Wedding Reception Forum

Encouraging guests to mingle

How do I do this? The way the tables are set up for the reception, it's almost like FI's family is all on one side of the room and my family is all on the other side. Is there anything I can do to encourage our families to mingle and interact with each other? I was thinking some sort of game or scavenger hunt that could start during the cocktail hour, but I have no ideas. We have about 65 guests attending.

Re: Encouraging guests to mingle

  • I know its countdown time, not trying to make any additional stress, but can you rearrange the seating to each table, half of your peeps and half of his at each table? Table for college friends, table for aunt and uncles, etc.? They can start with with who knows who and how.
  • Don't try to force people to interact. They're adults, they can mingle and talk on their own.
  • When I go to a wedding I'm far more interested in hanging out with my family members or friends that I haven't seen in awhile than meeting the other's person distant great aunt twice removed.

    Don't force mingling with games or (seriously) mixing up the tables to force cross talking.  Adults understand how to socialize and will have a blast with whomever they would like to talk to.
  • edited April 2012
    So that it's not "his family on one side, mine on another", why not alternate tables? 

    Example:  his family (table1) his family (table 2) your family (table 3) your family (table4)

    you can do this for every other table or every two tables. 

    This creates the illusion that it is not one-sided, but it also doesn't "force" anyone to mingle.  Family or friends will still be at their table with other family/friends they know.

    Looking at your ticker, you are an IR couple?  I am as well, so it definitely helps the room not look segregated if you alternate the tables as I suggested.

    And have a great wedding as you are a week away!
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Your heart is in the right spot.  You are getting married and you want everyone to be friends with each other.  I get it.

    But like Joy I prefer to spend time with the family and friends I don't get to see very often than my cousin's new husband's second cousin who lives on the other side of the country from me. KWIM?

    Keep this in mind:  

    * people will mingle during the cocktail hour and at the bars

    * During dinner people are going to only socialize with those at their table.  It's just easier because  your back is to the other tables.  Mixing up the tables is not going to change that.  

    * People will mingle again on the dance floor, bars, smoking area if you have one, etc.

    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • We put people at tables that had things in common.  Most of the families were set at tables with eachother but the tables were mixed in the room (as in, one family wasn't sat on one side of the room and the other on the other side).  That's about all you can do.  Some people are natural talkers and some aren't, you can force the situation.
    Ignorance is a poor defense. Image and video hosting by TinyPic
  • Don't force people to mingle.  It will happen naturally.  You may create uncomfort if you start putting everyone at tables with strangers just so they meet new people.
      Image and video hosting by TinyPic Lilypie First Birthday tickers
  • My personal rule of thumb is family first and friends next as far as seating goes.  The families should be closest to the bride/groom and so on.

    People will mingle naturally like PP said.  It's a wedding and it's the perfect setting for people to come out of their shell a little bit and mingle with friends/family and even meet new people along the way.  Don't force this and don't overthink it....just let it happen naturally.  Kind of like having a big cookout and how everything just flows together, like that...but with a gorgeous bride with all the bells & whistles of a wedding.


  • Thank you everyone for the suggestions. You're right, I should just let it happen. I will probably end up leaving the table assignments as they are and just mixing the tables amongst each other.
    @littleluckypenny: I am definitely trying to avoid the segregated look that you referred to. Thanks, and I see you're quite close as well. Enjoy! 
  • I am doing the exact opposite you - putting my family tables all together and his family tables all together (friends interspersed a bit) so that our families can catch up with each other who they haven't seen in a while, but it depends on what the goal of your reception is and what you want to happen :)
  • It's lovely that you want everyone to mingle, but don't let it bother you too much.  Things I would suggest would be
    1)Mingling will naturally happen at the rehearsal dinner if you don't schedule things too rigidly.  Allow time for cocktails and mingling that night.  If it isn't too late, have the rehearsal dinner somewhere where there is room to move around (someone's home, or a venue with space rather than a busy restaurant). 
    2)games during cocktail hour are great but don't force it.  Maybe put out some croquet or bocce.  People who enjoy that sort of thing will gravitate toward it and meet the likeminded people from your FH's family.
    3)Are you having a brunch the next morning?  My mother is throwing a backyard brunch while I open my gifts the next morning for anyone interested in eating/continuing the celebration/getting a gander at my gifts/curing their hangover with bacon and a sidecar.
    At my sister's wedding, this is when I did my most mingling because all the stress of the wedding was over, and it was an informal garden party.
  • There's always the dance floor... People who like to mingle and meet people will do so and find other people who also enjoy that ... People who keep more to themselves will probably do just that ...

    We are having a neighbor table, friend table, friends parents table, his church family , my church family kinda mixed together .
    Love is All You Need
  • Don't worry about it. As other posters said, it will happen naturally. People will meet up during cocktails, at the bar, on the dance floor, etc. Besides, you will be so busy at your reception with photographs, talking to people, and trying to eat, you probably will not notice :-)
  • Why not put half your family and your FI family together at one table?

  • ours is a vintage wedding, and we will have photos of our relatives from the 1930s-1940s at their wedding/a wedding event. each photo will be a part of the centerpiece on each different table. people can go around from table to table and see who is featured :)
    Visit The Knot! Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • oOur families have not even really met each other so our  DJ actually suggested a neat game to play during cocktail hour / reception. We are going to have "Famous Couples " for example : Peanut Butter and Jelly... someone will get peanut butter and someone will get jelly.... they have to meet up and mingle.... and whatever couple finds each other first will win a prize.. you could also do " Bridal triva" where you list questions about each other and people have to ask around to get the answers and whoever fills it out first .... wins.... You could put the trivia questions in your programs so the guests will have them and be intrigued....
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