1) Disposable Cameras- I have seen many receptions where the host randomly placed disposable cameras on the tables and then picked them up and developed them at the end of the evening. While this is by no means a replacement for a professional photographer, it usually will catch some great random shots that may have otherwise been missed. It also helps make your guests feel more involved in the event.
2) Table Bells- Small, inexpensive bells (purchased at any arts & craft store) are placed at each setting or, randomly, 3 or 4 per table. Often they are dressed up with light painting and/or ribbon to match the theme for the evening. I have seen them used one of two ways. In some instances a family member prompts the other guests by ringing theirs at the outset of special moments (grand entrance, cake cutting, toast, etc.). Not only is the collective sound a nice touch, but it also directs everyone's attention to the event at hand. I also had one brave bride whose parents had me announce that they were the kissing bells and that each time they were used, the new couple would kiss. Needless to say, by the conclusion of the event, it became quite humorous and really added to the attendees' fun. The dry lipped newlyweds were not as pleased.
3) Table Candles- In many instances, the larger banquet facilities use fluorescent lighting which is sometimes overkill and impersonal. The dimmer candles can go a long way to warm and personalize the event. While there are many variations, I think my favorite was the use of small round glass containers (purchased from hobby stores) that are very similar to the small goldfish bowls that you see at the fair. The host would fill the bowl about half full of water and place floating candles in them. I have also seen them color the water with food coloring to match the night's theme. In one unique case, I even saw a bride add a little more water and actually put live goldfish under the floating candles. The bride then had me give them away to the attending children. It was much appreciated and a very nice touch!
4) Wedding Trivia- This can be an excellent opportunity to make your guests more familiar with the newlyweds and give them some small gifts all at the same time. In the time leading to the newlyweds' arrival at the reception and during the reception, there are several periods of little activity. During these times, the host has had me ask trivia about the new couple: How did they meet? Where will the honeymoon be? What are their signs? etc. Immediate family members were not allowed to answer. Small, wrapped gifts from the host were given to those who had the correct answers.
5) Magician / Clown- While this may, at first, seem like overkill, I have seen it used and then receive very positive comments afterwards. There are a lot of slow periods for the young ones to endure. A restless and/or whining child can put a serious damper on the evening for not only their parents, but the entire table and in some cases the whole group. At some events the child entertainer took the entire group of kids (usually aged 12 and under) to a separate room away from the reception for 1 to 1 ˝ hours. Not only did this give their parents a much appreciated chance to visit, dance, and/or congratulate the new couple, it prevented any potentially uncomfortable moments during important moments at the reception.
6) Kids' Corner- This is another, less expensive way to entertain the younger ones during the slower periods. Simply pick an area, preferably out of the main line of sight. It works great to put up tables to box in a corner. Put drapes or white sheets on the outer sides of the tables. Place chairs around the inner sides of the tables. If the area is uncarpeted, you should consider throw carpets or a blanket or two. Place paper, Funpads, puzzle books, coloring books, crayons and pens on the tables for older children and some small toys on the floor for the younger ones. It is always a good idea to ask family members or friends to take shifts supervising the group. As with #5, this gives parents a break and eliminates some of the awkward boring times for the children.
7) Bubbles- It is possible to purchase small (1 or 2 oz) disposable containers of bubbles with the bubble wand in the lid. These can be placed on each table as tokens for the kids or to be used during a picturesque moment like the first dance or departure, etc.
8) Autograph the Newlyweds- At one reception, the bride placed an enlarged (20 X 24) formal portrait of the couple in a glassless frame on a table near the door with several colored markers and a note urging her guests to autograph the photo. It was definitely an interesting twist.
9) Groom's Table - This seems to be the new rage! At most traditional reception settings the frills seem to be directed toward the bride. I am starting to see "Groom's Tables" with theme settings and pictures of the groom. Themes have included everything from hunting to fishing to Nascar to professional themes. In some cases, the masculine theme has been used throughout the reception. I can provide you with more specific ideas, but here is one example: A card table with Nascar photos, wrenches, pictures of the bride and groom, etc., was placed at the head of the serving area. A sign over the food read "PIT ROW" and a sign over the punch bowl and kegs read "Fill 'Er Up." Two white styrofoam wreaths were taped together, painted black, and lined inside with tin foil so that they looked exactly like tires and also made great chip bowls. You get the idea. Not only is a little fun added to the event, but with some creativity, the room looks just as festive and the bride's and groom's expenses are drastically reduced.
10) Fancy 1st Dance- Lately, I have had several requests of my new brides to creat e the ultimate 1st dance. If you go to You Tube and key in Funny first dance you can see what I am talking about. Here is how it works. Basically you pick a first dance song, traditionally slow and meaningful for the new bride and groom. Next you pick 3 or 4 funny songs like You Can't Touch This, Ice Ice Baby, Appache, Twist, Get Down On It - you get the idea. What I do is create a song that starts with the slow tune, them abruptly transitions through the faster ones and then ends with the end of the slow one we started with. It is a wonderful ice breaker to really get the group fired up and it gives the newlyweds to be (as if they need it) an excuse to spend more time together privately in the days leading up to the Reception. If you are interested in this just ask and I can give you tips to make it a success!
11) Anniversary Dances- This is a nice touch if you have a large group and or lots of older married family attending. Basically, I announce that we are starting an Anniversary Dance and I need all the married couples on the floor. I begin eliminating couples by the length of time married - 1 year, 5 years, 10 years etc. At the conclusion of the dance I have to longest married couple remaining on the floor. I congradulate them and encourage them to pass along a piece of advice for the newlyweds; afterall, they have made it last longer than anyone else in the room. Sometimes it is a nice final touch to have the bride and groom return to the floor with a flower, thanks the long time married couple and get into a picture with them.
12) Keys- This is one that allows the bride to have some fun with her new husband. Ask me in person and I will explain it.
13) G-Surprise- This is one that allows the groom to have some fun with his new bride. Ask me in person and I will explain it.