If you organize a spectacular wedding with food, music, and dancing, chances are your guests are going to be having such a great time they’ll never want the party to end. So that raises the question: why not give them exactly what they want?
When your reception is coming to a close, some of your older guests may be ready to pack it in for the night, but your younger guests may not be. Rather than watch them head off to the clubs, some couples are opting to throw an after-party to benefit those who came a long way for their wedding and don’t want the night to end. The newlyweds may feel the same way, which is why you might want to consider an after-party.
Should You Host a Wedding After-Party?
Young couples used to late nights out with friends and coworkers know that some of their guests will want to turn in early, but for those who don’t, a wedding after-party keeps the celebration — and the fun — going. This can also be a way to connect with friends you only briefly chatted with during the crowded reception, and to let everyone continue to enjoy the music, dancing, drinks, and camaraderie. After-parties are usually far less formal than the reception, so everyone can relax, have a great time, and keep on dancing.
If you’re now thinking about hosting an after-hours party, you’ve got some options.
How to Organize a Wedding After-Party
After-parties are usually organized in one of three ways. One is to avoid planning anything in advance and allowing your guests to decide what they want to do, from staying at your venue to heading off together to a favorite local watering hole.
Second, you can select a location, with an open invitation that anyone attending your reception can head over there if they’re so inclined.
The third is to plan a very well-organized after-party celebration, usually at the same venue — but one where the drinks, music and dancing all get ramped up. You could also plan for mixing in additional forms of entertainment, from a DJ to a specialized food tray.
It’s important to be sure that wherever you go, it’s a convenient location and close enough to the reception that it suits everybody, particularly your out-of-town guests who are staying in local hotels. And consider the likelihood that by the time the reception is over some of your guests will have already been drinking, so you might want to provide transportation to the after-party spot, such as booking a shuttle so your guests can get around safely.
A key factor is to decide early, especially if you don’t want to leave it to chance that your favorite bar or nightclub either won’t be open that night or will be too crowded to accommodate everyone. That’s one reason why hosting the after-party at your wedding venue is a smart idea.
What to Include in an After-Party
If wedding receptions tend to be formal, after-parties are typically casual affairs, so when you’re doing your planning, the emphasis is less on decorations or formal attire than making sure everyone has a terrific time.
One option is to feed your guests. Even if you had a sumptuous dinner at the reception, your guests might get hungry again after spending hours on the dance floor. You don’t need to provide another full course meal, but it’s nice to provide them with something to snack on. It’s also going to be up to you to decide if you want an open bar at your after-party.
You can also give your guests the option to change clothes right before the after-party begins, either by heading over to their hotel or having a change of clothes available in their car. Now that the reception is over, guests could be encouraged to get out of their formal wear and put on something more comfortable. And it’s up to you to decide if you’d rather have themed clothing during your after-party, like a Hawaiian Night theme.
If you do decide to host an after-party, don’t forget to send out invitations. It could be an insert along with your wedding invite, or a post on social media, or word of mouth after letting friends and family know about it in advance.
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