Creative ways to entertain your wedding guests are cropping up right and left, and while hiring a band is still the go-to, the most savvy couples are adding seriously fun bonus activities—from cotton candy booths to cigar rolling stations and even puppies. Take your reception from entertaining to awe-worthy with these festive booths guaranteed to add extra oomph to your big day.
Give the late-night food trend a whimsical twist with a cotton-candy station. Decorate the cart to match your theme, and let guests choose from flavors like birthday cake, Champagne cocktail, or banana split and then top their spun-sugar cone with edible glitter, Pop Rocks, or wafer butterflies.
When it fits: Put a spin on cocktail hour, complement the dessert table, or wheel it out for a parting treat (the glow-in-the-dark variety is perfect for late-night). Things might get sticky, so best to wait until wedding-party photos are finished!
Who we recommend: Fluffness; fluffness.com; 202-390-2345.
What it costs: The premium package for 150 people starts at $1,000 for two hours.
What they say: “In addition to evoking childhood memories,” say Fluffness cofounders Tatiana Podoliako and Viktoriya Riley, “our cotton candy has a magical touch to it. Adults often get more excited than kids do!”
2. Racing Presidents
Want to spice up your guest list with a celebrity appearance? Bring some hometown pride and raucous fun to your reception by including the Nationals’ Racing Presidents. George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy are all ready to party on the dance floor, work the photo booth, or even pass out favors.
When it fits: Racing mascots can get the party started, or dash in midway through the celebration to keep the party going.
What it costs: Prices start at $325 per character.
Where to find them: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What they say: “Nothing says DC like having the Racing Presidents as part of your celebration,” says Nats marketing officer Valerie Camillo. “The Presidents know how to step up the energy and make your wedding one that guests won’t forget.”
3. Party With Adoptable Animals
For a low-key, casual celebration, inviting rescue animals from a local shelter provides great photo ops and an unusual way to help animals find a home.
When it fits: Contact your local shelter to see about mingling with adoptable dogs during cocktail hour or setting up a “kissing booth” with a few furry friends.
Who we recommend: Lucky Dog Animal Rescue; luckydoganimalrescue.org; 703-237-5327.
What it costs: Lucky Dog does not charge for this service, but welcomes a donation to help support animals in their care.
What they say: “People love weddings because they represent the beginning of a family, and love and commitment. And pet adoption is the same,” says Lucky Dog executive director Mirah Horowitz. “This is a really neat way to tie the two together.”
4. Haiku Writers
Send loved ones home with a personalized verse by local poets for a one-of-a-kind keepsake.
When it fits: If your guest list is long, book your hipster scribes from cocktail hour through to the last dance. Set up the haiku station—with enough space for two vintage typewriters—near the bar so guests can get one while waiting for drinks.
Who we recommend: Haiku Guys and Gals; thehaikuguys.com; 201-919-2213.
What it costs: Prices start at $1,500 for two poets for one hour.
What they say: “Five years later you’re not going to remember all the songs that played at your friend’s wedding,” says cofounder Erick Szentmiklosy. “But you will remember if there was a poet who wrote you a haiku.”
5. Cigar Roller
Complement your signature whiskey or Scotch cocktail with a classic pairing—a hand-rolled Cuban cigar. Symbols of celebration and victory, cigars are also a nice favor for guests at the end of the night.
When it fits: Feature a cigar roller during the reception when guests need a dancing break, or to impress at the afterparty.
Who we recommend: Castañeda Cigars; castanedacigars.com; 609-865-7890.
What it costs: Prices start at $600 for two hours (up to 50 hand-rolled cigars in mild, medium, and full-bodied tobacco varieties.)
What they say: Founder Arian Castañeda will “tell guests the history and teach them how the cigars are made, and even how they should smoke one.”
6. Champagne Skirt Servers
Add flair to a formal affair with “champagne skirt” servers, who ensure everyone has a glass of bubbly to toast your nuptials. Consider hiring more than one server and mixing up the drink selection with rosé Champagne or sparkling cider.
When it fits: Strolling servers can help break the ice during cocktail hour or kick off toasts to the couple.
Who we recommend: Entertainment Exchange; entertainmentexchange.com; 888-986-4640.
What it costs: Prices for each server start at $800 for two hours.
What they say: “They are very elegant, very high fashion, and they never upstage the bride,” says Entertainment Exchange event producer Pat Richitt.
This article appeared in the Winter/Spring 2018 issue of Washingtonian Bride and Groom.