Planning a wedding can be a daunting task — reason enough for the wedding planning industry’s very existence. The amount of details to handle, and associated options, is boggling. One item that might not come to mind immediately, if at all, but makes a huge difference in your wedding’s overall feel, is how well the guests interact with each other at the reception.
Just like with any good party — and this advice does apply to them as well — thinking ahead about who will naturally interact with whom is important, if not critical. The social butterflies aren’t the issue; your challenge is to figure out how to make everyone else mingle and loosen up in unfamiliar company. Imagine the almost inherent awkwardness of introducing a bride and groom’s parents to each other for the first time. Now scale that up to entire extended families and circles of friends.
There are a few tricks of the trade that work wonders in encouraging intermingling of mixed groups — not the least of which is an open bar. In-person introductions by a common bond, such as the bride introducing her sister to the groom’s sister, are ideal, but when a wedding includes scores if not hundreds of guests, there’s no practical way that can happen with everyone.
You’ll notice that there are common wedding traditions that are handled by a wedding planner or DJ, such as announcing the wedding party at the reception, and announcing planned toasts. Breaking with tradition, though, can really spice things up in a memorable way that leaves your guests smiling days later.
A friend of mine who married recently got the guests out of their chairs quickly, dancing, chatting and laughing, with a gift basket of glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets, along with an assortment of feather boas and hats, delivered just as the music cranked up. Those party favors proved quite the ice-breaker. My own wedding to WhiskerWorks.com founder Amber also brings up fond memories.
Back then, before the “mustache factory” we report to every day was even a glimmer in our eyes, Amber used what was a simple idea, making a home-made mustache and putting it on a stick, as a fun way to get strangers to interact. She set up a display with an assortment of handmade clay mustaches in a vase near the entrance to our reception site, along with a few disposable cameras. People like playing with those old manual-winding cameras anyway, which when paired with the inherent silliness of a fake mustache, helped our guests loosen up, smile at total strangers and goof off.
More than three years later, that same simple ice-breaker idea has helped delight literally thousands of people at group gatherings of all types. Weddings, just like big parties, offer people, even when dressed to the nines, the opportunity to loosen up and have fun in good company. The more you treat it like a party and plan for breaking the ice between strangers, odds are, the more fun guests will have.