Why More Weddings Should Have Games

By Jaime Woo

One of the traditions I wish more Western weddings would borrow from the Chinese is the playing of games during the reception. Weddings are often static—by the time dessert has been served, guests are either wound up, ready for dancing, or drained from having sat for so long, grabbing their jackets and headed for the door. Games provide an opportunity for guests to get into the action, or at least have something more to do than be speech receptacles.

Guests get to feel like part of the action and—if you'll allow me to play armchair psychologist—this might stem from the community-based perspective of Eastern culture. By contrast, most Western weddings feel like a show, a spotlight on the individual. (Well, specifically, the bride.) I enjoy that games providing a channel for the marrying couple to engage with their beloved ones, beyond the requisite dancing at the end.

The trick to a good wedding game is making sure it is simple enough anyone can play. If a game is too complicated, people become afraid that they will get confused, looking foolish in the process, and won't bother trying. A game should focus on chance over a special talent, as people willing to play are acting as good sports in front of sometimes strange audience, and few want to get embarrassed by their lack of skill. Group games are advantageous in that they allow a larger number of participants, which provides variety and can be more entertaining. Lastly, it should be a game that children and adults can both play, since sometimes latter need the former to feel the permission to join in the fun.

Here are a few games I've seen play out well. The classic children's game Musical Chairs can be a crowd-pleaser with lots of motion and the tension of watching people fight over chairs. Another popular game has the bride (or groom) blindfolded while being kissed on the hand or cheek and having to correctly pick out their new spouse from the guests. Getting guests closer than they'd expect is also the impetus for Pass The Orange, where teams of guests stand in a chain and try to pass citrus fruits tucked under their chins down the line.

With a deep love of games, I'd like to introduce some additions beyond the popular classics. Here are three games to play starting with the doable and quickly moving to the insane.

Dance Central Flash Mob: There's something satisfying about seeing a sea of your relatives and friends dancing along to Lady Gaga's Marry The Night. I would project the game onto a screen and have everyone follow along. And since there are specified moves, some folks too normally shy to dance might feel confident enough to join in the festivities.

Plinko: There is really only one game for me on The Price Is Right and it is Plinko, where players drop discs along a pegged board and hope it lands in a high-moneyed slot. Weddings are the time when folks spend a ridiculous amount of money on an event, so why not go all out with a Plinko replica? I have no idea what the prices would be—probably ridiculous actions for the wedded couple to do—but it would be an unforgettable event.

Hunger Games Wedding Game: Okay, maybe this one wouldn't work so well, but at least it would test how much the bride and groom actually want to be together. Have them be representatives for their district and pit them against two members from each table in the reception. Since no one wants a Red Wedding, I guess actual weapons shouldn't be used, but then the idea would really lose a lot in translation, wouldn't it? Fine, fine, tie balloons around their feet and run around trying to stomp each other's out. Just don't cry to me when there's no blood on the dance floor.