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Date published: 2/8/2013
At Bernie and Jordan Hajovsky's wedding reception, it was useful to know details about the happy couple: Guests had to answer questions about them before they could join the buffet line.
The newlyweds hoped the trivia game and other activities would make the reception more memorable.
"I really wanted people to walk away feeling they had been involved and that it was the most fun wedding reception they had ever attended," said Jordan Hajovsky, of Austin, Texas.
Games, contests and other icebreakers have become increasingly popular at wedding receptions, said Sarabeth Quattlebaum, for the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners, in Dallas.
"Couples want a party atmosphere and have realized that the more guests mix and mingle, the more relaxed they'll be," said Quattlebaum, owner of Sarabeth Events in Keller, Texas. "This also adds a personal touch to their reception party."
Disc jockey Peter Merry says more and more couples are asking him to help organize reception activities, such as contests to win table centerpieces or asking guests to serenade the bride and groom with songs that include the word love in the lyrics.
Other couples are incorporating photo booths, where guests can have silly pictures taken of themselves.
With guests from different phases of their lives, couples want to provide opportunities to interact.
"If you can break down any discomfort, guests will stay longer and have more fun on the dance floor," said Merry, of Dallas, author of "The Best Wedding Reception Ever" (Sellers, 2010).
DJ Jimmie Malone, who owns the company Exceptional Receptions in Binghamton, N.Y., encourages couples to include activities that set the tone and help balance the wedding's "pomp and circumstance."
"It keeps guests engaged," Malone said.
Games are also good for breaking the ice between different family members and friends who most likely don't know each other.
Malone sometimes leads guests through an elaborate game in which they must pass a drink, a set of car keys and a dollar bill around the table.
He keeps the crowd laughing and guessing about what the items mean. At the end, he announces that the person holding the money is "$1 richer" and that the holder of the drink must serve as the table's bartender for the evening.
The person with the car keys? Malone tells them jokingly, "Congratulations, you just won a new car."
The centerpiece goes to the "generous person" who donated the $1.
If you can get guests "laughing early in the night, it sets the tone for the rest of the reception," he said.
At other receptions, he has organized a version of "Let's Make a Deal," rewarding guests who can produce an expired driver's license or the oldest penny in the room.
The games typically create an atmosphere of camaraderie.
Along with trivia, the Hajovskys arranged for an instructor to teach line dances. "It got everybody on the dance floor," she recalled.