Do you remember your childhood birthday party when a surprise guest showed up? Maybe it was a clown or a magician or Barney or a princess. Whoever it was, you and your friends were thrilled when that character arrived. You can bring that same excitement and joy to your wedding by hiring a character for the cocktail hour!
Think of something important to your relationship. Maybe on your first date you went to a carnival and laughed especially hard at the clowns, or you knew you loved each other at that winery over a Cabernet and gouda. Or, you met while volunteering at an animal shelter and can’t wait to adopt a full family of fur-babies. You can easily incorporate this milestone into your wedding by inviting an expert from that area to perform, entertain, or educate guests during the cocktail hour!
Guests young and old will be equally delighted by some good, old-fashioned magic tricks. A good magician will mingle with guests and perform close-up tricks that are sure to stun guests into laughter and awe. Take guests’ minds off their wait for dinner with sleight of hand and card tricks, and set the tone for a happy and fun reception.
To really win over your guests bring in a couple of masseuses! They can set up massage chairs, like you often see in malls or at promotional events, and your guests can get 5-minute massages to help them really loosen up in preparation for busting a move on the dance floor.
Wine Sommelier/Beer Cicerone/ Whiskey Connoisseur
Keep things classy by having an expert give a presentation on your favorite beverage. Guests will love learning about the history of whichever alcohol they know best, food pairings, flavor palate, and more. Don’t forget to have the expert talk about the drinks you’ve chosen for the reception.
Hire a cigar roller who can teach guests about tobacco and show them how to roll a cigar. You could also set up a small lounge area outside (think sofas and wall dividers) so guests can smoke their self-rolled cigars!
If you’re having a DJ for the reception, consider bringing in a local musician for the cocktail hour. You could hire a band or a single musician who plays an instrument such as the violin or the saxophone – an instrument that can perform alone, without accompaniment. This step away from tradition will be a surprise guests will adore. Or, really shake things up with a bagpipe!
People absolutely love exotic animals, or interacting with any animals at all, especially if it’s unexpected. There are tons of options here as well. You can find an exotic animal trainer who will bring something like a tiger, or you can find reptile handlers. Your local zoo may even have an animal outreach program. If you have a local service dog training organization, reach out to them and ask if they’d come to your wedding – service dogs need a lot of experience interacting with people in different situations, and they’d likely jump at the chance! Additionally, bringing animals to your reception is a great way to raise awareness for a cause you care about. You could ask guests to donate to an organization in lieu of a gift an ask the handlers to bring pamphlets about volunteering with them.
Have an expert teach your guests a few dance moves before the reception ensures they will use those moves on the dance floor later on! This can also help some of your shy guests feel more comfortable about dancing overall and may even end up encouraging a few extra people to join the dance party.
Hire a group to put on a performance significant to your heritage. Salsa or flamenco dancers, belly dancers, Irish step, breakdancers, or even just your favorite kind of dancing. Make sure you play at least one song during your reception that fits this style of dancing, too, so guests can have a blast trying to replicate the moves.
If there is a show, movie, book, or game that is particularly important to you and your partner, you could hire someone to cosplay during the reception. Whether it’s your childhood hero or adulthood crush, a character cosplay is sure to thrill guests.
Elvis doesn’t have to stay in Vegas, and he doesn’t have to be the officiant – have him show up to surprise guests with a rousing rendition of “All Shook Up” while they enjoy appetizers and drinks. Marilyn Monroe, Lady Gaga, Austin Powers, and Elton John are all popular, fun choices for celebrity impersonators.
Caricatures are a classic event feature, and for good reason. We love them! We love being drawn as caricatures and we love watching our loved ones be drawn. Having an artist – or two – draw guests during the cocktail hour will ensure laughter and excitement, and also makes for a great favor for guests.
Hire “paparazzi” to be at the reception before guests arrive. Your photographer may have a partner or assistants who can help with this. Lay out a red carpet up to the entrance and have the paparazzi excitedly take pictures as guests arrive. Your guests will have a ton of fun and will feel like celebrities – and you’ll get some awesome candid photos! If possible, have those pictures printed during the reception so guests can take them home afterward. Or, if that’s not possible, print them out in time to include a copy in the thank-you notes you send out after your honeymoon.