It’s obvious that your timid Uncle David really wants to give a wedding speech, but he gets heart palpitations in front of large groups. You know that your grandmother has a lot to say to you on your big day, but her hearing impairment keeps her from engaging in conversation in loud rooms. How do you draw out the guests who need a little extra nudge to fully participate?
The answer lies in interactive games. Adding an anonymous element helps shy guests conquer their fears of baring their hearts in public, while a written element allows guests to organize their thoughts better than an off-the-cuff dinner speech. There are many variations on the same theme, but the concept is the same: give your guests the chance to tell you the words they want to say.
Ask Any Question
This “getting to know you better” game takes the pressure off of the guests and puts the lucky couple in the hot seat. Everyone who wants to participate takes a slip of paper and writes one question on it. These can range from, “How did you first know it was true love?” to “What is your new spouse’s favorite food?” The slips of paper all go into a box and are given to the newlyweds.
The couple then picks papers at random from the box and reads them aloud. They promise to give truthful answers to the crowd. (Any questions the couple doesn’t want to answer can quietly be skipped.) The question and answer format turns into a playful game that can test the new spouses’ knowledge of each other as well as the guests’ knowledge of their hosts. Prepare for heartfelt answers as well as a fair amount of giggling!
This game follows the same basic concept as the “Ask Any Question” game. Any guests who want to participate take a slip of paper and a pen. They write about their favorite memory of a time they had with the bride or groom. However, there is one catch: they can only use three words.
When the couple receives the box of memory slips, they have to elaborate upon the story of each one. (If time is limited, they can choose the first five.) If neither of them can place the memory correctly from the three words written on the paper, the guest who wrote it comes forth and tells the story.
The “First Meeting” game is similar to the “Favorite Memory” game. Instead of writing their favorite memory, however, guests write about the first time they met the couple. If they were friends with one half of the couple first, the story can be about the first time they met either their original friend or the friend’s new squeeze.
Tell Us About Us
In this game, guests write a thought about the couple. This can take any form. It can be a single sentence wishing the newlyweds good luck in life, it can be a haiku about their honeymoon destination, or it can be a paragraph about how well matched the couple is. This open-ended game is a good way to include all guests regardless of how genuine or silly they are feeling.
When the slips of paper are given to the lucky couple, they can choose to either read all of the thoughts aloud, or they can keep them in a box to read on their honeymoon–or first anniversary.
The format of these types of games encourages even the mousiest guests to participate. There is no pressure to be extraordinarily clever, as there would be with a wedding toast. There is not even any need to read their own thoughts aloud. The game simply distills the process of well wishing so that all of the guests have a chance to give the couple their fondest thoughts.
The game format benefits the newlyweds, too. Unlike conventional wedding toasts or open mics, which can quickly get out of hand as guests drink too much or wax overly poetic, the papers put the control back into the hosts’ hands. The couple has the chance to read every submission before deciding whether to read it aloud, so they can ensure that their guests don’t bring up any inappropriate memories.
The most important advantage of a written game is that the slips of paper remain even after the wedding. Unlike guest books, which often collect stilted and overly-formal writing, an informal game is more likely to collect the type of memories that are the most meaningful. Keep the slips of paper in a safe place and you will always be able to revisit the fondest wishes of your friends and family on your wedding night.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.