Bamboo for Two: A Danceless Reception (A Sidenote)

I wanted to sidetrack for a little bit longer to discuss something that I had been meaning to write about before the wedding but just didn’t know how it would go or what to say.

Our reception did not involve dancing. We had a small private first dance but, as a whole, we chose not to have any dancing as a portion of our reception.

Photo by Lisa Rigby Photography

Our reasoning:

  1. We really aren’t dancing people. We have never gone dancing in public, and we really didn’t want our first time to be at our wedding, especially when we would be required to be leading the whole thing.
  2. Our friends and family aren’t really dancing people either. We are definitely much more of the dinner party type of people, and that’s what we do with our friends and family. We absolutely love having crazy-fancy dinners, and that’s the feel that we wanted to maintain. We didn’t want to try to force people to dance when we didn’t really want to ourselves.
  3. We wanted the opportunity to hang out and talk to everyone that we hadn’t seen in so long, and I never really liked it when the music was too loud to hear anyone else.
  4. We also had a fairly small wedding (around 40 guests) and thought an even tinier dance floor would amplify the awkwardness of it all.

Photo by Lisa Rigby Photography

I recognize that this probably isn’t everyone’s ideal wedding. Walking into it, I had absolutely no idea how it would turn out, and honestly I was afraid that our guests would all hate it. However, as a whole, the response seems to have been fairly positive and it was a lot less stressful for me on the day of.

Photo by Lisa Rigby Photography

I’m sure there is at least one other person in the world who likes this idea and so, for this person, I’m putting up a list of the things that really worked for us to make this happen seamlessly.

  • When we picked out our venue, we chose to find a space that would be intimate for our guest list. Our rationale: If there’s not really empty space, the guests won’t be staring at the empty space waiting for it to turn into a dance floor.
  • We announced on our website/through the grapevine that it was going to be dance free. I don’t really think people used the website, but if they did, they would have known ahead of time what to expect.

Photo by Lisa Rigby Photography

  • We kept our reception short. We didn’t expect people to stay around after dinner was over (though there was an after-party for people to keep hanging out), and we just let the night die out organically. I know people want their reception to be an all night party but, really, we haven’t done that in years. I didn’t want to force it, and it saved us money on the venue rental.

Photo by Lisa Rigby Photography

  • We dragged out dinner to be crazy long. We had an elaborate dinner planned consisting of four distinct courses and an array of food with a family-style main course. Food was meant to be the centerpiece of our reception, and I think it was. The food and drinks just kept on coming and gave people the time to relax and us time to actually talk to people.

Photo by Lisa Rigby Photography

What didn’t really work:

  • Seating arrangements. The room layout wasn’t exactly what I had been told it would look like and, thus, people weren’t clustered like I had planned. People are apparently a bit shy about getting up, and if they had been arranged a little differently, I think people would have felt more OK with getting up and chatting with others not at their table.
  • Yeah, I think that’s it.

I’m really glad we ended up doing it this way. I have so many great memories of our reception. It was relaxed and fun, and I loved catching up with everyone, as well as the time we spent at the sweetheart table alone. Also, we got a chance to eat and the food was delicious! I’m not saying a no dance reception is for everyone, but I think it worked really well for us.

Anyone else planning a danceless reception? How did it work for you?

Miss a recap? Previously:


Mrs. Panda

Boston, MA
Wedding Date:
June 2013
Ready for Our Closeup
Classifieds: December 3, 2013
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  1. Member
    purpledaisies 1130 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:19 am

    I actually really love this idea! Thanks for sharing. I will be taking notes and I’m glad to know that it can work well. :-)

  2. roadtrip Member
    roadtrip 803 posts, Busy bee @ 11:35 am

    Ours worked out very well. No one seemed to miss the dancing and we had a great time chatting with our guests.

  3. Member
    bridesmomma 476 posts, Helper bee @ 11:54 am

    I think it sounded great! (and I love to dance). I think your reception fit your venue & personalities just perfectly!

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    Vanessa, Guest @ 12:29 pm

    I’m happy you’re a blogger to show everyone else out there that dancing at your wedding IS NOT NECESSARY! we didn’t have dancing either for exactly all of your reasons! AND we planned our day around more eating and visiting with family/friends cross country because dancing was removed. Wasn’t missed in the least, even by our more dance-happy friends.

  5. Member
    whitemochi622 629 posts, Busy bee @ 1:09 pm

    We’re not planning on dancing at our reception either, for the very same reasons (and a few others). We’re really limited in space at our venue, too! But we’ve got other great things in the works–we have a reception “program”… planning to have a slideshow set to music, a few videos made by friends shown, and maybe even some more special musical numbers by our talented musical friends for a touch of live music. Definitely think if you’re not a dancing couple–no need to force yourself to dance at your wedding! It should be totally YOU!

  6. Member
    cosmo_gmr 488 posts, Helper bee @ 1:22 pm

    Really loved your pics in this post!

  7. msfilly Member
    Mrs. Filly 827 posts, Busy bee @ 2:41 pm

    If you guys aren’t dancers, you shouldn’t feel obligated to have a big, dancey wedding. I think your classy, fancy dinner party was perfect! According to these pictures, it looks like everyone had a fantastic time, dancing or no dancing.

  8. genie Member
    genie 723 posts, Busy bee @ 4:47 pm

    Honestly, the intimate feel and happiness from your wedding just oozes from your photos, and I think that dancing would not have made it any more joyous. Every photo looks gorgeous, by the way. You definitely put on a swoon-worthy soiree.

  9. Member
    kirabee 1240 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:43 pm

    How did the family-style dinner work out? I’d love to hear about that. I’m getting catering quotes right now and it seems like a lot of caterers aren’t really into it…

  10. panda Member
    Mrs. Panda 1359 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:56 pm

    @kirabee: I thought it worked really well, though I think some of the food came out in streams rather than all at once. Not that I really noticed… Our caterer was a bit hesitant at the idea at first, but it was something that we were insistent on. It was more expensive than having a fully plated dinner for us since additional plates had to be rented, but I think it was totally worth it. I mean I understand why caterers don’t like it–it’s hard to gauge how much food will be eaten and you have to have extra food, but I really, really loved it!

  11. panda Member
    Mrs. Panda 1359 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:47 pm

    thank you everyone for the support! =)

    @purpledaisies: @Mrs. Road Trip: @bridesmomma: @Vanessa: @emeraldz12: I am so glad that other people are considering this option and that it worked well for others!

    @Mrs. Genie: aww thank you! Though I have to give most of the credit to my amazing photographer!

    @cosmo_gmr: thank you =) it was really hard to narrow down the pictures!

  12. msbicycle Member
    msbicycle 718 posts, Busy bee @ 5:57 am

    If you aren’t dance people then having a dance-free reception makes perfect sense! We are dance people so it was a must for us :)

  13. pyramid Member
    Mrs. Pyramid 104 posts, Blushing bee @ 11:39 am

    This is a great post. I definitely think every reception doesn’t involve dancing, and you did all the things right to make it comfortable. The time of day, the room, the size, and amount of food really set that atmosphere for you. I hope this helps someone who wants something similar, because I think you executed just perfectly!

  14. Guest Icon Guest
    Samantha, Guest @ 9:50 pm

    I’m having a danceless reception too. Pretty much for all the same reasons as you too. We’re having a brunch wedding and reception so I hope people get that that means no dancing. What are your recommendations for seating/ table set up that might encourage people to get up and mingle?

  15. panda Member
    Mrs. Panda 1359 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:12 am

    @Samantha: To be honest, I’m not completely sure how to set up the seating and tables to encourage people to get up and mingle. I tried to put groups of people who would know each other at the same table or in the table next to them, but the tables weren’t where I thought they were going to be. I’m thinking possibly a game maybe? I know one bee had different flavored wedding cake on each table, and guests had to go to bargain with other tables for the flavor they want.

  16. mswaterfall Member
    Mrs. Waterfall 1403 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:06 pm

    We are also big dancing peo

  17. mswaterfall Member
    Mrs. Waterfall 1403 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:07 pm

    We are also big dancing people, so dancing was a big priority for us. Of course, to each her own! Your dance less reception looks very classy and pretty!

  18. gondola Member
    gondola 1046 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:46 pm

    I would have loved to have had a dance less reception but my family was like no- way! I’m glad yours went well!

  19. Member
    swoo 55 posts, Worker bee @ 3:42 pm

    I am not much of a dancer, either, and have always felt awkward about the dancing part of the wedding. Thanks for sharing your story – it made me realize that a danceless reception may be the way to go!

  20. Member
    lealorali 4827 posts, Honey bee @ 6:30 am

    Is that Mrs. Camel in that one photo?!!!

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