10 Unique Wedding Reception Event Ideas

The ceremony is complete, the bride and groom are officially married, and now it’s time for the wedding reception! After dinner, toasts, cake cutting, first dances, and bouquet/garter tosses – what do you do? It’s time for the open dancing part of the evening and whether you have a DJ or live band, couples love to incorporate some additional fun events into the evening!

Grand March

An old Czech traditional dance that is very popular amongst Texas wedding receptions. It’s a dance where you pair up with someone and follow the leader all around the venue or dance hall in a variety of patterns, sometimes going in and out of the venue, and ending in a bridge that everyone runs through. Couples either do the Grand March to open up the dance floor and get everyone up on their feet or they do the Grand March to lead into their First Dance where then all the guests will make 2 circles around the couple, walking in opposite directions and randomly storming the couple during their dance while they kiss. It’s a very fun tradition!

Money Dance

The money dance has several different names and everyone performs it a little differently. Sometimes also known as the whiskey-wine dance or just the wine dance. In most cases, it’s a dance where people pay money to dance with either the bride or the groom. The money collected is for the couple to spend on their honeymoon. Guests wait in line to donate then drink a shot of whiskey or wine before dancing with the bride or groom. Another form of money dance I’ve seen is the couple’s uncles dressing up as drag to dance themselves and collect money from guests.

Shoe Game

A fun and often hilarious game that guests love to see couples play during the wedding reception. The couple sit in chairs back to back in the middle of the dance floor and hold one of their shoes and one of their partners shoes. The DJ or band leader then asks the couple a series of questions and they answer by raising one of the shoes they are holding. The couple can’t see each others answers so it always ends in tons of laughter.

Anniversary Dance

A very popular way to open up the dance floor and get couples on their feet. Married couples are invited to participate and throughout the song, the DJ announces one by one for people to leave the floor if they have been married X or less years up until there is one couple left on the dance floor. The final remaining couple is celebrated and then invited to share a piece of advice for a long lasting marriage.

Large Group Photo

A new favorite among couples that has become very popular over the past few years. Before the dance floor opens, everyone gathers in the middle for a large group photo of everyone who attended the wedding with the bride and groom up front and center. It’s a personal favorite of mine instead of going table to table and taking photos with individual guests. It requires less time and ensures that nobody is left out.

School Song

I’ve attended many weddings with other school songs, but my favorite is of course the Aggie War Hymn. Towards the end of the night, the school song will come on and everyone who attended (and some who did not attend) will join together and sway to their song.

La Vibora de La Mar

Also knows as the Sea Snake Dance, it’s a traditional Mexican wedding dance where the bride and groom stand on opposite chairs and hold the veil between them creating an archway. The guests hold hands in a single line and snake in and around the couple and as the song gets faster, so do the guests. It can sometimes get feisty and very chaotic as the guests try and break the bond between the couple by knocking one of them off their chair. It’s exciting and always a crowd favorite.

Second Line

A New Orleans tradition that usually involves parading down the streets of NOLA from their ceremony to reception. It’s led by a band and the couple with umbrellas then the guests follow along with handkerchiefs. Outside of NOLA, couples perform a smaller version where they snake around the wedding venue waving handkerchiefs while the couples lead them with umbrellas.

Chinese Lion Dance

The most exciting wedding reception event I’ve ever photographed and I hope to photograph many more of in the future! The lions dance for the couple in the center of the dance floor and represent chasing away the evil spirits while the gong, drum and cymbal are playing in the background. After the dance and snaking through the guests, it ends with messages of good luck for the couple and either fireworks or confetti.

Ribbon Pull

Another New Orleans wedding reception tradition that is similar to the bouquet toss. It’s performed for either single ladies or it can be a way for the bride to honor some of her closest friends that were not involved in the bridal party. Before the cake cutting occurs, the ladies gather around the cake and pull a ribbon out from the bottom layer. The ribbons have silver charms on the end that represents good luck and fortune.

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Red and yellow Chinese lions dance for bride in groom in the middle of the dance floor during the wedding reception at Sandlewood Manor in Houston, Texas

January 30, 2024