A couple comments on last week's iPod playlist post inspired me to write about how to get people to dance at your wedding.
Our strategy was simple: we picked [what we considered to be] a very high energy first song ("Blister in the Sun") and we asked everyone in our wedding party (there were 12 of us all together) to please, please, please dance your hearts out to get the party started.
To be even more strategic, we should have asked a few trusted friends and family members to commit to dancing right away, too. We didn't do this and everything still worked out well, but if I were doing it again, I might take out this little bit of extra insurance.
I've found that friends are more than happy to help in whatever way they can. So much of the mainstream culture pressures us to turn our weddings into shows. They tell us that it's best for our guests to sit back, relax, and enjoy the performance. In my experience, I found that the guests who actively participated (in big ways like cooking the fajitas or small ways like being asked to clap during the ceremony) enjoyed the experience more because they helped bring the experience to fruition.
We also had a help-yourself keg at our wedding, which really fueled the dance party (although I think alcohol-free festivities can be just as raucous). In addition to the dance party, we also had board games going on, hot-tub soaking, and story-telling around the campfire. Some family members congregated in the quieter areas to read the book my best friend made for us.
The other question that came up within the comment section of that post was about how to get people to clap during the ceremony. I really, really wanted people to clap after each speaker in our wedding--not because it's a show but rather to show appreciation for the speakers, so I stealthily asked four friends in the audience and the wedding party to take the clapping/cheering lead.
It worked well! Many people are itching to clap at a ceremony; they just need a catalyst to start the clapping.
Please share any other ideas you all have!