Wedding Entertainment Beyond the Dance Floor

Like many couples planning their wedding, you’ve likely spent countless hours thinking about the flowers, the decor, the music, and the food, all in the name of creating an unforgettable celebration. But what about those guests who may not want to dance the night away? While it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of a packed dance floor, the truth is that not every guest will necessarily be itching to show off their moves. So, what can you do to keep everyone entertained? That’s where we come in!
 
We recently reached out to wedding professionals and our readers for their favorite non-dancing wedding reception entertainment ideas, and the results were nothing short of inspiring.
 
From lawn games to photo booths, and everything in between, we’ve got you covered with some truly creative and unique ideas. Read on to discover the best ideas for wedding reception entertainment that will make your celebration truly unforgettable.
 
Photo Credit: Pixel Pod
Photo Credit: Colette Kulig

Lawn Games for your Wedding Reception

An outdoor wedding and lawn games are a true match made in heaven! Lawn games and other outdoor activities are a fantastic way to entertain your guests and create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. Classic games like cornhole, giant Jenga, and croquet are always crowd-pleasers, and they provide a fun and competitive element to the celebration. You can also incorporate themed games that match your wedding style or interests. For example, if you’re a sports-loving couple, a mini golf tournament or a friendly game of soccer would be so fun! A few of our readers sung the praises of  Burlington Axe Throwing as a unique activity for guests. As the name suggests, guests would put their hand-eye coordination to the test by trying to throw axes at a bullseye target. (Get ready for laughter and friendly competition!)

Live Wedding Painting or Custom Wedding Sketches

Live painting is a captivating form of entertainment that allows your guests to witness the creation of a work of art in real time! (This can also double as a memorable wedding favor) Whether it’s a beautiful portrait of the newlyweds or quick sketches of guests, watching an artist bring a blank canvas to life is a mesmerizing experience! We highly recommend Lucas K Barrett and Hope Sharp Art for your wedding rehearsal dinner or reception.

Interactive Food Stations

Interactive food stations (and bars like Salt & Bubbles or Vermont Mobile Spirits!) are not only delicious but also provide entertainment and a memorable experience for your guests. We’ve seen an increase in couple’s opting for food trucks during their reception or as late night food offerings. If you’re looking to scoop up something sweet, many of our readers recommended an ice cream truck! Ben & Jerrys, Sisters of Anarchy Ice Cream and Palmer’s are all delish options. While on the topic of desserts, we also love Crazy Cotton Candy Lady, who does live spinning of unique cotton candy flavors during your wedding reception. (Talk about a fun and yummy guest favor!) A s’mores table from The Vermont Marshmallow Co. is another great interactive option that will keep guests fueled all evening long!

Hannah Photography
Photo Credit: Crazy Cotton Candy Lady

Table Top Games or Scavenger Hunts

For couples looking to bring some nostalgia to their big day, table top board games are a great option! You can place a few on each table or dedicate an area in your reception space for them. Card games and puzzles are also great options for guest looking to to take a break from dancing.

One of our readers, Krista, reached out with her own spin on a game… a scavenger hunt! She and her husband designed a series of “puzzles” that people found when they got to their table for the evening, each leading them to different areas of their venue. The end result? A chest that opened with puzzles for guests to take home as a wedding favor. So fun and unique!

Crafting or Coloring Area

This idea is perfect for couples who want to provide a relaxing activity for their guests. Whether you’re looking to create personalized favors or offer a more hands on way for guests to unwind, a DIY crafts or coloring station is sure to be a hit. Don’t forget to provide plenty of colored pencils, markers, and crayons or paint for guests to use. If you have a lot of younger wedding guests, this is a great way to keep them entertained as well.

 

Photo Credit: Sisters of Anarchy
Photo Credit: The Event Sisters

Wedding Photo Booths and Floral Walls

If there’s one thing guests love just as much as celebrating newlyweds, it’s a good photo opp! Photo booths are a wedding mainstay and for good reason. They offer a fun and interactive experience for guests of all ages, and they provide a unique opportunity to capture memories from your special day. We highly recommend our friends at PixelPod who specialize in immersive and fun photo booth set ups.

Guests can take silly and creative photos with their loved ones, creating unforgettable moments that can be treasured for years to come. For couples looking for a custom backdrop that matches their wedding theme, look no further than  Day of Rentals. Day of Rentals provides high quality flower walls for weddings and events. They are great as ceremony backdrops, photo booth backdrops, sweetheart table backdrops and so much more. 

Lip Sync Battles or Karaoke 

Karaoke or an epic lip sync battle is a fantastic way to get your guests up and engaged in the entertainment. We especially love this idea for the second half of the reception or during your after party. Whether you have a love for singing or simply enjoy watching others perform, this interactive activity is sure to create a fun and memorable experience for everyone! Pro tip: don’t forget to break out the camera for this one.

While gathering with friends and family to celebrate is fun in and of itself, we hope these ideas inspire you to infuse some creative wedding entertainment into your own big day!

 

For more wedding planning advice and inspiration, check out our Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide. You’ll have instant access to industry insider tips and spreadsheet templates to make planning your wedding easier and more fun.

Your Next Read:

Looking for even more unique reception ideas? Check out the submissions from our Best of 2022: Reception Details blog post.

Looking for more wedding inspiration? Check out any of these.

Guide to an Alternative Wedding Registry

Ah, the wedding registry. One of the parts of wedding planning that sounds so good in theory, and actually feels pretty challenging in practice. 

A traditional registry can be a great option for many couples, but for many others, it’s not. Maybe you’ve lived together for a while and have all the big stuff covered, or maybe you’re planning to move in the near future and don’t want extra possessions. Whatever your reasons, it’s totally possible to build an alternative wedding registry that still allows your community to shower you with gifts (they want to!) without more physical stuff. We’ll show you how.

How to Ask for No Gifts 

First, you need to explicitly say no physical gifts (sometimes referred to as “boxed gifts”) and explain why. For example, “Tricia and Brian are getting ready to move to a new city! As such, they kindly request no gifts they’ll need to pack up.” This information should be on your wedding website and provided to anyone who is hosting a bridal shower, engagement party, etc.

Why Register for Services & Other Non-Boxed Gifts 

The thing is, people still want to get you something. So, it’s helpful to have a plan for what you want people to get you in lieu of boxed gifts. These options give the gift giver an opportunity to feel like they’re getting you something tangible, and will benefit you and your partner!

bride opening gift on wedding morning
Kelsey Regan Photography

Alternative Wedding Registry Ideas

Register for a honeymoon fund 

This is common these days; many couples even include it as a line item on a traditional registry! 

Here’s how to tactfully ask for money toward your honeymoon: “Your presence is the best gift of all – we can’t wait to celebrate with you! We truly have everything we need at the moment for our home, and kindly request no boxed gifts. However, for friends & family who have inquired, we have set up a fund to help us make the most of our honeymoon to [destination] together!”

You could do this as a cash fund (many sites like Zola make this really easy) or register for experiences via a site like Airbnb

Subscriptions to Add to Your Alternative Wedding Registry

What do you and your partner love to do together? Register for more of that! Or, think about what would make your lives easier and add that to your list. Some ideas include…

  1. Wine or beer of the month club (local friends: Salt & Bubbles Coup Club is great!)
  2. Floral bouquet subscription (Farmhouse Flowers and A Clover and One Bee both provide this for Vermonters!)
  3. Meal kits or food subscriptions like Blue Apron or Butcher Box 
  4. A CSA membership to a local farm would be a great gift
  5. You can also register for subscriptions that make your life easier like a year of Amazon Prime or Instacart

Date Night Registry Essentials

This could be such a fun option and provide you with a year – or more – of fun date night ideas! For example:

  1. Movie tickets to the local theater 
  2. Passes to a local museum or attraction
  3. Gift cards to local restaurants (provide examples)
  4. A gift card to a local spa 
  5. Entertainment subscriptions like Spotify, Netflix, Disney+ etc. 

Couple kissing at bottom of ski slope after their Vermont winter elopement
Juniper Studios
A white couple pops champagne after getting married at Sterling Ridge Resort, VT
Jenna Brisson

An Adventure Lovers Alternative Wedding Registry

If you and your partner are adventurous, fuel your passion for the outdoors with a registry that helps you to get out and explore more. Consider:

  1. Passes to your local state park (or a National Parks Pass)
  2. Ski passes 
  3. Mountain bike passes 
  4. Gift cards to a gear shop you love so you can pick out something together

Register to Preserve Your Wedding Memories

Savor the feeling from your wedding for years to come with a thoughtful gift! 

  1. Floral Preservation – preserve your wedding bouquet in a one-of-a-kind piece of art. We love that this idea is sentimental, functional, and gorgeous! You can register for a gift card and work with their team to create a item that you’ll treasure for years.
  2. Wedding album –  a heirloom album can add up, so consider registering for a gift card (or fund) to create yours!
  3. Picture frames to create a gallery wall (affiliate link)

Register for Charitable Donations

In lieu of a registry, you could ask for donations to a charitable organization that holds a close meaning to you both. (This is also an excellent option in lieu of favors!)

Final thoughts on the Alternative Wedding Registry

I can pretty much guarantee that no matter how many times you say no gifts, someone is going to hand you a big white bag with a bow on top and a gift inside at some point. When that happens, be gracious. Say thank you (here’s a guide to writing the best thank you notes) and know that person is just trying to honor your marriage the way they know best!

Have You Seen the Vermont Weddings Gift Guide?

Even if you’re skipping a traditional registry, we highly suggest browsing our Gift Guide – it’s unlike any other! We’re confident you’ll find something to give your partner, anyone who helped celebrate your wedding in a meaningful way…and lots of other ideas!

Your Next Read:

Looking for more wedding advice? Check out our post on how to have the best wedding morning

Want more relatable advice? Check out any of these.

MEET KAYLA, THE OWNER OF SALT & BUBBLES

Wine and cheese are a pairing as classic as any, and one we wholeheartedly love. That’s why we were super excited to chat with Kayla the owner of Salt & Bubbles Wine Market and Bar. Located in the Essex Experience in Essex Junction, Vermont, Salt & Bubbles has quickly become a local hotspot. In addition to their wine bar (which can be rented for small private events) the team offers catering for off-site events. Kayla’s knowledge of wine is rich, and her personality as bubbly as libations she pours! 

Read on to learn more about Kayla and Salt & Bubbles! 

How did you get into wine?

I was working for Marc Provencher who opened Taverna Khione in Shelburne, VT. He focused on showcasing unique and different wines all from Greece to go along with all the authentic Greek food he was bringing to the Vermont food scene. Part of the job training included learning about the Greek “places of origin” or what I now regularly refer to as appellations, a term I use more frequently than I’d ever thought possible back then. I got the chance to taste, learn, and get the hang of the wine world. 

I started reading about wine more and wound up at Honey Road where not only was the wine program fabulous, but the education was really top notch. Learning from experts not just on these regions but how to talk about wine, sell it, and enjoy it was fascinating to me. As I continued to work at Honey Road with mentors like Allison Gibson and Dana Parseliti I found a path for myself, and knowing how I best learn, I needed a goal – Certified Somm. The rest is history and many many many empty bottles and scribbles in notebooks. 

Do you have a favorite wine?

I can’t pick a favorite wine, but I’ll share one that stands out and embodies a fun wine concept of “terroir” (fancy to say, nostalgic to taste and smell, and an all around romantic concept). The bottle is COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato from Southern Sicily made by some legends of natural wine and winemaking in general in Sicily. I remember drinking this bottle and feeling transported to another place, a moment in time, tasting specific notes of earth, fruit, sun, and having a lightbulb moment enjoying sipping on this delicious treat. It’s still a favorite bottle for me and COS is still a favorite producer. That being said, I love a lot of different wines from all over the world!

What inspires your work?

People inspire all of this. Wine is wonderful and romantic, but to me it’s really a vessel or a bridge to connecting with others. It’s a moment in time to maybe relax with your friend or partner, to learn something new or discover even the smallest thing about yourself (i.e. your palate and what you enjoy). While serving guests at Salt & Bubbles, I love sharing new knowledge and information in small bites that feel accessible and watching first time guests become regulars. 

I love seeing Salt & Bubbles actually be the place I envisioned it to be – a place for people to come and celebrate being together, celebrate each other, to reconnect, to be joyful, or just to be content and happy in these small moments. Each day friends get together with old friends, or partners get a few moments of peace from their rambunctious kids, or get to know our regulars enough to know their kids names, ask how their new job is. It all matters and especially learning how much we all really need each other and need connection. I’m not just happy but feel compelled to continue to provide that safe and joyous place for community to be built and sustained. 

How would you describe Salt & Bubbles as a venue for intimate events? 

A small, cozy, bright space for your group to gather, taste, enjoy, and indulge. We can curate a more specific menu to your needs but are focused on a cheese, charcuterie, and other small tapas style items that pair well with wine. We offer flights or tastings, bottles (especially of bubbles) and would love to host your next event.  

What’s your favorite moment during a wedding?

Every wedding has one, or hopefully many, but the first moment of full blown joy and laughter gets me. For me, it was when everyone began to dance. My wedding was a traditional Jewish wedding in a few ways, one of which was the horah dancing that immediately ensued after my husband and I came back from the altar. Everyone, young and old, began to dance, and while I can’t say I loved being lifted in a chair, I did love seeing everyone together joined in this one moment of smiles, happiness, especially after being so far away from one another. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in VT? / Local spot to visit? Etc.

I love riding my horse or walking my dogs anywhere in Vermont. Two favorite spots are Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge and Mills Riverside Park in Jericho, VT.

What’s a fun fact about yourself? 

I love animals and I have 2 rescue dogs, 1 rescue cat, 1 rescue horse! I love them all and they are how I both stay sane and sometimes go insane. 

What’s a song that always gets you on the dance floor?

Anything Cher!

***

Thank you, Kayla! Learn more about Salt & Bubbles in the vendor guide. 

The 2022 Vermont Weddings Gift Guide

It’s here: the ultimate collection of Vermont-made gifts perfect for any Vermont wedding occasion or Vermont lover. We’ve curated over 100 gift ideas for everyone on your list. And, every single gift supports a local VT business. 

On a more personal note, this guide has been a huge labor of love. We logged countless hours compiling this list, and we’re so happy that launch day is finally here! It’s been such a fun experience to connect with well known brands and discover new businesses. One thing is clear: Vermont is full of talent. We’ve already gifted things from the guide (and bought a few for ourselves…) and we’re confident the guide will help you do the same. 

We’re also really proud this resource supports the Vermont Foodbank (keep reading for details on that – and how you can help). The 2022 Vermont Weddings Gift Guide gives back to our local community in more ways than one, and we’re so excited for you to check it out.

What’s included in the Vermont Weddings Gift Guide?

Over 100 gift ideas – all from local, Vermont businesses. The guide is organized by business, with a little background info and our curated picks for recipients, such as couples, bridesmaids/groomsmen, parents, favors, etc. Many of the featured businesses identify with at least one of the following: women-owned; minority owned; eco-conscious; certified-organic; family-owned. 

Plus, we included a few yummy cocktail recipes and tips for creating Vermont welcome baskets and writing the perfect thank you note.

What makes the Vermont Weddings Gift Guide unique?

We’ve never seen another gift guide quite like this one! 

For one: everyone featured is a Vermont business, so it’s truly a celebration of our state. 

We also handpicked gifts for any wedding gift-giving coming your way. You’ll find suggestions for couples getting married, bridesmaid gift ideas, groomsmen gift ideas, gift ideas for parents of the couple, and unique wedding favor ideas. Of course, you can mix and match these ideas to best fit your crew, but these selections will help get you started. 

There are a variety of styles and price points represented. 

The Gift Guides that give back to the Vermont Foodbank

In keeping with the theme of supporting our local community, we donated part of each featured artist’s registration fee to the Vermont Foodbank. We raised $1,300, which translates to 2,165 meals for neighbors in need.

Here’s my ask of you: The 2022 Wedding Gift Guide below is free, but we created two amazing supplemental gift guides that you can download for a small cost to take your gifting to the next level (read more about them below). 

If you enjoy The 2022 Vermont Weddings Gift Guide and are about to make a financial donation, please consider buying the supplemental gift guide bundle! I’m sure you will find even more great ideas AND you’ll be helping us donate even more meals to neighbors in need (part of each Bundle purchase goes to the Foodbank).

How to shop the Vermont Weddings Gift Guide

Click the open bracket button in the bottom right corner of the preview below and the Gift Guide will appear as a full-screen, interactive guide. To get the full viewing experience, I recommend viewing this on a desktop rather than a phone. Then, you can flip through the pages like a catalog. Everything is interactive, so just click on a gift to shop. (Please note that Vermont Weddings cannot guarantee inventory or availability; contact each maker directly if you have questions.) 

If you’re using this guide to build your own Vermont registry, we recommend using a site like Zola, so you can add gifts from any local business. 

Don’t forget to download the free gift tracker to keep track of all those sweet gifts!

Why does shopping local matter?

Have you seen the meme about when you buy from a small business owner, an actual person does a happy dance? That’s actually true! When you buy from a local business, your neighbors (the people behind that business) benefit! Small businesses make up a large, important part of the Vermont economy and choosing to buy from them is a tangible way you can help our community.

Isn’t shopping local or buying from small businesses more expensive?

This is a common misconception and one we’re excited to tackle. Yes, some of the gifts included in the gift guide are splurge-worthy gifts, because they are handcrafted or one-of-a-kind. But buying local isn’t always more expensive, especially when you consider the quality. And – there’s the double bonus of the real impact supporting a small business. We included a range of price points in the guide to fit most budgets.

Want Event More Gift Ideas?!

We’ve got you covered! We created two supplemental gift guides that build upon the Vermont Weddings Gift Guide (with some new wedding gift ideas and pricing information included!). 

The Gift Guide Pairing Menu

This is perfect if you liked the gifts from the guide, want want help putting it all together. We’re giving you several bundle ideas and our best tips for creating your own unique gift bundles that will delight your friends and family. Click here to buy.

Gift Ideas for the First Five Years

Consider us your gifting fairy godmother! We’re giving you three traditional anniversary gift ideas for years 1 – 5, and ideas for other events such as baby showers and housewarmings. Basically, we got your first five years of marriage covered – no stressing about gift ideas here! Click here to buy.

Bundle the Pairing Menu and Gift Ideas for the First Five Years together and save 20%. Plus $2 of every bundle goes directly to the Vermont Foodbank. (You can create a bundle from either link above.)

Love for the 2022 Vermont Weddings Gift Guides 

We gave early access to some Instagram followers and asked for their feedback. Here’s what they had to say:

“This truly is a gift masterpiece – WOW! I honestly wish I had this while planning my wedding, but I’m stoked to have it for future events. As a fellow Vermonter, it’s amazing to see all the talent from our state.” – Brooke, Vermont bride

“This introduced me to so many Vermont makers that I didn’t know I needed in my life.”  – Jill, Vermont bride

“Not only did I learn about some new brands, but it also reminded me of some really great Vermont brands that I’ve seen in passing…now I know of some people I could gift them to, based on your suggestions.” – Liz, Vermont Bride and Wedding Professional 

“I already have three things in my shopping cart – this makes it so easy to shop small and help out small businesses who deserve it!” – Crystal, Vermont bride

bride opening gift on wedding morning

Vermont Businesses Listed in Our Gift Guide

Here’s an alphabetical index of who you’ll find featured inside the guide:

802 Dinner Party – 33
A Clover and One Bee – 42
AO Glass – 37
As Little Cooking As Possible – 13
Belle Savon Vermont – 40
Blake Hill Preserves – 35
Botanical Tribe Apothecary – 9
Caledonia Spirits – 25
Catinko Creations – 19
Cards by Cato -12
Carrier Roasting Coffee -32
Ceci Leibovitz Jewelry – 6
Cedar Creek Crafts – 15
Cheese & Wine Traders – 32
Courtney Reckord – 4
Crazy Cotton Candy Lady – 41
Daily Chocolate – 30
Earth & Salt Shop – 7
Elmore Mountain Therapeutics – 7
Erin Elyse Designs – 18
Farmer’s Body – 8
Farmhouse Flowers – 42
Fire.Fire. – 41
Found & Feral – 4
Yes Miss Bridal Jewelry by Gosia Meyer – 5
Hope Sharp – 21
JK Adams – 38
Kestrel Coffee Company – 35
Lake Champlain Chocolates – 31
Lawson’s Finest Liquids – 28
Linds Loves Ink – 14
Mad River Distillers – 25
Maquam Winery – 28
MarMadeThat – 17
Mint Print Studios – 14
Morado Designs – 23
Nomadic Kitchen – 30
PajamaGram Company – 23
Runamok Maple – 34
Salt & Bubbles – 29
Sam Macy Designs – 21
Shelburne Gift Company – 10
SILO Distillery – 24
Snug Bug Shop – 20
Special Occasions by Sarah – 16
Stonecutter Spirits – 24
Tanglewood Floral Preservation – 43
Tiny Girl Gang Cards – 18
Vermont Bowl Company – 39
Vermont Maker’s Market – 19
Vermont Rocks – 22
Vermont’s Own Gift Shop – 39
VT Charcuterie – 36
Willough Designs – 12

We hope you enjoy the 2022 Wedding Gift Guide! It was such a fun project, and we’re confident it will help you with your gifting needs.

Did you enjoy the guide or buy something from it? Tag us on Instagram so we can see and celebrate!