We’re often asked why wedding entertainment is necessary – and the reason is that wedding days can be long. Your guests will be celebrating with you from the ceremony through to reception drinks and the wedding breakfast – and then there’s the evening party. This means it’s crucial to come up with the right reception timeline to make sure your guests have an amazing time, and don’t start to wilt by the time the speeches start.
One thing that helps keep them amused – and creates a joyful atmosphere – is building in some wedding entertainment to your timeline.
Of course, this won’t work as well if the entertainment is something they’ve seen at a million other weddings – and that’s where we come in! We’ve found the best unusual wedding entertainment ideas, from photo booths with a twist to unexpected surprises and games they’ll love. Read on to find out how to make sure your big day really goes off with a bang…
Mirror photo booth
Photo booths have become a wedding reception staple in recent years. Remember, they come in all shapes and sizes, from caravan to taxi booths, so put a cool twist on the trend by choosing something unusual. The magic mirror selfie booth from Smiles Better is an excellent example. Guests pose in front of the touch-sensitive mirror, using photo booth props to up the fun factor, with prints available within 30 seconds.
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a magician? Easy to organise and with plenty of bang for their buck, magicians are a versatile option. Your magician doesn’t just have to perform during the drinks reception – ask him or her to do the rounds mid-meal to entertain your diners, or to mingle with guests who want a break from dancing in the evening. Expect sleight of hand, cool card tricks and close-up tricks.
Add a touch of the mystery to your reception. Hiring a fortune teller to wander round the tables mid-course is a great way to fill a sometimes-awkward gap. You just need to work out what type of fortune telling you’re drawn to, such as palm reading or tarot.
Photograph | Jen Theodore at Unsplash
READ MORE: The insider’s guide to your wedding entertainment budget
Hire a glitter bar complete with make-up artist to create sparkling looks for your guests. Just make sure your chosen company only uses biodegradable glitter, which is mainly made of plant cellulose – try Eco Stardust.
Photograph | Getty
Avoid the inevitable Dad-dancing and your cousin’s attempts at ‘the worm’ and arrange a professional dance lesson for your guests. Salsa and samba classes are both great for getting the party started.
Photograph | Getty
In the world of unusual wedding entertainment, anything is possible. If you’re getting hitched on a country farm, head outside with little guests to visit the venue’s resident animals. Mobile petting zoos are even available, so you can bring the farmyard to you!
READ MORE: 50 country wedding ideas we want to steal
There comes a time when things can only be solved with a good old-fashioned dance off. You know the rules: men on one side, ladies on the other, and anything goes. Let the DJ decide the prizes for best and worst moves.
Photograph | Mitchell Orr at Unsplash
Photo scavenger hunt
Not just one for the children, create a photo scavenger hunt for your guests to compete throughout the course of the day. From snapping a pic of planting a kiss on the groom’s cheek to selfies with the catering staff, it’ll bring out the competitive nature in your friends. You can always take things on to Instagram with a hashtag.
Photograph | Kim Allexis Diwa at Unsplash
Surprise first dance
We’ve all seen the YouTube videos: learning a secret dance routine with your partner to perform at your reception will affirm your eternal places in the wedding hall of fame. We’ve seen everything from Bollywood to Dirty Dancing-inspired routines.
READ MORE: 100 first dance songs for every kind of couple
Ice cream bar
Give your guests a sweet treat with a build-your-own ice cream sundae bar, including lots of different flavours and all the toppings they could ask for. Or you could provide scoops, cones and sauces, so they can create a more portable treat.
Mr and Mrs/Mr and Mr/Mrs and Mrs contest
How well do you really know your partner? Ask a series of Mr and Mrs quiz questions, from the easy ones like shoe size and how they like their tea to the trickier topics of first pet and A level subjects – you might even learn something new… Rope in a confident member of your wedding party to host this after-dinner quiz that’s guaranteed to go down a storm.
RSVP a floorfiller
Simple but oh-so-effective, ask guests to jot down their must-have party song on their RSVP note, and hey presto, a ready-made playlist is yours. The minute each person’s track comes on, they’ll head straight for the dance floor.
READ MORE: How to DIY your wedding music
Hire graffiti artists, such as Graffiti Life, to create an amazing artwork as guests look on. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t require constant attention, so won’t distract from conversations.
Photograph | Renee Fisher at Unsplash
Take ‘service with a smile’ to a whole new level by hiring a brigade of singing waiters to liven up your dinner. For enhanced wow-factor, keep it a secret from your guests until they suddenly burst into song.
READ MORE: The ultimate playlists for your wedding breakfast
Pimp your drinks
Create a wedding drinks station where guests can customise their fizz with fruits and liqueurs or create their own cocktails – or simply pour themselves a measure of their favourite post-dinner spirit. We’ve seen so many creative drinks stations that are beautifully decorated and are a real focal point at the reception.
DIY flower stall
The day before the wedding, if you have the energy for an early start (or can delegate to a particularly kind member of the wedding party), head to your local flower market or wholesale farm to pick up armfuls of beautiful blooms. Choose seasonal, local varieties to be kinder to both the planet and your wallet. You can then use these to create a DIY stand where guests can create their own buttonholes, corsages and/or flower crowns. You’ll also need florist supplies such as wire, and it’s a good idea to print out some step-by-step guides.
Photograph | Annie Spratt at Unsplash
Hire one or more street food vans so guests can watch their food being assembled right in front of their eyes – and tuck into some fresh, flavoursome nosh, of course.
Forget guest books – the hottest trend on the wedding scene is the video box, where guests can record rather than write their messages. Expect the quality and coherence of messages to deteriorate as the night goes on and the drinks flow – these probably aren’t the ones you’ll be sharing on Insta Stories.
READ MORE: The dos and don’ts of social media at weddings
If heading home at midnight is just too early, or your bridal party just love a good night out, arrange an after party. Book a minibus to transport your most hardcore guests to a bar or club – book a VIP area if you’re feeling extra generous. There’s no pressure for you to attend though if you’re dying to crash into bed.
Photograph | Michael Discenza at Unsplash
Not just for children’s parties, bouncy castles have been given a wedding makeover and are now a trend not to be missed! Whether you have small ones in attendance or not, guests will love the freedom of kicking off their shoes and having a bounce.
If you grew up gaming at home or at the local arcade, gaming wedding entertainment could be a great choice for you. Hire an Xbox or PlayStation for group play or some actual arcade games if your budget allows.
Photograph | Erik Mclean at Unsplash
A fireworks display is our favourite night-time wedding entertainment idea by far. Nothing beats the magic of watching them light up the sky as you celebrate with your loved ones. But don’t book anything before you’ve read these 12 things you need to know about wedding fireworks.
Photograph | Roven Images at Unsplash
Bring the glamour and excitement of Las Vegas to your wedding reception and arrange to have casino games and staff waiting for your guests, using fake money. You can have all the thrills, without the risk of losing money – winning.
Photograph | Kay at Unsplash
Temporary tattoo bar
Give guests the chance to try out a quirky tattoo without the commitment of the real thing with a transfer tattoo bar. Just make sure everyone shows off their new artwork at the photo booth afterwards!
READ MORE: 21 discreet love- and wedding-themed tattoos
Ideal for a summer wedding, a miniature golf course can be enjoyed by guests of all ages. Set up a tournament and have you or your partner play the winner!
Hire a live event illustrator to provide beautifully stylish portraits of your loved ones. Everyone will go home with a lovely, bespoke keepsake of the day.
READ MORE: Personalised wedding favours you can buy
Hire some side stalls to achieve a carnival mood. We’re talking about vintage-style treats such as a coconut shy, hook-a-duck and hoopla. Enhance the experience with a candyfloss machine and light-up letters.
Quirky and cute, a professional duck-herding demonstration (using Indian Runner Ducks and well-trained Border Collies) will amuse every generation. Try Quack Pack.
Hire a bubbleologist – yes, that’s a thing – to conjure amazing shapes. We’re not simply talking about big bubbles; skilled practitioners’ acts include bubbles filled with smoke, square bubbles and bubbles you can stand inside.
For a memento with a difference, call in a company that’ll get guests lip-synching to your favourite track on the day. They’ll edit this together to make a music-wedding video hybrid that’s as amusing to watch as it was to make.
Photograph | Getty
Razzle dazzle ’em with some eye-catching entertainment as soon as they walk into the reception. Stilt walkers, jugglers, acrobats, fire dancers, contortionists and even aerial dancers will enthral guests – let your imagination run wild.
Photograph | Judeus Samson at Unsplash
Edible mist orbs
At the quirkier end of the wedding entertainment scale lies the edible mist orbs experience. Your guests can treat their taste buds to flavours as diverse as cucumber and chocolate cookies – all inhaled and containing zero calories. Check out Lick Me I’m Delicious.
READ MORE: 14 unusual wedding food ideas
A carousel is a stylish choice, but space allowing, do consider hiring a teacup ride or even a helter-skelter.
Photograph | Sarah Gawler
There are lots of fun and exciting ideas for keeping children entertained. We particularly like the idea of hiring a face painter for an hour or two – we bet adults won’t be able to resist either.
Photograph | Getty
Get a karaoke photo booth, such as Fun Pod, to have your guests’ vocal efforts filmed and turned into a hilarious video keepsake.
READ MORE: Accessories for wedding photo booths
Borrow this Mexican tradition to get the party going with a bang – literally. Choose a wedding-perfect piñata, such as a tiered cake shape or a monogrammed heart, and fill it with whatever treats you want to shower your guests with.
If you’re having a summer wedding in the countryside, particularly at a barn with lots of outside space and little light pollution, consider combining an outdoor chill-out area with a place to stargaze for an out-of-this-world entertainment option. Set up beanbags and put out a sign with details of a free stargazing app guests can download to their phones – they just have to point them at the sky to identify planets and constellations.
READ MORE: The top 32 barn wedding venues
These are perfect for venues with noise curfews, or as a way to add interest to the dancing section of the night. Guests are given wireless headphones that can connect to and switch between a number of different music channels. It’s hilarious to watch people dance side by side to Sinatra and Pitbull.
Photograph | Getty
While some guests will be hitting the bar hard, others might need a little caffeine to raise their energy for the dance floor. Make sure their drink of choice is entertaining by hiring after-dinner coffee artists, who create incredibly intricate art, from portraits to motifs, on top of a cappuccino or latte as guests look on.
Photograph | Lex Sirikiat at Unsplash
For a 1950s vibe, hire a retro jukebox for your drinks reception, so guests can choose which tracks they enjoy their cocktails to.
READ MORE: How to go DIY with your wedding music
One for Instagram lovers. Supercharge your booth by hiring a version that creates GIFs as well as photos – they’re sent directly to your phone so can be shared instantly.
Want more inspiration? Check out our wedding entertainment ideas for every budget