Updated: Oct 30, 2018
Chances are, your wedding invitation will say something in the vein of “Reception to Follow”. And it may feel like the reception follows tradition - dinner, toasts, cake-cutting, first dance, bouquet toss, garter toss… tried and true, right?
But there are no actual requirements when it comes to your reception, so make it your own! If you don’t want to force your single friends on the dance floor so you can throw your bouquet in their general direction, don’t. If you would rather have lawn games instead of the Electric Slide, order the giant Jenga tower!
Your wedding day and reception are about you and your fiancé and sharing your love with your friends and family. So set aside what tradition may dictate, and spice up your reception with what you enjoy. And if you’d like a push in the non-traditional direction, we have a few suggestions to get you started!
1. The Food
From time of day to menu choices, the food you serve at your wedding comes with endless possibilities. If you’re hoping for a brunch wedding that feels more casual, set up a pancake or waffle bar with all the toppings. Your guests will love the customization and the variety.
Or if you love appetizers, have a cocktail hour with your favorite hors d'oeuvres and small bites. We chose crab cakes and bruschetta, which I wish I could eat every day!
And if you’re having a late night affair, surprise your guests with a food truck! They’ll work up an extra appetite dancing, and the arrival of a late night taco truck may be exactly what they need to keep the party going.
2. The Games
Lawn games are a great way to get your guests to interact (without pressure) and enjoy the day.
My husband Cameron and I chose two lawn games that had special meaning to us; cornhole (aka bean bag toss) and Hammerschlagen. The day we met, we ended up playing bean bag toss at the restaurant where we had dinner. And my first experience with Oktoberfest in Washington was playing Hammerschlagen at the Puyallup fairgrounds, which Cameron and his family go to every year.
You can also use games as a way to let your guests in on the behind the scenes, and get to know you and your fiancé better as a couple. We went to a wedding where the bride and groom sat in chairs back to back, swapped one of each of their shoes and answered questions about their relationship by raising the shoe of the person the statement described. (An example question: “Who is the better chef?” or for a more fun spin, “Who’s is more likely to set off the smoke detector while cooking?”)
3. The Photo Booth
Your wedding photographer will capture amazing, meaningful moments along with fun shots of you and your guests partying.
But nothing encourages the goofy photos like a photo booth and props!
The Shutter Bus is a unique twist on a photo booth - inside a vintage Volkswagen bus! Perfect for photo ops inside the bus, and outside it.
If you don’t want to rent a full photo booth, you can also set up a “selfie station” with a backdrop and encourage guests to snap selfies on their phones to remember the night!
4. The Dancing
Incorporate what you’ve learned on the dance floor! Maybe you and your fiancé took dance lessons and feel confident enough to lead your guests in a quick Box Step lesson.
Or maybe you’re from the Midwest or the South and want to get everyone on the dance floor for a square dance or two-step!
The dance floor is a great place to showcase newly learned skills, make a nod to a family tradition, or just get your guests up and moving!
5. Entertaining the Kids
With little ones running around on your wedding day, why not put together an arts and crafts area for them?
From coloring books to art projects, you can stay within your wedding theme while making sure the little ones are preoccupied. If you have an outdoor wedding in the woods, they can craft a woodland scene with construction paper. Or for a memento they can save, have them decorate small picture frames!
6. The After Party
If you want to extend the fun past the hours of your venue, an after party is a must!
After a few glasses of champagne, you and your guests should be primed and ready for a night of karaoke! Find a nearby karaoke bar where you, the bridal party, and your friends can belt out the classics.
Keep the party going with activities that you and your fiancé enjoy! Maybe it’s karaoke, or maybe it’s late night bowling, or a snack from your favorite fast food joint.
Tradition shouldn’t keep you from having the wedding you have envisioned. If you’re drawn to a non-traditional wedding reception, chances are it is because the normal formula isn’t speaking to you and/or your fiancé. So make your own traditions from what does speak to you.
From the food you serve to how you end your wedding day, the choices you make should be based on what you love. Personalizing your reception will give you and your guests a memorable evening!