Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wedding Reception After Parties

There's no reason that the end of a wedding reception has to be the end of the night.  Increasingly, we are seeing evidence (ahem, from the states of the tuxedo rentals that are being returned after weddings), that couples are breaking through the 11pm barrier and pushing on till the break of dawn.  It's a great way for your guests to enjoy the wedding in a more relaxed atmosphere, especially if your reception was formal.  

Plus, it can be a great way to unwind after the stress of a reception.  One after party we know of was in a hotel suite, and the couple spent the entire party on the balcony, alone with each other, reminiscing about the day, since they had had so little time to actually talk to each other.  How sweet.  We've also seen after parties in pubs on a karaoke night - much more fun than that can hardly be imagined!  You can be as low key or as formal as you want - we've even heard of after parties were the newlywed couple made another grand entrance!

Here are a few tips and ideas to make your wedding reception after hours a hit.

Some popular places for an after party to be held are:
  • a hospitality suite in the hotel where the reception took place
  • the hotel lobby bar
  • a nearby bar or pub
  • a nearby restaurant
  • someone's house or backyard
Some of these, such as a hospitality suite, require planning in advance, while others, such as a nearby pub, could be more impromptu.  However, if you want the event to go smoothly, it would serve you will to plan in advance.  For example, you can call a bar in advance and let you know that you'll be bringing a certain amount of people - they may close off a special section for you and/or offer you drink specials.

If you're going to host a hospitality suite in a hotel, you must plan in advance because you'll need to have a stocked bar.  Also, it's important to have some food for your guests to snack on. The same goes if the party will be at someone's house.  These types of after parties are great because you literally can keep on going for as long as you like - at a public venue, eventually you'll have to leave.

What's most important, however, is how close the party is to the reception location, both because the closer it is, the more people will come, and because you don't want people to have to drive if they don't have to - for obvious reasons. If necessary, you should arrange in advance for transportation to the after party if it's needed.
If you're going to have the after party in the hotel lobby, make sure you know around about what time you'll have to clear the lobby and take it to your room. The same goes for bars - this may influence whether you want to just get a suite in a hotel or make other arrangements.  If you're lucky, there may be a casino nearby you could hit up! 

A great way to spread the word about the after party is on your wedding website, if you have one.  Word of mouth always works too.  We've even heard of couples providing groomsmen with business sized cards that act as invites, which are passed around at the reception. The one problem with this method, though, is that not everyone may be handed a card - and etiquette requires that everyone that's invited to the reception be invited to the after party. Whether you choose to invite everyone, of course, is up to you.

We know that, generally, you're not going to want everyone at the after party - so structure it in a way that will minimize the chances that Uncle Ebert will show up with his ukulele -  a good way to do this is to have the party in a loud place!  But realistically, yes, the one drunken cousin will show up, but that's what keeps things interesting, isn't it?

If you're setting up a hospitality suite, then the couple (or their families) should be responsible for paying for the drinks and food.  However, if you're heading out to a bar, there's no reason why everyone can't fend for themselves and pay their own way, if that's what you want.

If you are going to pay for people's drinks at a public venue, you should make sure that you have a section reserved just for your party, or that there is some other way of making sure you're not paying for everyone at the bar - wristbands for the wedding guests are a good way to go. Or, you could go all out and rent out the whole place!


We know you're going to want to look like Frank Sinatra and loosen your tie.  It's inevitable. However, please, please, please do not do this if you are wearing a pre-tied bowtie.  If you are wearing a pretied bowtie, get a regular bowtie and switch it out right before the party - we won't tell. 



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