When your grandparents got married, they probably didn’t have too much in the way of wedding entertainment.
In fact, 50 or so years ago, most weddings took place in the morning, followed by the wedding breakfast and then, after the speeches and cake, the bride and groom would leave to go off on their honeymoon – probably in the mid to late afternoon.
So in fact, their actual wedding day was really quite short.
24 hour party people!
Nowadays the trend is to make much more of a deal of the whole event. It’s not unusual to be invited to a ceremony taking place in the late morning or early afternoon, followed by a drinks reception and canapés, a wedding breakfast, the speeches and cake cutting.
Then there’s a short break – maybe some afternoon tea and the arrival of the evening guests when the whole event restarts with probably another drinks reception and dancing. That could be a whole 10 hours of keeping guests happy from the moment they arrive at the church until they leave around midnight.
So what are you going to do with them? How can you make sure your guests feel entertained, happy and engaged throughout the day rather than looking at their watch and wondering when they can politely leave?
Look up entertainment in the dictionary and it says ‘the act of providing amusement or enjoyment’. Which is to say that entertaining your guests isn’t just a matter of providing conjurers, magicians, musicians and photo booths – it’s making sure that they have a great time at your wedding.
Get the catering right
First off, we’d say that you have to make sure you don’t let your guests get hungry or thirsty. If you’re having a late morning wedding and evening dancing then you’re going to have to feed your guests twice over. Or if you’re having an early afternoon wedding followed by an evening event, then you can’t expect your guests to wait until dinner time to eat.
If all this is beyond your budget then you’re going to have to rethink the timetable of your day – maybe get married mid-afternoon, serve a delicious afternoon tea and then dinner in the evening. Or get married as late as possible and just have an evening affair. Serving your guests delicious food and drink is all a part being a good hostess and you don’t want to cut corners here.
What about music?
Well, that really depends on the structure of your day. You don’t have to have a string quartet or music playing during a drinks reception but it does create a party atmosphere. Music also fills in the gaps when you’re having your photographs taken or signing the register and can fill in any awkward silences that might occur.
Obviously if you’re having an evening event with dancing you’re going to have to have music – whether you opt for a DJ or a live band, or ideally both if your budget stretches. One thing we don’t recommend is that you create a playlist on your iPod, your wedding music is something you shouldn’t really DIY, it’s too much pressure.
The big picture
Having a group photograph taken of your wedding day is another way that all guests can feel involved in your big day. Exercise your photographer’s creativity by arranging everybody in a giant love heart shape or the initials of the bride and groom. Gathering everybody together is a great icebreaker and a good way to get people talking to one another before dinner.
In fact, if you’re a good host and hostess you should make everybody feel part of your big day and not allow anybody to feel left out – that’s all part of entertaining.
Amusing table plans
As for dinner, you can use your table plan as a way to entertain your guests. If you’re having a singles table, you could act as a mischievous matchmaker by pairing singles up by name – eg Scarlett and Rhett, Kate and William, Angelina and Brad – it gives each single an opening line to introduce themselves and who knows where it might lead!
Think about people who’ve been invited to your big day who won’t really know anybody else. Even if they’ve come as a couple they’ll need to be introduced to others and although you’re busy as a bride and groom, you need to make sure your guests meet others they can enjoy chatting to. Which means that you may need some ice breakers and points of conversation.
These might be something like writing out a list of 25 statements and putting them as a card on the table. Statements could be things like ‘have you ever done a parachute jump’ or ‘do you prefer dogs or cats’. One person on the table reads them out and the guests answer accordingly – perfect way to get the conversation started. (Have a look at our previous piece on using icebreakers at a wedding).
Or you could use a company like Secret Singers , who provide waiters who will suddenly burst into song unexpectedly – now that’s entertainment. (In fact they provided the entertainment at our recent Wedding Ideas Awards, much to the delight of all!)
As ever, if you’re looking for entertainment ideas see what our brides on the Forum have to suggest – and see this entertainment idea one bride planned that didn’t turn out as she wanted it too!