21 Alternative Wedding Entertainment Ideas for Your Unique Reception

Photo: Emily Wren Photography

Great entertainment is one of the key elements to any memorable wedding—traditionally, big-day entertainment consists of either a band or a DJ. And while hiring a musical headliner is important, it's not the only way to get guests off their feet during your celebration. Sure, a packed dance floor makes for a great party, but it hardly allows for your friends and families to converse and get to know one another. Offering entertainment alternatives is guaranteed to get guests mingling.

When considering alternative entertainment for your wedding, pick something that speaks to your event's theme. If you're celebrating a specific culture (or multiple cultures), hire dancers to perform a traditional number. A hula or Chinese dragon performance, for example, will add to the ambience of your wedding and teach guests about your heritage. Plus, it could be a first-time experience for so many, giving attendees plenty to bond over. If music is a shared interest between you and your fiancé—and one that you wish to highlight—think outside of the classic musical accompaniments. We still recommend hiring a DJ or band for the night, but consider featuring a saxophonist, harpist, or even a mariachi or marching band for other portions of the day. By switching up the tunes (and the vibe!), you'll guarantee that your reception stands out.

Although the night will fly by, there are plenty of moments to feature one of these alternative entertainment ideas throughout your celebration. Even if you wait until the very last minute to surprise guests with a fireworks display, your unexpected, one-of-a-kind party will be one they won't soon forget.

01 of 21


trapeze artists cocktail hour entertainment
Liz Banfield

Take your cocktail hour to new heights by hiring trapeze artists to perform overhead. An acrobatic number is the perfect way to kick off your evening.

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Marching Band

marching band wedding entertainment
Liz Banfield

If you're marrying your high school or college sweetheart, enlist the help of your alma matter's marching band to pump up the crowd. This couple paid tribute to their grade school love story by doing just that, much to the delight of their guests.

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Synchronized Swimmers

stephanie nikolaus wedding swimmers
Peaches & Mint by Pia Clodi

If your summer wedding venue has a pool, consider hiring synchronized swimmers. It's an unexpected way to celebrate the season—and entertain your attendees.

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Fire Dancers

lara kjell circus party sparklers performer
Dominique Bader Photography

After the sun sets, open up the dance floor to fire performers to liven the mood after dinner. This Cirque Indigo performer's dazzling routines did just that, thanks to sparkling batons.

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jiannina enzo wedding caricatures
Sandra Åberg Photography

Hiring a caricature artist to sketch cartoon drawings of your friends and family will bring people together to capture the moment while offering them a forever keepsake.

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Hula Dancers

hawaiian wedding cocktail party luau dancers
KT Merry

If you're hosting a destination event, look towards your big day's location for authentic entertainment. Take this Hawaiian wedding, for example. Guests were welcomed to the ceremony with a traditional hula dance performance.

07 of 21


lara kjell circus party guys carousel
Dominique Bader Photography

A vintage carousel not only makes for a unique décor element, but it adds a nostalgic element to your event that guests of all ages can enjoy.

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Jazz Band

Jillian Mitchell Photography

Musical entertainment can come in all different forms. A jazz band, like The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys seen here, can rock the party with high-tempo songs or more relaxed renditions, accommodating all wedding moments.

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Ferris Wheel

Kate Osborne Photography

Interactive activities, like a Ferris wheel, allows for the fun to last all night. Thrill-seeking attendees can take in your venue's view as much or as little as they'd like.

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Ceremony Band

lisa greg italy wedding band march accordian
Heather Waraksa

Keep your guests entertained during even the most unexpected big-day moments. At this event, friends and family danced in the streets as they followed the Neapolitan Claudio Band from the ceremony to the reception.

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Photo Booth

Elizabeth Messina Photography

Photo booths are an easy way to gather attendees together for snapshots that will last a lifetime. For an elevated feel, work your theme into your prop selection, like this theater-loving couple did with stage masks.

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Carnival Act

lara kjell circus party couple stilts
Dominique Bader Photography

If your big day's theme is nontraditional, then your entertainment can be, too. This circus wedding is the perfect example: The couple hired Cirque Indigo performers to interact with guests during the cocktail hour.

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Mariachi Band

mariachi band playing at rehearsal dinner
Sylvie Gil Photography

Another musical element that differs from your average band or DJ? A mariachi group. The group's lively music will elevate the ambience of any cocktail hour or reception.

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Live Painter

man creating plein air painting
Jordan Thompson at Landon Jacob Photography

Anyone would be mesmerized by a live painter working to translate a favorite wedding scene onto paper. Plus, the painting makes for a priceless keepsake.

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Jesse Leake

Hiring a pianist is a more traditional means of entertainment that all attendees can appreciate. Find a way to make your musical moment unique, like this couple who staged the performance during their ceremony in the woods.

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wedding bocce

Get guests up and onto your venue's sprawling lawn by setting up a fun yard game. Bocce, for example, will keep friends and family relaxed and having fun.

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wedding harpist
Amy Fanton Photography

A harpist brings a refined musical element to any ceremony or cocktail hour while still allowing guests to converse over the soft, sweet melodies.

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Aaron Delesie

End your big day on a high note with a firework display you'll never forget. It'll bring your whole evening full circle.

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bride and groom kissing while saxophonist plays
Abby Jiu Photography

Just because the reception is over doesn't mean the celebration is. This couple hired EDM DJ and sax duo, Cafolla and Engel to play as guests danced their way to the after-party.

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wedding casino
Dez and Tam Photography

For a casino-themed soirée, allow guests to partake in an authentic poker game. This not only adds an upscale feel to your night, but your friends and family will have a blast testing their luck.

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wedding cocktails
Braedon Photography

Hiring a mixologist to headline your cocktail will get the drinks flowing. Attendees can try out custom creations while learning how to put together the ultimate beverage.

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