Your wedding day is coming to a close, but you and your guests don’t want the night to end. An after party is the perfect cap for your late night guests. Plan your after party ahead of time so that the night doesn’t have to end too soon!
Why Host a Wedding After Party?
Wedding after parties are the perfect way to keep the celebration going even after the wedding reception. For the happy couple, it’s a way to continue connecting with close friends they may not have seen much during the reception. For the guests, it’s an opportunity to enjoy the festivities of the day late into the night.
When you’re searching for a wedding venue, ask questions like how long you can stay. If your venue closes early, hosting an after party can be a great experience for you and your guests. On the other hand, if you plan on staying at your reception until past midnight, a wedding after party isn’t always ideal.
Wedding after parties give you a chance to celebrate with guests that you rarely see, like family members or friends who have traveled from out of state. Plus, it’s just plain fun to keep the music going and to keep dancing! An after party isn’t as formal as a reception, but for some couples, it’s just as important to host an after party. Whether you plan an after party is up to you, but we have some tips and tricks when it comes to planning a memorable post-wedding party.
How To Throw an After Party
Places to Host a Party
Like with your ceremony and reception, it’s always important to find a good venue. 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 socialize 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 cities, there are a wide variety of bars, so whether you want to listen to jazz and live music or prefer colorful, 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.
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 make an announcement about 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.
Whether it’s arriving or leaving the after party, make sure guests have some form of transportation. While it’s not necessary to hire a transportation service, it’s an added bonus for your guests. However, you should notify your guests of the after party location and how to get there.
You can hire a shuttle or a few cabs, but if this is out of your price range, you can inform guests of different available transportation options. If you have a wedding website, provide the names of a few local car services. You can also clearly designate a spot at your reception venue for ride share pickups. If they’re able to drive or the after party is within walking distance, guests can opt to go to the venue themselves with no added costs.
Dress and Attire
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 anything other outfit that suits you. Just make sure that you pack up and store your wedding dress before you head out to the after party. This 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.
Wedding After Party Ideas
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. You can serve appetizers, 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.
For more personalization, provide the ingredients for a DIY treat, like a taco bar or a trail mix bar. 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. 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 a variety of 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 afterward. 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 centerpieces to flowers, decor at a ceremony and reception venue is beautiful and elaborate. For your after party, 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 little 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 personalize your late night party! For your after party, skip centerpieces and candles in favor 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.
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. For an activity that involves music and your guests, find a karaoke machine to engage guests and have a good time!
Set up disposable cameras or polaroid camera 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. Giant Jenga or other games tap into childhood nostalgia but add a fun twist! Ultimately, planning entertainment at 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.
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