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Wedding reception experiences your guests will love

May 6, 2024



A groom crowd surfs at his wedding reception

Unique experiences at wedding cocktail hours and receptions are here to stay! If you’re going to throw the biggest party of your lives to celebrate your wedding, why not make the reception an experience they’ll remember forever? Your reception is an opportunity to create lasting memories with your loved ones, so let’s get creative with it!

As a wedding photographer, I love when couples plan the reception activities around what they and their guests will find fun. When people are enjoying themselves, they forget the cameras are there and that’s when I can get the best candid photos!

I’ve compiled a list of experiences for your cocktail hour and wedding reception that will wow your guests and create an opportunity to make lifelong memories with your friends and families.

Do you and your partner share a love of dance, or just want to experience something new with your guests? Hire a dance instructor to teach a brief lesson during cocktail hour so your guests can feel confident once the music starts!

If you’re having a multicultural wedding, this is a fantastic way to help all your guests feel included if there is going to be music in other languages or styles they may not recognize.

Witt and V had a brief Bollywood inspired dance lesson for everyone at their sangeet, which got EVERYONE on the dance floor to test out their new moves.

The couple and a few relatives also choreographed dances that they performed, and we were all blown away by their talent! Learning a new dance and enjoying a fusion of American music and Bollywood classics was such a fun experience that everyone enjoyed.

Djs are fun, but nothing tops a talented band that can create a private concert experience just for you! Kudmani Band is one of my favorites because they perform oldies and contemporary hits, and they get the wedding party and family involved too!

Bride Jacquelyn smiles and looks at her new husband while she sings Shania Twain's "You're Still the One." Groom Jonathan smiles back as he plays the guitar.

Another memorable moment was when newlyweds Jacqueline and Jonathan performed Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” for their guests at the reception. Yes, everyone was crying!

Matty B played multiple instruments, sang, and acted as DJ and MC at Vivian and Nick’s wedding. He brought his saxophone to each table as he sang and played some of our favorite nostalgic hits like “I’ll be” and “Careless Whisper.” Everyone absolutely loved his energy and all the songs he chose!

There’s nothing quite like seeing a blank canvas evolve into an incredible work of art before your very eyes. Live painters are an amazing experience to have at your wedding, and the bonus is that the couple gets to keep the final product! At Kaitlyn and Michael’s wedding, artist Hannah Jo Burkhart created two freehand sketches of the bride and groom individually before the ceremony (with PEN!!!). Guests watched in awe as she painted the newlyweds brushstroke by brushstroke. The final result was incredible, and the rare ability to watch an artist at work is one your guests won’t soon forget.

If you want the party to go ALL NIGHT LONG, then consider a late night entertainment option. Carolina and Bryan had an incredible DJ for the first part of the evening, and later brought in a mariachi band to perform iconic Mexican ballads as well as a few notable covers! Believe me when I say that the mariachi version of Tennessee Whiskey is EVERYTHING. The highlight was definitely all the Mexican pride when friends and family came up to sing for several songs with the band! 

When the churros and tequila shots came out, everyone got their second wind and kept the party going. PS – see more photos from Carolina and Bryan’s wedding in this blog post!

A polaroid aura portrait of a woman shows a blue glow around her

Tired of the regular photo booths with the same props at every wedding? Get an aura portrait booth to give your guests a colorful wedding favor that gives them insight on their inner self! Ray’s Aura provides aura portraits and readings for individuals and even couples! This is a one of a kind keepsake, because even if you’ve had your aura portrait before, your aura can change as you do.

Give your guests something fun to do and build camaraderie with other guests during the cocktail hour! Create a trivia game that includes some questions about your relationship and the hobbies that you as a couple enjoy. Anita and JP are HUGE trivia fans, so they made a custom game for everyone to enjoy that was interactive and personal. 

This year, I got to photography an eclipse wedding! Harrison and Chase invited an astronomer to bring her telescope and explain what was going to happen for guests before the eclipse began. The couple provided glasses for everyone and we witnessed one of the most awe-inspiring events together during their wedding day. This would also be such a fun activity for an outdoor wedding at nighttime to learn about the constellations, planets that are visible, or witness a meteor shower!

What incredible experiences will you dream up for guests at your wedding reception? I love the creative ways that engaged couples plan surprise experiences for their guests.

A Louisville Wedding at the Olmsted with Mariachi Music and a Gender Reveal

Meaningful Ways to Honor Family and Cultural Traditions at your Wedding

A photo of Johanna (owner of Frames and Letters Photography)

Johanna Hribal is a wedding photographer based in Louisville, Kentucky. She enjoys traveling to other states and countries for weddings and elopements whenever possible! People love her colorful and vibrant edits and the way she captures their love in a natural and non-intrusive way. Click here to visit her website to learn more about current wedding collections. Follow me on Instagram to see more engagement sessions, weddings I’ve been photographing!

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