These days, it seems like we’re seeing more polarization among weddings: either you’re having a small, laid-back get-together or you’re hosting an exact replica of the most recent royal wedding. Of course, this isn’t representative of every wedding, but if you’re leaning towards the extravagant side of the fence, one way to surprise your guests with an awe-inspired event is to put on dinner and a show!
Couples are more likely than ever to hire some kind of performer for their wedding festivities, and we love it. We’ve talked before about surprise guests at your wedding, but this time, we’re taking things to the next level. It doesn’t have to be a show in the traditional sense, like theater (though we’ll talk about that too!). And it doesn’t have to be during dinner – it may even work better for you to do the “show” during the cocktail hour, so guests are entertained while the bridal party takes pictures. We’ve got ideas for all situations below.
Most people love a good murder mystery dinner, but you can pick something a little more light-hearted or just downright funny for your wedding reception. There are plenty of comedies and love stories that are excellent material for weddings. Try to find one that’s no more than an hour or so – guests are there, after all, for the newlyweds! Some companies will cater the event, too, and some shows include interactive receptions that could take the place of or supplement your own reception.
We mentioned this one in our other blog about surprise guests, but it’s worth mentioning again. Pick someone different and exciting, like an opera singer.
Tip: if your wedding is near a school with a music program and hire students! You’ll likely save some money and they’ll get great experience out of it. You may need to give them extra notice though, so they can plan around their schoolwork.
If your cocktail hour and reception are in different rooms, don’t be afraid to have separate themes! Make your cocktail hour extra light-hearted and high-energy to get guests excited. For example, a Hawaiian luau theme could include tropical drinks, leis, sunglasses, and hula dancers! Or start the disco early with low lights, a giant disco ball, and karaoke. If you don’t have separate spaces for these events, you can still do different themes – just keep that in mind while you’re decorating. Can you make the decorations fit both themes? Do you mind if they clash?
This makes a great theme, but it can go a bit further than just décor. You can also have poker tables and cocktail waitresses to go all-out for this one. This one is best kept to the cocktail hour rather than the reception as well. Some guests may not be able to pay attention to the toasts and cake cutting if there’s a card game going on at the same time.
Dancers are a classic form of event entertainment – and for good reason! Dancing is beautiful and entrancing, no matter the form, and talented dancers are particularly captivating. Guests young and old will enjoy watching almost any kind of dance performance, whether you pick flamenco, ballroom, Irish, Ceildh, hula, salsa, or jazz.
Basically a flash mob, singing waiters are a fun surprise for your guests. Either during or after guests are served dinner (after may be best, in case any guests are especially hungry), waiters should burst out into song and dance. Guests will absolutely love the unexpected entertainment, and it will provide a fun break from the traditional reception timeline.
If you aren’t having a waitstaff, you can still have a flash mob! You can either hire people to come in and pretend to be guests until the dance, or you can bring a few guests in on the secret and hire just a few outside people, or you can exclusively use guests for it. Because there is usually dancing at a reception, this one can be a little tricky to organize. One of the best moments for it would be in the middle of a toast. Get a bridesmaid, groomsman, or parent involved in the secret and ask them to incorporate a special phrase into their speech that can be used as a signal to the mob to start. Don’t forget to tell your DJ, too!
Give guests a hint of what’s to come by starting with a circus tent. When they walk in, they’ll be greeted by jugglers, people on stilts, fire-breathing performers, cotton candy machines, and anyone or anything else you can think of. If you’re on a tighter budget, set up your own circus yard games and hire just one or two performers – guests can make their own fun!
Film your reception mockumentary style! You’ll have an amazing keepsake and guests will have a blast doing their interviews and best “Jim Halpert staring into the camera” impressions. Often, couples will have a videographer there to ask guests to leave a video message or advice for the couple to watch later. You can follow that route with this, too, but give the videographer a list of prompts or questions, too, so you can liven things up a bit.
Make sure a few guests are in on this before hand so you can make sure you’ll have at least a couple of talents. Other than that, you could bring in a few outside professional talents as well, but have a sign-up sheet with open slots so guests can volunteer to participate too.