12 Ideas for Having a Unique Wedding Reception That Isn't Cookie-Cutter
Make your wedding memorable with these creative ways to ensure your guests have a good time!
There may be a few reasons why people come to your wedding. Maybe they are plus ones, or maybe they are extended family that is obligated to be there, but the main reason people come to your wedding is because they love you and want to be there to celebrate your special day! Right?
Well, yes, but note that key word "celebrate". Yes, they come because they care about you and want to witness your beautiful nupitals, but no one gets ready for a wedding while thinking "Wow, I hope this is going to be exactly like every other wedding I've ever been to, or super boring, or and filled with awkward pauses for me as a guest."
The wedding is all about your marriage - don't lose sight of that - but the wedding guests have a chief desire to be entertained and enjoy themselves.
According to WeddingWire's comprehensive NewlyWed Report (which is the largest study of today's wedding planning journey in the U.S. based on data from over 18,000 newlyweds married in 2018), 70% of ceremonies take less than half an hour. This means that the majority of time is going to be spent at the reception, which should be the most fun part!
Most receptions include a cake cutting, a guest book, first dances, alcohol, and maid of honor & best man speeches. Yours can totally have all those things, too, but we found some great ideas on how to surprise your guests, and give them a party they'll never forget and will be talking about for months!
#1 – Videobooth (or Photobooth)
Give your guests something to do while you and your new husband are taking portraits with the photographer by setting up a video or photobooth!
Photobooths have been around, and are awesome - rent an actual photobooth that prints strips or buy a few polaroid cameras and allow your guests to go crazy! Make sure you purchase enough film for them to take copies of each shot so you can keep the memories as well, if you'd like.
You don't see many video booths at weddings, but we don't know why - it's a GREAT idea to have the people you love leave a funny or sweet message or give a piece of advice! This doesn't have to be expensive, either - you could hire someone to man a rented camera for a couple hours, or you could set up an ipad on selfie mode (most of your guests will probably know how to use it, but maybe include a sign, something like this one from Etsy!). Bonus idea: you could also incorporate these into your wedding video! Just make sure that wherever you put it is in a quiet area so you don't get noise from the reception.
#2 – Walk Down Memory Lane
Hang photos and mementos that tell your love & life stories, and include all of your guests that you can in the storyboard! Some cute ideas include the tickets from the first movie you saw together, baby photos with family members, photos of you at guests' weddings, etc. They can look for themselves in the photos and reminisce! It's a great way for guests to start conversations (especially if your reception and wedding venues are in close proximity) and also provides them with more opportunities to "awwww" over your epic love.
#3 – Transport Your Guests
Most people drive themselves to the reception, if the venues are not close together, so here's an opportunity to stand out and entertain! This will definitely not work for every type of wedding or be every bride's style, but it can be a fun twist. Decorate golf carts, reserve taxis, rent a party bus (or normal school buses!), arrange a sailboat or small water taxi experience...anything to get your guests to the reception in style!
#4 – Provide Childcare
If you opened up your wedding to younger families, you might be in for a hassle, and the parents surely will be. They won't be able to truly relax while they have to worry about feeding their littles, making sure they don't run off, entertaining them, and keeping them quiet during important moments. Take the stress of of them (and you) by hiring a babysitter and designating a room to put all of the kids in! Get some toys, books, or a movie to entertain them and something easy to eat like Chick-fil-A. The parents will be so grateful and you can enjoy the night without worrying about the kids.
#5 – Edible Escort Cards
Instead of having the traditional "You are seated at Table 5" card that matches your wedding theme, or having a seating chart they can view, consider giving guests direction they can eat or drink, like cookies, macaroons, cupcakes, rock candy, cake pops, champagne, fruit, or even tequila shots! You can incorporate the number onto the edible object in a variety of creative ways.
#6 – Hire a Caricature Artist
Your guests probably won't expect this! Caricature artists are normally seen at fairs and boardwalks, and most of your attendees probably have never had themselves caricatured before. Hire or reserve an artist for the night and give your guests lots of laughs and a memory they can keep forever!
#7 – Leave Fun Facts/Photos of Yourselves That Correspond to Each Table #
Once the guest get to their tables, there will probably be a gap before dinner! Keep them entertained and give them something to talk about by putting childhood photos or fun facts about you/your love story.
#8 – Candy Bar
Love is sweet - give your guests something to snack on while they wait for dinner by setting up a cute candy bar! Tons of opportunities for puns and aesthetics!
#9 – Creative Guest Book Sign-In
Instead of a traditional & elegant guest book (which many brides might absolutely want, and that's okay!), if you want to remember guests' personalities, consider an alternative! One recent wedding we went to had a wedding edition of Cards Against Humanity where guests filled in blank question and answer cards and then wrote their names; you could also have them fill out puzzle pieces, mark their names on a vintage atlas in their favorite spot they've ever traveled, have them sign a Jenga set or favorite vinyl record, highlight a favorite Bible verse, leave a message in a bottle for you to open on designated anniversaries.....the possibilities are endless!
#10 – Have Them Fill Out "Prediction" Cards
Give guests a little time to dream by speculating about the name and date of your first child and/or dog!
#11 – Encourage Competition
There's nothing that gets people to participate like healthy competition; you can do this anywhere in your reception, and there a multiple ways you can do it! Provide yard games, create bride-and-groom trivia, put "dares" at each table, make a crossword puzzle based on knowledge about the bride and groom, or play big group games that everyone can enjoy! Just remember to give prizes to maximize fun!
#12 – End The Night With Something Special
The end of the reception is often anti-climactic, because nothing really happens...there will usually be a last-dance announcement and then a rice toss/sparkler send off for the bride and groom, but at this point many of the guests have already left (because they are used to the anti-climactic-ness, and like we've said before, guests' priority is usually their entertainment). Give them a reason to stay by announcing a romantic floating lantern lighting, or something akin- something they would want to stay for because they would also get to participate (something that's not just watching you get into a car, although we are all about the sparkler send off for photo purposes!)
What's the best wedding reception idea you've encountered? Which one of ours is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!