Over the course of their lifetimes, many people will be wedding guests on several occasions. During the height of wedding season, weddings can run into one another, as the format and the festivities are similar at various ceremonies. Couples interested in setting their nuptials apart may want to enhance the wedding reception with a few unique ideas.
Who hasn’t attended a wedding that seems formulaic? The couple enters, they do their spotlight dance, there’s food, a bouquet toss and then the cake cutting. Guests may actually be able to predict what's coming next. While it is often customary and easy to follow tradition, that doesn’t mean you cannot buck with tradition and offer a few creative ideas to make your event stand out.
Here are several ideas you can introduce into your wedding to add something special to the reception.
■ Skip the big entrance. Those who were kind enough to attend the ceremony have already been introduced to the newly minted happy couple. Instead of spending the cocktail hour in the isolation of the wedding suite, mingle with your guests from start to finish. So much time is spent posing for pictures or being out of touch with guests, the cocktail hour can be a great time to sit and chat. Being with guests during the cocktail hour means you don’t have to make that big entrance from behind closed doors. Guests will have all eyes on you when you step on the dance floor for your first dance together.
■ Dance to an upbeat number. Guests are expecting a slow, sappy tune. What they may not expect is an upbeat song that shows you are willing to have a little fun. If you haven’t mastered the waltz but enjoy a little quick step now and again, feel free to choose a tune that shows your excitement and love for each other.
■ Encourage couples to dance together. It’s often customary for the bridal party to join the bride and groom on the dance floor midway through the first dance. However, that leaves spouses or significant others waiting in the wings while their dates tango with groomsmen or bridesmaids. Instead, don’t have assigned partners. Rather, encourage your bridal party members to dance with whomever they choose.
■ Swap the garter/bouquet toss for something more meaningful. If you’re part of a couple who feels the garter and bouquet toss has become trite, there are other ways to create special moments in your celebration – ones that don’t single out the singletons who haven’t yet found their special someones. Use this time to present a small gift or token of your affection to someone on the guest list who has served as a mentor or source of inspiration.
■ Choose one special component as an extra goodie for guests. Some couples feel the more they offer the better guests will view their wedding. Spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean guests will have a better time. If you want to go above and beyond the ordinary, find one thing that you absolutely love and offer that at the party. It could be a flambe presentation, a chocolate or candy bar, a carving station with your all-time favorite food (even if that’s PB&J), or a carnival-inspired automatic photo booth.
■ Hire a live performer. Although it’s hard to beat the performance quality of your wedding song being performed by the original artist, unless you’re cousins with Celine Dion, chances are she won’t be available to sing “My Heart Will Go On” at your reception. However, a live band adds a certain level of excitement that a disk jockey may not be able to provide. Those who are adding a cultural or ethnic component to their wedding may want to hire a dance troupe or another type of performer, like a bagpiper or mariachi band, as an added measure of entertainment for guests.
■ Let them eat ... cookies? Some people just don’t like cake. Therefore, why should a couple have to cut a seven-tiered white confection? Towers of different types of treats can be created from just about anything and serve as the perfect backdrop for that classic cake-cutting photo. A pyramid of cream puffs, stacks of brownies, a cookie castle, or cereal-cake concoctions can work. Some bakeries will decorate a “dummy” styrofoam cake, and then you can serve apple pie a la mode, if you desire.
■ Stage a costume switch. Let’s face it, dancing all night in a long gown takes some stamina. As the bride, have a more comfortable cocktail dress available to switch into for the latter part of the reception. It will also add some variety to your wedding photos.