How Can You Make Your Wedding Fun Without Dancing?

The Cupid Shuffle isn't for everyone, you know?

Water guns for a wedding game

Two of the questions we field the most frequently about wedding receptions are, “We aren’t going to have dancing. What should we substitute for that?” and “Will a wedding without dancing be fun?”

As far as I’m concerned, the answers are as follows: You either have dancing, or you don’t. There is no substitute. And, of course it will be fun. Super fun, in fact. Think about it. Most parties you attend probably don’t have dancing, and they’re a delight.

The truth is, if you don’t have dancing, chances are most folks won’t even miss it. If the vibe of your wedding is “elegant dinner party,” people will chat and eat and have a great (non-dancing) time. Or maybe it’s “picnic” and you have a bounce house and a piñata and a cook out. Because the truth is, there are as many ways to entertain guests at a party as there are parties.

So for those of you who didn’t have dancing at your wedding—or are planning to forgo the gettin’ down—what other activities did you plan for your wedding reception? Did you just eat and hang out? Do lawn games? Host a knitting circle? (True story.)

Go ahead: what wedding games and activities make receptions fun? Spill your best-laid plans!

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  • Ashlah

    We had both dancing and lawn games. Our wedding was at a park, so it seemed natural. The absolute biggest hit, though, was volleyball. I originally thought the volleyball court right next to the reception area was a bit of a eyesore, but people played for hours! Guests I never would have expected to play were covered in sand and having a blast. I was so, so thankful that my aunt brought a volleyball. Obviously most people can’t just build a volleyball court at their venue, but setting up a net might be an option for some!

    • curious

      ooh I’m really curious about this. can you tell me a bit about your timeline? did you have dancing and lawn games at the same time? how big was your wedding? we’re also thinking of doing both (outdoor wedding, incidentally volleyball net next door) but I’m a little nervous that they would steal energy from each other, you know what I mean? curious about how you structured things.

      • picnic wedding

        I had both at a Sunday afternoon bbq/picnic wedding. The dancing and games did compete a bit. However, I found that with 125 people, someone was always doing one of the activities. Some people only played bags and baseball. Other people danced when their requested song came on and packed the dance floor with their friends. Most went back and forth. Everyone joined in for the last dance and watched the traditional dances (first dance and with parents).

        We scattered the games around the outside of the tent and in the surrounding field. The DJ, bar, tables, food, and dance floor were under the tent. Like most weddings, the DJ acted like an emcee and invited people to dinner, to dance, or to quiet down and observe when necessary (like the toasts and such). Worked out great for us, but I wouldn’t say it was a dance party.

        • Ashlah

          Exactly this. The dancing/games part of our reception probably started a little bit before 5 PM, and we had around the same number of guests. We chose to have lawn games available for anyone who wasn’t interested in dancing. There were definitely people interested in both who went back and forth, so there were times that the dance floor was just my husband and I, or just a few more people, but we didn’t mind. It didn’t feel awkward or lacking in energy, it just felt like a bunch of people having fun doing their own thing…but also all together? There was just a happy energy buzzing all around, even if we weren’t all doing the same thing at the same time.

          None of the activities were super structured. The dance floor was opened up, and the lawn games/volleyball were made available all at the same time, so people could do whatever they wanted. I’d say people generally started with dancing, then moved on to other activities, then came back to the dance floor towards the end.

  • Annabelle

    My fiance and I are having an outdoor, no dancing wedding in six weeks, and we’re planning on having an assortment of lawn games and board games. We’re also pondering the idea of having a short personalized trivia game (like pub trivia, with our MC reading the questions aloud – we’re both big fans, and I host a trivia night once a week), but I’m concerned that people will feel like it’s too intrusive. Has anyone ever done trivia at their wedding or been to a wedding where it was done? How did it go? I’ll also happily take suggestions for cheap but fun prizes for the winning team!

    • albertiraross

      I’ve been to a wedding where the DJ hosted a quiz featuring the couple. It was a blast, it got everyone involved, we got to learn a little bit more about the couple, and it seemed like everyone enjoyed it!

    • Rhie

      I’ve never seen it at a wedding but I think it would be a lot of fun, and also something that people can do sitting down–so even if your younger people who do bar quizzes all the time gravitate naturally, it’s not like dancing where older guests/relatives can be left out if they’re not physically up to it. Plus you could have different rounds that speak to things relatives might know versus friends so everyone gets to feel like an expert for a little while. I don’t know, I feel like bar trivia is good in almost any scenario.

    • Lisa

      My SIL and BIL did this at their wedding, where they also had no dancing! They had questionnaires on each place setting, and people filled out the answers and scored themselves as the bride and groom told fun little stories about each of the questions. They had prizes from a local chocolate shop for the highest scores from the bride’s and groom’s sides. (I’m still pretty proud that I and my husband’s aunt won the bride’s side! Between my love of trivia and her former CIA skillz, we were an unstoppable team.)

      The rest of the evening after dinner was spent hanging out on the patio or in the banquet hall, catching up with friends and family.

    • Eenie

      I love the idea of having a short trivia section! If you do it during dinner/towards the start, any table can be a team and submit answers. Nice ice breaker and throw in some couple specific questions. We do Thursday night trivia every week.

    • Cellistec

      A friend had a live trivia game during the dinner portion of her wedding reception, and it was fun! Each table constituted a team, and the couple read the questions themselves, as well as the answers when we were done. It was a neat way to get to know other people at my table who knew my friend from a different stage in her life.

    • Vilmos Kovacs

      We had it at our rehearsal dinner and it was super fun. We left it for the very end of the night, so if anyone wasn’t interested they could bounce.

    • Kara E

      I’ve been to one where they did a full on pub quiz – it was really fun, but probably could have been a bit shorter (like maybe 2-3 rounds, not 5??). Anyway, it was cute and very “them” – but people were definitely getting antsy and needing to pee by the end (just tough to hold everyone’s attention, espe little kids) that long. The MC was the bride and groom which made it even sweeter. Tables played as teams. :)

    • A.

      Not to be Debbie Downer on the idea (which I think is fun!), but just be careful with questions that could end up being a “Who knows the bride/groom/couple more?” competition.

      I think I’ve told this story before, but at my husband’s bachelor party, he had to seriously diffuse an issue between his best man (college best friend) and best high school friend, re: the trivia answer on husband’s favorite band. Best man was overly smug about getting the answer “right” and HS friend felt hurt/embarrassed that they didn’t know that the band they bonded over years ago wasn’t his ‘favorite’ anymore. Yadda yadda, unnecessary drama. It seems like silly stuff and honestly *should* be silly stuff, but in our experience, competition around relationships can definitely flare and create a different spirit than intended.

      Creating teams and/or asking more open-ended questions can help! Multiple choice maybe too.

      • Greta

        You could do trivia that is general knowledge, so everyone can participate and it doesn’t devolve to who knows them better (which I personally don’t enjoy doing either), but could still be about the couple. For instance, Jack and Jill love to go skiing together, so this round will be all about skiing! Or Jack and Jill plan on spending their honeymoon in New Zealand – this round is all trivia about New Zealand! Could still be personalized to the couple, but not about who knows them better.

        • Hannah

          That’s a great idea! I’ve also felt left out by couple-themed trivia games. But this is a fabulous way to make it both personal and accessible!

    • gonzalesbeach

      love trivia, too. love it.

      and fancy wedding trivia makes me think of this even though it was the law council dinner but you know:

    • Ellen

      Trivia at weddings is THE BEST. I went to a wedding a few years ago where the couple had trivia instead of dancing and it was so, so wonderful. The couple in question had a really comprehensive wedding website so I was able to assist the team a lot just from reading that, which I had done because I really didn’t know the couple very well. It was nice to be able to contribute and also meet a different group of people- the ones at our table, who we had never met beforehand.

  • Antonia

    We had a live band that played what I would describe as Southern/classic rock, so it (intentionally) didn’t lend itself to dancing. People sat around outdoors and listened to the band and drank beer and hot spiked apple cider (our wedding was in the fall). Super fun! No one missed the dancing. Our wedding was small (50-ish) and everyone was our age (32) or older, so it might not work for everyone, but it worked for us!

  • Arie

    we’re planning to have a bonfire, and I’m putting a puzzle on a table by the desserts so all my favorite introverts end up finding each other there by the end of the night :)

    • kaitlynsage

      We’re having a bonfire too! But I just love your puzzle idea. I might steal it! :)

      • Arie

        please do! the more puzzles the better.

        • Greta

          You could even have a custom-made puzzle made for your wedding! You can put anything on a puzzle these days. That might be super fun!

          • LydiaB

            Amazing idea!

    • Danielle

      Ooh, BONFIRE! Roasting marshmallows is one of my favorite thing.

      We could have had a fire, but got married in the middle of the day in August, so… we didn’t really need to add more heat to the air. But it was an idea we were both very excited about (before reality set it).

      • Ashlah

        Ha, same. Our venue even had these huge fireplaces, but it just didn’t make sense. Dreams crushed.

        • Danielle

          Yes, ours had huge fireplaces as well. We just… couldn’t do it. It was at least 90 degrees that day!

      • Stephanie B.

        Oh, damn it. We had a fire pit on the patio of the B&B where the wedding was, and didn’t even think about marshmallows!

      • Greta

        We did bonfire and s’mores and it was EPIC!

    • Hannah

      As the sort of person who gravitates toward puzzles during social gatherings, I appreciate this gesture!

  • Cleo

    I went to a wedding where they played a murder mystery game – assigned characters to everyone and we walked around to gather clues and try to solve the murder. It was really fun and a great alternative to dancing because it got everyone talking.

    • Hannah

      There are few things I love more than a good murder mystery party! I wonder how they managed it with (I assume) so many people?

  • albertiraross

    Our reception is going to be an informal cocktail-reception-open-house-style-thing at a local venue that has several smaller, but connecting, rooms. My fiancé doesn’t enjoy dancing, so that’s always been left out of our plans, but our idea is to set up musicians in one of the rooms so that guests can freely mingle. If they want to sit and chat, they can go in one section of the building, and if they want to listen to music, they can hang out where the musicians are.

    Our theme is London Underground, so we are hoping to get several musicians in to play in short 1-2 hour sections (think buskers). One of the bands we’ve chosen is a traditional Irish band, so I’m guessing there will probably be some impromptu dancing, but it’s definitely nothing we’re formally promoting as part of the evening!

    • Hannah

      I love the busker idea! I attended one wedding that had a great bossanova band for the first few hours, then switched to self-DJ dancing afterward. It was nice to have that shift in moods as the night went on. A whole evening of either would have been too much. :-)

  • kingdomphyla

    We had a (practically) no-dancing reception about a year ago. Fiance wanted to do a first dance but nothing beyond, and for me, typical wedding dancing falls somewhere between “public speaking” and “visiting the dentist” on my list of things that are comfortable and sound like a lot of fun. We are also both very strong introverts. So except for a very short impromptu dance with my partner about halfway through the reception, there was little-to-no dancing to be seen.

    I think this worked for a few reasons:
    1). The overall vibe of our reception fit with no-dancing. Our idea/vision for the reception was “amped-up cake and punch.” We had a church ceremony around 2 pm with a reception on the patio that lasted until only about 5:30. We served hors d’oeuvres and drinks (beer, wine, other non-alcoholic drinks) – not a full meal. Most of the reception space was filled with round tables so people could sit while they ate and drank. Having the reception be short, casual, and during the afternoon might have helped, as well as putting the focus on food+conversation and less on get-down-and-party. We did have music playing during the reception.
    2). Knowing our people. It’s been said lots of times before on here, but this was so true for us. Most of the folks who attended the wedding were slightly older family and family friends. We figured that, by planning the wedding earlier in the day, our college friends who might have enjoyed dancing could easily go somewhere afterward to do that.
    3). New husband and I ended up playing “the shoe game” partway through the reception, led by our wedding party, who also wrote the questions. It was a nice way of having something fun that people could watch and enjoy that was focused on us as a couple (I guess it served as a “first dance” in that way).

    So basically: No-dancing worked for us because it fit in with who we are, and it fit with the other choices we made about our reception, particularly the fact that it was short, earlier in the day, and had a more calm, conversational vibe.

  • Jessica

    There are weddings I’ve been to where I wish they had chosen not to host a dance, because folks were so clearly not interested in dancing (including the couple getting married). My friends and I would try to get people on the dance floor because they’ve hired this DJ and we want to appreciate the effort, but mingling and board/lawn games would have made more sense for them. I hope it becomes more of a thing in general for couples to realize dancing is not a pre-requisite for weddings.

    • Hannah

      Agreed! My friends had a dance floor at their (daytime, indoor) wedding reception. Maybe a dozen people made use of it, some of them reluctantly. The thing is, this couple is so wacky and full of creativity that they could have pulled off some really great entertainment (Disney karaoke, Broadway choreography lesson, foam-sword fencing tournament). It wasn’t a disaster – just a missed opportunity. We all ended up migrating to the patio to sit and chat and soak up the sunshine, which actually ended up being my favorite part of the reception.

    • Greta

      Yes to this – I went to a wedding for a dear friend and was SHOCKED when I saw a DJ setting up because it is just sooo not their scene. A few people danced, reluctantly, in the beginning, and then it really tapered off. There was really no need for it at all, and I felt bad for the DJ because he just kept trying to get people on the dance floor. We had way more fun in the photo booth and at the pinball machine arcade on site, and just sitting and chatting.

  • Juanita

    Our wedding was a relaxed luncheon, mainly cause that’s us,also because it was inexpensive. Except for the toasts and cake cutting there were no planned activities. It lasted all of three hours, the tables were small and close together. The crowd was family and right knit college friends for the most part so everyone knew someone and it seemed all had a good time just laughing and connecting. I wish I hadn’t stressed about and just remebered who my people were.

  • Amy March


    • Eenie


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    • Keeks

      Mimosas! And an espresso bar. Because brunch.

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    • Alison O

      and food. not having enough food at weddings, which i’ve experienced quite a bit, compromises the fun factor.

      • Eenie

        Food if your wedding is during a meal time.

        • Alison O

          Or if you’re serving alcohol, I would say!

  • Cellistec

    I think a format that has worked well with the non-dancing weddings I’ve attended is ceremony-break-dinner. As in, a lunchtime ceremony, a few hours off for people to do their own thing, and then a sit-down dinner. That way the dinner feels like its own event, not just the prelude to dancing.

    Alternatively, my cousin held her wedding at a venue where there was just no room for dancing, so…no one danced. And no one missed it because we were busy eating and talking.

    • joanna b.n.

      Extra points (jk) if there is something fun for guests to do during the break, like wander a zoo, play games on a lovely lawn and sip cocktails, or play in an amusement park (Tivoli Gardens-style if you’re extra fancy like some friends of ours:

  • Christina McPants

    Board games and butcher paper on the tables with crayons. Play the shoe game. Start a pinocle tournament.

  • Vanessa

    We didn’t have dancing, but instead opted for a mid-afternoon wine and canapes cocktail party (note this was after the wedding and a small family/friends brunch). It was excellent and all our dancing friends said it was perfectly us, and that if we went the traditional formula it wouldn’t have been as lovely.

  • Rebekah

    I collected trivia about each guest and created trivia sheets to set at each place setting, e.g. “This person has been to all 7 continents.” “This person swallowed her first loose tooth.” etc.
    Our guests are all interesting people, and we wanted everyone to know that. We hoped that this would motivate our guests to mingle and chat, plus they’d learn things they never would have known otherwise.
    I created an ipod playlist to run during the event, with more dance-friendly music towards the end, but aside from our first dance and father-daughter dance, nobody was on the floor. I don’t regret a thing!

  • KW

    Not a fan of dancing for a host of reasons. I ended up eloping so our “reception” was an open house at my parents a few months later anyway. However when I was in college, I went to the local zoo with a friend and her nieces and saw a corporate picnic. I thought the zoo would make a great wedding reception location, have cake and lunch then everyone can wander. :) My older sister had a morning wedding and then a brunch reception at a historic Victorian home in town. There may have been a ballroom on the upper level as many such homes often do, but we didn’t use it. My brother’s wedding reception was a beach party, with BBQ and cupcakes there, and then a smaller gathering at the bride’s parents that evening to eat leftovers and the big cake. They had beach volleyball and other games but people pretty much did what they do at beaches and had fun with each other.

    Anyway, my thought is that a change of venue away from a banquet hall (if possible, I know choices are limited for some folks) will really help people not miss any dancing if you don’t want it as a part of the wedding.

    • Totch

      We’re having our ceremony in a rainforesty atrium with free flying tropical birds, so it’s a bit like your zoo idea. Quick ceremony, champagne toast (which has to include a bird poop protection strategy :D), then time to wander the atrium before going to a restaurant for dinner. We’re banking on the atrium being the fun part of the night, so dinner will be chill and dance floor free.

  • Alexandra

    We had our local contra-dance band come and host a simple contra dance set with three dances. The dances were really, really simple so people who aren’t familiar with contra could join in. Everybody participated. We also had the contra dance band cover a slow song for a slow dance for us (first dance) and our guests. So that’s dancing, but not the usual DJ kind of thing. Absolutely everyone at our 150 person wedding participated. Lots of fun.

    • Hannah

      Contra! Yes! Contra dancing is pretty much the only type of dancing that I feel competent-to-good at. I’ve never been to a wedding that had it as the primary form of dancing (one wedding did a short set with an iPod, which was fun, but more of a nod to the groom’s love of contra).

      I’ve often wondered how one might pull it off with a mixed crowd. You said you kept the dances pretty simple. Were there any hard-core contra types among your guests? How did you keep it from being boring for them?

      Also, that photo is incredibly gorgeous. So full of joy!

      • Alexandra

        I had contra dancing because I teach Pride and Prejudice every year and go to the local contra dance with my students. It’s loads of fun and I figured it would be a nice activity for a large group at our wedding that would take the place of DJ dancing (which I don’t really like, and which wasn’t going to work awesome for our crowd). Nobody had ever contra-ed before except the best man and his wife. The dances were very, very simple and easy to learn, the caller had a great sense of humor, and nobody was bored because the music was toe-tappingly great and it was pretty short and sweet.

        Just a nice, fun community thing to do for half an hour; lots of clapping and stomping. I think even if somebody had been there who was awesome at contra dancing, they would have enjoyed it.

        Nice looking at the picture again–it’s been almost three years, and it’s a great memory!

        • Hannah

          Sounds fabulous! Jane Austen is one of my reasons for loving contra as much as I do. :-)

    • Cellistec

      Yes! I don’t know anything about contra dancing, but I went to a wedding where guests learned a group folk dance and then did it to music for probably 10 minutes, and it was so fun! It was so simple that even non-dancy people like me got into it. And as a bonus, the structure of the dance meant everyone went through many different partners, so it was an icebreaker too.

      • Kelsey

        We volunteer with Young Life Capernaum and part of camp is doing the Virginia Reel so about a third of our guests know it. We pushed all of the tables out of the way under the guise of taking a whole wedding photo. We had 2 friends dress up as hillbillies and run in and they called it. Our wedding party was the sample square. The joy of spinning a crazy fast reel in your wedding dress with your new husband :)

        • Hannah

          Amazing! I love that you surprised your guests with it.

        • Alexandra

          So fun!!

    • Kat

      Oh man I love this idea. I studied in London and we spent a few weeks in Scotland, specifically Edinburgh, and the night we spent at a local ceilidh was amazing. We mad friends with locals and it didn’t matter that we were bad at dancing because a) everyone was drunk and b) it was too funny to care. I’m all for led dances.

  • Hannah

    One of my mom’s favorite weddings included a scavenger hunt around town (this was in a village in Hungary). If I recall correctly, as dinner started winding down, the bride got “kidnapped” by a mysterious mob, and the groom had to follow a set of clues to find her, helped by his willing guests. Said clues (conveniently) led them to a series of pubs, where the proprietors would report that they had “just seen her” and that the search party should grab a restorative drink before moving on. Everyone was in on the joke, of course! At the end of the evening, they finally secured the bride and enjoyed a victory party at the last pub.

    This could be adapted so that the couple disappears (for a more gender-equitable version), or some valuable object (like the cake? the bouquet?) gets stolen instead, so the couple can join the guests for the search.

    • Ashlah

      This sounds awesome, but yes, would be better if the bride also got to enjoy the fun. I hope she was at least doing something fun while she waited!

  • Christy

    We just had dinner! The wedding was at 4 and the dinner was at 5, about 15 minutes away, after photos. (A bunch of photos.) We had a long table for the twenty of us, and we all just ate and drank beer/wine in a restaurant. It was three hours and it was a ton of fun. My wife and I got up and walked around to make sure we talked to everyone. Also, if you go this route, definitely have a seating chart–I’m so glad we did. We didn’t miss dancing for one second.

    My parents threw an eighty-person party at a restaurant the next day, and that didn’t have dancing either. I don’t think people missed it at all–a bunch of family went to the restaurant bar afterwards, but not to drink, just to keep hanging out. So long as you have an official cake cutting with a large party (so traditionalists know they can leave) you can do whatever you want, IMO.

    • Eenie

      So glad it went well!

  • Keeks

    I’m going to a wedding this summer with a drum circle around a bonfire.. the invite says to bring your own instruments to join in! I don’t have an instrument & I’m not the drum circle “type” but I am SO pumped. I can’t imagine my friend doing anything else for her special day.

    For our brunch wedding, we had a jazz band with a tiny dance area. A few people danced, but most people hung out and chatted. We did long tables and put a lot of effort into the seating chart to match up good conversation partners.

    • Danielle

      Jazz brunch sounds so fabulous.

  • Bsquillo

    I think it’s important to remember that for a long time, it was pretty standard not to have dancing at plenty of weddings (i.e. Southern Baptist church weddings, where dancing is literally forbidden). Also, why do adults need to be entertained with activities for 4 hours? I’m pretty sure the theme of 90% of parties I’ve hosted at my house has been “food, booze, and talking.”

    For the record, we weren’t a super dance-y couple, and we hosted an open jam session with our musician friends at our wedding. Some folks played, some people danced, kids played cornhole, and others just caught up with family and friends.

  • Kara E

    Our open-house style post-wedding reception (2 months after the the ceremony/reception) was in my parents backyard and featured bubbles, badmitten, croquet, bocce, beanbags, and a bunch of kids with sidewalk chalk. I don’t think anyone missed the band and dancing. I think most of the people (mainly family) hit the beach at the end of the night too (while my husband and I collapsed in the A/C with lemonade and a stack of cards. I liked it just as much as our dancing with band reception.

  • Charlene Ericson

    We had our reception at Dave & Buster’s. Instead of party favors, we sprung for play cards for all our guests and everyone played games before and after dinner. I was told by many that it was the best reception they’d ever been to.

    • Jenny

      So I love dancing, and as an adult who doesn’t enjoy going out to dance venues/clubs weddings are like my only chance to dance it out (other than of course my daily livingroom dance parties). I say that only to put context on my next statement. This sounds like an awesome time! I hope one day I will attend a reception like this :)

  • Helen Yan

    We’re not big on dancing, and our space wasn’t large enough for it, so we had little containers filled with legos at each table as well as a base plate (to build on) and a sign that said “build a centerpiece.” That was it aside from good food and wine. We weren’t sure if people would build things- but they did!

    • Cellistec

      This is the best thing.

    • Hannah

      I would *love* being told to build a centerpiece!

    • LuLu

      We’re doing this at our wedding next month! Saved us on centerpieces and gives the kids and introverts something to do. I’m glad to hear it was a hit.

    • Abby

      Yes! We made our table numbers out of legos, and were pretty stoked when we went to collect them the next day that many of them had been turned into dinosaurs.

    • April

      This is SUCH a cool idea. I’d love being at a wedding where I got to build a lego centerpiece.

  • Greta

    At our wedding weekend reception at a summer camp type place, we did not have dancing. We did lawn games on a big field for the main reception and it was epic! We did have live music, a bluegrass band, that a few people danced to, but most of the wedding was just playing lawn games, chatting, drinking, enjoying the nice weather. We had 165 people, so we spent much of time before our wedding DIY-ing a bunch of lawn games, and borrowing from friends. We had giant jenga, 3 sets of ladder golf, kubb, croquet, bocce, volleyball, bag toss (corn hole), and everyone loved it. It got dark around 9pm-ish, and after that we moved everyone to a giant bonfire pit, and sang songs summer-camp style, led by my very musical cousins. It’s a family tradition of mine to have late-night singing and guitar playing, so I had talked with my cousins ahead of time to have them come prepared. I also made song-books with all of our favorites so that everyone could participate even if they didn’t know the words. At the beginning almost everyone was there, and then people slowly trickled out – they were still going strong at 2:30am! It was a great great night!

    • Susan

      I’m thrilled to hear that someone made a summer camp style sing-along work. Our wedding also had a summer camp type vibe, but I got nixed by husband and our families on having a sing-along!

  • Greta

    I’ve always thought it would be super fun and awesome to go to or to have a wedding at a bowling alley. You can rent out the alley for the whole night, and it’s built in fun! We went bowling in high school after prom, and I have to say, bowling in formal wear is THE BEST. Super fun to see everyone in fancy clothes and rented bowling shoes. Just remember to provide socks for everyone!

    • Hannah

      A friend of mine did bowling for his bachelor party. We dressed up and had a blast. It made for great photos, too!

  • Greta

    I went to a wedding that was on a boat, and it was super fun! You can rent out these party boats in Chicago, and they leave from Navy Pier, they serve dinner and everything on the boat, and then there are fireworks at night over the water. There was no dancing at this one, just a lot of good food, booze, and boat fun!

  • Carolyn S

    I’ll preface this with the fact that our wedding was tiny – only 19 guests, mainly family. I was SO WORRIED about what people would do. I was so nervous dinner would end and everyone would awkwardly leave. And they didn’t. Turns out when you feed people a nice dinner and give them some wine, they sit around and visit as though it were.. a nice dinner party. For those that are stressed about actual logistics, we had a 5 pm ceremony, cocktail hour from around 5:30 to 7 (while we were off taking photos) and then dinner was around 7. People started leaving around 10:30, and us young people were there visiting until about midnight. We had no slideshow, no entertainment and no speeches and WE ALL HAD A GREAT TIME.

    • Totch

      Yeeeeeessss. This is my wedding, so it’s good to hear it went well. 20 people, 5:30 start, a cocktail hour at the ceremony venue, dinner in a private room at a restaurant at 7:30. We’ve just kind of made peace with the idea that our wedding may be done around 9, but I’m happy to hear that yours stayed lively a bit later.

      • Carolyn S

        Yes it will be totally fine. My aunts and grandparents commented how lovely it was to actually be able to talk to everyone there and how relaxing the whole thing was. I had a tiny panic when dessert was served because in my head I though “OH NO IT”S ALMOST OVER” but it wasn’t :)

    • DetectiveMunch

      That sounds like a dream! <3

    • Amanda

      Thank you for this! Our wedding is bigger than 19 people…more like 75. And that’s our exact timeline. I was looking at the planning chart the other day and was like, “Wait, so we eat dinner and….?!” We are having a live band, but it’s a French pop string group with music from the 1930s, so not really a get-down-and-party kind of vibe. We’re going for “elegant dinner party” but I’ve been to weddings where there’s a dj and literally, no one dances and it’s super awkward. I was like, what if people are booorrrreeeeddd? But you’ve given me confidence that it can work!

      • Sarah

        That sounds fantastic. I have been to so many weddings where people just want to catch up with family and friends and end up having to shout at each other over the obscenely loud DJ who no one is dancing to… particularly difficult when trying to talk to elderly relatives.

  • A

    My husband and I hate dancing, and aren’t huge fans of staying out super late, so we had a brunch wedding with lawn games. Our ceremony was at 11, our “cocktail hour” (really just time for us to take some pictures) had mimosas, coffee, and mini pastries, and we served brunch at Noon. We had a bunch of different lawn games like cornhole, giant jenga, and ladderball, as well as a few games for little kids. A year later people still tell me it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to!

  • Jessica

    We just ate and hung out. Our reception was appetizers and dinner party, in a restaurant so that was the vibe. People didn’t seem to mind. Also reception was somewhat shorter, 4 hours, followed by after party at a clubby place that did have dancing.

  • Rose

    We did have dancing, but one thing that we did that might provide additional entertainment in the “sitting around chatting after eating” stage, especially if that’s extended without dancing, was have paper on the tables instead of cloths, and crayons out. I realize that’s not everyone’s style, but it was great for us, since we weren’t trying for formal anyway. I just ordered a huge roll of paper and two big boxes of crayons, my sister taped it around the tables the morning of, so it was cheap and pretty easy. And we got some wonderful drawings and messages! It seemed like a lot of people really did have fun with it. We cut out the drawings, which are currently sitting in a roll in our spare room until we figure out what to do with them, because they were too good to just throw away.

  • Kim

    All of the weddings I’ve been to involved dancing, BUT usually not much! At a lot of the weddings I’ve been to, the dinner, cocktail hour, or lawn games end up running so late that the “dancing” portion only lasts for about a half-hour. So, there’s another reason to embrace the no-dancing reception!

  • JC

    If I get my way, we’re having a water balloon fight the day before the wedding. It’s not instead of dancing (we’ll have that too, because we both happen to love it), but it’s a memory that I really want to make with our cousins/nieces/nephews as a day that is about family and joy and silliness. If anyone is planning a very casual summer wedding, I will come and be your designated water-balloon-fight-starter.

  • We had dancing, but we also had bowling at our wedding, so there were multiple options for having fun!

  • Corinne

    We bought out a small bar/restaurant for 4 hours and had ourselves a kickass cocktail party. If you can find a place to do it within your budget, I can’t recommend it enough. People drank and mingled like you normally do at a party. Between the space itself not really lending itself to dance space and our giving guests a heads-up not to expect one, it worked out just fine.

  • Alanna Cartier

    Fancy dinner party is exactly the vibe we are going for.

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  • AmandaBee

    We’re having a Sunday afternoon brunch party. I think we’ll put music on in the background, but no formal dancing. Fiance and I don’t really dance – our families would if we started it, but we think (/hope) no one will miss it. We’re just not huge dancing people all-around.

    That said, it was so hard to make that call! Dancing is such a part of the wedding reception “formula” that we worried people would miss it just because of that. What helped us make the call was realizing that we’re already breaking the formula in a bunch of ways (ceremony/reception in same space with no room flip, Sunday afternoon, etc.) that it probably wouldn’t be noticed. Also, we’re planning on inviting people to a local bar for an after-party, for those who want to be a bit more festive.

  • EF

    Afternoon tea (with free wine / cash bar, of course!). but our friends are a lot of scientists and lawyers and would mostly have hated dancing as much as we do!

  • MizEm

    We had dancing at our wedding last spring. This girl, right here, loves to get down. I also recognize that dancing is not everyone’s cup of tea. Enter: lawn games. My husband was hesitant about this, but some of our favorite memories and photos of the day happened because we had bocce, croquet, and wiffle ball sets around. (Fun fact: this was a no-cost activity because we asked our friends if anybody had sets they’d be willing to lend us for the day.) Picture this: an epic bocce match, well dressed ladies and gents with some *serious* game faces on, while other guests watched, chatted, and sipped mimosas from the sidelines. I will also never forget my 4 y.o. nephew/ring bearer, decked out in suspenders, swinging at a wiffle ball pitch from his dad. We planted the seeds by having the lawn games available, but the fun grew organically from the interests of our guests.

    • MizEm

      Thought of one more fun activity from our wedding… Because we had our wedding in the late morning and served brunch, we put crossword puzzles and pencils at the place settings (crayons and freebie coloring books printed from the interwebs for the kids). We drew a winner from all the correctly answered puzzles and gave them a prize.

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    We’re both okay with group dancing, but not so much dancing by ourselves while everyone else looks on. Music is more our thing. So instead of the first dance and the father-daughter dance, we’ll all be singing ad playing instruments together on stage…THEN we’ll kick off the dance party.

  • khshire

    My parents got married in a church and had their reception at a park. The park had picnic tables, bathrooms, a sheltered area, playground, basketball courts, bocce ball courts, sand volleyball, and a softball field. People played everything, but I think the softball game was the big hit! The best part was that they rented out the park every five years and recreated their reception as an anniversary party.

  • We had a custom crossword puzzle made since we weren’t expecting people to dance (it was a brunch wedding) and that ended up being a HUGE hit…like way more than I would have expected! But I agree 100% that people will just hang out and eat and drink and chat.

    • Maggie Dragon

      I like it! Something to do at the table that makes people who might not know each other want to talk amongst themselves sounds like a great idea. We’re doing a table number greeting card, where people can write well wishes in hopes of accomplishing something similar.

  • AGCourtney

    We had a games reception, and it was absolutely perfect for us and our crowd.

    For our “first song”, we did a song on Rock Band, and then opened it up for anyone else who wanted to play. We had tons of board games – Scrabble, Apples to Apples, Catan, Monopoly, etc. The little kids played Candy Land. And one of the highlights for me was playing Cards Against Humanity towards the end of the night. Oh, and we were in banquet room of a bowling alley, so a few people went bowling, of course.

    Another activity we had available was achievement cards a la Xbox – some were easy like Church on Time – attending the ceremony and The Cake is (Not) A Lie – having a slice of cake, and others were for playing different kinds of games and taking a selfie with the bride or groom. Everyone thought it was cute and some people got really into it.

    The little kids still danced in the open area by the speakers/gift tables, which was charming. I ended up spinning around with them and it was actually really fun.

  • April

    Sooo I don’t really like dancing much and my partner isn’t that into it either. I wasn’t that worried about it until last weekend I was at a wedding and one of the guests (a friend of my partner who will also be a guest at our wedding in a couple months) mentioned that there is nothing worse than a wedding where no one dances.


    Now I feel like I have to dance at our wedding because if I don’t, no one else will and it will be THE WORST for our guests.

    • AGCourtney

      I think you’re fine. Obviously, I wasn’t there, but that comment sounds to me more like: “there’s nothing worse than a wedding [where there is dancing] where no one dances.” I.e., awkward dj attempts to get people on the dance floor when everyone would rather just drink wine and chat.

      You know your crowd, but if neither you nor your partner are into dancing…then don’t have dancing. No pressure. Read the comments and relax. :)

  • gtb25

    We’re having beer pong and board games at the reception. There will be dancing, but if folks don’t want to, there will be other opportunities to connect and have fun in smaller groups. Also it was an excuse to buy Giant Connect-4

  • LadyWoman

    Dancing isn’t our big thing, our guests weren’t majority 20-something partiers, and it was a Sunday afternoon wedding, so we had no expectations of folks staying late into the night to party. We decided food and hanging out with our friends/family were our two big goals. We played music you COULD dance to if you felt moved, but it was basically a fancy BBQ (oh god, the bbq was soooo tasty). Letting go of the idea that dancing is somehow a required ritual made it easier to enjoy myself because I wasn’t policing a dance floor thinking, “NO ONE IS DANCING, WE’RE NOT HAVING FUN”.

    I think we’ve started to worry too much about having THE BEST FUNNEST MOST MEMORABLE WEDDING EVER! and somehow “dance party” is the equivalent of “fun”. The only times I’ve ever been super bored or uncomfortable at weddings (aside from when I literally know no one but the bride/groom) is when they’re trying to force a mood or activity for the sake of FUN.

  • Sam

    We’re having a brunch wedding, and while we have a DJ for ambiance, we’re basically picking all of the music, and have told the DJ that their job is not to try and get anyone on the dance floor. It’s more of an upbeat cocktail hour music vibe that people could dance to if they wanted to, or just enjoy if they don’t.

    Except for the fact that I put Smooth by Santana and Rob Thomas on there. It’s my kryptonite.

  • Lauren

    We’re having a board game table and lawn games!

  • Elle

    My husband hates dancing, so we tried to do cocktail music like a chill happy hour with table games(20 questions, mad libs, iSpy)… It didn’t work out for us in the end. We paid $1300 for a musician who played maybe five songs before just DJing from his cell phone. In the end our guests got what THEY wanted. Dancing and to hip-hop shit we both hate and the electric slide! We were trying to avoid just that. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet as all majority of our guests enjoyed that more.

  • Sarah

    We had our wedding reception in a bar with a main floor and a basement (a year ago today!) where we were told the sound would be piped through the whole building (which it of course wasn’t). We shelled out for a DJ thinking that of course people would dance, but then all of our friends spent the entire wedding in the basement playing beer pong and flip cup. Our DJ looked miserable playing YMCA for the older crowd and he really put a damper on my mood. All of our friends talk about how much fun they had at our wedding, but I remember being anxious about the DJ not having fun and ruining my vibes. So I guess this comes down to knowing your crowd. *shoulder shrug*

  • Amy

    No dancing?!??!?! Whyyyyyyyy
    One word: NIGHTMARE.

    • Amy

      For the record, the Cupid Shuffle is ALSO a nightmare.

  • Future Mrs.

    Planning a wedding for Sept. of next year. FH and I both do not care for dancing, and are inclined to leave a party as soon as the dancing starts (which would be rude at our own wedding). So, we had to find an alternative means of entertainment. The reception is in a museum center (meaning it has more than 1 museum housed in it’s building), and for a pretty reasonable cost, we can open one of the museums to the guests. It will be after hours, so our guests will be treated to a private showing of the museum. Also, we will be setting up card/board games at various tables, as well as local/museum trivia cards. Family and friends alike enjoy games, so this should all go over very well. Also, the reception space opens up to a beautiful outside play space, which should help to keep the children occupied, and should provide a beautiful view of the sunset as the reception is in the evening. Between this and a buffet dinner and an open bar, I don’t think anyone will even miss the dancing.

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  • Marianne

    We chose a venue that didn’t allow amplified music (a garden in a residential neighborhood), so we decided early on not to have dancing. We had the ceremony, a cocktail hour, and a sit-down dinner, all outdoors. We put out a few card games and a custom tailgate toss (cornhole) set, which some friends kept after the wedding. I loved seeing the photos later of people playing the games and having a great time. It also kept people entertained while we took our photos. We had soft live music throughout, so it never seemed too quiet or like nothing was happening. Our coordinator also made sure we stayed on schedule, so nothing dragged on too long.

  • HannahESmith

    I did dancing because I love it, but I think a wedding program is a great way to communicate what the plan is to guests. Here is a link to mine:

  • Clare Mc

    We had our reception in a country pub (Does that concept translate to America? Flagstone floors, open fireplace, lots of wood beams) with practically no dance floor space, quite deliberately. Instead every table had some sort of card or board game and people just…entertained themselves. I remember getting involved in a hyper-competitive game of spoons in my wedding dress, with several of my university friends and my new MIL. It was great!