what to do with 30 guests???

goldsilverMarch 27, 2004

I'm having a small traditional church wedding with a formal dinner reception at a historic building used for formal events. We get the room till 1am and the majority of guests are from out of town...and DON'T DANCE. How do I entertain these guests who have gone to great lengths to be there, without hiring a D.J??? What do we do after the dinner??? I am so stressed about it, and additionally I am so against all the typical wedding lah-di-dahs, I would rather it more be an intimate fancy get together.......but does conversation last 4 hours?? Please help, I am so lost I am willing to take almost any sugestion and running with it!

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grace3

I'm guessing that even with dancing, your guests might not have stuck around until 1 a.m. -- I know that at DD's reception (6:00 p.m. dinner -- with toasts,etc -- and dancing), everyone was gone by 10:00.

With the small, intimate group that you describe, I'm guessing that most of the guests will know at least half of the other guests? If that's the case -- and especially if they are mostly family and don't get to see each other often -- I think the dinner and conversation could easily last 3 hours (I know that with my family it would).

If you have time to prepare this, one suggestion would be for you to make a variety of photo albums that can be looked at and enjoyed by your guests. We did this for my grandmother's 90th birthday open house. The albums were just sitting on a table, and occasionally a guest would go and get one and bring it back to the table where they were sitting and the guests would look at it, and then pass it to whoever else was interested (of course, not everyone was, but many were).

If you had different albums -- one featuring your DF's childhood & youth, another of your own childhood & youth, another one of pictures of the two of you together, etc -- they could be real conversation starters. It would be especially nice if you could make sure that there were one or two pictures included of each of your guests.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2004 at 11:49AM
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gellchom

For thirty guests, I wouldn't have dancing. I LOVE your idea of an elegant dinner.

I agree that no matter WHAT you plan, people won't all stay until 1:00. So don't worry about that. The room costs the same even if you all go home early. Just try to think of it as "this is what the room costs, and we have it for the whole evening," so you won't feel pressured to "get your money's worth" by planning activities until 1 am.

For that size group, consider having leisurely breaks between courses when the best MC in the family gets everyone quieted down and draws stories, memories of other weddings, words of advice, or whatever you can think of (nothing cutesy or gimmicky, as you want this to be rather formal) out from everyone there. I think this would be especially nice because you said you have a lot of people from out of town. Our family loves hearing family stories again and again -- maybe yours does, too. And it will be a nice way for the two families to get to know each other in a deeper context than just the wedding itself.

Personally, I would enjoy this so much. I go to plenty of dinner-and-dancing receptions. This would be a special and unusual change for me, so maybe it would be for your guests, too. It certainly won't be like anyone else's wedding, ever.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2004 at 6:49PM
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joann23456

I love Grace's suggestion of photos. We did this, not at a wedding, but when my mother was dying. My sister got out a lot of old pictures and put them on my mom's kitchen table. When people visited, they'd look at the pictures and begin telling stories. They'd stay for hours, drinking coffee, eating whatever someone had brought by, and talking.

My mother was usually too tired to talk, but she sat there and smiled as her friends and family had fun spending time together.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2004 at 12:24AM
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sweet_pea10

I agree that the focus should be on the dinner and visiting. Have some background music playing softly to set the mood. You can do this with a CD player or house music at the reception center. You might ask your wedding photographer to spend some time at the reception to take photos of groups of guests. You can then give these to guests as mementoes of the wedding.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2004 at 12:42AM
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talley_sue_nyc

Do SOME people dance? Would it be worth it to have a stereo system of some sort? And play background music most of the time, with a short stretch of dance music? For low-stress, a DJ would be best, even for this--get one who knows how to shut up.

And I think you'd want some sort of presentation time. A chance to have some sort of "program" or "all our attention on this central thing" sort of thing. Toasts usually are pretty early, so I'd plan something for much later--perhaps right before the cake. Some speeches or toasts, throwing the bouquet (which can be fun if it's handled in a non-cheesy way)

I like the photo albums idea, but I personally wouldn't have one I could use, and assembling one would be way more prewedding stress than I'd need.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2004 at 11:22AM
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springbride04

I love the idea of your SMALL FORMAL wedding!! I sometimes wish we could have a very small intimate wedding.

Instead of throwing a bouquet and garter I would suggest doing an anniversary gift instead---this is especially nice if you don't have alot of single males and females. What you do is have everyone get in a large circle. It's kind of like playing a game--weed out the couples that have been married the shortest time and once you are down to the couple that has been married the longest, a special gift is given to them to honor them. It's really nice because most of the time, the couple that is left are grandparents. Then you could always do the tosses for the kids---they usually seem to enjoy them.

I would suggest having a CD player playing soft music during dinner to lighten the mood. I also love the idea of the couple's first dance and the father/daughter mother/son dance. I don't think many of our guests dance either, but we are having a DJ and a small dance space. However, in your situation I don't think I would hire a DJ either. But I would have a small area in the front of the room designated as a dance floor IF you are interested in having a first dance. The area wouldn't have to be very big so that your guests don't feel like they HAVE TO DANCE. This can also act as an area to either do the bouquet/garter tosses or the anniversary gift. I know I really wanted music while we cut the cake--there are some really funny songs out there!!! I just think music sometimes helps to fill empty air especially while everyone is eating. Play light jazz or something really soft. Goodluck!! Springbride04

    Bookmark   March 30, 2004 at 12:55PM
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goldsilver

thanks for all your input so far! My fiance and I love the idea of photo albums, I already started on two of them. As for the music I am still unsure which way to go. We will have dinner music provided by the establishment, but they said it gets sort of tiresome after a while so I might want to bring a cd player for after dinner. So the type of music is still up in the air as most guests are over 40 and I'm really not sure what they would like.
I also like the idea of a gift for the couple married longest......does anyone have any other ideas along this line? I am feeling more comfortable with the reception from the ideas you have given me, but I would still like to prepare some more "mini-events" to ensure the evening is full for all the guests who came SO far just for this wedding.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2004 at 6:37AM
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splinter

You can never go wrong with classic Jazz... Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holliday, Dean Martin and the like. That music appeals to both young and old and can either be lively and upbeat or slow and romantic, depending on the mood you want to set.

Andrea :o)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2004 at 9:28AM
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joann23456

I definitely agree with Andrea. The standards are standard for a reason.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2004 at 4:12PM
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dian57

My middle sister had her reception in a private room of a French restaurant. Instead of a live band or DJ she had a harpist. It was the only wedding I remember being able to actually have conversations in normal tones of voice. Some people you only see at weddings and funerals and it was a nice change to have the chance to talk.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2004 at 5:36AM
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ruthanna_gw

For background music for an anniversary party, we got CD's that were instrumentals only of Great Love Songs from the Movies and Best of Andrew Lloyd Weber. Something like that might be nice.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2004 at 3:17PM
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annaleef

Dear goldsilver,

Congratulations on this special step you are taking.

I'll share our recent experience with two family weddings. The most recent one was held at an historic lighthouse on an island. The reception for all 29 guests was in a small dining room in a nearby country club. No DJ, no dancing. It was great fun! We had a harpist playing in the background and everyone enjoyed visiting in an unhurried way. We had passed hors'doeuvres followed by a buffet. The buffet gave people a chance to move around and table hop, so we could get acquainted with the other family. The honeymoon "getaway" vehicle was actually the ferry and all the guests accompanied the couple there. Great fun! Wedding favors were a CD of tunes by the harpist with the bridal couple's picture in front of the lighthouse on the cover. These costs us almost nothing to put together, but looked professional. Gel candles with sand and shells from the island were a second memento for the guests.

The earlier wedding was a larger one, but it was held at an Indian museum in the desert southwest. The guests were mostly from out of town & could tour the museum before the ceremony. We had a jazz quartet of 4 elderly musicians who charged practically nothing & had been recommneded by the caterer. They were so special that many of the guests individually tipped them more than their original fee as they played long forgotten favorite standards. This setting gave us all a chance to learn something about local culture, despite the fact that neither the couple nor the participants were Indian themselves. Wedding favors were scrolls with the Indian Wedding Prayer tied in the theme colors at each place setting.
Both weddings were unique and done on a relatively small budget.

You mentioned your setting is in an historic building. Can you add some elements of interest connected to that
setting? Whether it is related to city history, religion,
school affiliation or culture, the building's history or theme (or something drawn from the immediate area) may be of special interest to your out of town guests and educate them about your part of the world.

This might take the form of individual favors for the guests (which can cost almost nothing if you are creative and have a color printer). You might inquire at a local college music department or church and get a musician for background music at less than a DJ would have charged.

Good luck with all your plans. If you are comfortable with the arrangements, your guests will be comfortable as well. People can enjoy music without dancing, but having some music is definitely worth it for setting the mood.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2004 at 12:50AM
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anita9

Those both sound like gorgeous weddings AnnaLee!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2004 at 1:44PM
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kathyd

One suggestion from the current Modern Brides is to hire a magician for part of the night. Since there will be no dancing, he or she could be the entertainment part of the night. Not a full on stage show, just visiting the tables during dinner and doing a few tricks.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2004 at 4:57AM
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goldsilver

Thanks for all you input! We decided to hire a D.J anyways and hopefully it will get some people to dance, plus just contribute to the evening in a way that will make it more traditional even though it is so small. I am hoping with that and conversation it will be enough to entertain everyone for the night!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2004 at 10:46AM
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smile3

What about bringing some board games and a couple of decks of cards. I am a 22 year old female and live with 5 guys but we have a game night at least once a week and we always have a blast.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 10:22AM
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janialove

Silver...My wedding was a little similar to yours...I thought a lot of people weren't going to dance but...by the end people were up on the dance floor except for really christian people.Maybe if they see you dance then maybe they will get into the mood.I pulled some people I am close with on the dance floor.Another obtion is maybe you and your husband to be may share poems or even sing a song to each other.Good luck!!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2004 at 4:33AM
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