Non-Musical Wedding Entertainment

Emma Frankart Henterly
Guests at Rebekah and Steven Mroz's wedding made good use of their “Aloha Booth,” provided by their photographers.

While the majority of your guests will appreciate a DJ who knows how to keep the dance floor packed, you'll likely have some who don't want to bust a move. Lately, Central Ohio couples have been finding other forms of entertainment to offer with their tunes.

One option that comes to mind—and arguably the most popular—is the now-ubiquitous photo booth.

“Not everyone is into dancing, but anyone can get in the [photo] booth, have some fun and take home a great memory of the event,” says Chad Zwayer, owner of the Columbus Photo Booth Co. “The laughter and fun being had at the booth is a great social icebreaker and instantly stimulates interest in the other guests, who will also want one or two—or 20, as some people have been known to take over the course of an event.”

If you're worried about the idea feeling stale to your guests, don't be. Zwayer says his company adds new designs and services to its booths every year to help keep it fresh. An instant-share option is one of his popular new services; it allows guests to share their images via social media, text or email as soon as they emerge from the booth.

“One more popular service is our ‘slideshow a projector' option, which will put the photos from the photo booth on a big screen in real time,” adds Zwayer. On the off-chance that the booth is not in use for a period of time, the screen displays random photos from throughout the event.

Games are another go-to option for couples who want to give their guests a choice of activities. They can be simply entertaining to watch, as with the “shoe game.” To play, the newlyweds each hold up one of their own shoes or one of their partner's in response to questions like “Who's the better cook?” or “Who said ‘I love you' first?”

Other popular games are more interactive, like a personalized Mad Libs-style card centered around the couple for guests to fill out. There's also the “photo scavenger hunt,” in which guests are given a list of items to capture—and often share on social media using the couple's hashtag—throughout the evening. Scavenger hunt items can include things like “the mother of the bride shedding a tear,” “a couple kissing” or “the best dancer at the party.”

“I've heard of people hiring performers or dinner theater throughout dinner,” says Madison McAllister, wedding sales coordinator at The Blackwell. She recalls a wedding she recently attended at which the bride decided to forego the DJ altogether. Instead, her family members created a variety act of sorts, performing sketches and showing off talents throughout the evening.

Lori Fiske, customer relations manager at the Columbus Athenaeum, has seen couples get creative by having people read poems and sonnets from the opera boxes in the venue's small and large theaters.

“The dueling piano thing is really popular right now,” says McAllister, referring to the style of entertainment in which two piano players take requests and banter back and forth, both verbally and musically. “We actually use a lot of the students in the school of music [at Ohio State University], since we're so close to campus. So you can get them for a nice, good deal. Most of the students that I use can play pretty much anything.”

“I've seen caricature artists, too,” she adds. “I love that option; I think it's so unique and it sort of acts as your favor, as well.” John Bailey, of the eponymous Caricatures by John Bailey, has been drawing the cartoons at weddings for nearly 20 years. “I love the weddings because they're the most fun events, because everybody is in a great mood and having fun,” he says.

Bailey estimates that he can draw about 20 people in an hour, so not everyone will be able to get a drawing if you have more than 100 guests (unless you hire a second artist, that is).

If all else fails, there's typically one element that will never disappoint. “Introducing food, food and more food throughout the wedding is always a hit with guests,” says Fiske. “House-made doughnuts and hot chocolate prior to guests leaving on a cold winter night can almost become an activity.”

McAllister often sees DIY food bars as an element of weddings at The Blackwell.

“The big thing for us right now is the cookie/edible favor kind of candy bar,” she says. “We have had requests to do a doughnut bar, as well as the s'mores; we actually have that on our menu.”

These bars often have an interactive element, in which guests are creating their own item, like a slider, or filling a bag with snacks, like different flavors of popcorn. “It really creates a whole new atmosphere for [the guests], especially later on in the evening,” McAllister says.

?Guests are still kind of expecting a traditional wedding, where you do an hour of cocktails, sit down for dinner and then music,” she adds. “So if you deviate from that just a little bit, it makes all the difference. It definitely makes for a more memorable night.”