37 Easy, Cheap (Or Free!) Ways To Wow Your Guests
In This Booklet You Will Learn:
• How to use the Wow Effect to engage your guests so that they have more fun.
• The easiest, cheapest ways to make your wedding totally you.
• How to find your unique Wow Factor to create a wedding that really represents you.
• 37 ways to wow your guests with a unique, unforgettable wedding.
The Wow Effect
When I was planning my wedding, I didn’t need the most expensive dress or huge, elaborate floral centerpieces.
I really just wanted a fun day surrounded by my closest family and friends in a beautiful location that was totally me and left my guests saying, “Wow! That was the best wedding EVER.”
At first I didn’t think that was possible on my budget. I thought it took lots of money to come up with something unique and memorable.
Fortunately for me I was wrong.
What you don’t know and what the wedding industry doesn’t tell you is that you can have a day filled with personal, unique touches that really say something about you. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
The secret is what I call the “Wow Effect.”
Have you ever walked into a beautiful, historic building or climbed to the top of a hill with a gorgeous view or heard such powerful music that you just lost your words for a minute? It’s like you were so absolutely overwhelmed by what you saw, heard or felt that it just blew you away.
That’s the Wow Effect.
“Wow” is that overwhelming moment of appreciation when you’re so moved that you can’t even express it.
When your guests experience the Wow Effect at your wedding they won’t just be impressed they’ll really “get” who you are and why you choose this wedding day, this location, this man.
The Wow Effect is like a magic trick that casts a spell over your guests, transporting them to another world your world and makes them a part of it.
Your guests are wowed when your wedding is a totally unique expression of you.
One of my brides explained it like this:
She and her fiancé poured a tremendous amount of energy into remodeling and decorating their new house. They spent hours painting and picking out just the right furniture, lights and accessories. It was a labor of love. When her parents finally came to visit, they took a long tour of the house and said, “Wow! This house is just totally you.”
After all the time, money and energy she’d spent planning the wedding of her dreams that’s what she wanted her guests to say.
“This wedding is totally unique totally you.” That’s the experience your guests get when you “wow” them.
It’s vitally important to wow your guests so that they experience your wedding as unique
and totally unforgettable. The bonus is that when they “get” who you are, they become connected and involved¼which means they have more FUN.
If you don’t wow your guests, they won’t understand that your wedding is totally you. Your wedding will be just like every other cookie-cutter wedding they’ve attended.
But when you wow your guests, they’ll be impressed. You’ll see it on their faces and
they’ll say things like, “This is the best wedding I’ve ever been to!”
On the other hand, if you don’t wow your guests they might end up leaving your reception early and telling people they had just an “okay” time.
Wowing your guests gives you the power to create a wedding that really represents who you are. You can literally influence your guests to have a good time.
If you don’t wow your guests, not only does your wedding not represent you¼you’re powerless to get your guests to having a good time.
The Wow Effect happens in a group when you have people involved, connected and
engaged in what’s going on.
The key to the Wow Effect is something called engagement.
I’m not talking about the kind of engagement that happened to you when your guy got
down on one knee, popped the question, and you said yes.
Engage means “to occupy the attention of someone” or “to attract and please.” It’s what happens when you’re really into what you’re doing.
This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the
here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play. — Alan Watts
You’ve probably experienced this type of engagement or the lack of it many times.
For example, can you remember a time when you were given a group assignment in school
you just weren’t into it? Your teacher probably assigned a topic and forced you do follow the
rules. It’s likely that your group struggled through the assignment because you didn’t want to
get a bad grade¼but nobody enjoyed it.
It sucked because you were NOT engaged. The group wasn’t involved or interested because the assignment had nothing to do with them.
Now if your teacher had gotten your group engaged, it could have looked like this:
You get assigned to the same group. You’re still not into it at first. But instead of telling
you what to do, your teacher engages you by asking what you think. He asks you to come up
with your own topic. Suddenly the whole group is interested and actively participating. And
you even end up having fun.
So what happened? Engagement.
The same thing will happen at your wedding. When your guests are engaged and involved
in the events of your wedding, they get active and interested. They have FUN¼and so do you.
The more you involve your guests, the more it works, and the more unique and fun your wedding becomes.
There are three levels on which you can engage your guests: PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, and EMOTIONALLY. And guess what? None of them are expensive.
1) Engage them in ACTION. You can do this by inviting them to participate in a reading,
performance, or a group activity.
2) Engage them in THOUGHT. Challenge their minds with a quiz or a game. Get them
remembering and imagining.
3) Engage them in EMOTION. Get your guests involved and invested in the events of your
wedding by touching their feelings. When they really “get” the love between you and
your fiance, when they laugh or cry, they are emotionally engaged.
These three levels for engaging your guests can be combined for the greatest Wow Effect.
But by far the most powerful and best suited technique for a romantic, unforgettable event
like your wedding is emotional engagement.
Who Are You?
The best way to wow your guests and get them engaged at your wedding is to give them
the emotional experience of a wedding that is totally you. The secret to having a wedding that
really feels like “you” is weaving your personality into your wedding day as much as possible.
In order to create a dream wedding filled with fresh, unique ideas that really represent you¼you need to know who you are.
No, you won’t need to provide your ID for this one.
You just need to think about your personality, the interests and hobbies of both yourself
and your fiancé in order to find the inspiration for dozens of ways to make your wedding totally
unique. These are your “Wow Factors.”
Once you’ve come up your unique Wow Factors, it’s easy to work them into your wedding.
If you and your fiance share a love of travel, that might be your Wow Factor. So you might
choose to name your tables after the places you have visited together. You might create a
scrapbook of your travels or have your DJ play songs from the countries that are special to you.
One of our couples’ Wow Factor was their shared obsession for the New York Yankees.
They named each table after a player, had the NY Yankees insignia on their wedding cake and
the bride’s garter, and were introduced to “The Yankee Mambo.”
Maybe you don’t want to get that extreme, but I think you get my point. Sharing your
Wow Factor with your guests gets them engaged. Once they are engaged they start actively
participating in your wedding¼which translates to FUN, FUN, FUN!
Engaging your guests isn’t complicated or expensive, but it does involve a little time and
thought. Do this exercise to discover the Wow Factor that will make your wedding totally you.
Dream Wedding Exercise:
1) Print out this worksheet. Fill in checklist about your interests and hobbies.
2) Pick out two of the interests, hobbies, or activities (paying extra attention to the ones
you drew a star or circle around) as Wow Factors to work into your wedding day. Keep
them in mind as you explore the ideas in this chapter.
Telling Your Story
My all time favorite way to get wedding guests engaged is to tell them your love story.
People are suckers for a good story.
When your guests hear your story they will get emotionally engaged. They may laugh;
tears might come to their eyes. It cues them in to the meaning and uniqueness of your special
How did you meet your fiance? What was your first impression of him? Where was your
first date? How did you get engaged?
Many of your wedding guests won’t know your story. They certain don’t know all the juicy
details. If you work these unique details into your special day, it makes a lasting memory by involving them in your story.
On the other hand, if you choose NOT to share your story, you risk having disconnected, disinterested wedding guests.
You don’t have to be a writer or a great speaker to tell your story. Here are some easy
ways to have someone else do it for you:
• Have your officiant create a ceremony just for you. This may include vows you have
written yourselves, or the details of how you met and what you mean to each other. If
your officiant is open to the idea, she might share your love story with your guests as a
part of the ceremony.
• Ask your Master of Ceremonies (either the band leader or DJ) to tell your story at your
wedding reception. It can be something you have written for each other or something
they write for you based on what you tell them.
My husband and I invite couples to write a short love letter to each other before the
wedding¼and NOT share it with each other. Then on the wedding day, I read their letters just
before their First Dance.
The response is always amazing. Your words can be romantic, funny, or quirky¼whatever
fits your personalities. Your guests will be drawn in and engaged emotionally. They’ll feel
connected and primed for an unforgettable, fun time.
Here are some more ways to tell your story:
• If you feel comfortable making a speech, take the microphone and share your story
yourself at the reception.
• Ask a parent or a talkative member of your bridal party to do it for you.
• If you are shy or prefer a low key way to tell your story, consider printing a brief love
story in your ceremony program.
• A photo slide show playing during the cocktail or dinner hour can also tell your story in
a more subtle way.
The object is to touch your guests emotionally. And that doesn’t mean you have to be sappy and romantic¼getting them laughing works really well, too.
The more your guests feel, the more involved they will be in your wedding day and the more fun everyone will have.
Dream Wedding Exercise:
1) Print out this worksheet. Answer the questions about your story.
2) Select your favorite story and make a plan with your fiance to share it on your wedding
day in a way that fits your personalities.
Involve Your Talented Guests
This idea engages your guests both emotionally and physically.
Have your family and friends participate directly in your wedding day. This goes way
beyond just inviting them to do a reading at your ceremony.
For example, if you have a professional singer or musician attending, ask them to perform for your ceremony or during the reception.
Our couples have included performances by guests who were jazz singers, guitarists, actors, comedians¼even Irish step dancers who did Lord of the Dance.
In every case, the guests ate it up. They were engaged and it made a fun party inevitable.
Of course, don’t guilt your guests into performing if they aren’t comfortable with it. You
don’t want any drama queens.
But if your talented guests would like to share, it really adds something special for you and your guests.
Music Makes the Memories
Have you ever heard a song and immediately started laughing as you relived a funny
memory? Or a song that brings you back to the time when you feel in love?
Music is an incredibly powerful way to engage your guests. It engages both emotionally and physically: your guests feel the music as they dance to it.
If you don’t take advantage of the powerful effect music has on engaging your guests, you
miss out on an easy way to make your wedding totally you. But if you do use music to involve
your guests, it will make your dream wedding unforgettable.
Here are some great places to include those special songs in your wedding day:
• Your processional down the aisle. Unless you have a strict church ceremony, you
aren’t limited to “The Wedding March” or the “Canon in D.” Any love song or
instrumental can take your emotions to the next level.
• Your parent dances. If there is a song your father always sang to you, use it for your
parent dance. You don’t have to use a “traditional” Father-Daughter song. A personal
choice makes it extra special for both you and your guests¼especially if you have your
master of ceremonies explain the meaning behind it.
• Your introduction music. Your introduction music can be anything from Metallica’s
“Enter Sandman” to James Brown’s “I Feel Good.” Pick a song that makes a statement
about your personality and makes you feel awesome, setting the tone for your whole
• If you have eclectic taste in music, ask your entertainer to help you find a place for
your favorite songs into your wedding day.
Another way to engage your guests is to get them involved physically.
Do you remember back in gym class when you had to play dodge ball?
God, I hated that.
I dreaded being picked (or not picked) for a team. I hated the idea of having to play.
But then we started to MOVE. And something happened.
I got involved¼engaged.
Physical movement engages your guests and gets them actively having fun. Entertainers
have known this secret for years; that’s why so many of them rely on the Electric Slide and the
YMCA to get the party started. Once your guests are up and moving, everything gets fun.
You don’t have to use these types of participation methods. There are a whole range of
techniques from highly interactive to subtle approaches.
But if you don’t get your guests moving somehow, they will sit like lumps all night and probably end up leaving early.
Michael and Sharon were total foodies who served their guests a five course meal with
wine pairings at the Culinary Institute of America. They decided that they wanted the food to
be the focus, so they requested that no dance music be played until after dinner.
Of course, their guests were thrilled with the meal. But after plates of food and glasses of
wine¼they were more than a little weighed down. The guests were so tired and full after
dinner that most of them left instead of dancing.
It’s important to get your guests up and moving as soon as possible, so they will be engaged and actively having fun.
Here are some ways to physically engage your guests:
• Participation Dances — Electric Slide, YMCA, Cha Cha Slide, Conga Line, etc.
• Ice Breaker Games — A centerpiece give away, musical chairs, the newlywed game.
• Inviting Guests To Dance — An easy way to subtly get things moving is to simply ask
your guests to join you on the dance floor. They have to get up¼because it is your
wedding day¼and the dancing continues from there.
Ask your entertainer for his or her favorite ideas to get your guests moving. They can cook up with some great ways to physically engage your guests.
Remember Your Guests
Your wedding day should be special and unique. But a part of making it special for you is
making it special for your guests. To do that you need to engage and include them.
If your guests don’t feel included in your wedding day, they won’t be engaged and they won’t have fun. Your wedding day will be a big dud.
On the other hand, if you include your guests they will be actively involved and having a great time¼.and so will you.
Take a moment to think about the people coming to your wedding. What songs and artists
might they want? What activities do they enjoy?
If you want your guests to have the best time possible, it might be a good idea to include a few of their favorite songs.
One of our brides hated the YMCA. She just couldn’t stand it. But her Uncle Harry got so excited to do the YMCA at every wedding that she asked us to play it, just for him.
Her Uncle Harry got up and jumped around, waving his arms as he (mis)spelled the words. The bride and her guests were hysterical. It ended up being one of the highlights of the party.
I’m not suggesting that you must play the Chicken Dance just because your guests want it. Just take a moment to consider what you guests like and throw them a bone now and then.
Another way to remember your guests is to announce any birthdays or anniversaries
coming up. You might make a special dedication or take the opportunity to embarrass a friend
by reminding them about the time you sang together in a karaoke bar.
A final, sure fire way to include your guests in the celebration of your special day is to thank them. You can do this in a speech or with a dance, like a friendship circle. This is a
great way to end the party.
Have your Master of Ceremonies announce that the newlyweds would like to thank
everyone for coming by sharing the last dance of the night, forming a circle around them. Playing a song like Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” or “That’s What Friends Are For” while you dance with your guests creates an unforgettable finale for your dream wedding.
37 Ways To Wow Your Guests
I’m pulling out all the stops here with as many ways as I can think of to wow your guests
and make your wedding totally you.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Use your creativity, imagination and Wow Factors to find even more ways that fit your personality.
To use the 3 secrets to wow your guests remember these 3 letters: WOW.
W – Weave in your personality using your wow factors.
O – Others involvement. Get others involved.
W – Why. Explain your choices to your guests so that they understand significance.
37 Ways To Wow
1. A list of trivia questions about you for each table to answer.
2. Favors that relate to your hobby or special interest.
3. Childhood photographs of you and your fiancé displayed in an album or on a table.
4. Your parents’ and grandparents’ wedding photos.
5. Pictures of your pets.
6. Decorating your sweetheart table with mementos or collectibles.
7. Put together a collage of your love letters from a long distance romance.
8. A groom’s cake in honor of your fiance’s hobby.
9. Choosing your favorite flower for the centerpieces.
10. Playing your favorite team’s theme song.
11. Doing the silly line dance you and your friends learned in college.
12. Cardboard cutouts of the friend who introduced you but couldn’t be at the wedding.
13. Performances by your musician, singer or dancer guests.
14. Sharing your love story during your ceremony or reception.
15. Giving your guests “table tasks” to do throughout the reception.
16. Playing the newlywed game.
17. A special thank you friendship dance with all your guests.
18. Play or dedicate a song to a friend as an inside joke.
19. Wear an item of clothing or jewelry from a beloved family member and share this with
20. Name your tables to represent one of your favorite Wow Factors.
21. Choose your favorite poems as non-traditional ceremony readings.
22. Leave a gag gift, like a clown nose or fake mustache, at each place setting and
photograph all your guests wearing them.
23. A scavenger hunt using disposable cameras to “hunt” for images.
24. Announce birthdays, anniversaries or engagements.
25. Give a dance lesson at your reception.
26. Hold a “ring warming” during the ceremony where pass your rings to each guest before
you exchange vows.
27. Write special vows that unite your family and friends.
28. Include special ethnic traditions and dances.
29. Play a song or speech together.
30. Make a donation to your favorite charity.
31. Treat your guests to your favorite wine or dessert and tell them about it.
32. Play your guests’ wedding songs.
33. Include your signature animal, team, hobby or activity in your wedding theme.
34. Take Polaroid photos of your guests for your guest book.
35. Have your guests write thoughts and wishes for a “time capsule” you’ll open on your
10th wedding anniversary.
36. Serve your special homemade brownies at the wedding and give your guests the recipe.
37. Surprise your guests by sharing your secret talent or skill.
Okay. Now I’m thoroughly exhausted.
Wowing your guests is about more than just discovering fresh, unique ideas and working
them into your wedding though that can certainly inspire you.
It’s about expressing yourself through the look and the feel, as well as the people you’re
surrounded by, on your wedding day. That’s what makes your day unique not just doing things
no one else has seen but allowing you to really shine through in every element of your wedding.
Do this exercise to put together all of the pieces you need to make your wedding day truly unique.
Dream Wedding Exercise:
1) Print out this worksheet. Answer the questions.
2) Pick out at least one of your Wow Factors, one story, one song and one way to include
your guests that fits your Dream Wedding.
3) Come up with a plan for using them at your wedding and schedule the first step on your