Updated: May 26
You've walked down the aisle, you've gazed into your honey bun's eyes, said your "I do's," and now you're off to take pictures with your new spouse before the reception that begins in another hour or so...
...but what about the guests?
They're looking at their watches wondering what they're going to do during that long gap between the ceremony and reception. Sure, they might be asked to be in one or two of the pictures, but besides that, their thoughts immediately turn to how hungry they are, how bored they are, how hot it is, and maybe even thinking of bouncing out of there.
That combo is a wedding nightmare in the making! Your wedding is a celebration in which you have invited your closest friends and family to join in on, so you definitely should be taking their needs and comfort into account as well as your own.
Ideally, there would be no gap at all. If logistically you can make it happen, our number one advise would be to close that gap at all costs! Guests really don't want to be hanging out for hours with nothing to do but watch you and your cute new S.O. take pics.
But if the timeline just isn't working in your favor to have each event flow from one to the next, we've compiled the top three things that we feel have worked well for entertaining guests during that dreaded ceremony-reception gap.
Food is number one on the list for a reason. Nobody wants hangry guests at their party! If people's bellies are full, then they're fine with whatever follows.
If you're having a larger dinner or luncheon to feed your ceremony guests later on in the day, then in the meantime you're going to want to feed them something light. A little pre-party snack!
A Cocktail Hour or a Refreshment Hour is probably one of the most popular ways to satisfy your guests during the gap. A little mixed cocktail with some light refreshments will surely be a crowd pleaser!
Cocktail hours are also the perfect chance to get creative with your refreshments. At Oak Hills Reception and Event Center, we offer both a cute popcorn bar or trail-mix bar, aside from the traditional meat & cheese platters, olive oil tastings or vegetable platters just to name a few. Our popcorn bars are starting to become very popular because they are such crowd pleasers!
Other ideas might include "His and Hers" favorite treats being served alongside "His and Hers" cocktails. You could also have guests roast s'mores if the venue permits. Or you could even take this opportunity to incorporate some ethnic or traditional hors d'oeuvres that are symbolic or nostalgic to your upbringing and background.
2. Live Music
Now that your guest's have a small plate of snacks and a drink in their hands, the perfect segue for them is to gather 'round sit back and relax while they get entertained.
You could hire a jazz band, a string quartet, a wedding singer, a rock band, mariachi band, or a pianist. Don't have the funds to hire professionals? Check within your own circle of friends and family for maybe an uncle or old high school friend that rocked it back in high school with their musical talents. As a wedding gift to you, maybe they'd be willing to showcase their skills. And who knows, this could even turn into an open mic event for hidden talents to surface! I can see it now.... it would be an event that nobody would ever forget! I'm already hoping that I'm a guest at that wedding!
If your wedding vibe is more of an outgoing and fun type of event, then providing some games for your guests is the way to go.
Lawn games such as Bocce Ball, Ladder Golf, Corn Hole, and Giant Jenga have become majorly popular and are definitely fun games to have set up for your guests. But if you want to get creative with it and take your games to the next level, there's a whole new world of ideas that you can incorporate into your wedding.
There are services that provide casino style entertainment with poker tables, blackjack tables and more. Your guests would have a blast with that! You could also rent some vintage arcade games to display. Or even just set out some board games, puzzles or decks of cards on various tables for guests to sit down and entertain themselves with.
You can go big with filling the time gap, or you can go small. Anyway you slice it, just make sure you plan for it. You don't want your guests to leave because they're bored or hungry. Planning and preparation is all you need, no matter your budget.