Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ice, Ice Breakers

Maybe it's a product of growing up in the South, or maybe it's genetic, but I am one of those people who will strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere.  Just last week I accosted a dapper gent in the elevator of my building to ask him if he was wearing Bonobos.  He was, in fact, and you can bet I went on to tell him that I love Bonobos, that he looked fabulous, and that I recognized them by the great fit and the peekaboo plaid lining at the pocket.  (Never heard of Bonobo's?  Then you must have missed this post on what to wear to a gay beach wedding.)  You can imagine that my chattiness often frightens New Yorkers who aren't sure if I'm plain crazy, if I'm naive, or if I'm trying to distract them so my gypsy children can rifle through their bag and steal their wallet.

Even for a chatty kathy like myself, social gatherings like weddings can sometimes be a little...awkward?  After all, sitting at a table with eight strangers can sometimes feel like you're on a sister-wives version of a blind date.  Shortly after the duckling was born, my husband and I attended a wedding where we really only knew the bride and groom.  The only theme I could pull together for our grouping of tablemates was that all the women were pregnant except me.  The downside?  My grandmother always told me pregnancy is contagious, and that was an affliction I was not ready to experience again so soon.  The upside?  Lots of unwanted champagne toasts for me to steal when no one was looking enjoy. 

I certainly don't think it's the bride and groom's responsibility to facilitate conversation amongst and random pairing of 200 or so guests, but I know that some brides lay awake worrying about what their cat-loving aunt will possibly find to talk about with their wild college roommate, so I've pulled together a few ice breaker ideas for anyone looking to prompt interaction between their guests.

I came across this originally used as a bridal shower game, but I'd love to see a similar idea put into play for a wedding, maybe on the back of a program.  While I love the sweet sentiments included here for the "He Said, She Said" guessing game, I think I'd have more fun doing quirkier quotes or factoids about the bride and groom.  Ours would've looked something like this:
Who broke their hip in 7th grade doing the limbo in gym class?
Who wore an eye patch for a year?
Whose most prized possession is a one-eyed bear named Brownie?
Who used to shove a blanket tassle up their nose at night?
Who once went door to door trying to sell their mother's used makeup?
Who plays the ukulele?

Here's another clever idea, but one that requires lots of free time (and apparently an even number of friends).  This chart color codes each guests' relationship to the happy, family friend, friend from college, etc. 

 While the prompts of this mad lib are a bit straightforward for me, I think a wedding mad libs could get pretty entertaining, the same way photo booth pictures evolve as the night (and open bar) go on.  I'm sure they would make for a cute scrapbook or album.

I'm saving the best for last.  My friends Liz and Beth (yes, the same Beth I mentioned here, here and here)  set up their friends on a blind date, and don't you know, it worked!  Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match! The happy couple found a really precious way to include this fact and a few others into the reception by printing up cocktail napkins with different factoids to be placed at the bars.  Above is the Liz & Beth shout out napkin.  In case you can't read it, it says "Sam and Jon met on a blind date...Thanks Beth....Thanks Liz"  (and thanks to Beth from me for snapping this pic for me.  You rock.)
Of course there are many more ways to put this idea to use, but here are a few to get the creative juices flowing.  And for those of you wondering the answers to the factoids I mentioned above, I broke my hip, tried to hawk my mom's used makeup and still to this day sleep with a stuffed bear.  The hubs wore a patch as a baby, shoved a blanket up his nose and plays the ukulele.  What a glamourous pair the two of us make. 

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