Congratulations! You've made it through the big day, and now you're off to a party with your friends and family. But how do you plan for a great after-party?
The wedding is over, and you're ready to party. You've got the venue, the DJ, and your dress hanging up in your closet for future use. Now it's time to plan the after-party!
Throwing an after-party at your wedding is a great way to keep the celebration going and for all of your guests to have fun, but it can also be really expensive. Here are some tips on how you can throw a memorable after-party without breaking the bank.
The first step is deciding what type of after-party you want - a low-key affair at home with close friends and family or a more formal event out on the town. Once you know that, all you need are some great ideas for fun activities to keep things interesting (and maybe even help relieve any stress from planning).
Are you looking for a way to keep your guests entertained and engaged after the wedding ceremony? Do you want something that will give them plenty of time to get dressed, take photos, eat their dinner, and socialise with family members who may not have been able to attend due to conflicts in schedules?
If so, then this blog post is just what you are looking for! But, of course, the best way to do this is by throwing an epic after-party at your wedding. After all the stress of planning every detail, it's nice knowing that there is one less thing on your plate.
All you have to do now is prepare yourself mentally and physically for the festivities ahead.
If you're hosting an after-party for your wedding, you're in luck. You've just hosted the event of a lifetime, and with that comes the opportunity to make it even more special!
Here are some tips and tricks to help make this night unforgettable.
So what is a wedding after-party?
How to Decide if Your Wedding Should Include an After-Party
Much like a second dress for the reception, after-parties are a wedding trend that has gone from extravagant to nearly commonplace. While certainly not a requirement for your weddings, deciding to throw a shindig following the reception is also unlikely to be an unheard-of concept for your guests.
If your venue is rented out until 2 am, it won't seem necessary, but noise ordinances can cause some receptions to end at 10 pm or earlier. In that case, we certainly understand the newlyweds wanting to extend the night with their loved ones.
Not all after-parties are created equal; if you choose to have one, you have to decide whether or not to formally host one or merely have everyone gather at the hotel bar or another nearby location.
A casual gathering at a bar is low-key enough that you can post the location on the wedding website and make an announcement at the end of the reception. The newlyweds may choose to pick up the bar tab, but it is usually understood that everyone will cover their bill at the bar.
A more official party is like a second reception – sometimes even in a different room of the same venue. This can heighten the party atmosphere, but it is also another event you'll need to decorate and plan.
When deciding whether your wedding needs an after-party, you should consider the end time of your actual reception and your guest list. For example, a fairly intimate gathering that features many older relatives or parents with young children is likely to wind down at an earlier hour naturally.
On the other hand, if you're a younger bride and inviting a large amount of similarly aged friends, it's more likely that people will want to keep the party going for longer. So the fewer revellers going to the after-party, the more appropriate laid-back bar-hopping will be.
When it's the bulk of your guest list, a more planned, an official after-party will feel like a natural extension of your reception.
Why would I have one?
There are two reasons:
- Your venue has an early curfew (or you have an early wedding at, say, lunchtime)
- You know you and your crew will want to keep celebrating after the reception wraps up
In fact, your venue might not have an early curfew at all – you might be able to party until 10 or 11 pm. But if you know you and many of your guests will want to keep the good times rolling, it's the perfect solution.
Most wedding venues will have a curfew. There are many reasons why curfews exist, but ultimately it's just part and parcel with their licence to host events, and they're subject to fines if they don't comply.
We get it, though – it's a bit of a bummer if you envisioned you and your loved ones kicking on until the wee hours.
How should I organise a wedding after-party?
- On your RSVPs, have a section for guests to tick to indicate they’re keen to join in the wedding after-party
- Contact a late-night venue to make a booking for your group once you know your after-party guest numbers.
- Hire a bus to ferry people from your wedding venue to your after-party space
How do you invite someone to an after-party? Again, this isn't as formal of an affair as your wedding, so there's no need to include an option to RSVP on your wedding invitations. Instead, include an insert along with your wedding invitations.
Word of mouth is also perfectly fine when it comes to inviting guests to your after party. Have members of your wedding party start spreading the word before and even at the wedding.
You can also ask your DJ or lead band member to announce the after-party as the reception winds down.
Although you might want to spend the after-party with your close friends, don't exclude your guests who are invited to the reception. Generally, not all of your guests will come to an after-party, so you'll end up with your close friends and family members there.
Planning Your Wedding After Party
Don't want your bash to end when your reception shuts down? It doesn't have to! Wedding after-parties are now the norm, so feel free to keep the festivities running until the sun comes up. You'll want to have a few things in order before the big day rolls around, from your venue to a few eats.
1. Location is key (as is transportation)
A recommendation from us– Be sure to select a spot that is extremely convenient to the wedding reception location or even within the same building if your reception is at a hotel wedding venue.
If the after-party location is not within walking distance, and to ensure guests get to and from your after party safely, be sure to arrange for transportation. At this point of the evening, a handful of your wedding guests have likely had at least a couple of drinks.
Planning your wedding after-party shouldn't be a huge chore. You don't need to go overboard and spend months scouting venues and perfecting all the little details, but you're going to need some blueprint for your evening.
Even if you want to hit a local watering hole, you'll want to consider renting a room (or the entire space, depending on your guest list). The last thing you want is to show up to a crowded spot on your wedding night and not be allowed in.
Your guests will need a way to get from point A to point B and then back to their hotels, so help them out. They won't be able to drive themselves after downing a few of your signature cocktails, so figure out their rides for them.
Order a fleet of cabs, make sure Uber is available or shepherd them into a party bus so you can keep the energy up while moving from place to place.
There's no problem keeping the party going, but if you're going to do so, it's smart and considerate of you if you secure safe transportation. Bonus points if you have cab options or hotel suggestions for people who can't drive home.
Tip: But at the same time, don't host the after-party in the bride and groom's hotel room. It ruins their romantic first night as husband and wife!
2. Be a good host and offer a late-night snack
We recommend having food available to help your guests sober up before their drive home. Chances are, they haven’t eaten since dinner, and it could have been four or five hours since they ate.
Feed them! Consider having your favour be something guests can take with them to go and eat later. We also love late-night snacks as a final way to tie in your personality! Ask your caterer for tips and recommendations.
There will be a few hours between dinner and your wedding after-party, so your guests may need to refuel.
Before you head out from your reception or arrive at your after-party destination, serve up some late-night eats. They don't have to be fancy; they have to stop your guests' tummies from rumbling.
They might be able to package snack boxes as favours to go! Another trend we love – having food trucks at your after party!
3. Don’t leave people out
Now, you may not want every single one of your guests at your wedding after-party, but unfortunately, you can't really pick and choose when it comes to invites.
There's a good chance that several people will want to hit the hay when your reception wraps, so you probably don't have to worry about hundreds of people joining you for post-wedding drinks.
However, it would be best to plan for a larger headcount than you expect to be on the safe side. You don't want to run out of room at your venue or have to cram people in!
4. Change clothes
At this point in the night, you'll want to swap out your wedding attire for something a bit more comfortable. If you haven't already done an outfit change for the reception, now's your chance.
Since your wedding after-party is a more laid back affair, there's no need to wear your wedding dress. After all, you wouldn't want anything to happen to your dress!
Switch out your wedding gown for a comfortable cocktail dress, jumpsuit, or another outfit that suits you. Just make sure that you pack up and store your wedding dress before heading out to the after-party.
The same goes for a groom, bridesmaids, and groomsmen. Instead of a tuxedo or long dress, the wedding party can feel free to change into something else.
Give your gown to one of your trusty sidekicks or your mom to take care of and slip into something a little more laid back. There are absolutely no rules for how you should dress at a wedding after-party, so go wild.
You can wear a chic dress, romper or jeans and a t-shirt - seriously, the world is your oyster.
5. Be a considerate neighbour
Hosting the after-party at a private home or cabin? Couples hosting the after-party somewhere with neighbours close by should consider the parking and sound situations. Getting the police called to your after-party is very embarrassing.
Enough said? Just in case, it's also smart to let them know ahead of time what your plans are. They're more likely to be understanding if they know what's going on in advance to plan accordingly.
6. Create a killer after-party playlist
No party is complete without an amazing playlist. You don’t want your guests nodding off when the night is still young, so fill yours with upbeat dance-y tunes that’ll keep your friends awake, alert and excited.
If you don’t want to spend hours on Spotify trying to figure out the best tracks for your bash, we’ve got you covered.
7. Use your DJ to help spread the word
Whether your plans are made last minute, or you've been planning to keep the party going for months, communication is key when planning your after-party (especially if guests have had a couple of drinks and need a reminder).
If you want to make sure your guests know of your after-party plans, be sure that your band or DJ makes a couple of announcements throughout the night.
Places to Host a Party
Like with your ceremony and reception, it's always important to find a good venue. However, with a post-wedding party, you don't need to find a venue as lavish as the one for your ceremony or reception.
When you’re planning your post-reception party, consider location. Find a party venue that you and your guests can travel to easily.
After parties are a much more casual affair, and a bar can be the perfect environment for one. Bars provide a more relaxed and informal environment for your guests to socialise and continue the party. If you decide to host your after-party at a bar, look for one near your reception venue or around the same area as your guests' hotels.
Confirm with the bar that it can accommodate all your guests – there are plenty of restaurants with private dining options. In addition, there are a wide variety of bars in cities, so whether you want to listen to jazz and live music or prefer colourful, flashing lights and high-energy pop music, there's a bar to fit your wedding style.
If you’re planning a smaller after party, you can host the party in a hotel suite. This is a convenient option if your reception is already in a hotel.
A hotel suite is a more intimate option, but by pushing furniture to the side of the room, you can still have room to dance and celebrate. Alternatively, you can sit and chat with your guests after a long night on the dance floor.
Other unique options for after-party locations include arcades or beaches. Ultimately, you can host your party wherever you see fit. Typically, after-parties are less formal than the reception, so this opens up your options.
Things to keep in mind
Even if you’ve spoken to a late-night bar and made a formal reservation for your after-party, be aware that by law, they’re entitled (and obligated) to turn away anyone that is obviously off-their-face intoxicated. Which, y’ know, sometimes happens at weddings.
Our tip for managing this is for your wedding MC to make an announcement early on that anyone planning on continuing on to the after-party following the wedding will need to bring their stamina and their straight-face with them – so manage their intake of alcohol accordingly. No one wants to be sent home early.
You may or may not want to put some money behind the bar for the after-party – totally your call. However, we'd recommend paying for some food for people to tuck into as it'll help give people a second wind, and they'll probably wake up feeling better the next morning too.
Wedding After Party Ideas
1. Food and Drink
When your after-party begins, you and your guests will likely be craving some late-night bites. Although you don't need to hire a caterer or have the spread at your reception, it's a good idea to provide some snacks at your after-party, especially since dinner will have been served a few hours ago.
There are plenty of options for affordable food at your after party. For example, you can serve appetisers, similar to what you would see at the wedding's cocktail hour. You may not want to hire staff to serve food, but you can make it classy by arranging finger foods on silver platters.
Provide the ingredients for a DIY treat, like a taco bar or a trail mix bar, for more personalisation. Even a long line of pizzas means your guests have something they can all enjoy.
If you want to splurge, you can even hire a food truck for your after party. Of course, at your post-wedding party, you don't need to serve a full meal, but that doesn't mean you can't be creative and have fun with serving some delicious bites!
When it comes to keeping the drinks flowing, you also have various choices as a host. At the bar, you can offer to cover the costs for your guests. To keep costs lower, you can have an open bar for an hour, then ask your guests to pay for their drinks afterwards.
If you have a signature cocktail, you can offer that to guests and have them cover other types of drinks. For an after-party in a hotel or private room, bring your own bottles of champagne!
From centrepieces to flowers, the decor at a ceremony and reception venue is beautiful and elaborate. However, for your after-party, the decor is less important.
Guests are looking to enjoy themselves, and there's less of an expectation for your venue to be decked out. In some locations, like bars, you may have very few options when it comes to decor or may not be able to decorate at all.
However, for locations like a hotel suite, you can choose to decorate. With just a little effort, you can personalise your late-night party! For your after party, skip centrepieces and candles in favour of keeping it simple.
Throw up some string lights for some mood lighting. String lights also make a great spot for selfies and photos. For a photo corner or just general decor, you can also put up some balloons and streamers.
3. Entertainment and Activities
For the most part, guests are at your after-party to dance, enjoy music, mingle, and eat and drink. While you might spend time choosing between a band or a DJ for your reception, you can curate your own playlist for an after-party.
All you need is a good speaker to blast the music! However, live music can be a fun surprise for guests at an after-party if you have room in your wedding budget. Find a karaoke machine to engage guests and have a good time for an activity that involves music and your guests!
Set up disposable cameras or polaroid cameras for another interactive activity for guests. They can take pictures of the after-party and themselves.
With polaroid pictures, guests can even leave little notes on the back for the happy couple. For an extra special photo booth, bring some props, like hats or oversized sunglasses.
If guests want to attend the after-party but prefer not to dance, you can provide some casual games. For example, giant Jenga or other games tap into childhood nostalgia but add a fun twist! Ultimately, planning entertainment at the wedding after-parties should be simple.
After all the celebration at the wedding, you and your guests will be looking for a chance to take it easy and have some fun. The most important thing is to enjoy your time with guests and find time to catch up with everyone.
Planning an after-party for your wedding may seem like a difficult task, but the essentials are a location, food and drinks, and music! This is the perfect time to thank your guests for coming, spend more time with them, and keep the party going before you head off to your honeymoon.
Frequently Asked Questions
A wedding reception is a party usually held after the completion of a marriage ceremony as hospitality for those who have attended the wedding, hence the name reception: the couple receive society, in the form of family and friends, for the first time as a married couple.
Because the after-party is a relatively new wedding trend, there's no set etiquette for who traditionally pays. The bride's parents may consider it part of the reception and pay for the after-party, especially if it's taking place in the same hotel or resort, since it can be easily added to the final bill.
The after party does not have to cost much at all… you change the atmosphere of the reception room with clubby lighting or party props like light-up champagne bottles, confetti, etc. ... Or just move partygoers to a nearby bar and let them pay and play until they drop.