wedding reception idea

How can I make my wedding reception fun?

Looking to make your wedding reception a fun and festive affair, your guests will never forget? In addition to a delicious feast, flowing drinks and a killer wedding playlist, some couples like to get the party started with wedding reception games, icebreakers and other interactive experiences, which might include everything from classic lawn games to bride and groom trivia, a photo scavenger hunt, a well-stocked photo booth and plenty of activities to engage the kids, too.

These sorts of activities work especially well at large, outdoor weddings with space to spread out, but there are plenty of options for indoor weddings, too. If the idea of adding a couple of games to your wedding day sounds like fun, by all means, have at it! We’ve rounded up the 30 of the best games and activities fit for a wedding reception that guests of all ages will enjoy.

In a world full of Pinterest weddings (probably more fictional than real), most women have at least one moment in which they’ve seen a pin and said: “I wish I did that at my wedding!”. Seeing other brides’ ideas and what has been done at other weddings is enough to inspire any bride-to-be and keep you glued to your computer screen for hours on end. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite can’t miss surprises for your groom, your bridal party, your guests and even for yourself. From games to honouring the people you love, here are great ideas that you’ll want to see come to life at your own wedding. 

Hand Out Awesome Favors

Wedding favours should be the cherry on top of a fabulous reception. Let your guests know how much you appreciate having them there by offering a take-home treat (think: doughnuts, hot cocoa mix and marshmallows, a bag of your favourite coffee beans or jars of local honey), a cute succulent plant or a pair of sunglasses branded with your initials and wedding date.

Keep Toasts Short and Sweet

Wedding toasts are all about quality over quantity, so ask anyone who’s speaking to make sure their toasts are no more than two minutes. If they have any longer anecdotes, they can feel free to share at the rehearsal dinner.

Have a Plan for Kids

To keep the little ones entertained throughout the night (and to allow their parents to hit the dance floor), give them their own designated area. In a separate room, arrange for a babysitter to set up and oversee movies, games, crafts or a kid-centric dance party. You can also set up a few tables topped with colouring books, crayons, games and small toys.

Shake Things Up for Your First Dance

All eyes will be on you during your first dance—it’s the perfect opportunity to wow your guests with a fun surprise. Start with a romantic dance to “At Last,” or other classic first dance songs, then suddenly switch gears to an energetic Latin dance or break it down to Bruno Mars. 

Offer an Interactive Food Station (or Two)

Great food makes for a great celebration, but offering dishes that everyone can customize to their liking is even better. Interactive food stations, from a mac-and-cheese bar to a sushi-rolling setup, where guests can create their own ideal bites, will leave you with happy, well-fed friends ready to have a good time.

Rethink Dinner

Instead of a typical three-course menu of salad, entrée and dessert, stretch out dinner over four or five smaller courses (but don’t stretch it too much if you’re still hoping to get everyone on the dance floor). Plan small surprises between dishes, like a short toast from your hilarious aunt, a sweet poem from a lifelong friend or a professional performance, like a vocalist or dancer. It’ll give your guests the experience of a fun night out, complete with dinner and a show.

Change Into Something Comfortable

Let’s put it this way: You won’t have a good time at your reception if you can’t take two steps without snagging your train, right? So after the first dance, brides can swap the veil and bustle for a fabulous little white dress or jumpsuit, and grooms can change to a more relaxed suit. If you and your new spouse are comfortable enough to move freely, you’ll dance more, chat more, laugh more and eat more cake—that’ll rub off on your guests.

Plan Surprise Entertainment

Sometimes the best parts of a reception are what guests don’t see coming. Surprise your loved ones with unexpected entertainment during the cocktail hour or reception, like a magician, mariachi band, aerialists or a salsa dancer.

Make Sure Your Band Has Great Break Music

Everyone’s been to that wedding before: Just when the dance floor starts heating up, the band takes a break—and the party seems to as well. To make sure this doesn’t happen at your wedding, ask potential bands how they plan to handle breaks before you hire them. Some bands will rest in shifts and split off into a smaller two- or three-piece band, while others will turn on filler music. If yours is planning on the latter, ask whether you can provide the playlist, or at least check and approve their picks before the party.

Find a DJ Who Gets You

Okay, this is a little more obvious, but we have to mention it because music is a major reception fun factor, and has a lot to do with how long your guests will stay. The last thing you want to see is your dance floor clear out when the DJ plays obscure songs that are hard to dance to. Talk to your DJ about your do-not-play list upfront.

Play Music Everyone Can Dance to

Whether you’ve hired a band or a DJ if you want to keep the dance floor packed, plan a playlist that will please the whole crowd, not just you two. You may love obscure indie rock, but now isn’t the time to show off your discerning taste in music. Sure, mix in a few of your favourites, but don’t leave out the past and present hits. Otherwise, you risk an empty dance floor.

Have a Lounge Area

If your site and budget allow, set up comfortable lounge chairs and couches in your reception space. Instead of having your guests sit around the same tables all night, even after dinner’s over, a change of environment will promote conversation, give your energetic dancers a resting area and keep your non-dancing guests entertained. It’s also an elegant and comfortable way to let elderly guests relax and chat while others take to the dance floor. Look into renting or borrowing couches, chairs and other furniture to create stylish, cozy vignettes complete with pillows, flowers and votive candles in your wedding colours.

Hire a Day-of Coordinator

You may have a ton of fun ideas lined up for your reception, but no matter how organized you are it’s much more difficult than you’d think to keep each of those plans and moving parts in check. If you already have an event planner, you’re all set. If not, look into booking a day-of coordinator to oversee the details (trust us, it’s worth it). Check out the different types of planners you can hire.

Roll Out a Tasting Station

A full bar is a must-have for a great reception, but take it up a notch with an interactive drink experience. A wine, beer or whiskey tasting lets guests sample different drinks and learn a few tasting notes. A hand-rolled cigar station also fits the bill, as does a make-your-own margarita bar—who could say no to that?

Create a Nice Flow Within the Space

One of the less obvious keys to a successful celebration is movement. The best parties encourage lots of dancing, with mini breaks for mingling and snacking. For maximum dimension and circulation, divide your reception into distinct areas for dancing, drinks and chatting, and coffee and cake. Arrange a few cocktail tables near the bar, offer outdoor seating or set up a table of desserts or late-night bites.

Don’t Let Your Guests Get Hungry

Want a guaranteed all-night crowd? Arrange for the catering staff to bring out late-night food like French fries, pizza or doughnuts after midnight (or before, if you just can’t wait). Offer a DIY coffee bar complete with flavoured syrups and toppings to keep them on their feet. If you stick with low-key favourites, your friends will never want to leave. 

Host a Welcome Dinner

Okay, this tip isn’t technically for your reception, but it’ll make the reception more fun. A casual event where all your guests can meet and mingle the day before the wedding means everyone will have already gotten to know each other, and old friends will have had a chance to catch up, so when reception rolls around, your guests can skip the pleasantries and get right down to celebrating.

Wedding Reception Lawn Games

Whether you have an affinity for corn hole, croquet or life-size board games, these classic lawn games and tabletop games will keep your guests entertained throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

Giant Jenga

Kids (and adults!) love this strategic game in regular size, so they’ll get a kick out of the super-sized version.

Ferris Wheel

Planning a carnival-inspired fête? Go big or go home with a small-scale Ferris wheel. It’ll delight your guests and make for the ultimate couple photo.

Tic Tac Toe

Make like this bride and groom and set up wooden Tic Tac Toe sets on tables. Let little guests take them home as keepsakes—their parents will thank you.

Ring Toss

If you’re getting hitched outside and during the day, set your attendees up with a traditional ring toss game. It’ll keep everyone busy during cocktail hour!

Wedding Wheel

Ask your guests to keep this wedding wheel—sectioned with all types of sweet and funny commands like “Show us your best dance moves!” and “Bride and Groom kiss!”—spinning all night long.

How Well Do You Know Each Other?

The quickest way to get guests laughing? A game that tests how well the bride and groom know each other’s quirks. All this requires is a list of prepped questions and signs with both your names. Simply raise the name that best fits the question—just get ready to agree to disagree on who does the dishes more.

Croquet

Throwing an outdoor garden party? Your fête won’t be complete without the classic game of croquet. Be sure to set up a helpful sign with rules, so youngsters new to the sport can join in on the fun.

Word Search

While your attendees wait for your walk down the aisle, set them up with a simply activity to pass the time. A word search, complete with a set of crayons, is just as entertaining for adults as it is for kids, and will keep little ones in their seats.

Dart Paint

If you’re thinking about setting up an interactive craft, remember that most people won’t want to ruin their wedding finery. A dart paint board is a fool-proof solution. Simply ask guests to throw darts at paint-filled balloons attached to a blank canvas (à la that Princess Diaries scene!)—from a safe, splatter-proof distance, of course.

Tricky Puzzle

Encourage guests to break the ice and work together in completing a tough puzzle. See how far you get by the end of the evening!

Trivia

Each reception table will host a mix of different people—guests with different careers, hobbies, and interests. This inherently makes each table a pretty strong trivia team. Let guests that aren’t dance-inclined engage in a battle of the brains with each other or neighbouring tables.

Strongman Game

For a hilarious spectacle, break up your wedding party into bridesmaids versus groomsmen to see who can hit the high striker harder. Our bet is on your ‘maids, hands down.

Funny Programs

These chuckle-worthy programs aren’t exactly a game or activity, but they’re guaranteed to get a few guffaws. Instead of simply listing out the processional, keep guests engaged (and awake!) with hilarious anecdotes, readings, and more.

Photo Booth

While many couples are now opting for open photo booths with backdrops, we’re still all about the old-school enclosed version. After all, a photo strip of your best friends packed into the small space makes for the ultimate keepsake.

Props

Speaking of photo booths, upgrade the comedy with a box of cute and quirky props. Just be sure to get a snap of all your groomsmen wearing boas.

The Shoe Game

Similar to “How Well Do You Know Each Other?” this game requires both the bride and groom’s shoes to answer silly questions.

Ladder Toss

For this competitive lawn game, pair up guests who haven’t yet met to get everyone mingling.

Sack Races

Friends large and small enjoyed racing each other in sacks customized by the bride’s friend.

Little Artists

Engage budding Picassos with just-their-size colouring books and chunky gemstone crayons that little fingers can easily grasp.

Corn Hole

For an outdoor wedding, we can’t think of a more appropriate source of entertainment than yard games. Everyone’s all-time favourite? Corn hole, of course.

Karaoke

Partake in a few rounds of karaoke! Make like this bride and groom and belt out a power ballad at the end of the night.

Your wedding is a party. Granted, it’s probably the largest, most important party you and your groom have ever hosted, but the entertaining essentials are still the same. Good food, good music, and good people almost always guarantee a good time. Still, it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Enter these exciting wedding game ideas.

From puzzles and Mad Libs to bean bag racing and a classic game of corn hole, adding a little action to your reception, whether it be for kids or adults, is never a bad idea. Plus, wedding games are a natural way to encourage interaction and include your guests on your big day. Maybe you want to build in an icebreaker to ensure that your friends and family meet their tablemates. Or you might just want an activity that’s going to keep kids busy so their parents can enjoy themselves on the dance floor.

Whatever details you chose for your wedding reception, make sure that it reflects your style and aesthetic as a couple. Remember that reception idea for big weddings can also be dialled down for smaller gatherings. You can choose to hire help or decide to do-it-yourself, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the planning process should be easy and enjoyable. Consider having wedding photo books made to give to special family members and bridal party as a special memento of your joyous day.

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