Special To The Washington Post
While waving my hands in the air during the Isley Brothers’ “Shout,” I looked out over the wedding reception and discovered faces flickering with boredom over the light of the Pinterest-inspired candles at their tables.
At most weddings, I notice that the guests are often divided: not as bride’s side vs. groom’s side, or singles vs. couples, but as extroverts vs. introverts. The extroverts are on the dance floor or mingling over drinks while everyone else is huddling in the corner or sitting quietly and staring at their smartphones.
Somewhere during the dozens of weddings I’ve attended as an adult, I realized that these events aren’t really for introverts, or anyone who enjoys solitude and finds big crowds intimidating.
As a self-proclaimed ambivert, or someone who has a balance of introvert and extrovert qualities, I know what it’s like to feel the need to be around other people but also to feel the urge to recharge on the couch over Netflix. I can survey a wedding reception and gauge exactly who is and who isn’t having a good time. It’s my superpower the way Wonder Woman uses her lasso of truth.
Even though introverts are described as quiet and more reserved than their extroverted counterparts, there are still opportunities for them to enjoy themselves at events like wedding receptions. Here are six ways to make receptions more entertaining for introverts:
1. Outside-of-the-box party favors. Instead of candy or candles, try a deck of cards with a couple’s names on them. Introverts tend to avoid small talk, so instead of being forced to come up with a conversation at their table, they can strike up a game of War or Golf instead. Not only is it an adorable little gift — imagine all the love puns you could create with “The Queen of Hearts” — but it’s something that people could actually use at their table if they don’t want to partake in the Chicken Dance.
2. Provide a game table — or team trivia. Imagine one big table filled with games like Rubik’s cubes, puzzles, Monopoly, checkers and more. These offer entertaining ways to challenge the brain, which introverts love, while also providing a social outlet (get your table playing Candy Land). Trivia is also something where you don’t necessarily have to talk: Just write down an answer; introverts are often writers. The trivia could have to do with the couple’s interests and be something fun to do between songs on the dance floor.
3. Eliminate everyone in the wedding receiving line, except the couple. Introverts hate small talk, and what’s worse than being forced to come up with something to say to the bride’s father as you’re waiting in line to congratulate the couple? This is awkward for extroverts, too, I’m sure. Let’s make it easy: The wedding receiving line includes only the couple, no one else. That’s who you’re there to see, anyway.
4. Hold receptions at libraries and museums. Introverts are the world’s greatest observers, and museums and libraries are the perfect venues for doing some true observing, whether it’s the architectural structure or works of art. The Knot includes libraries and museums on its list of unique venue options, alongside botanical gardens, theaters and aquariums.
5. Photo booths … for solitude. Introverts often feel overwhelmed by lots of people and social settings and can feel drained by all of the social activity. Photo booths are an amusing novelty at weddings, with their silly props, but these booths can also act as a place to simply get away from the action. Instead of taking wacky glasses into the booth, offer crossword puzzles and Sudoku, too.
6. Seating arrangements where every table is near the exits. Introverts like to avoid being surrounded by people on all sides, so placing the tables in a circular formation, with the dance floor in the middle, is a more comfortable option. Plus, it makes it easier for the couple to move from table to table to greet their guests.
Megan McLachlan is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.