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10 Entertaining Ideas for Your Enjoyable Wedding Reception

Be sure your guests let loose and truly enjoy your wedding with these entertaining ideas

Play Party Games

Forget stuffy. Be sure your guests let loose and truly enjoy your wedding with these entertaining ideas — straight from the pros!

1. Walk Down Memory Lane

Make the guest feel like integral parts of the day by incorporating them into the décor — in a gallery of meaningful photos. “We do something we like to call ‘memory lane,'” says Northern California event planner Sasha Souza. “We hang pictures of the bride and groom with friends and family along the walk from the ceremony to the reception. It’s a fun cocktail party conversation starter.” As guests take a leisurely stroll and find pictures of themselves with you, they can reminisce and socialize.

2. Break the Ice Creatively

When you enter your reception for the first time as husband and wife, don’t just take a conventional arm-in-arm stroll. “Run. Skip. Dance. Swoop in on a rope swing!” suggests Alyssa Brown of AE Planning+Design in San Francisco. Brainstorm with your groom about the most creative, appropriate way to make a big impression. This is a great way to break the ice and set up for a fun vibe for the rest of the event.

3. Play Party Games

Crossword puzzles are fun for the back of a program or if you have guests going on a long bus ride to get to the reception venue

“We did a wedding where the menus were puzzles, so each person got one piece of the puzzle at their place setting, then everyone had to put the pieces together to get the full menu description,” says Brown. “Crossword puzzles are fun for the back of a program or if you have guests going on a long bus ride to get to the reception venue.”

4. Be Entertaining

Guests always love the energy of a live band but tend to want to hear the original artist sing their favorite tunes.

Guests always love the energy of a live band but tend to want to hear the original artist sing their favorite tunes. As a compromise, a bride may hire a dance band but also play DJ’ed music during the breaks, or she’ll arrange to have live music during some parts of the event and recorded music during others. Souza suggests combining the best of both worlds — at the same time. “We’ve worked with a band called The Infusion Experience,” says Souza. “The DJ plays the original music while the percussion players play live. It’s a huge crowd pleaser!”

5. Surprise ’em!

“Pablo Neruda is the world’s most romantic poet,” sats Bussen. “And a modern, pretty paperback edition of his love poems makes a wonderful, lasting guest favor that’s much more meaningful that a bag of Jordan almonds! If you buy in bulk, you might get a discount — contact your bookseller directly. And don’t forget to add a personalized bookmark thanking your friends and family for sharing your big day with you.”

 

7. Be More Entertaining

“Consider unexpected, untraditional entertainments, like tarot card readers, magicians and flip book stations ,” says Marcy Blum, an event planner in New York City. She advises asking yourselves what sorts of activities the two of you like to do. You can use your shared interests as surefire wedding inspiration. Or you can use your heritage as inspiration: “I’ve had couples surprise their guests with ethnic dancers or musicians who share a set with the band,” says Blum. “You can hire square dance instructors,” adds Blum. “Have them teach guests to do a line dance — they’ll have a blast.”

8. Host Those Stations

Guests love having a chef prepare a dish just for them
Guests love having a chef prepare a dish just for them. “We’re doing more chef-hosted stations of single items,” says Souza, “like an heirloom tomato salad bar with local tomatoes and cheeses. We’ve also done gazpacho made to order.” Look to your region’s specialties, says Souza. “If out-of-town guests can’t get it at home, it’s a special treat. That tomato bar get a huge crush of people — I’ve never seen anything like it!” Bussen agrees that local food can be a hit. “Display a ‘100 Mile Table’, filled with local produce and artisanal foods, all from within one hundred miles of your celebration — handmade cheeses, homemade pickles — and great local beer!”

9. Try a Wine Tasting

Looking for a fun, interactive cocktail hour idea? At her own wedding, Souza provided “flights,” or 1- to 2-ounce tastes of three different wines. “Everybody got a little notebook with information about the flavor notes,” she says. Another plus: As long as you can supply your own wine without being charged corkage fees, this option may cost less than some speciality bars.

10. Hire the Local Food Truck

Long after dinner's over, and guests are still out on the dance floor, serve up a surprise snack.
Long after dinner’s over, and guests are still out on the dance floor, serve up a surprise snack. Arrange to have a local mobile food vendor pull up his truck outside your event. “Give guests a wrist band or a ticket so they can walk up to the truck and get a snack, then come back inside and start dancing again,” says Souza. She’s hired trucks serving everything from spicy Korean tacos to crème brûlée. Rabideau has hired a cupcake truck to serve sweets decorated with the couple’s initials, and Brown suggests a truck that serves breakfast foods like waffles and pancakes for a late-night treat.

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