33 Wedding Reception Activities That’ll Instantly Level-Up Your Affair

Lion dancers, tarot card readers and magicians–oh my!
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
by
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Jan 17, 2024

There are plenty of ways to make your wedding an unforgettable experience, from trendy decorations to interactive food services. But one of the best ways to leave an impact is with unforgettable wedding reception activities. Hiring another form of entertainment, in addition to a live band or wedding DJ, is crucial because it keeps your guests occupied. In fact, your wedding playlist is just part of the equation for a fun celebration. Talk to your partner about what elements are most important to you. If hosting an engaging celebration is at the top of the list, the reception entertainment is a worthy investment. So if you don't know what to do at a wedding reception, we've got you covered. From live wedding painters to celebrity impersonators, we've listed the most fun, unique and creative suggestions that go beyond dancing and are guaranteed to make your wedding day legendary.

The Best Wedding Reception Activities:

Fun | Unique | Creative | FAQs

Fun Wedding Reception Activities

You don't have to stick to traditional entertainment, like dancing or playing the wedding shoe game. Shake things up at your reception by including one (or more) of these fun wedding reception ideas.

1. Drag Performance

      Liven up your wedding reception with a drag performance. You can even have your favorite queen officiate your ceremony. We have a feeling guests will be obsessed with this fun wedding entertainment idea.

      2. Interactive Champagne Servers

        Champagne is one of the first things people will look for when they arrive at your wedding reception, so consider having this beverage service as one of your fun wedding activities. Hire servers to creatively pass out prosecco—it'll wow your guests from the start.

        3. Bouncy Castle

          Tap into your inner child and rent a bouncy castle for your reception. We love how this couple decorated theirs with a balloon garland that matched their wedding color palette.

          4. Second Line

            Mardi Gras-inspired musical parade at wedding reception
            Photo: James Shaw Photography,
            Band: Kinfolk Brass Band

            You don't have to get married in New Orleans to incorporate this reception entertainment idea. Between the ceremony and reception, invite guests to be a part of this Southern wedding tradition. Your nuptials will be the talk of the town.

            5. Cozy Bonfire

              If you're having a wedding during the colder months, consider having a warm bonfire. This option allows you to have several fun things to do at a reception because you can have a s'mores station, ask people to tell stories around the fire or have instruments around if people feel musically inspired.

              6. Vegas-Inspired Performers

                Bring the glitz of the Las Vegas Strip to your wedding reception with singers, dancers, acrobats or contortionists. An extravagant production is perfect for couples who want their wedding to leave a lasting impression.

                7. Outdoor Lawn Games

                  Bring the excitement to your outdoor summer wedding with lots of lawn wedding games. Guests will appreciate having something to do during cocktail hour. Fill an open patch of grass with yard games like corn hole, Bocce ball, giant Jenga or even a scavenger hunt for younger kids.

                  8. Mariachi Band

                    Grooms dancing to mariachi band at wedding reception
                    Photo: Jodee Debes Photography
                    ,
                    Band: Mariachi Divas

                    No one will want to leave the dance floor with a live mariachi band. Hire a local performance group to support up-and-coming artists. It's a thoughtful way to involve the local community on your wedding day.

                    9. Photo Booth

                      Vintage Volkswagen photo booth at wedding reception
                      Photo: Sabine Scherer Photography
                      ,
                      Photo booth: Traveling Photobus

                      A wedding photo booth is one of the greatest wedding activities for guests because the photos act as wedding favors they'll cherish long after the big day. Photo booths come with a variety of cute props and colorful backgrounds that your attendees will love. Plus, if you're having a themed wedding, use your photo booth to carry out your style. We love how this retro Volkswagen photo booth fits a vintage wedding theme.

                      10. Fireworks Display

                        Of all the best wedding entertainment ideas, fireworks are always a crowd-pleaser. It's hard to think of something more romantic and special than watching a sparkling lights display with your spouse and loved ones. The more extravagant, the better—a fireworks display will captivate guests as soon as it begins.

                        Get your party started

                        Find every kind of expert from DJs to musicians and more

                        11. Amusement Park Rides

                          If you love being thrilled, amusement park rides as your wedding reception entertainment is a must. Don't forget: You'll have to discuss what rides are allowed (before renting them) with your venue and planner. If renting the rides doesn't work for your wedding venue, a great alternative is hosting your nuptials or wedding welcome party at an amusement park.

                          12. Printable Wedding Games

                            Printable wedding games are one of the most versatile things to do at a wedding reception since they can be for kids and adults. You can find games that fit just about any wedding color or theme, and they're great icebreakers. It's a different way guests can get to know one another or test their knowledge about you and your partner.

                            13. Magician

                              Guests of all ages will love a magic performance at your wedding reception. A magician will elicit some "oohs" and "aahs" from you and your guests, but it will also be the perfect opportunity for your wedding photographer to capture some memorable moments for your wedding photo album.

                              14. Sparkler Exit

                                Need a wedding activity for your guests during your wedding exit? End your reception on a fiery note with a sparkler send-off. Give every guest a sparkler to wave as you and your partner head into newlywed life.

                                15. Silent Disco

                                  Silent disco at wedding reception
                                  Photo: James x Schulze

                                  A silent disco is an innovative way to groove to your wedding playlist. The DJ plays the music through headphones that everyone wears. Anyone not wearing headphones will have a good time seeing everyone seemingly dance to no music.

                                  16. Mini Golf

                                    Who doesn't love playing golf on a miniature scale? Either have your reception at a mini golf venue or rent the equipment needed so you can set it up at your desired location.

                                    17. Karaoke

                                      Start your wedding reception by serenading your partner with a beautiful wedding love song. Once you sing to your heart's content, invite guests to sing their favorite tunes.

                                      Unique Wedding Reception Activities

                                      The out-of-the-box wedding activity ideas below will impress and amaze your guests. Just remember to hire a top-notch photographer to capture all the magic.

                                      18. Celebrity Impersonator

                                        Is there a famous person you would love at your wedding but your budget wouldn't allow? Hire a celebrity impersonator instead. If you find the right one, they'll go all in with their costume, singing, music playing, voice acting and much more.

                                        19. Lion Dancers

                                          Incorporating your culture into your wedding day is one of the best ways to make it feel thoughtfully personalized. If you're searching for a special wedding reception activity, consider hiring cultural dancers as this couple did. Guests were captivated by the lion dancers' performance, which honored a beautiful Chinese tradition.

                                          20. Caricaturist

                                            Guests will be particularly impressed if your wedding has a caricaturist. A custom portrait is a rare wedding favor that will set your nuptials apart. Plus, it's a memorable wedding activity for guests to enjoy in between wedding party toasts and reception games.

                                            21. Ballet Dancers

                                              Those passionate about dance might enjoy a ballet performance on their wedding day. Hire a local troupe to choreograph a dance routine just for you. You can't go wrong with a classic performance either—guests will be delighted to watch a variation from Swan Lake or The Nutcracker (a perfect choice for a winter wedding).

                                              22. Aerialist

                                                Aerial performer at wedding cocktail hour
                                                Photo: Leslie Gilbert Photography
                                                ,
                                                Aerialist: AirPlay Entertainment

                                                Looking for wedding entertainment that'll really wow your crowd? Invite an aerialist to perform during cocktail hour. Your family and friends won't be able to look away as they enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.

                                                23. Fire Dancers

                                                  Unique wedding activities for a reception should be breathtaking. That's why you need to consider hiring a fire performer. Since fire is involved, this idea is best for outdoor weddings and will most likely require special insurance, so contact your wedding venue about whether you can have a fire dancer and what precautions you must take.

                                                  24. Tattoo Artist

                                                    Bride and groom had their wedding rings tattooed on during their wedding reception.
                                                    Photo: Knott Studio

                                                    Do you love getting tattoos and want to share that passion with your loved ones? Then, have a tattoo station with your favorite tattoo artist. With some help from the artist, you and your partner can create a couple of tattoos that revolve around your wedding. Once you create your tattoos, your guests can choose a design specific to you and your partner and have a truly unique experience. If you would like to offer a less permanent option, have a temporary tattoo station or a henna artist do henna hand designs for your guests.

                                                    25. Tarot Card Reader

                                                      Tarot card reader at wedding reception
                                                      Photo: Abby Jiu Photography

                                                      You don't have to be an astrology expert to enjoy a tarot reading. When guests need a break from dancing, invite them to visit tarot card reader or an astrologist as a unique wedding activity. But beware—this wedding entertainment idea may result in lines longer than those at the bar.

                                                      26. Synchronized Swimmers

                                                        This wedding entertainment option is definitely one of the most eccentric on our list that would, without a doubt, surprise your guests. Gather around the poolside as you and your guests watch a breathtaking performance that will leave you speechless.

                                                        27. Petting Zoo

                                                          Couple feeding giraffe at petting zoo
                                                          Photo: XSIGHT Productions

                                                          You might ask yourself, "What are some unique things to do at a wedding reception that people haven't seen before?" That's where petting zoos come into play. Animal lovers will be in paradise interacting with all the animals.

                                                          28. Vintage Arcade Games

                                                            Vintage arcade area at a wedding reception.
                                                            Photo: Randy + Ashley Studios

                                                            You don't have to stop playing video games just because you're at a wedding. We're sure renting out your favorite (or the most popular) video games will be a hit with your guests. It'll be so much fun that you might struggle to get your guests to stop playing.

                                                            Creative Wedding Reception Activities

                                                            If you don't know what activities for a wedding reception need to be a part of your plans, we have you covered. Here are some creative choices you and your guests will enjoy.

                                                            29. Pop-Up Casino

                                                              Are you planning on having an extravagant, luxe wedding? Then, a miniature casino for your over-21 guests will fit your theme perfectly. It'll feel like you brought the Las Vegas casino floor right into your wedding venue.

                                                              30. Live Wedding Painter

                                                                You'll get plenty of bang for your buck by hiring a live painter for your wedding day. It's a fun way to keep guests occupied during the reception—they'll want to watch the scene come to life on canvas while on their way to the bar or between speeches. Plus, you'll get a custom portrait of your wedding at the end of the night.

                                                                31. Poetry Writer

                                                                  Wedding entertainment doesn't have to be flashy to make an impact. Hire a poetry writer to capture your special day through poems that are written on the spot. Custom poetry is a sentimental keepsake that'll preserve the best memories from your wedding.

                                                                  32. Kids Coloring Book Station

                                                                    Kids coloring book station at wedding reception
                                                                    Photo: Adonis Kekidakis Photography

                                                                    You need to ensure you have fun stuff to do at a wedding for the kids in attendance. A coloring book station is one of the many parent-approved children's activities you can have.

                                                                    33. Phone Check

                                                                      Phone check at wedding reception
                                                                      Photo: Lauren Scotti Photographer

                                                                      It's technically not a fun wedding activity, but it's certainly a creative way to help your guests pay attention to any wedding entertainment you have scheduled later. Have your guests stow all their devices before starting your unplugged ceremony so there are no distractions on your special day.

                                                                      Wedding Reception Activities: Frequently Asked Questions

                                                                      Not sure how to start your wedding entertainment search? First, check out these answers to common entertainment-related questions to put you on the right path. Then, you can scroll through a list of our favorite wedding reception activities from real weddings for inspiration.

                                                                      Do you have to have dancing at a wedding reception?

                                                                      No, you don't have to have dancing and music as your only wedding reception entertainment. You can either have dancing plus your wedding entertainment or skip dancing altogether. There are plenty of unconventional activities you can choose from. Consider having a mechanic bull or a love story presentation as a first dance alternative.

                                                                      What considerations should be made when sourcing alternative entertainment?

                                                                      The best way to find fun wedding activities is by thinking about your and your partner's hobbies or, in general, anything that you and your partner enjoy doing together. If you both like going out and seeing comedy, have a comedian perform at your wedding reception. If you're obsessed with everything Disney-related, invite some of your favorite characters to arrive at your reception. No matter what activity you choose, just make sure your wedding entertainment represents something you and your partner love.

                                                                      How can couples find and book unique wedding entertainment?

                                                                      Once you and your partner settle on your entertainment, you can use The Knot Vendor Marketplace to find the best vendor in your area. On The Knot Vendor Marketplace, you'll find reviews from newlyweds, real wedding photos and all of the vendor's contact information. Another way you can find and book wedding entertainment is by speaking with your wedding planner. Most likely, your wedding planner has dozens of recommendations that'll fit what you and your partner want for your reception.

                                                                      Up Next
                                                                      • wedding budget breakdown collage with check, purse, bride, groom
                                                                        What Your Wedding Budget Should Be, Based on Data