3 ways to have a dance-free wedding reception

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My fiance and I are having a bit of trouble (okay, a lot of trouble) figuring out how to entertain our guests during our reception.

The whole dinner and dancing thing really doesn't suit us, but when I've asked for advice from the “professionals” in our area, their eyes glaze over at the thought of not having a father-daughter dance, etc, etc.

What can we do at our reception if we want to avoid dancing?

If you don't like dancing, ug: there's nothing worse than hosting a miserable, requisite dance floor that you spend the whole night avoiding.

Luckily for you, there are lots of non-dancing options for your guests …

1. Brunch wedding


First off, the easiest way to avoid the expectation of dancing is to have your wedding earlier in the day — have a brunch wedding or afternoon reception.

No-one expects to cut a rug at 2pm. Your guests won't even notice the lack of dancing because you're breaking the whole “wedding, dinner, reception with dancing” template.

Brunch weddings are rad.

You get to serve mimosas!

2. Do lawn games instead!

Ring toss at wedding

If you're going for a backyard or garden wedding in the afternoon, you can keep your guests entertained with lawn games like croquet or badminton — imagine the photos! We have so many great ideas in our lawn games archive.

3. Sing instead of dance!

Belt it

For an evening/indoors reception, you definitely have your work cut out for you. Old habits die hard, and people come with their expectations clutched like little sequined handbags from hell. A couple ideas to keep the non-dancing guests busy could be a wedding photobooth (how much did you love the one at Katie's wedding?), fortune tellers (psychics are fun!), or even wedding karaoke.

That said, never underestimate the value of good food and booze and a little background music. If you keep people happy with lots to eat and drink, chances are good that no-one will miss the dancing.

Looking for even more ideas?

Check out our massive archive of non-dancing weddings, full of real weddings and great ideas.

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Comments on 3 ways to have a dance-free wedding reception

  1. My best friend and her husband are very traditional, and he doesn’t like dancing at all. When they got married they chose a lovely venue with a room full of distinguished leather sofa’s and ‘rich mahogany’. After the meal they had everyone congregate there where fine wine and good conversation were encouraged.

    Now, this was all before I knew them and so I wasn’t present at the wedding, but they said it was a lovely and enjoyable evening for all, and actually went down really well. The venue and entertainment choice was also a reflection of the couple which, after all, is what a wedding should be!

    Yes, most people will expect dancing, but as Ariel said, they probably won’t miss it. Stick to your guns, even though it’s really really hard to sometimes, and choose one of the non-dancing options. Remember how much fun the Pixel wedding looked!

    The only dress code we’re specifying is ‘dancing shoes’… but then that’s a reflection of us!

  2. love love love it!! i was recently married and AM having a dance b/c we all love to dance but i have also djed for about 6 years and have done so many weddings for people who HATE to dance and have dj simply b/c they think it is the “righ” thing to do! What a waste of money (theirs) and time (mine).

  3. I like to dance, he doesn’t, so we’re splitting the reception. There will be dancing under the tent, and outside the tent with be a croquet court and a box of frisbees, balls and various other outdoor activities. So there will be a little something for everyone.

    I love the wine and conversation idea, that sounds really lovely 🙂

  4. Sometimes unplanned dancing can be much better than planned dancing! At our reception this past September, we did a heavy appetizer buffet and had the Ipod going all night. We spent months picking the playlists and had a natural progression from slower “mood” music before the ceremony to fun music during “dinner” to dancier music during dessert (ice cream social!). There was a small section of the room left open in case anyone felt like dancing but there were no planned father/daughter dances, first dances, etc. A lot of people danced anyway (who can’t get in the mood with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”?), including my mom (think Martha Stewart meets Betty Crocker) which led to some amazing candid photos! I think as long as it isn’t forced, it will feel much more natural and fun!

    • That’s exactly what we’re planning for our wedding – iPod with a great playlist of dance-able songs, but we’re not doing any “first dance” or “father-daughter” dances. The one thing I can’t yet figure out is how to transition from dinner and our thank-you speech at the end to the rest of the night and make it clear that dancing is allowed… How did you do that transition?

  5. My geeky buddies get bad-prom flashbacks near dance floors, so we figured we’d spare everyone the trouble and skip it. Were going to have card games, puzzles, and the like to amuse our small, nerdy bunch. They can help break the ice between people who dont know each other, and its letting us have a much cozier venue.

  6. Hoops! I like to call them party hoops, as they are the adult version of the Hula Hoop (trademark). That’s what my groom and I had at our reception, and they were a smash hit. We didn’t serve alcohol, and this really loosened people up. We made ours from scratch — fairly cheap for parts and decoration — and had enough to fill the dance floor with adults who haven’t hooped since they were kids. Right after our first dance, we grabbed a hoop and the new married couple started the fun. After that it was a free-for-all. You can find instructions on the web on how to make them. I highly suggest it as it’s a hoot!

  7. We did lawn games at our wedding and it was soo fun. Hula Hoops and those bizarre throwing games with velcro (you know)? Amazing.

    Also, I’m shooting a wedding in Sept where there will be no dancing. Instead, the reception is being held at an arts venue, and they’re going to do a concert/open mic night. … I am very much looking forward to it!

  8. Thank you so much for this post!

    We both hate to dance, and are too shy to even really try in front of others =P So, we, of course, have been searching for ideas for entertainment.

    I thought about having one of those zoologist who exhibit exotic animals at schools and fairs and such. But then I thought, nah…only I would like that and the guests aren’t 4th graders =(

    I love the photobooth idea, though! Where would rent/buy one?

    • I LOVE the zoologist idea!! If it’s not too late then don’t scrap it!! I recently saw a bird show at the local zoo and there were WAY more adults then kids. And my fiance and I LOVED it. Almost stayed to watch the exact same show twice!

  9. Try searching for “photobooth rentals” or asking your photographer to set one up for you. That’s what we did — I wrote about it in the book and included some tips.

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