Wedding Reception Games: Ice Breakers, Kiss-Makers and More

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Many people are divided on the idea of "games" at weddings. There are those who find them fun and harmless, and those who think that surely weddings are enjoyable enough as-is, and question the need to add opportunities for embarrassment to the day's schedule.

While I have sympathies with the latter group, my older sister, who married last summer, is firmly in the former camp. Our family are big game-players, and over years of celebrations she's realized that reception games are often her favorite part of a wedding, so she always planned to incorporate them into her big day. 

If you're similarly inclined, and know your guests would respond well to the idea, there are lots of ways to incorporate games into your wedding day lineup. Here are three we organized for different times on my sister's wedding day, as well as some related ideas for your own celebrations. Most of these games are adaptable for reunions, anniversaries and other kinds of celebrations as well, so don't feel constrained by the wedding theme!

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For the Cocktail Hour

The Objective: The post-ceremony cocktail hour is when your guests will first begin to really relax, talk to each other, and hopefully start making new friends. If your crowd is from different areas, social groups and backgrounds, it's nice to provide a helpful nudge to get them all intermingling. Sure, the cocktails themselves will probably help with that, but a couple optional ice-breaker games won't hurt. If you can award some kind of prize to the winner, it's a great incentive!

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The Game: Wedding Guest Bingo takes some organization, but it's a lot of fun. At my sister's wedding the guests were a mix of our Canadian family and my brother-in-law's English one, but by the end of the cocktail hour, everyone was firm friends. 

Along with their RSVP, every guest was asked to provide an “interesting fact” about themselves. I then collated these into 4-5 Bingo cards, which were displayed at the reception during cocktail hour, alongside some mini pencils and the promise of a prize to the first two guests to get a “Bingo”, done by matching facts to guests. It definitely brought out the competitive spirit in some, but most just enjoyed the conversation starters. 

Also Consider: Putting the anonymous facts at each table, and having guests work out who is who through a 20 Questions-like game (this works better if the tables are quite mixed, and made up of guests who don't know each other well). 

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During Dinner 

The Objective: Traditionally, games played during the dinner hour (usually in between courses and speeches) are done with the goal of making the newly-wed couple show their affection by kissing. People will often use the old-fashioned glass-clinking for this, but making it a game adds an element of challenge. 

The Game: Before dinner, we informed the guests that anyone who wanted to see the couple kiss should be prepared to step up to the microphone and perform a song or poem containing the word Love. This led to much laughter, including a particularly memorable song-and-dance routine performed by six of my cousins to Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love. 

Also Consider: Having guests write original poetry, fill out custom wedding Mad Libs, or perform skits about the couple. 

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Getting the Couple Involved

The Objective: If you're going to encourage yours guests to embarrass themselves for fun at your wedding, you might want to consider turning the tables at some point. Mainly, for this idea is for the guests' entertainment. 

The Game: The Shoe Game can be hugely fun. The couple sit back to back in view of all the guests. They remove their shoes, and trade one with each other so that they’re holding one of each. Someone (usually the MC) then asks the couple a series of questions about themselves and their relationship (ranging from the sweet and fairly straightforward “Who said ‘I love you’ first?” to the controversial "Who is the better driver?"). The couple answer by holding up the corresponding shoe, and the entertainment comes from the fact that they can't see what each other is answering, though some occasionally-incredulous peeking occurred at my sister's wedding. 

Also Consider: A Spouse Pub Quiz, where tables compete on their knowledge of the newly married couple. The couple themselves can be involved by reading out the questions and supplying the correct answers at the end. 

For either of these ideas, it adds an element of fun to have the guests themselves come up with the questions, perhaps one from each family or table. That way, they're unexpected and you can get some outrageous ones!

What are your thoughts on games at weddings? Have you played any of these, or do you have another favorite game to share?


(Images: Anne-Marie Bouchard / AMB Photo)