How to keep your wedding guests entertained during long breaks

A few weeks ago, I was having a drink with a friend who hadn’t seen me for a while. Catching up on what I’m doing for a crust, she turned to me, mouth agape and said: “God, don’t you find weddings really boring though?”

Now, obviously I don’t share her sentiments, but what would lead her to believe that weddings are boring? Well, I guess I’ll answer with another question – have you ever been to a wedding where you spent the majority of your time waiting for things to happen? I’m betting (unless you’ve been to some brilliantly executed weddings) that you have.

At a wedding, taking time out for the formal photos, waiting for food to be served, even waiting for the ceremony to start, can all be excruciatingly boring for guests. It’s one thing if you’re catching up with old friends at a wedding but quite another if you don’t really know anyone and find yourself awkwardly standing around for a couple of hours trying to converse with complete strangers. So how do you bridge those gaps and make your wedding day feel like one seamless experience for your guests?

How to keep your wedding guests entertained

Keep the food and drink coming

People will generally tolerate a longer wait if they are fed and watered. Canapés don’t have to be expensive – for our summer wedding we went to a local bakery a week in advance (that was our bad – I would recommend organising it earlier) and ordered mini scones, sweet and savoury, for our waiters to serve alongside Pimms and homemade lemonade. The whole thing was completely inexpensive and by the time people had finished their drinks and wiped the last scone crumbs from their lips, we were finished with the formal photos.

The famous scones – all images in this post © 2012 Satureyes

Self-service games and entertainment are godsends 

If a room is going to take a while to clear or your formal photos may take an hour or two, then leave crafty ice breakers and games around the venue. Lawn games are inexpensive and you can make a lot of them yourself, a photobooth might feel like a big luxury but it will keep people entertained for hours on end (and the results are always priceless), even personalised packs of cards with different game suggestions and instructions could be really fun to make and help people to get to know each other a bit.

My cousin and I enjoying the Retro-Me photobooth

Plan your pictures to save time

If you’re worried about your formal photos taking too much time, plan your pictures so that they don’t drag on for hours leaving your guests sidelined. For example, some couples opt for pre-wedding photos (this of course means that the groom sees the bride before the wedding, which rules out the more traditional folk) or you could plan an hour into the pre-wedding schedule for the photographer to take the bride off for her own rock the dress shoot so the focus can be on couple and family shots after the ceremony.

Make life easier for your photographer by writing up a list of the must-have formal shots, and have someone on hand to run around collecting people for pictures so you’re not held up by missing relatives!

Me torturing my brother – that was in the plan (the picture, not the torture). All of our family shots were pre-planned to save time on the day

Be selective with your seating plan 

A good seating plan can mean the difference between your guests sitting there, bored, waiting for their food and your guests either catching up with someone they really wanted to see or getting to know someone really great. We tried to place people by social groups and, if that didn’t work out then at least by interests and personality.

Make sure there’s adequate seating throughout the day

Ever been to a wedding where the majority of the day was standing and you were left wishing you’d worn different shoes (or brought your own cushion)? Not everyone has a great deal of stamina. There were areas outside for people to sit down at our wedding, but we also provided comfortable, soft seating for our guests so that anyone who felt unwell or tired could have somewhere cosy to sit. Weddings can be really long days and some people run out of steam quicker than others. It’s also much harder to concentrate on a conversation when you’ve had to stand for a really long time therefore easier to get bored!

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