When you picture a typical wedding reception, you likely envision flowing drinks, a killer playlist, and a dance floor packed with guests. But what if your guests aren’t the dancing type? Does that mean your wedding reception is destined to be a drag, with your loved ones sitting in their seats and waiting for the grand exit?
There are many ways to fill your reception with fun, engaging activities that keep your guests busy without forcing them to the dance floor.
Here are a few fun ideas to add to your wedding reception timeline.
A touch of friendly competition
Nothing breaks the ice like a bit of competition, so don’t be afraid to turn your reception into an inviting game night of sorts!
“Board games are a great way to lighten the mood and organically create interaction between guests who may not know each other well,” affirms Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss. “There are options to fit your crowd, from Jenga to Uno and everything in between, and most are relatively inexpensive.”
With an array of fun games around, your guests may not ask for one more song by the end of the night — but you’ll likely hear a call for one more round! (This one’s for all the money, right?)
A nod to your wedding locale
Whether your wedding is near or far, it’s worth celebrating the region where you tie the knot! A special feature highlighting the local culture will immerse your guests in the area, making them feel at home throughout your wedding.
Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group notes, “Many couples choose to take inspiration from their destination. For instance, we’ve seen luau dancers and fire breathers in Hawaii, a steel drum band performance in Jamaica, and cigar rolling stations in the Dominican Republic. In Mexico, an interactive tequila tasting paired with a late-night taco food truck is a fun idea!”
Get creative and consider what sets your wedding locale apart. Is there a must-have food that can set up a DIY station at the reception? Are there specific games or sports that are big in the area? Don’t hold back!
A treat for the tastebuds
If you know your guests aren’t inclined to dance, appeal to their stomachs instead! A rich culinary experience is sure to win over everyone. You may even convert some of your friends into full-time foodies!
Plus, expanding the reception menu can soften the decision fatigue as you plan your wedding. As Sarah Blessinger of Kindred Weddings and Events notes, “incorporating several smaller courses into your wedding dinner gives your guests a chance to try more options than just picking one main entree.”
Blessinger also recommends incorporating an interactive element with the experience, like “having a chef come out and walk guests through unique flavors and dishes for a truly unique experience. Or you could provide a whisky, wine, or beer tasting with a trained professional for your guests to learn more about some of your local favorites.”
One thing is certain: Good food and drinks never go out of style.
A surprise performance
Just because your guests aren’t much for showmanship doesn’t mean you can’t put on a scene! Hiring outside performers or guest acts is an exciting way to surprise your guests and give them a night to remember.
Monika Kreinberg of Furever Us elaborates, recommending, “If your crowd isn’t much into dancing, provide another form of entertainment such as entertainers and performers: dancers, magicians, standup comedians, aerialists, and live bands. The choice of entertainment would depend on the type of couple and the couple’s budget. These may, at times, be more of an investment. But, totally worth it.”
So if you have a well-loved college mascot, a favorite cover band, or simply a love of comedy, consider how you can add an extra personal touch to your reception.
A cozier alternative
Small and intimate weddings don’t have to miss out either! Lean into the beauty of togetherness and let good old-fashioned conversations take the reins.
“Hosting a bonfire with S’mores can lead to many amazing fireside chats and memories for the quiet couple and their friends,” assures Jaclyn Watson of Jaclyn Watson Events. “With the use of lounge areas and custom s’mores boxes for each person – it will be sure to impress.”
Those who prefer a laidback and casual celebration will be grateful to ease into a low-key reception after the ceremony — especially when it involves delicious food!
Even if you opt for alternative entertainment styles, “don’t forgo music just because you don’t expect there to be many dancers,” encourages Angie Johnston of Sapphire Celebrations. “You will still want to have some music playing to fill the silent spaces in the background when the conversation naturally pauses.”
Plus, you still need an MC for the night, so make sure to hire a DJ — even if you don’t anticipate much dancing. “For couples not planning to have a full dance floor, entertainment must switch to the master of ceremonies,” states Matt Campbell of My Wedding Songs.
Campbell also cautions about weather considerations, with a reminder that “guests will not join games outside if it is really hot, really cold, or raining. Be sure to plan activities indoors if the weather does not cooperate.”
So here’s your permission to skip the hours of dancing (if you want!) and host a wedding that you and your guests will enjoy — without the awkwardness! All that matters is that everyone has fun, and only you know what suits your crowd best.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.