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Beyond Dancing: Creative Ideas for Reception Activities

Wedding receptions can be a blur: mingle, eat, drink, dance, cut the cake, eat some more, dance some more, drink, go home. After a while, all the wedding receptions you’ve been to can run together. Want to make your reception stand out? Jazz things up with creative activities and games.

Change the Menu

What do food and reception activities have to do with each other? Everything. Host your wedding in the evening, and the night naturally lends itself to dancing when dinner and dessert are over. If you’re looking to mix things up a bit, hold your wedding earlier in the day and serve brunch instead of a full, formal dinner.

Or, add special treats onto the menu at your reception. Dessert bars, sundae bars, and nacho bars get guests snacking and talking. Food trucks are a trendy – and fun – food option that is sure to surprise your guests. If beer and wine are your thing, bring in an expert to conduct beer and wine tastings with your guests.

Take It Outside

Want to make it easy to mix up your reception? Go outside. Lawn games get guests talking, laughing, and mingling, and if you’re looking to get your guests comfortable with each other, set up games for them to play. A bonus to these games: They keep the kids entertained, too!

These outdoor games are easy to set up, and most people already know how to play them:

  • Ring toss
  • Horseshoes
  • Croquet
  • Bocce ball
  • Marbles
  • Ladderball

In Southern Maryland, couples love to set up cornhole at their outdoor receptions. Cornhole is a bean bag toss game. You and an opponent take turns tossing bean bags at raised platforms with holes in them. Points are awarded when your bean bag lands on the platform or in the hole. Make your own set and personalize it, or buy one already made.

If your outdoor wedding is in the evening, why not start a bonfire? Think s’mores and maybe a ghost story or two while gathered around the fire.

Fun and Games

You don’t have to be hosting an outside wedding to get your guests laughing and playing games. Place board games throughout the room, and set up lounge areas so it’s more comfortable to sit and play them. (Lounge areas are also great for encouraging guests to mingle and chat.) Some couples even make the games part of their centerpieces or décor and encourage tables to swap games throughout the night.

Or, play these games, some of which you can leave at guest tables. Prizes aren’t out of the question!

  • I Spy: You know this classic game. Leave a list of things you want guests to find while at your reception.
  • Mad Libs: Looking for marriage advice? Get it in Mad Lib form. You’ll find printable examples online where guests fill in nouns, adjectives, and verbs, leading to hysterical marriage tips.
  • The Shoe Game: Play the Shoe Game to find out how much the newlyweds know about each other. The bride and groom sit back to back and each hold one of their own shoes and one of the other person’s. Use the shoes to answer the questions.
  • Stand Up, Sit Down: Get everyone involved with a game of Stand Up, Sit Down. Ask all your guests to stand, and then start asking questions. Guests sit or stand based on their responses. You’ll get everyone laughing – and the ice will be broken.
  • The Newlywed Game: Ask guests questions about you as a couple. Give prizes for correct answers. You can even divide your guests into teams by table.

Outside the Box

Games not your thing? Try one of these activities:

  • Photobooth: Photobooths are hot, and the goofier the props, the better. Nothing breaks the ice like donning a funny wig and mugging for the camera.
  • Karaoke: Still want music at your reception? Set up a karaoke machine!
  • Fortune teller: Give guests a glimpse into their futures with a reading by a psychic or fortune teller.

TELL US: What alternative activities are you planning for your reception?