15 wedding reception games and activities for good times!

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Here's Jami and Jamie getting their potato sack race on. Photo by Ian Mullen

So you're looking for some wedding reception games that will give your guests something else to do BESIDES dancing? (Because while some of us love dancing, some of us don't want to dance at our wedding). Well, you're not alone:

We hosted a game night wedding reception so it could be more interactive for everyone. We bought most of the prizes on sale, but still saved a lot by not hiring a DJ or band, which comes with an added cost of a dance floor and lights.

That quote from Jami and Jamie's backyard game night wedding inspired me to put together a roundup of great games that you can play at your wedding. Ready, set, GO!

OUTSIDE GAMES

Hula hoops

The hooping went on into the night!
Guests hooping it up at Ariel's wedding.

Giant Jenga

falling jenga
A Giant Jenga set is never not fun! Photo by Maverick Photography.

Twister

9.25.2010_0237
Photo by Photographer Rebekah Johnson.

Croquet

Croquet
Photo by Phil Bourne

Horseshoes

Melany and Dave Wedding171
Photo by Michael Andrews

Cornhole

Photo via Oh My Deer Handmades. Photo by Tec Petaja

Lawn bowling

This vintage-style lawn bowling kit would look sweet at your wedding.

Football

Tossing the Football Around
Photo by Cahoots Photography

INSIDE GAMES

Bingo

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Jamie and Jami (the ones who inspired this post) also played Bingo. When you won a round you got to pick out a board game prize in lieu of favors. Photo by Ian Mullen

Hungry Hungry Hippos

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Hungry Hungry Hippos is an Offbeat Bride favorite -- it's often used as centerpieces as well as entertainment. Photo by The Image is Found

Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots

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I love Oonagh & Dylan's fancy wedding version of Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. Photo by Brian Tao at Luxography

Board games

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Lisa and Teri had board games, chess, and card games instead of dancing

Musical chairs

Sarah & Williams hot-as-hell wedding
William and Sara's wedding had tons of games including musical chairs. Photo by Me.

Trivia

Fact: Josh & I love Trivia
Have your guests answer questions either about your relationship, or from actual Trivial Pursuit cards during the reception to do things like get in line for the buffet, or get you two to kiss, etc. Photo by Melissa Doyle of Casting Memories.

Video games

Luke & Suzanne's Muppet wedding
Luke and Susanne set up Rock Band in a special gaming room at their wedding. Photo by me.

Your turn! What games did you/are you going to play at your wedding?

  1. My guy and I both loved CandyLand as kids, and so we decided on a CandyLand themed wedding. I was able to get some good deals on sweet vintage games on Ebay, and we are using them as our centerpieces, so everyone can participate.

    I'm excited to see the results. I'm thinking there will be lots of betting and a few new drinking games will come of it! 🙂

  2. Awesome and timely post! My wedding is less than two weeks away, and so far our games include:
    -musical chairs (outside, with 70+ people? Yes!)
    -badminton
    -horseshoes
    -tug-o-war (Bride side vs groom side, boys vs girls, etc)
    -hula hooping
    -dizzy bat (maybe)
    -Hungry, Hungry Hippos and Jenga set up on a table
    -Water balloon fight
    -Balloon Stomp!!! Best game ever! We played at my sister's wedding three times because everyone had so much fun. Here's the game play: blow up balloons to a pre-determined size (we test with a bucket; if it fits in the bucket, it's too small. Smaller balloons won't pop as easily, cheaters). Everyone gets a balloon with a 3 foot piece of string tied to it. They tie the other end of the string to their ankle, leaving the balloon trailing behind them on the ground. Determine the out of bounds, then when the referee yells "GO!!" everyone tries to stomp on everyone else's balloons. Last person with an unpopped balloon wins! Seriously, this game is aggressive. Make sure adults watch out for flower girls and ring bearers so they don't get trampled. Barefoot people also need to be careful. Also, watch for cheaters who try to hold their balloons in their hands or will wrap the string around and around their ankle in order to keep the balloon close…both of these are against the rules. One game, my brother went and stole a helium balloon from a display so that his just floated behind him, unstompable. This is cheating as well.

    • Awesome! Balloon stomp! That's a great idea, however I'd just be concerned with how on earth you'd blow up that many balloons – you can't rent a helium tank cause you don't want them to float. Plus the issue of storage before the fact as well. Balloons are not small when they are blown up. How big was the bucket?

      • The bucket is usually not a super large pail, something smaller like 8-10" across. The purpose is just to make sure people don't cheat by only blowing their balloon up halfway. If you're playing outside, you ought to use a smaller balloon requirement anyway because grass seems to prematurely pop balloons that are blown up really huge (ie, thin). As for blowing up the balloons, we don't blow them up ahead of time. Anyone that wants to play grabs a balloon and blows it up themselves (hence the test for cheaters). Little kids need help, but other than that we just blow them up as needed.

  3. We played Bingo and it was a huge hit. My partner doesn't like to dance and we wanted an afternoon wedding, so Bingo was a great (and cheap) alternative. For our mix of guests it was more inclusive than dancing (no one was left sitting on the sidelines) and our guests of all ages, physical and mental abilities, etc. could play. We also put out board games but they scarcely got used because Bingo was so fun.

    Rather than a first dance my partner and I had called the first round. Then the wedding party, guests, kids, etc. all took turns calling. The kids LOVED being our "Bingo helpers."

    We played "kissing games" as well. We played the shoe game (I think recently highlighted on OBB) as a break from Bingo. During the meal, if a table clinked their glasses they had to correctly answer a trivia question about us before we'd kiss. The questions were on the table so they served as a handy little conversation starter.

    I know we've had lots of discussions on OBB about dance alternatives, and while games may not be right for every crowd, they really can go over well. Don't be afraid to supplement a dance or go completely without!

  4. We're doing games! We don't have room for dancing, so right now we've got plans to do a wedding themed bingo, as well as a scavenger hunt. This is awesome to get more ideas though!

  5. I had wanted to do bocce & badminton, but our location is on a hill, so that won't work. Now I'm wondering if we would be allowed to launch paper boats on the lake. Something biodegradable.

    I also wondered about a group butterfly launch. You can buy a whole set of butterfly larva & hatch them at home. Hopefully, they could be timed to be ready on the right week.

  6. I LOVE this. We're thinking strongly about having board games and dancing. It satisfies both of our awkward groups of friends.

  7. Yay! Perfect timing! We are also going the 'no-dance' reception route and finding things for the guests to do has been my biggest stressor(is that a word?)! So far I've got: a DIY photobooth (thank you OBB!); scavenger hunt; and wedding trivia, crossed words, and mad-libs ideas…but I love these too! Now I think my biggest problem will be trying to narrow it all down 🙂 Thanks ladies!

  8. I've got some of those things going on! Croquet, giant chess, giant jenga, twister, hula hoops/poi/diabolo… but we're also going to hire some adult space hoppers to do races on 😀 I can't wait to see if its possible to ride one in a steel boned corset!

  9. nobody has yet said Charades! this is awesome fun both for those playing and those watching

    I was also considering a photo scavenger hunt, since my wedding will be at a local history museum, but mum reckons it scatters the group too much rather than pull us all together.

    singing! lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody and other songs to be printed on the programmes

  10. We are getting married at a flower farm,The day after Tour De Fat (google it, it'll rock your world) and we are going to have our slack-line up for a slightly circus feel! YAY

  11. This post is PERFECT for me! We are having an outdoor BBQ wedding at a park. The park is already set up for bocce ball, horseshoes, Frisbee golf, ping pong and volleyball. We're going to Five Below shortly before the wedding and picking up lawn darts, lawn bowling and badminton. Croquet is a great idea too, and I think we're also going to provide Scrabble or other board games for the people who just aren't into lawn games.

  12. So far for our fantasy/fairytale themed wedding we are going to have croquet for Alice and Wonderland, I am looking for a giant chessboard, for Harry Potter, I want to have riddles on the tables for Lord of the Rings and we might set up a Jugger field for the LARPers in the group.

  13. I just ordered Outdoor Angry Birds for our wedding :). I know I fell for a commercial trap, but it suits our geeky spirit and I look forward to throwing big puffed birds at a pigtower.

    Apart from that, I'm sewing a Twister plaid, we have Kubb (a Scandinavian game involving wooden blocks that you throw) and badminton. I wanted giant Jenga too, but now we ordered the Angry birds instead. I wanted to DIY the jenga, but buying a premade set seemed cheaper than actually buying the necessary supplies.

    • I saw an Instructable for giant jenga, and all he did was saw 2x4s in 12in long pieces and sand the edges/corners round so they slide. If you know someone with an electric saw i can't imagine it being more than $30 or so, plus you have it for other get togethers if you leave it neutral and don't make it 'wedding' themed or anything.

  14. We've actually decided on a beer pong like game for guests to play to get us to kiss. The guests will have to toss a ball into one of three cups, lined up front to back, the closest one will be for a kiss on the hand, the middle one will be for a kiss on the cheek and the farthest one for a full on kiss. We're still trying to decide if they'll have to do anything if they miss completely.

  15. One of our guests brought boffer weapons (very padded foam swords and axes, safe for even young kids) because he'd heard we were having a swordfight. It was completely unplanned but *brilliant*; not quite a formal game, but we have the most wonderful pictures of our guests going at it, both kids and adults. (The "family feud" pictures where 60+-year-old siblings are taking out old vendettas with purple swords and foam battleaxes while in formalwear are just brilliant.) Everyone had a *total* blast; it was one of the best wedding gifts we got, and I'd highly recommend people try it themselves!

  16. What about a nerf gun war? We had one of these when we stayed at a cottage last summer and had a blast!! My favourite was a picture I got of my SIL holding her nerf gun in one hand while she was trying to balance her cocktail in the other! You could ask friends and family if they have any to borrow. We honestly could not stop laughing. It was a blast for all ages!

  17. We have hired one of my pre-wife's friends' improv troupe. We have a lot of different "groups" of friends coming to our wedding. We thought that it would be nice if they talked to each other at our wedding. The improv troupe are posing as different characters, and the game is to try to find the "wedding crashers". There will be four or five characters that the improv troupe will be posing as, and the DJ is on it. One of the actors will be playing the role of the "Law and Order Special Weddings Unit (SWU)" who will be giving hints during the reception. The point of the game is for our guests to get their picture taken at our DIY photo booth (thanks, OB!) with the wedding crashers. People who want to play have to find the crashers, fill out the evidence form during the evening, and everyone who finds all the wedding crashers get bragging rights and bonus points. (What are bonus points worth? NOTHING!)

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