Most of us have been in this situation. We’re guests at a wedding, and the ceremony is over. We’re waiting for the bridal party to return from their photo session and we just don’t know anyone. It’s tough! You stand there kind of awkwardly, trying not to look at your watch while you hope they just show up already so you can sit down to dinner. Of course, you sit down to dinner and run out of things to talk about with your seat mates within five minutes. You love your friends and want to support them at their wedding, but there’s an awfully long night ahead!
We’ve got the solution. Nine wedding reception game ideas that will keep your guests entertained while you’re dealing with wedding business, and will get them chatting and laughing with each other, and making friends fast.
There are a few things to consider before you decide on one or more of these options for your wedding reception. First and foremost, are your guests the type who will appreciate this kind of entertainment? Not everyone’s family is gung-ho for giant board games and trivia quizzes, and that’s okay. If your guests are more serious or traditional, this might not be for you.
But you might be surprised to that a lot of your guests will show their competitive side and get into the fun!
Next, you’ll want to make sure you have enough help or time to set up these games. Some of them take a little more advance planning, like sending out questions with your RSVP cards, so keep that in mind as well. And if you’re looking to buy a giant Jenga set or a croquet set, consider whether you’ll use it again after your wedding or if you could sell it second hand. We’ve still got a cornhole set sitting in my in-laws garage gathering dust a year after my brother-in-law’s wedding!
Finally, consider the style of your wedding when you’re deciding on the entertainment. If your guests are decked out in black tie attire, they might not want to be bending over to play croquet or doing a backbend for limbo. But otherwise you’ll find a lot of these ideas will work for any kind of wedding!
Now, let’s check out what will keep your guests giggling all evening!
1. I-Spy Reinvented
I-Spy is a great game for your guests and very simple to implement. Just make a list of things to spy – from a guest in a blue dress to a couple smooching. But if you’re trying to get your guests to share a little more on Instagram with your wedding hashtag, have your I-Spy game involve a prize for the most Instagrammed spies! You’ll love going through the feed once the big day is over.
2. Guest Bingo
This game involves a little work on your end before the big day, but it’ll be worth it to get your guests chatting away while you perfect your poses with your photographer. With the RSVP, have your guests send in a fact about themselves or answer a specific question. Then turn those answers into a guest bingo card you can leave at each place setting. Ask your DJ or emcee to take a little Bingo break at a specified time and make sure to have a little prize for the winner!
3. Friendly Competition
If you have a venue with a good outdoor space for games, consider setting up a croquet match, badminton net or cornhole competition for your guests. These are great for restless children and teens as well as adults. The great thing is that these games will work double duty as barbecue games you can employ in years to come!
4. Couple Story Mad Libs
Mad Libs are fairly standard wedding reception fare, but have you considered quizzing your guests about your love story using fill-in-the-blanks? This is another project to get ready before your wedding day, but you can set out the same sheet at each table. Write a one-page account of your love story and then remove key words requiring your guests to know a little about your love story to fill it in. We like this template from Martha Stewart Weddings to give you a start!
5. Giant-sized Games
There’s something about giant-sized games on a big lawn in the sunshine that can turn adults into children for a few minutes. Giant Jenga is a really popular choice, and it’s easy to see why! You can also consider giant chess or checkers, each providing a little entertainment and ice-breaking opportunity for your guests.
6. Perfect Pairs
We love this idea because it’s perfect for matchmaking while you’re occupied with wedding-related activities. This little game called Perfect Pairs (here’s a template!) can help bring your college roommate together with your future-husband’s childhood friend without you having to do the dirty work. Create lists of famous pairs from television, history or storybooks, like Adam and Eve, Carrie and Mr. Big, or Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Then split those pairs and assign each person to one of your guests. Your guests will have the whole evening to try to find their perfect pair! You can hand these out with your table assignments so you know who will be paired with whom!
7. Giant Word Search
If you have a literary crowd coming to your wedding, consider creating a giant word search for your guests to puzzle away at during your reception. You can use words that are special to you as a couple or give clues to your love story, giving guests something to chat about with each other.
8. Bring Limbo Back
Perhaps it’s been just long enough since I did a back bend under a limbo stick to think bringing limbo back is a good idea, but can’t you just see it being a hoot toward the end of the dancing portion of your wedding? With the right DJ and the right crowd, limbo could be something your guests are still talking about years from now. You’ll just need to find a big enough stick to use!
9. A Friendly Wager
When you attend an Irish wedding, you’ll often find guests betting with their table mates about the length of the toasts or how many times the best man says ‘thank you’ throughout the night. Whether it’s set out by the bride and groom with paper betting slips (this does encourage fair play!) or impromptu by the guests with a cup and five dollar bills, it quickly builds comaraderie between guests and someone from each table will definitely go home a winner! If your guests are keen for a little wager, consider putting a little sign on each table encouraging your guests to put a $1 bet on how many times the couple will kiss over the course of the night!
Are there any games you’ve loved (or won) at weddings you’ve attended? Any games that were terrible ideas? We’d love to hear both!
Emily Westbrooks is an American-born writer and blogger based in Dublin, Ireland. She is the Online Editor for Confetti Magazine, one of Ireland’s top bridal magazines. She also writes her own lifestyle blog, From China Village, where she chronicles her adventures in Dublin, travels around Europe, DIY projects and Irish design. She shares her home with her husband, one cat, and four sassy chickens! Browse Emily’s unique tips here.