Our recommendations regarding what to include in any celebration held beyond the reception.
They say for some newlyweds, the post-wedding blues start kicking in right as you drive away from the reception – even if you’re jetting off to your honeymoon destination immediately. As a preemptive strike, many brides and grooms are planning to prolong their celebrations by coordinating post-nuptial after-parties. If you’re looking to do the same, there are a few ways you can go about throwing this type of fête. Here are the basics:
1. Plan ahead.
Though it’s true that spontaneous missions to the nearest open bar or club can be exciting, if you know you’re the kind of couple that never wants the party to end, it really is best to be prepared. If you’re not switching locations, be sure your venue allows later parties and pay any extra fees that might arise. If you move to another space, call ahead – even if you’re sure the place won’t be busy and will happily accommodate your large group. If you book another venue, do all preparation for your after-hours event in tandem with your wedding planning. If planning your nuptials teaches you anything, it’s that you can never be too organized!
2. Choose an easily accessible venue.
If you make the decision to do a bit of traveling to reach the after-party location: keep it close. You may be excited to take your friends and family to your favorite lounge across town, but you need to consider everyone’s mindset at that point in the night. More than likely, guests will have been consuming some alcohol, and a longer car ride might be just what they need to realize how exhausted they are. Additionally, the proper thing would be to provide transportation for attendees, and the farther the destination, the more difficult that coordination becomes. Make this aspect of the evening simple and fun for everyone – including you and your new spouse!
3. Open the invitation to all guests.
We know: the after-party is really for younger friends and family members – fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, your cousins, siblings, etc. – but closing the event off by age is incredibly uncouth. At this point in the evening, older guests and those with young children will most likely excuse themselves and opt out of the extra celebration anyway. In the end, you’ll probably end up with your desired group either way, so why not be polite and give everyone the option of attending?
4. Up the party vibe – no matter your wedding theme.
The motif of your post-reception soirée is completely up to you; however, we highly recommend emphasizing a more casual atmosphere. If your wedding was a black-tie affair, don’t be afraid to go with a more dance floor-centered feel. Maybe your honeymoon is in Hawaii, so you decide to serve colorful island cocktails and provide grass skirts to guests. Perhaps you and your sweetie had an affinity for the 1920s and you’d prefer a speakeasy vibe. Whatever your creative decision, make it fun and carefree!
5. Feed your friends – again.
It’s only appropriate, if you’re asking revelers to stay longer, to offer up another batch of culinary choices. Per the point above, this menu doesn’t have to be as elegantly put together as that of your formal dinner – you can coordinate the food with your theme. After all of the dancing at your reception, your friends and family have probably worked their appetites right back up. They’ll appreciate the late-night options!
6. Save your college traditions for this part of the day.
If there are any less-than-savory celebratory tactics your school friends would like to invoke, this this the time to do so. Some sororities or fraternities have chants or specific games reserved for big milestones – like weddings – and seeing as you’ll most likely be in the company of others your age and level of humor, these practices will presumably go over well with the after-hours crowd.
7. Be comfortable.
Whether this means changing into a second – or third, or fourth – gown, or slipping off your high heels and donning a comfortable pair of flip-flops: go for it. If your pinned-up hairstyle has been bothering you for a few hours, take it down. Never mind if your lipstick smudges or you get a little sweaty: imagine it’s the last few dances of prom night and enjoy the last leg of your journey down the aisle!
8. Invite your photographer.
Think about the fun, in-motion photos you’ll get from this part of your day. Granted, they may be left out of your formal photo album, but it’s important to have memories of the silly moments mixed in with the sentimental ones.
Opening photo by Ira Lippke Studios