 4, 2017
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#12
I am going to throw this out there and let it fly.

I do not release tables. I let the cater do it. When I meet with the B&G I explain this to them and write it up on the timeline.
I don't want the cater to tell me when to play a song, I am not telling them when to feed people.

I know that some, if not most will disagree with this, but it's how I roll. Now WILL I do it? Sure, but I have other things to do at that time.
I TOTALLY AGREE! I alwyas tell clients in the instances where I have a buffet, that it looks more elegant and proper if the caterer privately dismisses the tables as they best see fit, as opposed to me announcing tables or having the dj go table to table). Because I explain it in that way in terms of elegance and appearance, the client wants it no other way, and they essentially are telling the caterer this is what they want as opposed to asking them.
 
Likes: Chuck The DJ

dunlopj

DJ Extraordinaire
Aug 14, 2008
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#14
In the few instances where I was asked to help staff by releasing tables, I'd ALWAYS go to each table, introduce myself, and then kindly tell them to go to the buffet tables.
 

Albatross

DJ Extraordinaire
Sep 7, 2016
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#15
The only version of this I have done is a song specific to each table to release them. The couple had named each table after a place they had spent time, or that was special to them (Paris, NY, Vegas, etc.). We associated a song with each place, and when that song played, they were released.

I don't recommend it to my couples, but if they are looking for something out of the ordinary - it might be a fun way to tie a theme into their music.
 

Cap Capello

Always @ Ur Service
Dec 14, 2006
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Saratoga, NY
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#16
Trivia. Every time; all the time. Being an entertainer from balls of my feet to the halo just above my head, I never shrink from any opportunity to do just that... entertain. On the other hand, if the "DJ" is best at playing and mixing music, perhaps lacking the skill set of a master MC, then stick with the table by table, the lowest number up to the highest, yawn.

Setting it up is as crucial as the Q & A. It took a year or so to develop and fine-tune the whole procedure, and it has proven itself over and over since.

To me, the questions should be offered under a category (e.g. TV or Music or Sports, etc and every question should have a head-slapper (like people smack the palm of their hands against their foreheads while groaning that they should've known it) answer.
 
Feb 21, 2018
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#17
I went to a quinceañra recently and the event planner had incorporated numbers for each table into the centerpiece and it went very smoothly.
 

DJ TJ

DJ Extraordinaire
Oct 20, 2013
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#19
Unlike you boorish Americans who need to be released a table at a time so you don't act like the Black Friday mob at Macy's.....we polite Canadians don't need individual table release because no one wants to be the first pig in line at the trough!:p

We simply announce that after the head table has been served, please feel free to help yourself. Everyone simply gets up, moves around and mingles a bit, and eventually make their way to the line in nonchalant orderly fashion.
If the line starts to get long, we simply go to the bar for another drink or go out for a smoke while we wait for the line to go down.;)