My favorite kind of wedding is a joyful wedding. Who cares how pretty the pictures are if the day wasn't any fun? Perfectionism is a big old party pooper. Don't invite it. Instead, minimize fuss and maximize fun. Design your day so that the tasks requiring order and focus (such as formal portraits) come first and aren't too complicated, and build lots of flex time into the schedule so that the unexpected can be handled gracefully and everyone has time to actually enjoy being there, in each other's company.
Put some laughs and silly surprises into the reception to signal to your guests when it's time to loosen belts and ties, kick off high heels, and hike up those bustles. You want to create a mood transition between the reverent ceremony and the raging celebration. My wedding day began with elegant, well-rehearsed precision accompanied by live cello and ended with unexpected combinations of people making out in an elevator to gay dance music. That's #goals!
If you are a cisgender person marrying an opposite-sex partner, be aware that you are not obligated to party like a square-cornered straight. (For more information on the difference between a straight and someone who is "merely heterosexual," refer to Trixie and Katya.)
At the same time, Budget Brides, consider avoiding elaborate DIY entertainment that you have to direct or perform, unless you're super into that kind of thing. A cheesy first dance comedy number is as 100% optional as playing the Chicken Dance. Those bridal party funny dances have been a thing for so long now that they aren't surprising, usually just cringey. If you and the groom are both skilled dancers, fine, swing your partner do-si-do as a grand entrance. Maybe don't force your bridal party to train as your backup dancers unless all of your friendships with those people are disposable.
Alternatively, is there a juggler in the house? A belly dancer? A sword swallower? A stand-up comedian? Go ahead and invite your carnie cousin to do their thing if they'd like to.
If not, you can probably find a professional willing take the mic while you and your bridal party and guests all kick back together and enjoy the show. My husband and I booked someone we discovered giving an exquisitely weird performance at a dive bar, and Lord of the Yum-Yum performed at our reception for a very small fee plus a couch to sleep on and space to set up a merch stand by the dance floor.
To ramp up a reception, you want your guests to ping-pong between being shook and ready to shake it on the dance floor. In your playlist (more on that later), alternate familiar favorites that have echoed across wedding dance floors since your parents' time with mind-blowing introductions to new music that you love even if it's never hit the Top 40 pop station.
As the Scissor Sisters belted out at our reception (in mp3 format, of course),
Gonna take your mama out all night
Yeah we'll show her what it's all about
We'll get her jacked up on some cheap champagne
We'll let the good times all roll out
(Don't miss the video at the end of this post for a demonstration of the mood!)
Let the Good Times All Roll Out
Surprise and humor are great ice-breakers for a lively reception. My
wedding was a little on the fancy side... well, for MY people, anyway...
so many guests seemed a little nervous at first. People whispered to
me, "Can I...?" "Is it OK if I...?" "Will someone be offended if I...?"
All of that ended when our pal Lord of the Yum-Yum took the stage.
Oh, it's THAT kind of party. There was some initial shock. My parents didn't know what was coming, and I think they were kind of terrified for a minute.
Then an aunt and uncle (in the background there) busted out laughing, and the wedding party started singing and clapping to the music. The spark was lit!
Then the PBR keg was tapped, more wine was poured, ties were loosened, and high heels were tossed aside on the dance floor. Absurdist performances can make great conversation starters and transition the mood from reverent to irreverent in only a few awesome minutes.
Your wedding guests may have taken time off or traveled for your special day. They probably bought you a nice gift, too. So give 'em a good time! Throw a party that will be remembered so long your grandkids will get sick of hearing about it. For more unique wedding ideas, some of them budget-friendly, check out the creative couples on Offbeat Bride.