How to Plan the Perfect Wedding After-Party

Your special day might be over, but your celebrations don’t have to end! A wedding after-party is an opportunity to prolong the night, create a memorable experience, and give guests something to look forward to following your big day.

This post-wedding event has become more and more popular with couples who don’t want the party to end. And although some brides might be skeptical about organizing, it certainly doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. The best part about planning a wedding after-party is that you can keep it as low-key as you like. There are no rules! The focus is on letting loose with your closest friends and family. So from a silent disco or a karaoke session to an intimate gathering around an outdoor fire pit, you can choose your own unique way to keep the fun going!

If you don’t want your wedding celebrations to end, follow our essential tips below on how to plan the perfect wedding after-party!

What Is a Wedding After-Party?

A wedding after-party is a celebration of the newlyweds’ marriage. The party can take place on the same day as the wedding, or a few days later. It’s typically held at a venue that is close to the wedding site and includes food, drink, entertainment, and activities.

There are many different types of wedding after-parties. Some events are more formal than others, depending on the style of the wedding. But they’ll serve one purpose: to celebrate the couple’s marriage and to help them relax after their big day.

Where Is It Hosted?

Couples can choose where they prefer to host their post-wedding celebration. It can be an intimate gathering with close friends and family or a large party with more people attending. It can take place in someone’s backyard, at a hotel suite, or at another venue. Whatever its size, it’s most often held the same night of the wedding.

Who Pays For The Party?

Usually the bride and groom will be the hosts. So, make sure to allocate a space in your budget if you’re going to plan an after-party. You won’t need to spend as much as the reception, but do keep in mind venue hire, transport, food and drink, and any entertainment as a minimum. This includes any alcohol costs. If you’re using the same venue as your reception, the venue may be able to offer you a package to include the celebration. Another option is to cover costs of alcoholic drinks for a set amount of time, and then the guests will pay.

Why Host a Wedding After-Party?

There are several reasons for hosting a post-wedding party. First, it’s an opportunity to celebrate your big day with friends and family who have been there for you throughout the wedding process. It’s a far less formal event, so you can unwind together and let go of all the stress and worries of wedding planning. Secondly, it’s an opportunity to talk to your guests who you may not have had time to see during the reception or even with guests you rarely see in your daily life.

Couples sometimes choose to invite fewer guests and offer them an exclusive and intimate gathering. Or they may invite more guests, so that those who aren’t able to make it to the ceremony, have a chance to join you for celebrations later on. Finally, it’s a fun excuse to share in the joy of your new life!

wedding after-party
Photography: Melissa Marshall

Send Out Invites

Couples usually invite all of the guests that were at their reception. Some may not be able to continue celebrating, including children, older guests, and out-of-town guests that need to leave early. There may also be some people who had other commitments during your reception, but who are able to make it to your late night party. So the best way to let your guests know about the wedding-after party is on your wedding website. This way you can update any information quickly, and it’s easy for your guests to find. You can also choose to include the invite within your wedding invitation, as an additional insert.

Location, Location, Location

The easiest place to host your after-party is at your reception location. Talk to your venue to see what options are available. However, sometimes it’s not possible as there could be music limitations, or the staff might need the space clear for the next day. Some couples choose to switch up the venue to something more intimate, or a location with a bigger dance floor and entertainment space. You can even get creative with your location, and hire a karaoke bar, a bowling alley, an arcade, a silent disco or go all out and hire a boat! In all cases, if you’re definitely set on hosting a celebration after your reception, then make sure you think about venue logistics from the start. After all, you don’t want to be left wanting the fun to continue without a location to do so!

Give Your Guests A Ride Home

Your guests will appreciate it if you select a venue that’s near to their accommodation. They’ll probably stay longer if you do! This also includes planning transport, for two main reasons. Firstly, most guests will probably want a drink or two, so make sure that they all stay safe when heading back to where they’re staying. Secondly, if your party is continuing late into the night, then it’s unlikely that public transport options will be available. So consider hiring a bus to shuttle guests to their hotels. Another alternative is to talk to a local hire company to see what services they can offer if you have a large group. You can also ask your guests if anyone will be driving, and organize a ride-share. But don’t forget to make sure that your guests have the number for a local taxi service, in case they want to leave at different times.

wedding reception
Photography: Brooke Taelor

Remember Food and Drinks

When it comes to the wedding after-party, drinks are of course a must but so is food! Your guests will probably want to satisfy any late-night cravings so provide some fun snacks for them. They’ll also need energy to keep the party going! Recently, more and more couples are opting for food trucks. A great way to gauge which party food to go for, is to post a poll on your wedding website. Give your guests a few options, including favorites such as pizza, burgers, fries or tacos, and see which turns out to be the most popular. If you want a more budget-friendly option, then consider some DIY crudités and dips, and place them around your venue.

Entertainment Will Be Key

You can’t have a party without entertainment so the best option is to hire a DJ or local band for the event. Check with your reception entertainers to see what availability they have. If you need a cheaper option, then work on your own playlist during the lead up to the wedding. This is another way you can get your guests involved. Include a section on your wedding website or your wedding invitations, so that your guests can note down their favorite song. This way, you have an easy playlist that you know everyone will enjoy! But make sure that it’s a few hours long.

Add Some Decor

You probably won’t need to think too much about your decoration, as the main focus is to dance the night away. But you can add in some special lighting around your dance floor, or some neon signs for photo ops. If you have an outdoor space, then consider creating a small lounge area for your guests to take a break in. Also, you can think of making the most of your ceremony and reception decor by recycling it for your after-party.

wedding food
Photography: Emilie May

Switch Up Your Look

A wedding after-party is a great excuse to change up your look! Choose a new outfit to wow your partner and your guests. As soon as they see you, they’ll know the party is about to begin! More brides are opting for a suit to dance the night away. But you can also go with a mini dress or a minimal slip dress. This is also your chance to keep the white theme going or to get creative and choose one of your favorite colors from your wedding theme! The best part? You’ll already have your hair and make up ready to go from earlier in the day so just do a couple of touch ups, or let your up do loose and you’ll be ready to go!

Capture The Memories

This is the best time to capture memories. Everyone will be enjoying themselves and in the best mood, so you’ll get some amazing photos to look back on. A photographer or videographer will be able to pause those special moments and perspectives for you. The difference in lighting will also give you a unique contrast to your day celebrations. If you don’t want to hire a photographer for the event, why not buy some disposable cameras for your guests to use. You’re bound to have a few laughs when you go to print them!

Be Present In The Moment

Most importantly, be present. You no longer have to think about the logistics of your ceremony and reception or make sure that everything is running smoothly. The main event is over, and now it’s your time to continue the fun with your loved ones. You’ll have no commitments the next day, so keep dancing and making the most special day of your life last a little longer.

wedding after-party
Photography: Alyssa Marie

Now you’re ready to host the perfect wedding after-party that your guests will remember for years to come! For more wedding planning tips head over to WedBoard. You’ll find more ideas for pre and post-wedding events including, How To Plan An Engagement Party, How To Plan the Perfect Post-Wedding Brunch, and 12 Unique Destination Wedding Activities.

Featured image: Samuel Docker

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