We’re getting married soon, and for the reception while the wedding party gets photos taken we want to put out some board games for the guests to play to pass the hour or so. What kinds of games and setup would work well to make this a success?
Thank you for the inquiry, Zack. I believe I have a few recommendations that will assist you.
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The Long Answer:
Over the weekend, Deanna and I had the pleasure of being guests at the wedding celebration of Tori and Kat, two familiar faces from our exhilarating Gloomhaven live streams. As we prepared ourselves for the joyous occasion, a thought crossed my mind and I couldn’t help but inquire of Deanna, “Do you reckon it would be a grand idea to bring along some games?”.
Tori and Kat, avid gamers, were among our company for the evening. Aware that there were two other individuals who shared our passion for gaming, we speculated that finding more like-minded individuals would prove challenging. Although tempted, I ultimately dismissed the idea. However, during the event, there were instances where I regretted not bringing along a simple card game or perhaps even Azul. Judging from the wedding’s atmosphere, I believe it would have been entirely acceptable.
Now that isn’t quite what Zack is asking for here, but it’s definitely what inspired me to tackle this question today. I was looking through my list of questions and saw this and thought, “Hey this is perfect. We just did the wedding thing this past weekend.” Part of that wedding was a big gap between ceremony and reception and having games for people to play could have been cool.
Surprisingly enough, as fate would have it, a few of our fellow companions decided to embark on an adventurous journey into the realm of Fallout during that brief interlude. On the other hand, I, being firmly rooted in the comfort of my abode, indulged in a riveting session of Carcassonne with my dear friend Sean (a delightful anecdote that I regaled in this week’s edition of Tabletop Gaming Weekly).
In my honest opinion, I believe this idea holds immense potential. However, the challenge lies in deciphering the key to its successful execution. It entails not only selecting the appropriate games but also ensuring that they possess an irresistible allure to entice people. Let’s begin by delving into the latter aspect – exploring innovative ways to make the games captivating and easily approachable. Subsequently, we will delve into a myriad of intriguing game recommendations.
Getting people to play the games at your event:
To encourage active participation in the selected games, it is essential to minimize any factors that may cause intimidation. It is intriguing how gamers possess a peculiar enthusiasm for acquiring knowledge about new games. However, it is important to acknowledge that not everyone shares this sentiment. Most individuals find solace in playing games they are already familiar with, particularly in social settings like weddings, where one encounters a diverse blend of family members and unfamiliar faces. Hence, I believe that the most suitable games for such occasions are the ones we have all grown up playing and have already mastered.
The next step up for that are games that are very simple to learn. Try to pick games that can have their rules summarised on one page or less. Consider putting those rules on an index card or one two sided playing card sized sheet. Something people can pick up and read in moments and know how to play. No one is going to want to read through a rulebook, not at a wedding. They want to have fun and socialize.
It would be even more fantastic to have game enthusiasts present at the event who excel at teaching games. In fact, having multiple game teachers would be even better. Enlist the help of some volunteers to assist you in this endeavor. If it means taking a few minutes to teach Uncle John how to play The Mind a week before the wedding, go for it. As I mentioned earlier when discussing game instruction, everyone learns differently, and reading instructions is not the most preferred method for most individuals. They would much rather have someone demonstrate the game. Additionally, having a dedicated game teacher adds to the social atmosphere of the event. It encourages conversation, laughter, and overall enjoyment, rather than having people simply sit down and read instructions.
To create an enticing ambiance for the games, ensure that they are neatly arranged and visually appealing. Display the cards on the table and have the Jenga tower fully constructed. Keep a concise summary of the rules in plain sight, encouraging people to participate. Ensure that all necessary components for playing are readily available. For games that involve keeping score, have a pencil and score sheet prepared. Prior to the event, make sure to shuffle the decks of cards if needed, and lay out any tiles that need to be placed.
Something not to be overlooked is setting expectations early. Let people know there will be games at the event. Put it right on the invitation. In general, people don’t like surprises. You don’t want them to walk out of the ceremony and be lead into a room filled with tables with games on them thinking: What the heck is this? Now, we’re expected to play games? People are going to be more willing to take a chance if they know what to expect. Start selling it early and assure people they don’t need to know the games. Also, don’t force anyone to play.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is secretly a gamer waiting to be discovered. The reality is that not all individuals enjoy playing games, and it’s perplexing, but it’s the truth. Furthermore, not everyone feels at ease engaging in gaming activities during occasions like weddings. The immense social expectations and the added pressure of playing games, particularly with unfamiliar individuals, can amplify the discomfort experienced in such gatherings.
Picking the right games for your event:
In my previous article, The Short Answer, I mentioned the preference for fast-paced and enjoyable games that are familiar to everyone or require minimal learning. It’s all about creating an atmosphere filled with laughter and enjoyment. This is not the moment to showcase your mastery of complex games like Puerto Rico; instead, it’s a time where you eagerly anticipate the exhilarating shout of “Yahtzee!”
True to tradition, I shall categorize these suggestions and furnish a selection of games within each. Rest assured, this compilation is far from exhaustive.
These are the top games I could think of, but believe me, there are plenty more that are suitable.
Mass market games most people already know and love:
When it comes to weddings, I highly recommend embracing the charm of mass market games. These delightful games hold a unique advantage, as they are widely familiar and evoke cherished childhood memories for many.
Uno – I must confess, this game has truly grown on me. My little ones are absolutely smitten with it. I’ve stashed a deck in the glove compartment of my car, prepared to tackle any unforeseen situation where the kids require some amusement. Uno possesses an indescribable charm with its delightfully competitive spirit, capturing the hearts of countless families and gaming enthusiasts throughout the ages.
Connect 4 – Although I must confess that I’m not particularly fond of this game, whenever I step into a coffee shop and find myself alone with my wife, and there happens to be a ready-to-play Connect Four game, we invariably find ourselves engaged in a match. And more often than not, it doesn’t end at just one round. There’s an inexplicable allure to that azure plastic stand and the straightforwardness of the rules that irresistibly captivates individuals. Place it on display, and I’m willing to wager that it will swiftly become one of the most sought-after games to be played.
Boggle – A game that demands a bit more time and familiarity, so be sure to keep a concise set of rules handy. However, it’s a beloved choice for many. Don’t forget to gather a pad of paper or some index cards and writing utensils. Opt for pens to avoid the hassle of sharpening.
Blokus – This game is not only visually stunning but also incredibly intuitive to grasp and share. Players are provided with their own unique set of tiles and begin strategically positioning them from a corner. Each tile must connect to an existing piece solely through diagonal contact. The objective is to successfully place all of your tiles. It’s as simple as that! Even children can easily teach others how to play, and the vibrant colored tiles and captivating gridded game board never fail to captivate onlookers.
Qwirkle – A game perfect for Scrabble enthusiasts who crave a break from vocabulary challenges and Triple Letter Scores. It’s a game my kids excel at teaching others. The rules are delightfully straightforward, yet the gameplay is incredibly fulfilling. It has become a beloved choice among both avid gamers and casual players, making it a true family treasure.
Party games can work great at a wedding:
A wedding epitomizes the grandest celebration, thus, what could be more fitting than indulging in lively party games? When it comes to such games, my preference leans towards event-style ones. These are the kind of games where points don’t matter, and you simply revel in playing round after round, occasionally switching up the players in between.
Don’t underestimate the sheer delight a group can experience while engaging in the captivating game of Apples to Apples. Place the game on the table, with a handful of cards casually scattered to entice participants to eagerly grasp them and peruse their contents. Offer a concise overview of the rules or arrange for a brief introduction by a knowledgeable individual. However, it is imperative to adhere to the authentic version and refrain from indulging in the more risqué adaptations. Keep in mind that even Grandma might join in on the fun.
Wits & Wagers – The mind game that defies conventional trivia knowledge. The twist lies in the fact that you can wager on either your own response or someone else’s. When faced with a question regarding the 1976 World Series, you can confidently bet on your brother’s sports expertise. Opt for the classic version for intimate gatherings or indulge in the party edition for larger gatherings.
Telestrations – Among all the games I possess, none have induced as much laughter during gameplay. It is a refined rendition of Eat Poop You Cat, where participants are tasked with illustrating something and subsequently passing their drawings to the next player, who must then guess its subject. This guess is then relayed to the subsequent player, who endeavors to depict the initial guess. Rarely does a Telestration book circumnavigate the table intact, with the final clue mirroring the original.
Easy to learn hobby games great for parties:
Love Letter – Although I’m not typically fond of this game, I must confess that it perfectly embodies the theme. While it may require a little effort to teach those unfamiliar with gaming, its mere 18 cards make it incredibly accessible. There’s even a delightful Wedding Edition available. I would even contemplate showcasing it on the table as a thoughtful gift for guests to bring home.
Engage your mind and strategically lay down your cards. It may seem simple, but there’s a catch – silence is golden. Sure, it might seem a tad unsociable at a wedding, but trust me, the no-talking rule only applies during gameplay. In between rounds, there’s an abundance of lively banter and contagious laughter.
Fluxx – Unleash your imagination with the simple instructions of drawing a card and playing a card. Although it may seem straightforward, once you dive into the game, you’ll discover a world of endless possibilities hidden within the cards. No extensive tutorials needed. While it may not be the ideal choice for hardcore gamers, Fluxx thrives in the lively atmosphere of social gatherings like weddings, where the unpredictable and whimsical nature of the game adds a delightful twist to the festivities. With numerous versions available, you can even find a Fluxx edition that perfectly complements the theme of your special day.
Nothing catches people’s attention more than a great dexterity game:
It was only a matter of time before the category that bellhop enthusiasts had been eagerly anticipating arrived. Personally, I have an immense fondness for dexterity games, particularly because they lend themselves flawlessly to occasions like weddings. The thrill they bring, their knack for drawing a captivated audience, and the propensity for eliciting boisterous cheers (or occasional curses) make them an absolute hit.
Jenga – A timeless classic, adored by many. It ranks alongside Connect Four as one of those irresistible games that captivate people. Arrange a cluster of Jenga Towers on tables and anticipation builds. It’s only a matter of time before someone succumbs to the urge to pull a block.
The Hamster Roll – Now, you might require an instructor to acquaint you with this game, simply because it remains relatively unknown to those outside the gaming community, like us. Its simplicity belies the multitude of rules that extend beyond the basic “take a block from the bottom and place it on top.” I have repeatedly extolled the virtues of this game, and with good cause, as it holds the esteemed position of being my preferred game of skill and agility.
Pitchcar – An exhilarating race game designed for a maximum of eight players, where sleek car-shaped crokinole pieces are skillfully flicked across the dynamic track. For optimal enjoyment, it is recommended to have a meticulously arranged track on a convenient tabletop, ensuring accessibility for all participants. Undoubtedly, this captivating game possesses an irresistible allure that effortlessly captivates and entices a mesmerized audience.
Don’t be afraid of having kids games at your party:
It’s quite customary to have children present at weddings. Therefore, it would be wise to arrange some entertaining activities specifically for the little ones. However, to my surprise, these games have proven to be equally captivating for adults. I confess, I have personally indulged in these games on numerous occasions.
Loopin Louie – This game exceeds expectations in terms of enjoyment, considering its playful nature and affordable price of under $20. Employ your flipper skillfully to protect your chickens from Louie and his airborne antics. If your wedding is attended by a crowd of enthusiasts, you might want to explore Loopin Chewie, a Star Wars-themed variant. However, be aware that the quality may be slightly inferior and the game accommodates only three players.
Rhino Hero – Do you recall the joy of constructing card houses using playing cards? Prepare for a whimsical twist on that nostalgic activity. Every round, you carefully add one or two walls to an ever-expanding tower, culminating in placing a roof atop it. The choice of roof dictates the number of walls the subsequent player must strategically position. Beware of the special cards that disrupt the established rules, and anticipate the inevitable moment when someone must ascend the tower with the Super Rhino meeple.
Animal Upon Animal – Take a chance with the dice and seize the wooden creature depicted, then carefully pile it onto the ever-growing tower of delightful animals. Use all your pieces strategically to emerge victorious. This charming game holds a special place in my heart as it was among the earliest additions to my girls’ collection, and even to this day, they find immense pleasure in playing it. Interestingly, it has also become a personal favorite of mine, often enticing me to borrow it for spirited gaming sessions with my fellow enthusiasts.
So those are my thoughts on what you can do to successfully integrate some tabletop gaming with your wedding. Have you ever attended a wedding that had gaming as part of the event? Let me know in the comments below.Output: These are my musings on how you can flawlessly blend tabletop gaming into your special wedding day. Have you ever been a guest at a matrimonial celebration that embraced the joy of gaming? Share your experiences in the comments section below.