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Mid- to late-March is one of the smartest times for a budget wedding, but it’s also primetime for NCAA March Madness. If it’s just hitting you now that your guests are going to be disgruntled about missing the games, if you’re disgruntled about missing the big game, or you’re worried that everyone’s going to be watching the games on their phones during the reception…here’s how to drop the stress and work March Madness into your wedding weekend. Your bracket-obsessed guests will love you for it, and your day can become even more you when you’re both college basketball fans as well.
- Theme your desserts. It’s too late to change your wedding cake into a Tarheels-blue confection (if you’d even want to) but you can get or make college-color and –logo cupcakes, cake pops or cookies to add to your dessert bar, or serve at your welcome cocktail party, rehearsal dinner, or after-party.
- Name your drinks. Having signature cocktails is a big trend at the bar, so give your drinks hoops-themed names, like ‘The Layup’ or ‘The Half-Court Shot.’ If you have favorite players or coaches, name drinks after them. Syracuse fans could serve the ‘Orangeman’ creamsicle cocktail.
- Make a team spirit photo display. Separately from your elegant family photos table, make a photo display of you and your friends at college games, with your faces painted, cheering a big win. Perhaps this can be an easy, free décor feature at a wedding weekend event, like a barbecue at your house (with the games on TV, of course.)
- At the rehearsal dinner, put guests at ease by saying, “We not only allow watching the game on your phone, we encourage it!” They’ll love not having to hold the phone under the table, getting the evil eye from their spouses.
- Make your introduction into the reception just like the start of a game. Play stadium music, and have the emcee introduce each member of your bridal party, and you, by ‘name, position, and alma mater’…which is really fun when the ringbearer walks in while the announcer says, ‘Jacob Smith, ringbearer, Park Elementary Schooool!”
- Copy television sports ‘player’ introductions with an easily-shot and friend-edited video showing each of your bridal party members in serious, ‘game-face’ saying their name, position and alma mater.
- Borrow a friend’s child’s Nerf basketball hoop set and toss your bouquet to make a basket, if you weren’t planning to toss it to the single ladies.
- Wear a garter in your school colors.
- Accept that guests will watch the game on their phones during the reception. Don’t get angry about it. Guests don’t have to be 100% focused on you the whole time, but have the emcee say before big moments like the toast, “May I direct your attention to the dance floor for the happy couple’s first dance?”
- Consider having the television on at the bar during the reception. During the later hours of the reception, when it’s just dancing and dessert time, guests will love your consideration, and also love getting the chance to watch a game with friends they haven’t seen in a long time. Yes, they’re going to cheer and get loud, but that’s just how it goes. It’s not going to work asking a friend to ‘shush’ them, but the site manager can approach the group to ask them to dial it down if they’re getting too loud or using R-rated language at bad ref calls.
- Bring your after-party to a great sports bar, so that guests can watch all of the games, snack on bar food, and even win giveaways that many sports bars run during March Madness.
- Take photos of your alumni friends to send in to your college alumni newsletter…many colleges’ social pages feature alumni groups at weddings.
March Madness might not have been in your wedding dreams when you first started planning, but when you adjust and bring in basketball elements now, with easily-planned last-minute details, your wedding becomes a tremendous success for all.
Sharon Naylor is the author of over 35 wedding books, www.sharonnaylor.net Follow me on Twitter @sharonnaylorwed