Not Having a First Dance or Even Toasts? Here’s How to Keep Guests Entertained Instead

Photo by James Tang Photography

Q: My wedding and reception will be missing most of the the traditional elements. We will not be having a wedding party, first dance, bouquet/garter toss, toasts, etc. Obviously my ceremony will be very short but I am trying to think of unique things to do to fill up the time at my 4-hour reception. A four-course meal, dessert table, and dance floor will be a part of it but how can I keep my guests entertained?- Jamie

A: Pssst. I’m going to fill you in on a wedding secret. Those wedding traditions? They are NOT what makes a wedding reception great. In fact, some guests might argue they’re the least memorable part of the night! Now, I know I probably shouldn’t be saying that, considering most of what I write about are ideas for first dance songs, or what you should/shouldn’t say during a wedding toast. And trust me, I actually love all those traditions and do enjoy seeing them at receptions. But even when I look back at my own wedding, what really stands out was the great food, yummy wine, and dancing with my closest family and friends!

What I would do to keep the party going is to ask your wedding band or DJ to come up with some fun dance-floor shenanigans throughout the night. Since those traditions you’re excluding (wedding party introductions, first dances, and cake cutting) only take up around 45 minutes of a typical reception, I would aim to have a handful of songs that revolve around certain groups of people…such as all the single people, or all the married people, all the ladies, or all the men called out onto the dance floor to see what hilarity ensues. Talk to your DJ or band about what they might suggest when it comes to dance floor games.

I would also definitely consider having interactive features such as a photo booth where guests can get together and take photos for themselves or a photo guest book that they can sign and leave you funny messages in. You can DIY your own photo booth or rent one because really, who DOESN’T love a photo booth?!

SEE MORE: How long a wedding reception should actually last.

And speaking of photos…I think having a slideshow playing in the background during dinner or dessert is a fun conversation starter as well. You can feature photos of both you and your spouse throughout the years, from the time you were babies until now. (I’ve shared two of our less embarrassing baby photos, below…but be sure to include the awkward ones as well! LOL). Looking for even more ideas? You can also include several of these fun wedding reception games!

Just remember that no matter how many traditional or non-traditional elements you have at your wedding, guests will remember the ambiance, food, and great music…and above ALL else, the quality time spent with family and friends. 🙂

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