The toasts…the dance floor…the big send-off…traditional wedding reception activities are timeless (and oh-so-photogenic). But when you really want something to make your reception memorable (and provide some different photo ops), unique wedding games let you inject some personality into the festivities! But additional wedding activities for guests can be your day-of coordinator’s new best friend, too. Need to cover the gap while you wriggle into your sexy reception dress? Want to provide alternate reception activities for the non-dancers at your wedding? Or hoping to take the focus off the happy couple so you and your new spouse can have a moment to breathe? Wedding reception games can help smooth out rough spots in your day.
13 Wedding Games to Get the (Wedding) Party Started
Wedding activities for guests are especially important at large or diverse events. Elderly relatives tired of standing (and younger family members bored during the toasts) will appreciate something to do with their hands. Besides, anyone attending the reception without a dance partner may appreciate something they can do solo during the slow songs. And if you and your best beloved come from different cultures, well-chosen wedding games can provide laughter across a language barrier. Or break the ice between strangers on the seating chart. We’ve got a playful parade of ideas for wedding reception games, including some classic and some unusual activities – and there’s sure to be something that suits the personality of your party!
Wedding Games When You’re Celebrating Outdoors
If your reception is outdoors, you’re in luck – games for wedding receptions are a growing industry and a great way to entertain guests of all ages while you’re posing for the wedding party photos. Giant lawn games. From tic-tac-toe to checkers to Jenga, giant versions of classic games can be rented for the day. Consult your wedding planner (or even scan Etsy) for a local company that offers them.
Sporty style. Low-key versions of various sports make fantastic lawn games for all skill levels. If your venue allows it, string up a volleyball net (you could even order printed beach balls to match your wedding look!) or set up a horseshoe court (a safe distance from the kids’ table, please!). Corn toss or cornhole, the old-fashioned beanbag-tossing game, is a staple at outdoor weddings in the American South and Midwest – but if you don’t have corn toss boards, an ice bucket or a beribboned hula hoop makes a great tossing target, too. You can offer croquet mallets or bocce balls as well.
Keep it hoppin’. Bring out everyone’s inner child! If your wedding reception activities have a park to take advantage of, design a few courses in the grass or on the sidewalk. This wedding game yields to-die-for candid photos of your wedding guests. (You’ll want to encourage ladies to take off their heels for this one, of course.) Try placing two courses side-by-side and hopping down them hand-in-hand with your honey – it almost certainly won’t work, but it’ll be memorable!
Create a carnival. Fairground games – like ring tosses, balloon darts, and water-pistol target shooting – are easy to DIY and let guests “win” their favors instead of just finding them on the plate. Most require skill but not massive exertion, so they’ll be a hit with guests in heels! (Speaking of balloon darts: put a dab of acrylic paint inside each balloon to match your planned living-room décor, and let your guests create an abstract artwork for your newlywed nest!)
Wedding Games for Reception Halls
Lawn games for wedding receptions held outdoors are all well and good…but not much help to the couple tying the knot on New Year’s Eve in a hotel ballroom, or fleeing the lovely but sweltering summer day for the air conditioning at the Elks lodge. Never fear; there are many quieter and seated games that make great indoor activities your wedding guests are sure to remember!
Mingle Bingo. It’s a cliché from work events, but wouldn’t it be fun to build a Bingo card for your guests to meet each other? “Knows the bride and groom from college” and “prefers middle pieces to edge pieces of cake” come to mind as possible squares.
Dynamic décor. For a nostalgic, vintage feel that’s great for boho and DIY weddings, use old game boards as mats under your centerpieces – and include the pieces in an apothecary jar or bag to the side. Once the floral elements have been moved, those at the table can share a game of Clue or Parcheesi while they enjoy each other’s company.
Coloring hour. Set up a table to one side of the reception hall with crayons or markers and coloring pages. You can create traced line art of your engagement photos, the wedding venue, or your kids or pets. Bonus points if you can get thematic or wedding color crayons for favors! Jigsaw puzzles make a fun variation on this idea. Have them custom-printed with family photos or find complete ones at thrift stores.
Engaging hands. Similar to the above idea, set up a craft table with something sweet to make – like little advice cards for the couple (a great guest book alternative!) or origami paper and instructions to fold a design that suits your theme.
Wedding Games to Play During Dinner
During dinner? you say. But shouldn’t everyone be focusing on that menu we planned? Sure, but kids in their best dresses aren’t always hungry, some people eat faster than others – and if there’s a buffet line, table one may be finishing up while table 17 is still getting silverware. Besides, many of those charming (if they’re to your taste!) traditions of the wedding dinner – like clinking glasses to get the couple to kiss – are really just wedding games elevated by long practice into reception staples. Here are a few fun twists on those classic ideas. Voting jars. Set up two clear containers and some voting tokens in the wedding colors (or, if you’re from a culture that calls for it, ask guests to add dollar bills) so guests can vote for different options. “Who should get the cake on their face: bride or groom?” “First baby name: Soraya or Ramona?” “Should the bride and groom paint their living room purple or green?” One set of jars makes a cute moment; a slew of different questions lined up along a table makes a visual statement (and an instant-gratification alternative to those sweet fill-in-the-blank cards for wedding guests).
Photo scavenger hunt. This wedding reception game doubles as a great way to get people using your #weddinghashtag on Instagram. Print a list of targets (the bride with her shoes off, something borrowed and something blue, a kid eyeing the icing roses) on the back of the escort cards or dinner menus. Invite guests to snap cell-phone shots of them throughout the reception.
Massive magnetic poetry. Print out the wedding party’s names, some romantic verbs, the names of schools attended and pets loved by the happy couple and a selection of other words on sheet magnets. Cut them out and provide a giant magnet board that guests can rearrange to their hearts’ content. (This doubles as a phenomenal selfie backdrop.)
Clinking alternatives. Kiss the kissing bells goodbye and make guests work for their bride-and-groom PDA. Craft a set of giant dice – snake eyes means the couple kisses, double fours means they shake hands, double fives means the roller has to kiss someone else – or give each table a task they have to complete (like “three consecutive runs of the wave”) to earn a kiss.
Back-of-the-program fun. When you have your menu cards, escort cards, or programs printed, occupy a spare page with a you-themed crossword puzzle or word search. Those who are having fun dancing the night away may not even notice it. Those whose shoes have failed them will be ever so grateful for a non-dancing reception game to keep them occupied until cake-cutting time.
Have you been to a wedding with fabulous reception activities for guests? Add your idea in the comments!