Wedding Reception Ideas That Don't Involve Dancing

Here are some experts’ favorite alternatives to making your reception interactive and memorable.

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Photo: Amy Sims Photography

If you, your partner, or your loved ones aren’t huge fans of dancing, the idea of a traditional wedding reception with a DJ may sound like the last thing you want for your special day. Rest assured – dancing doesn’t have to be the sole focus of your and your guests’ entertainment.

"For a wedding that I am planning in April, the couple does not like to dance at all! Throughout the room, I am going to set up some interactive items. Once such a thing is a mosaic station, couples will take their photo at a photo booth. Each photo will come with a number that then matches a specific space on a large board. Once all the spaces have been filled with photos, the image will be of a 1950s-era ‘Visit Fort Lauderdale’ postcard. Guests will get digital copies of their photos and of the completed project.

There will also be a reality TV ‘confessional’ where guests can go and record a video for up to a minute. Questions will pop up on the screen to help prompt guests, and there will be the option to leave a message." —Keith Willard, Keith Willard Events

"For couples who would prefer to ensure that their guests are the ones actually walking away with a piece of art, live guest illustrations are the perfect solution. An artist sets up for a cocktail hour and the reception, inviting guests to interact for 5 to 8 minutes or so while they quickly create a fashion illustration. Since guests typically dress their best when attending weddings, this service is not only an interactive experience but also provides them with a keepsake favor showcasing them at their finest!" —Brittany Branson, By Brittany Branson

“Opt for non-traditional musical entertainment. You could choose a trio or acoustic guitarist, but there are more unique routes as well. Dueling Piano entertainers are a great way to get everyone singing along and having a unique experience without filling a dance floor." —Tracy Autem, Tracy Autem & Lightly Photography

"Another fun and creative idea that serves the double purpose of feeding everyone is having interactive cooking lessons set up in different areas where guests take part in the execution of the feast. An example of an interactive experience could be pizza-making stations where the chefs lay out a slew of toppings, and the guests point to what combinations they want on each pizza. Once all of the pizzas come out of the ovens, the guests can taste one another’s concoctions, and the whole atmosphere becomes a joyous buzz where guests can claim they made the ‘best’ pizza!" —Sarah Chianese, Mangia and Enjoy!

"I believe in keeping guests who don’t like dancing or want to dance busy with an interactive activity. How about a fresh or dried flower bar (aka, make your own bouquet), a pressed flower bar (make a piece of art to take home), or, since it’s a hot look at the moment, a decorate your own flower bar." —Mandy Hess, MJM Designs

"Maybe you and your closest friends and family have a love of games! You could curate a reception space that allows guests to enjoy tabletop and board games after dinner. Or you could organize a larger, more interactive game, like a scavenger hunt or wedding guest bingo, for the group to participate in." —Sarah Blessinger, Kindred Weddings and Event

"Another alternative to reception dancing is a guided tour of the city you are in. Load all your guests onto a bus after dinner and let the hired guide do a half-an-hour sightseeing tour of the place most of your guests have never seen." —Elena Gera, Focus on the Moment Photography

"Consider upping the personalization of your reception with interactive elements and activities that your guests can enjoy and that also highlight something you love as a couple. Are you and your soulmate oenophiles? Then, host a wine tasting during your reception for guests to learn about some of your favorite wines. Do you two love to sing? Replace dancing with karaoke and lead things off with a duet! Do you love a cigar with your after-dinner drink? Bring in a cigar roller to roll fresh cigars for you and your guests. Adding an element of personalization to the activity you pick will make it meaningful as well as memorable.” - Lynne Reznick, Lynne Reznick Photography

Surprising your guests with unexpected activities not only breaks the mold but can make for a much more comfortable environment if dancing isn’t necessarily your idea of fun. Take the pressure off and opt for some unique experiences that are reflective of you and your partner!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.