Or have these types of wedding-day activities had their run?

By Lauren Wellbank
August 06, 2020
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guests gather for cocktail hour at the gardens at Fifield manor
Credit: Katie Julia

When poorly orchestrated, ice breaker activities and getting to know you games can come off forced or uncomfortable, especially at an event like a wedding. Even when they are done well, your guests may feel a little like they are being asked to do work at what should be a social gathering. But there's a reason why they're a part of so many weddings: Brides and grooms see this as an easy way to get their guests acquainted with people who they may not know but will be sharing a reception table with. So, what's a couple to do? Should they nix these activities completely, or should they try to find new ways to freshen them up?

Kylie Carlson of International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning says ice breakers can be a good idea for larger weddings, especially when there are many guests that may not know as many attendees. "If the wedding isn't enough of a bonding experience as it is, these conversation openers can lift a huge weight off your shoulders by making everyone feel a bit more comfortable," she says. But how do you decide if ice breakers and getting to know you games will benefit your guests? "One way that you can gauge whether or not ice breakers may be a good fit for your wedding is by looking at your seating chart and guest list, respectively," Carlson says. "Are you nervous about guest comfort, or maybe wanting to pull your shy family out of their shells? Are you refraining from plus ones on your big day?" If so, she says pulling in some creative games or talking points is a great way to introduce guests that came alone, or reconnecting distant friends from school.

Think about creative ways to get guests mingling.

Carlson suggests considering the tone of your wedding as you think about ways to get guests interacting. Any ice breakers, games, or activities should fit with the overall vibe of the day. For a more casual wedding, fun facts about the couple and their wedding party on a ceremony program or menu cards can help guests get talking; for a more formal event, you might want to have prompts at each dinner table that encourage friends and family to chat with those seated across from them. Another option is to provide each guest with a talking point about another guest, either at their own table or at the reception as a whole, and the goal is for everyone to interact enough that they determine who the clue is about.

Or consider alternative activities.

If you've decided that traditional ice breakers and getting to know you games aren't your style, you still have options for getting your guests to mingle. Oleta Collins, owner of Flourishing Art Design Studio, has some suggestions. "Having an extended cocktail reception always helps even just an additional 30 minutes will allow everyone to mingle more and become more comfortable," she says. Some other ideas are to have the caterer create an appetizer around your favorite foods, and then your guests can guess which one is favorite for each of you. Or you could also have the bartender create two signature cocktails drinks and have the guests guess which one pair with each partner. "It's always lovely to have lawn games if your cocktail hour or reception is outside," she says. "We love utilizing a personalized Jenga set or corn hole. Other fun games are bocce ball and badminton."

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