Wow Your Wedding Guests

02/05/2014 12:00 AM

02/05/2014 3:22 PM

Eavesdrop on a group of bridal consultants brainstorming about their best ideas for a couple desiring a magically memorable wedding and you’ll hear a slew of wildly-varying suggestions — and one common theme: keep the guests engaged with fun-loving extras that get them up out of their chairs, circulating, dancing, chatting, learning things about the couple’s courtship and feeling like participants in the celebration.

“Have unique, interactive elements that draw guests in,” suggests Lottie Fowler, owner of Grit and Gold in Fort Worth. “Instead of a guest book, maybe a quiz about the couple or memory to share. These will be fun for later conversation and good laughs.”

Shannon Schultz of Shannon Schultz Events recommends having feather boas, plastic sunglasses and giant balloons distributed on the dance floor to send a reception’s fun quotient through the roof, and Kristen Knight of Shenanigans Weddings & Events says games like scavenger hunts and entertainment like sketch artists and green screen videos always “create a buzz and keep guests attentive and curious.”

“The most memorable events will not necessarily be those with the most flowers or the biggest budgets, but those that reflect the personality of the couple,” says Knight. “When guests leave feeling comfortable, connected and like they got to know you a little better, that’s when you have a memorable event.”

Here are 10 ways local pros suggest turning your wedding celebration into an “engagement” party.

The Big Bang

“A three minute firework show gives a big bang for its buck. Your guests will be surprised and impressed. The timing of the show is everything. I recommend fireworks either directly after your outdoor ceremony, right at the very end of sunset or after an al fresco seated dinner to start off the dancing portion of your event. This big surprise will definitely get everyone in the mood for a party.”

— Shannon Schultz, Shannon Schultz Events

Dance Fever

“A surprise entertainer hired to appear during the reception is a great way to add energy to the party. Something surprising like a tambourine musician is fun, or you might hire a professional dancer to teach a segment of line or country dancing to your guests.”

— Kay Watson, Kay Watson Wedding Consultant

Get Personal

“Take a hobby, characteristic or passion of the couple and subtly weave those into reflective details throughout the entire event — from the invitation to the exit. As an example, we had so much fun creating a “Happy Trails” trail mix bar for a couple who met at a bike race and loved to do everything outdoors, and all things organic. Guests were treated to a selection of organic sweet and salty snacks and homemade granola, set amid a display mimicking a bike trail — complete with grass, sand and rocks and bicycles — and, of course, a picture of the bride and groom on their bikes when they first met.”

— Kristen Knight, Shenanigans Weddings & Events

Keep ‘Em Guessing

“Create a custom crossword puzzle or word search personalized to the couple, or guests could fill in Wedding Libs, which is like Mad Libs, during the reception. It’s a way for guests to learn things about the couple, such as how they met and what they enjoy doing together. That makes guests feel like they know the couple better and are more a part of the event. It also gets guests talking at their tables.” (Wedding crossword puzzle printed by Paper Planet Designs, 6515 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, 817-451-8898, www.paperplanetdesign.com.)

— Jennifer Ashford, Altar Ego Weddings

Let Them Eat Sweets

“I just love dessert bars because they offer smaller, bite-sized options like macaroons, pie pops and tarts. Tradition is important so you don’t want to eliminate the wedding cake, but by combining a small cake for cutting with smaller, fun desserts, you give your guests choices and have an opportunity to style your dessert bar in a way that elevates the overall design. Desserts can also be great interactive stations for guests, especially the younger ones. Some popular options are carts for s’mores, Coke floats and gelato.”

— Jen Rios, Jen Rios Design

Smile and Say, “App”

“There are various free apps like WedPics now that help couples gather wedding images from friends and family in one place. With WedPics, you customize the app for your friends and family to download,then they can upload photos and videos while they are happening. You can even use the photos to create an album. WeddingSnap is a similar app, and for crowd-sourced videos, there’s Switchcam and Vyclone.”

— Rhonda Baker, Precisely As Planned

Surprise the Bride

“Wedding guests take their cue from the bride. If the bride is surprised, her guests will be, too. One recent wedding ceremony involved a flash mob, trumpeter and gospel choir, all of which were unbeknownst to the bride. The performance was scheduled to begin immediately after their first kiss. The bride was utterly amazed, as were her wedding guests.”

— Shannon Schultz, Shannon Schultz Events

Room for the Groom

“With the majority of the wedding day attention on the bride and the beauty of the event, it’s nice to shift focus to the groom by carving out a dedicated spot for a “lounge” where he and his closest buddies can share a toast of his favorite scotch or whiskey. Throw in a cigar roller and a patio, topped with custom cigar bands or cigar cutters, and treat the groom to a country club experience where he can take a few moments to celebrate with the boys.” (Crystal decanter and glass available at P.S. The Letter, 5136 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-731-2032, www.pstheletter.com; cigar available at Tobacco Lane On The Square, 512 Main St., Fort Worth, 817-334-0900, http://tobaccolaneonthesquare.com.)

— Kristen Knight, Shenanigans Weddings & Events

Southern Hospitality

“Treat your guests like gold, and consider their comfort. If it’s chilly, provide lap throws at an outdoor reception; if it’s a hot night, provide fans and bottled water.” (Paper fan created by Paper Planet Designs, www.paperplanetdesign.com6515 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, 817-451-8898.)

— Jen Rios, Jen Rios Design

A Big Exit

“At the end of the night, give your guests a thrill with an unusual departure. If you’re adventurous, wave goodbye from a pair of segways (although you’ll need to prepare for this with some practice sessions beforehand). Or, instead of a final departure, have the band lead the guests up to a late night party on a terrace with a DJ, after-dinner drinks and late night snack.”

— Kay Watson, Kay Watson Wedding Consultant

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