We’re having card & board games for our guests who aren’t that into dancing after lunch, because we have a lot of friends who are into them. We’ve also checked with our venue, and they can hook up an iPod or laptop with iTunes so that it plays our music playlist through their sound system — no DJ required! (We didn’t have the budget for one, either, and the DJs in our wedding area don’t have a lot of the music we’d want anyway, including our obscure-but-lovely first dance song.)
If your venue can’t play from iTunes, etc., and your guests aren’t gamers like ours, what about turning guest book stuff into fun activities by having tables of guests work together to try to come up with the best piece of marriage advice, or the funniest (realistic) prediction for you & your groom 5 years down the line? You could turn it into an inter-table contest with cookies (or something equally inexpensive & easy to divide) as the prize. Or there are these guestbook pages I found online, which could potentially double as activity sheets & conversation starters: http://www.guestbookstore.com/guestbooks/wedding_pages_casual.html
If your guests aren’t already the chatty types but you want the focus to be on mingling & conversation, how about a card or page of random questions at each reception table? You could use icebreaker questions if not all of the guests at each table know each other, or questions like “If you could pick our honeymoon destination, where would you have us go?” if they do know each other… just as conversation starters, if needed.
Alternatively, I’ve got a married friend who swears that putting a book of Mad Libs at every reception table was the best idea she had for her wedding. A lot of us hadn’t played Mad Libs since we were kids, but we were falling out of our seats laughing! There’s even one called “Mad Libs in Love”, I think. They’re very inexpensive, too — between US $2 & $4 each.
Ooh! If you want dancing but not at DJ pricing, would you be comfortable thinking outside the playlist box? I’ve heard of couples hiring someone to teach the guests Contra dancing, Irish dancing, Square dancing, Victorian Ballroom dancing — often for *much* less than a DJ would cost. (In our wedding area, for example, it would be $150-200/hour for most DJs’ packages, but only $40-60/hour for a historical dance instructor, and you’d only really need them to come in *after* the meal.) If that’s something that interests you, you might check whether there’s a club or an educational/non-profit organization (like a historical society) that could hook you up with someone competent & affordable.
It *is* possible for everyone to have fun without a DJ telling them how to do so at every given moment, I promise! Just think about what your friends & family enjoy, and use that as a jumping-off point. 🙂