A wedding with no dancing?

I’m getting married next year and I have agreed to “do it right” this time instead of just schlepping down to the courthouse and getting it over with like last time.

So apparently there’s got to be this…party…ceremony type…thing. In case you can’t tell, a traditional wedding isn’t really my cup of tea. It’s in the very early planning stages at this point, and all I’ve really determined is that I don’t want to have it in a church. So we’ll find a place, and we’ll serve some food…okay, doesn’t sound too hard…but then I suppose we’ll have to do something with all these people afterward. Does it have to be dancing?

My fiance’ and I don’t listen to any type of music that lends itself well to dancing, and we are darn well not going to subject anyone to the usual(?) sort of crap you might expect to hear at a wedding (I dunno, Whitney Houston or something?) I could perhaps get down and boogie if it were somebody *else’s * wedding, but I feel that if I can get through the ceremony and reception without barfing from stress it’ll be a miracle. The hiring of a band or a deejay just seems like a pain in the ass I could do without (as does lots of this other stuff, but I digress).
Is there any way I can avoid the whole issue, say by providing something *else * that old people can do?

Oh, I love dancing. I’d seriously miss it, and be sad. :frowning:


You are reading my mind tonight. I nearly added a line specifically ruling out karaoke and shuffleboard!

Well, how about games? Simple ones.

And karoke would have been my next suggestion, even though I loathe it. :slight_smile:

Stand around and talk, sorta like a cocktail party? That’s what we did. Alcohol helped.

I hate weddings. That being said, I’ve filmed my share and attended others.

Dancing isn’t necessary, nor is alcohol (at first). When there’s enough food to go around and a little background music, one can have a very nice and low-key reception.

If you feel inclined, get one of your friends to put together a stack of cds and dj your wedding (you may have to rent some sound equipment if no one has a properly large stereo). Their choices, of course, would be subject to your final review. If you need someone to work pro bono, surprise/bribe them with a nice bottle of wine or liquor or tickets to a show…what have you. No such thing as a free lunch.

A reception can move just fine with the traditional speeches, cake cutting, blah blah blah, yackity smackity, and no dances.

Bottoom line: It’s your reception, your decision. I assume you’re covering the cost. Whoever bankrolls the deal gets to make the decisions.

Two big bowls of punch, one spiked with vodka and one straight punch. Cake, whores d’ ovaries and some cubed watermelon and you’re all set.

Let 'em talk until they tire of it, then your mom, sis, bil; whosomever is running the thing can chase 'em off and close the place down after an hour or two.

Maybe skipping the dancing is a good thing. I claimed a dance with my new daughter in law after my son’s wedding, and she dragged him over afterwards and told him he should take lessons from his dad.
Got their marriage off to a great start, and he’s never quite forgiven me for that. :smiley:

eh, depends who you talk to.

ours, coming up 5 weeks from today, is a backyard deal - we both get dressed up, i walk, we say our vows, set aside maybe 10 minutes for obligatory pictures (no photographer), and then we’re changing into jeans and ALL of us are having copious amounts of barbecue.

i have gotten no shortage of grief from, well, just about everyone on this, because apparently choosing not to have a DJ and photographer (and dance floor for that matter, unless someone wants to brave FIL’s treacherously uneven backyard) is treason, or something.

what a long sentence. sorry about that.

and FWIW, the few weddings i’ve gone to that HAD dancing, no one was really doing it voluntarily. if you’re not comfortable with it, don’t worry about it.

and i second “you’re paying; you call the shots”. people will give you a hard time, make no mistake about that, but…it’s what YOU want that matters. :slight_smile:

I also want to say, as much as I like dancing, I would say do whatever you wanted.

It’s just that I couldn’t imagine in my culture, *not * dancing.

Lady Mung had a fantastic idea a while back and we’re committed to it now. When we eventually get hitched we’re going to have an early afternoon snack-reception. This will allow us to shmooze with family friends, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc.

The REAL party will come later. We’re going to rent a nice, big hotel room for all our friends and relatives that are our age. We’ll try to get everyone to chip in a little bit for the room and a little bit for the HUGE amount of alcohol we will supply. Then we all party 'til dawn and sleep where we fall.

Now THAT’S a reception.

I didn’t have dancing at my reception. It was held at my MOH’s house, for one. Second, we had more kids under the age of 12 there than adults. They were perfectly happy romping around in her backyard.

What we did was have CD background music, mostly classical.

If we did have dancing, I don’t think anyone would’ve joined in because all of us were too busy eating and drinking :smiley:

What are you into? Think outside the box a little.

You could have a casino type thing (local laws allowing) and either gamble with chips, monopoly money or pennies (or actual money if you think it would be ok). Nothing OTT, just Roulette, poker, blackjack etc. If a few of your friends are willing to croupier, it’ll cut down on costs too.

If gambling isn’t your thing, then Twister, Monopoly, Scrabble, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuits, Jenga, Kerplunk, that kind of stuff.

Erect a screen and show your favourite movie (copyright laws allowing). Serve popcorn, movie sweets and hotdogs.

If you’re planning an outdoor wedding somewhere scenic, organise a scavenger hunt or guided nature walk (dress code and weather permitting).

Find some alternative entertainment like a magician or dancers.

Hire a trained bartender and have a proper cocktail bar, play some Compilation CDs and serve cocktail nibbles.

Move the party to the dogtrack after the cocktail hour (again assuming you have a reasonably classy dogtrack in the vicinity and that gambling isn’t a problem).

If there is a themepark, fairground, carnival or somewhere with rollercoasters and rides nearby, why not go there? Give your guests a roll of tickets for the rides as a favour.
Ok, some of those are pretty mad ideas, but you might be able to make something out of them. Remember if you’re not hiring a band you can use that chunk of the budget on something else…you may as well make it something memorable!

My sister had a very traditional formal wedding last spring. My brother-in-law doesn’t know how to dance and is very uncomfortable pretending he does, so there was no dancing at the reception. Unless someone was specifically looking forward to it, I doubt anyone even noticed it. Going through the elaborate buffet, meeting relatives and friends from the other side, cutting the cake, doing the toasts, tossing the bouquet (our seven-year-old baby sister caught it!) all passed the time just fine, as others have said. It was enormously fun and very successful. (And the marriage seems to be going the same way!)

My wife and I rented a bed & breakfast for the weekend. We asked immediate family and a few very close friends to stay the weekend, while the other guests just came for the ceremony and reception (held outdoors on Saturday, late-morning). One of my wife’s relatives made a stink about our plans to not have a dance floor; my wife capitulated. The only times it actually got used: a well-defined place for the ceremony to take place and our dance. Total waste of money.

As for what to do at the reception – we approached it as a bringing together of two families. The bar, food, a bocce ball set, and a CD player were really all that were necessary (we put together six CDs of music, which we made copies of and gave out as presents). Very low key and casual (no seating arrangement), which I think led to a more social gathering.

I think, in retrospect, the only thing I’d have changed is to not get the dance floor.

I’ve worked a lot of weddings in my past, and the majority of them didn’t have dancing. Mostly this was because the place I worked didn’t really have room for it, it was always awkward when people did have it. But everyone always seemed to have a good time.

I’ve also been a guest at several receptions with no dancing, and really no extra entertainment was needed. We sat around and talked with people we hadn’t seen for a long time while the bride’s cd player (set on random) provided background music.

IMHO, unless you want to do something special, cocktails and some nice background music are really all that’s neccesary. In fact, lots of times weddings involve people meeting each other for the first time and people meeting after not having seen each other for a long time and wantin to catch up, so all the extra stuff is really a distraction from the things people really want to do. Get a few hours of whatever you favor for quiet background music and leave it at that.

I agree–sure, some people feel like it’s not really a reception without dancing, but just ignore them. I’ve been at several weddings, including my own, with no dancing, and everybody managed to have a good time anyway. We had our reception on a boat, which definitely doesn’t lend itself to dancing; I created a mix CD to play at the reception and burned copies to give to the guests as favors (this obviously only works well if you have a small guest list, but it was really well received). Everybody just mingled and talked and looked at the water and it was all good.

Some of the receptions have been to without dancing have included…

A cruise through the inner harbor on one of those giant retro sailboat things.

A pig picking at a nearby farm with pony rides for kids, volleyball, hay rides, and other activities.

Barbeque and bonfires on the beach.

Cocktail party type things.

I am all for the trend toward more casual weddings/receptions. And if I were going to do it again, there would just be a short ceremony followed by a huge barbeque and lots of alcohol.

A wedding I attended recently went too far though (at least in my opinion):

It was pot luck. (Yeah, please come to my wedding…bring me a gift…and while you’re at it, could you bring the food too?).

If money was that tight, I thought they would have been better off to just have cake and punch and leave it at that.

We had karaoke at our rehearsal dinner. It was a HUGE hit - people are still talking about it a year later.

I wouldn’t rule out karaoke just yet.

And you can certainly have a wedding without dancing, but if you think you have to just because of the kind of music you prefer, not necessarily. We’re both into swing/big band, and I’m a huge musical theatre nut. Most of our music was swing and big band, and we threw in a few Broadway tunes that one can dance to - and our dance floor was packed the whole night. You can skip the DJ or the band, and burn your own CDs to play - just put someone in charge of changing them. No biggie - I’ve had a few friends do this at their own weddings, and it’s worked out great because they’ve had control over every song.

If you don’t have dancing, you could do just a cocktail reception - drinks, hors d’oeuvres, cut the cake, have some toasts, let people mull around. We attended a very nice wedding on a Sunday morning that was just like this - they had a string quartet playing in the background and it was lovely. They just wanted a simple, quiet reception, and it worked perfectly for them. Do what you want - it’s your wedding, and not having dancing is not, and should not, be offensive to anyone - if it is, that’s their own problem.


I would go with the cocktail reception idea or one of irishgirl’s ideas. (I personally would dig playing Scrabble in my wedding gown!) Weddings in my family don’t have dancing–one side is Baptist, and one side is Pentecostal, and neither of those are dancing kind of folk, which is probably good, because none of us have the slightest bit of rhythm. In fact, I’m so used to wedding receptions without dancing that it seems odd to be at one where there is dancing.

Have fun and try not to stress too much, whatever you decide.