When I got married in the summer of 2015, we focused on creating a memorable & unique experience rather than spending thousands on fancy decor and uplighting and flowers. Because here’s the thing – guests may ‘ooo’ & ‘awe’ at your wedding when they arrive, but the experience is what they will take away from the evening. They will remember if your reception was boring or if they had a good time, not if the centerpieces were sub-par. And if they had a good time, they’ll talk about it for years to come. That is the case for our wedding. We had a huge guest list with a small budget, but we still get compliments about how memorable and fun our wedding was (and it’s been 4 years since we got married). I am so glad we took this approach and wouldn’t have it any other way!
Skip the Traditional Cake
The bride and groom cakes are always a focal point of a wedding reception. Guests expect something traditional like a textured cake for the bride and a sports team cake for the groom… but you should blow them away with something different! Below you can find our cakes. I went with a naked wedding cake (they were only beginning to trend at the time) and my husband went with a stacked Oreo tower (that we made ourselves)! My husband’s nontraditional cake was a HIT! Guests loved it and commented on it throughout the night! And my husband is a huge lover of Oreos, so it was perfect for him.
While these were unique forms of cake, consider straying out of this category and doing something different like: a donut bar, churros, dessert tacos, pastries, etc. Get creative, add your personality, and your favorite sweets!
We wanted to incorporate more than just dancing at our reception. It was important to us to provide a fun environment and also allow our guests to get to know us better. So we decided to play the Shoe Game! You sit back to back (as seen in the photos below) and remove your shoes. Trade one shoe with your spouse so that you are holding one of theirs and one of your own. Then have an emcee, DJ, or event coordinator be your host. They will ask questions like “Who is the better driver?” and you will hold up the shoe of who you think is the best answer to that question. It can get wildly hilarious, and you can choose your own questions. Our guests loved this and still talk about it today! They were shouting out our names to answer the questions too. It was such a fun event for all, and I love that we did this! Here is a list of the questions we used for this game:
Choreographed First Dance
This one isn’t for everyone, but I’m telling you that THIS really MADE our reception! We began our first dance for over a minute as a traditional slow dance, but surprised our guests with a choreographed routine halfway through! We were SO nervous… BUT this encouraged our guests to get out on the dance floor and have a good time the rest of the evening! And man, did it WORK! Everyone loved our routine and the dance floor was crowded the entire night! It was SO fun. Even my family members that NEVER dance were out on the dance floor! It was a great way to break the ice and encourage everyone to be themselves and have fun. I would HIGHLY recommend this one! Just be goofy and have fun with it. The choreographed portion of our dance included the songs Marry Me by Bruno Mars, This Magic Moment by the Drifters, and Hot Stuff by Donna Summer.Non-traditional Guestbook
Skip a traditional guestbook! There are so many different ways to document your guests now. We chose this USA wooden cutout piece from Hobby Lobby and had guests sign with a gold pen (our wedding colors were navy and gold). Now we have this piece hanging in our home! That is way better than a book full of signatures that will sit in your closet, and it is a unique aspect that your guests will remember!
Try to come up with something unique for your send off! Sparklers and bubbles are so typical and over-used these days. We used these metallic streamers that guests got to pop out as we walked by. It was fun and made for a great photo opportunity! And, contrary to popular belief, they are actually very easy to pick up. They are thick and long, so it’s easy to scoop up a big clump of them at a time. You can also mix your personality into this aspect too! If you and your spouse are really into Star Wars, consider using light sabers or extra long glow sticks to create a glowing tunnel. Other unique ideas: confetti cannons, paper airplanes, faux snow (for winter weddings), balloon release, pompoms, flower petals, etc.
You can also get creative with your guest favors. I wish I had a photo of mine to show you! My mom and I individually packaged homemade seasoning for our guests to take home and make Alamo Firecrackers. We wanted to give something that guests could actually use and were excited about! We made a large batch of the mix, and scooped servings into individual bags. We topped them off with a recipe card and a bow. They were adorable and I was so happy with how they turned out! If you’re undecided on what to give your guests, food is always a great option.
If you are not religious and do not wish to get married in a church or have a typical reception hall venue, then try something unique! Get married or host your reception in a museum, at a zoo, an aquarium, at a sports field, in a vintage hotel or theater, etc. All of these places have event coordinators that can help you create a beautiful space for your wedding. Not to mention, it will truly be different and unique for you and your guests!
I hope you can take these ideas and incorporate your own creativity & style for your big day!