Ask nearly any guest and they'll tell you that cocktail hour is their favorite part of the wedding day. To ensure yours stands out, plan some fun games and activities to keep everyone busy. Sure, drinks and light bites are enough to draw a crowd, but curated events will bring this portion of the day to the next level. To that end, we asked three experts to share their favorite games to set out during the cocktail hour.
Plan Team Events
There's nothing worse than attending a wedding where you only know the bride or groom. You feel like the odd one out and sometimes quite uncomfortable. Alison Semmler, lead planner of Lifestyle Maven Events, knows how to combat this. "It can be quite uncomfortable to be at a wedding where you don't know the majority of the guests, so I encourage any activities or games that would be ice breakers," she explained. "Some games I've suggested that have been successful are bocce ball, croquet, and an ice breaker game where each guests' escort card has a number and they have to search for their matching number and have a drink with that person."
If your guests are an active bunch, a casual scavenger hunt would be fun; it's easy to make friends when uniting under a common goal. If they're more of a sit-down crowd, include little slips of paper with questions on them at each table; label the jars "ice breakers." Everyone can have a good time reading the questions and commands and will forget that they were mere strangers only minutes ago.
Everyone loves a good photo booth or selfie. Use that love to create some amazing, one of a kind memories during cocktail hour! Laura Mayfield, lead event planner of Mayfield Events, described her favorite game a guest has done. "The wedding party had the guests use the photo booth to create comic strips and tell funny stories," she explained. "Different groups would go into the booth and construct a story using the photos. They would cut apart the traditional strips to make it into a story."
Many couples are leaning towards interactive photo booths, which allow the guest more freedom and creativity than traditional iterations. They come with props and commands, and are guaranteed to entertain your guests.
Build Custom Games
If you and your bridal party are crafty people, there are endless opportunities for game. "My favorite idea that I've seen a couple bring to the tables was homemade lawn and carnival games," Semmler said. "The couple was extremely craft and created vintage-inspired games like ring toss and knock the bottle, and guests won prizes! It was perfect for their outdoor summer wedding."
When it comes to DIY, the ideas are endless. Take raw materials and create your own traditional games or imagine something brand new for your guests to enjoy! Ashley Chamblin, owner of Ashley M. Chamblin Events & Design, suggests the same. "The best game we have seen was a DIY game of cornhole, where the couple put their faces on the wood cornhole board with their mouths as the hole and decorated with lots of glitter and personalized decoupage!"
You can also ask your guests to DIY your guest book. Provide an old-fashioned Polaroid camera and accessories, and let them take their own photos, sign them, and place them into a book! The same can be done with Jenga pieces or cards; whatever your hobby, it can be turned into an interactive guest book.
Allow Your Theme to Dictate Your Games
Wedding planners love to customize the games according to the theme of the wedding. For instance, if a couple is getting married outdoors, in the spring or summer, classic garden party games should be introduced including croquet, cornhole, horse shoes, and badminton. Christina Whitney, owner of Whitney Events, likes to go a step further. "If you have a lawn to work with, you can have oversized yard dice, corn hole, ring toss or ladder ball," she said. "All of these can be ordered and personalized with the couple's initials, date or monogram."
If your cocktail hour is formal and indoors, Edmonds always suggests magic. "I'm very partial to magic during cocktails, and the magicians do then provide games such as card games, rope games, and other magical games for guests to partake in." Another fun idea is to employ classic board games from childhood—Operation, Chutes and Ladders, and Connect 4 and Jenga are always good options. If board games aren't your favorite, think about card games, such as Uno, Cards Against Humanity, or Go Fish.