7 Things To Do at Your Wedding Reception Other Than Dancing

Let’s be real — not everyone can clap on the twos and fours. For your friends and family who are rhythmically challenged, save your money on a DJ and build a different experience that’s fun for them, and for you, too.

Just because dancing is what people normally do at a wedding reception doesn’t mean you have to do it, too. There’s nothing sadder than an empty dance floor at a wedding. Not everyone likes to dance. You might not even like to dance! Why force four hours of time and money for something you won’t enjoy? Don’t want to completely scrap dancing? Make a fun playlist and offer some engaging activities.

It’s your day and you can do whatever you want, just let guests know ahead of time what to expect. Here are 7 alternatives to dancing that can take your wedding from status quo to status whooooa.

1. Just Let Your Guests Talk

Create a lounge vibe with dim lights and plenty of open seating. Let music play in the background to create a mood, but let people mix and mingle in a fun, informal way. Weddings usually double as reunions and there’s usually not enough time in the timeline to actually talk to your guests more than “Hello” and “Thanks for coming!” Re-enact memories from college, sit with your grandparents, or introduce your work friends to your high school friends. In short, actually connect and enjoy yourselves with the people you love most.

2. Try Laser Tag or Arcade Games

This probably won’t fly if you want a traditional, and in my opinion “stuffy,” wedding. If you want to share your love of gaming with the people you love why not bring the games to them? Check your local listings for mobile arcade game companies. Laser tag, Dance Dance Revolution, Mario Kart, and Pinball are all ways to occupy guests’ time and energy and make your wedding a total...gamechanger. If that’s not in the budget, go old school and try life-size Hungry, Hungry Hippo, Sorry, and Jenga. Leg races and double dutch are games everybody loves no matter the age.

3. Belt Out Some Wedding Karaoke

I’ve had a few weddings where they encouraged the guests to get up and sing, and the results were hilarious. No matter the age or musical taste, everyone sang along at the top of their lungs like they were at a Dresden Dolls concert. Weddings can be extremely performative, but ironically karaoke takes the pressure off of people to feel like they have to perform.

4. Snuggle up with a Cat...or a Llama

Hire professionals or this could turn into a literal mess but who wouldn’t love a chill wedding petting zoo? Llamas, sheeps, pigs, dogs, cats — go full tilt! Let your guests snuggle up with kittens while they reconnect, eat cake, and possibly even adopt someone to take home (probably not the llamas, though).

Kitten Wedding Happy Hour. Photo by  Fuck Yeah Weddings .

Kitten Wedding Happy Hour. Photo by Fuck Yeah Weddings.

5. Let the Bookworms Read

This would probably only fly for smaller weddings or as an additional event instead of a full alternative to dancing, but have your reception at a local bookstore or library. Encourage guests to read the stories that have most influenced yours. Name your signature drinks after your favorite books, have local poets perform, make your programs or favors bookmarks for guests to use in the future. Get literal!

Comic Book Store Wedding Engagement . Photo by Sarah Wayte Photography.

Comic Book Store Wedding Engagement. Photo by Sarah Wayte Photography.

6. Hire a Comedian or Live Entertainment

Why not?! Ask local comedians if they want to do a set at your wedding. Give some local drag performers a chance to hone their skills and get compensated for it. Have a Burlesque troupe shimmy to your nuptials. Make your reception a variety hour if you want, but have fun with it!  

Drag performer Lauren Ordair.  Photo by Jonica Moore Studio.

Drag performer Lauren Ordair. Photo by Jonica Moore Studio.

7. Create a Scavenger Hunt

At one of my fall 2018 weddings (hairflip 💁🏽), my couple came up with the idea of a creating a Texas passport for guests to use to work through the wedding. Each activity listed earned a stamp and the person with the most stamps got a prize. It was a perfect way to get people up and moving and engage the kids too. You can tailor the same idea to create a fun scavenger hunt with clues and prizes related to you as a couple.

wedding passport scavenger hunt at Texas wedding reception Photo by Ziggy Shoots
texas wedding passport scavenger hunt photo by ziggy shoots
Texas wedding passport scavenger hunt at reception Ziggy Shoots

Photos courtesy of Meghan Regis and Jason Rodriguez by Leigh Metzler of Ziggy Shoots

I’ve said it already, but it’s your day, and you can do whatever you want. Whether you want a traditional day or want to add some unexpected flair, have fun with it. You only get to do this once, you might as well go out in the blaze of glory!


Jordan A. Maney is a San Antonio-based wedding planner and owner of All The Days Event Co. She she started her company as a planning haven for all the couples the industry chooses to ignore. Instead of just making a brand, she's building a community. Find more of her sass, humor, and Southern hospitality at allthedaysweddings.com.