It may have taken you 15 phone calls and 12 tastings to find just the perfect cioppino, 22 days to find a bartender you felt fully captured your essence in a flawless custom cocktail, and you may have had to book your ideal venue 34 months ahead of time. However, if you find you’re searching for yet another unique way to set your reception dinner apart, an unexpected entertainment option may be the surefire solution for making your celebration absolutely unforgettable.

The reception dinner is a time to eat, drink, and be merry. Depending on how you’ve arranged your seating, guests can catch up with old friends or even make completely new ones. Traditionally, delicious food options are paired with a band or DJ playing subtle background music intended to encourage socializing among guests before the excitement of the reception activities. But for couples perhaps looking for more than a set of moderately tempoed tunes to accompany their reception dinner, some offbeat entertainment options can keep guests guessing, cheering, or even clucking like a chicken.

Your dinner entertainment may be a little different from the entertainment choices you’ll make for other aspects of the celebration. Artists or actors will have a seated, semi-rapt audience in which to cater to. Performers can’t be easily distracted by chatter–as guests will likely be talking amongst themselves–and should be able to perform fluidly and constantly over an extended stretch of time.

As with all of your other entertainment choices, make sure to account for the temperament of your audience, you and your soon-to-be’s ideas, and your overall theme before making your decision.

One-Acts

Whether you choose the most exciting act of your favorite play, a famous one-act, a dramatized reenactment of your love story, or a performance written by a close friend or family member, a theatrical staging can be the perfect fit for any affair. The beauty of one-acts lies in their length and their diversity. No matter what your wedding’s theme, there’s a performance that can blend effortlessly into your concept. Play up an enchanting, nature-infused, romantic ambiance with an act from "A Midsummer’s Night Dream" or pay homage to a personal hero by pulling some theatrical inspiration from Tennessee Williams. Just be careful not to “break a leg,” and the evening should be everything you’ve imagined.

Mystery Dinner Theater

Who doesn’t love mysteries? Or at least a little intrigue à la Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich? Consider hosting a troupe of actors at your reception dinner to stage a murder mystery during your meal. Picture it. Your guests have just finished their fennel, endive, and truffle oil salad. As the servers are clearing guests’ plates, the room plunges into darkness. A high-pitched screech erupts from the blackness. As the lights flash back on–oh, the horror! A waiter lies, splayed on the floor, a knife in his back! And that’s when the real fun begins as the actors take the floor and present a real-life, noir-inspired mystery guests would swear came right out of a hard-boiled fiction novel.

Hypnotists

While there is some skepticism surrounding stage hypnosis shows, a successful and reputable hypnotist can surely put on an entertaining act. Perfect for offbeat celebrations, hypnotists can have your Aunt Martha barking like a dog or your mother-in-law transforming into a “coffee table” right before your very eyes. Just try not to make guests laugh too hard–especially if you're serving food simultaneously–and make sure your hypnotist picks participants who won’t mind getting a little silly. You wouldn’t want your cousin Anna to stop speaking to you because she heard that the hypnotist had her flexing her muscles like an oversized bodybuilder.

Medieval

Invite guests to the most famous round table in history with medieval-inspired dinner entertainment. Exactly how you incorporate your knightly diversions will depend on your available space, your budget, and how involved you’d like performers to get. Have unlimited resources? Don’t think twice about hosting your very own jousting tournament while you and your guests feast on fare fitting of the time. Consider a few court jesters to keep your royal highnesses properly entertained and a handful of minstrels to bring music to your ears. Give the lords and ladies in attendance the regal entertainment they deserve and they shalt not forget the jolly time they’re sure to have.

From a slow set list to a few scenes from The Sound of Music, guests are sure to love whatever dinner entertainment options you choose as long as they’re truly you. So don’t be afraid to add a little silliness or even a little tragedy to create a night packed with just a few of your favorite things.

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