In several previous posts I have promised to write about incorporating games into your wedding celebration. I know that the idea of playing a game is frowned upon by many brides and professionals alike, just as I used to feel the same. Words such as tacky, corny or cheesy came to mind when I’d think of playing a game at a wedding reception. It was not until recently that I had the opportunity to work with Megan and Matthias, that my perception has changed. Matthias, his family and friends are from Germany and it was very important to him and Megan to incorporate some German traditions into their celebration. As German tradition has it, games were played. Their wedding was held at one of New Jersey’s most Magnificent wedding venues, Mallard Island Yacht Club. There is nothing cheesy about this place and yet playing a game was a highlight of the reception. Cheers for Matthias and Megan for bringing a little German tradition to America and thank you for opening my eyes to the possibilities.
Before I spouted my thoughts here I was compelled to do a little research about German weddings, paying close attention to the “games”. I think that part of the issue I used to have with the idea of playing games is the term games. The truth is that the term is used loosely to describe activities, fun events or symbolic ceremonies that are traditional in many parts of the world. Just as the Chinese have a Tea Ceremony, Jewish weddings usually involve the Hora, German weddings have games. In many countries it is traditional to play games. Germans have taken the idea of games and included some “games” that are near pranks such as setting multiple alarm clocks in the bridal suite or taking apart the bed in the bridal suite. You have to smile when you think of these stunts. However, the less mischievous games for all to enjoy seemed more relevant to my research.
One tradition I have read much about is the cutting of the heart. A huge heart is drawn on a giant piece of paper. The bride and groom are challenged with cutting out the heart with a tiny pair of scissors. Once the Heart has been completely cut out, the couple climbs through the heart with cheers from their guests. Another well-known traditional ceremony the Germans perform is the cutting of the log. A log is set up on a set of sawhorses and the bride and groom are given a two man saw to cut through the log, symbolizing their strength together to work through the challenges of life. Another interesting “game” played by the Germans is the kidnapping of the bride, taking her away from the reception and leaving it up to the groom to find her. With the short length of wedding receptions in the United States, this would be an unlikely candidate to be worked into a wedding, but given it’s popularity in Germany it’s worth mention.
The most exciting idea I discovered through my research was the Group Art project. Less a game than an activity, this wins my vote as a tradition that is worth consideration regardless of what your background it. The most inspiring example I found was in a blog called German Way. A canvas is set up somewhere at the reception and guests are given instruction on how to help create a piece of art to be hung in the home of the newlywed couple. The Canvas can be divided into sections and the instructions could be to paint a heart and personalize it or certain guests can be given squares from a painting to interpret on a square of the canvas. This one activity has so many exciting possibilities and can be personalized in so many ways. I’m confident that something like this would not take away from the reception. Rather, it would add to the lasting memories and uniqueness of your special day. Here’s a picture of a guest enjoying the unique experience and a shot of a finished painting.
Lastly, with the permission of Megan and Matthias I present to you one of the games planned to bring some German Tradition into their celebration. It is a scavenger hunt of sorts. I have played this game at some corporate events and kids parties. Thanks to the bride’s sister, with a little sprucing up and tweaks, this game went over as one of the highlights of the party! First, I must draw your attention to the cards that are hung behind the bride and groom. These hand made cards were crafted specifically for the wedding day. This helped to ease up on the idea of a game being cheesy. Second, the game was presented by the bride’s sister with the help of a friend, another interesting way to make this more acceptable. (In Germany the games are usually presented by friends or family as opposed to the entertainment host). T1here is a difference between a guest’s perception of a DJ playing a game and a family member preparing for and presenting a fun activity… As the DJ, I contributed by introducing the activity, it’s background, and by providing exciting song clips for the game. Here’s the way it works. A specific group of guests was predetermined by the couple ahead of time to ensure that the game was played by people who would get into it and have fun with it. These guests were invited to sit in a row of chairs that was placed in the middle of the room. The game host (the bride’s sister in this case) read an item form a list. The contestants had to leave their chair, embark on a fast paced journey through the reception to locate and return to their chair with the item. While gone, a chair was removed, so that the last to return to their chair was left standing. This guest would take one of the cards from behind the bride and groom and read aloud to the room what they won. Most of the cards read something like “You get to wash Megan and Matthias’s car upon their return from their honeymoon!” or “You have to visit Megan and Matthias on the first of the New Year!” The last person in the chair could win an actual prize to stick to the tradition of winning the game.
I know what some of you are thinking… cheese, corn, etc. Being there, in the moment, at one of the most upscale wedding venues and a dream wedding for most, it was nothing short of a blast. There’s no rule book that says you can’t have fun at your wedding. Don’t get stuck thinking that the only way to have fun is dancing. Especially here on the east coast, where sit down dinners perpetuate the challenge of dancing in between courses and lead the way for an “up-down” momentum, maybe adding some extra entertainment might be a fun way to create some lasting memories for you and your guests.