Pros and Cons: Playing Games at the Wedding Reception

The perks and drawbacks of planning organized games for your wedding guests.

Pros and Cons: Playing Games at the Wedding Reception

Photo: Handeland Tesoro Photography

Some say you shouldn’t consider your wedding to be a big party. While we agree that the event should always center on your wedded bliss, wanting your friends and family to enjoy themselves and leave smiling is a natural desire to have. Many brides and grooms incorporate multiple culinary options, popular dance songs, and signature cocktails to ensure their guests have a fun and memorable day – but some couples take the recreation a step further by integrating themed games into their reception.

People have mixed feelings about this phenomenon – some welcome the added activity and think games make great icebreakers, while others believe the addition of games dilutes the meaning of the wedding. After doing some research, we discovered that both sides of the argument have valid points. These are the pros and cons of including games in your wedding reception:


-  Breaking the ice. Chances are, not everyone that attends your celebration will know all the other guests; games can take away some of the natural awkwardness that comes with sitting at a table with strangers. Think back to your first day of summer camp: no one felt comfortable socializing until a counselor announced the start of a dodge ball game. Even the kids that had no interest in participating found company with likeminded campers. Imagine that kind of mentality, but with adults and a sushi bar instead of preteens and a mess hall.

-  Another way to unleash your creativity. If you’ve been harboring some pent-up craft-making tendencies from your sorority days, this is a great outlet for your imagination. There are many predetermined marital traditions that have shaped your schedule for the day – this is an opportunity to play with your innovation level. You can play the “Newlywed Game” you were so amused by on that cruise, you can channel your inner game-show fiend and start rounds of trivia; you can even create your own activity around you and your sweetie’s favorite show, sports team, movie star, etc. It’s your wedding and you’ll spin the roulette wheel if you so desire.

-  The pressure is off. That is, the pressure of entertaining. We all know that one of the worst nuptial nightmares is that guests will get bored with the typical “take to the table, eat the meal, dance to today’s biggest hits, turn in for the evening” routine. Games ensure that attendees will have the opportunity to mix it up. That way, you and your new spouse can be sure that everyone has the chance to entertain themselves, so you can relax and have some fun yourself!


-  Extra time & planning. Any additional elements will cost you time and money – this is universal knowledge. Let’s say you’re an expert at DIY projects: these have the potential to add hours to your to-do list. Let’s say your planner is an innovative ace: your spending limit is going to take a hit. Plus, utilizing that creative energy can take a toll on any bride or groom. The eagerness to have fun games at your reception can end up having the opposite effect. 

-  The traditionalists and skeptics. You may have guests that believe a wedding should proceed with a set of fixed activities – they will not appreciate the deviation from the norm. You may also encounter people with strong aversions to wedding games; they see them as tacky ploys to impress the masses. Unfortunately, these attendees may offer up their opinions to others – or, worse, to you – and will likely remain on the sidelines of the event. 

-  Not everyone can get involved. Certain games may not be suitable for children, which can leave your flower girl and ring bearer desiring a game for themselves. Similarly, older guests might not be able to participate in physical tasks – Great Aunt Ruth expected not to dance with everyone, but she didn’t anticipate missing out on a scavenger hunt as well. This may present you with the personal challenge of inventing different games for all ages and levels of ability, which will significantly increase your workload. 

If you’re aware of the general comfort threshold of your friends and family – along with the maximum amount of time and effort you’re willing to contribute – you and your beloved can make an informed decision on whether or not to include games, such as a rousing game of “I Spy: Wedding Edition,” on your big day.

Opening photo by John Solano Photography