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wedding after party

How to Plan a Wedding After-Party: A Guide

Steps to Planning a Wedding After-Party 

After the DJ plays the last song at your wedding reception, you might not be ready to call it a night. Here are 9 key things to add to your to-do list and a step by step guide to planning a wedding after party.

1. Choose a Venue That’s Low-Cost—or Free

Save your $$$—there’s no need to splurge on an after-party venue. If your reception space has more than one room, relocate everyone there for a change of scenery. (Just talk to your reception venue beforehand in case there are restrictions or time limits.) They might even move decorations and uneaten food for you.

Another option that’s great is when all your guests are staying at the same hotel: a hotel meeting room or bar. Bonus: You won’t have to worry about friends getting home safely if their journey is a quick elevator ride upstairs.

Or think of a favorite late-night restaurant, dive bar, or diner that’s open late and conveniently located, within a few minutes of the reception site. In warmer months, a friend’s or family member’s backyard also works! With everyone dressed up, even an ordinary setting will feel festive. Size matters, too – the smaller and more intimate the venue, the more fun.

2. BYO Entertainment

Cool down after all that dancing with some low-key fun. Toss beanbags, stack blocks into towers, or play cards while catching up with old friends. Looking for a parting gift? Games make great favors too! And don’t forget to set out photo props like masks, feather boas, and hats to encourage silly selfies. 

Getting your guests involved in a little friendly competition is a great way to ensure more people are involved in your after-party. Consider creating some sort of tournament associated with any games you play. Beanbag tournament, playing doubles in cribbage, karaoke, etc.

3. Get a Late-Night Snack Delivered

An all-day celebration might leave you and your guests hungry by 10 p.m., so plan to serve something at the after-party. Don’t worry about a gourmet spread—crunchies like chips and pretzels or crowd-pleasing deliveries of pizza and sliders are perfect. Your caterer might let you take reception leftovers with you too (late-night cake, anyone?) If you’re hosting the after-party at your reception space, you can work with your venue/caterer to work this into your food pricing as a whole.

Or if you are moving the after-party to a different location a group order from DoorDash, Postmates, or Uber Eats is a great way for everyone to get what they want, and it’s a chance for you to support a small business. Typically your after-party will be significantly smaller than your reception so this option might be most cost-effective given the number of people attending.

4. Crowdsource the Music

Before the big day, invite everyone to contribute to a collaborative playlist for the wedding after-party, then plug in your phone and hit play. It’s a good time to get in all those requests that aren’t quite appropriate for the reception itself! This eliminates the cost of musicians going into costly overtime by utilizing your own DJ skills. We recommend having the playlist last at least 3 hours, that way even if it doesn’t last that long you have enough of a selection to last through the after-party. Plus regardless of the venue you choose for the after-party, you will be able to have the music that YOU and your guests enjoy without the certain restrictions or considerations you might have during the reception.

5. Consider Transportation

If you’re having the after-party at a different location, you’ll need to think about how your guests will get there. You could hire a shuttle bus to transport everyone, or you can arrange designated drivers. Alternatively, you can provide a list of taxis or ride-sharing apps your guest can use. 

If you are using a different location, make sure that it’s within 15 minutes of the reception. Otherwise, party-goers will start to trickle off regardless of if you provide transportation or not.

6. Photography

The after-party is a great place to capture shots of complete fun and revelry that you won’t want to miss out on. Consider if you will want these moments documented by a videographer or photographer, and you can make sure you discuss the plans with the team you hired for your wedding. If you’re opting for a more cost-effective solution you can see if a family member would be willing to capture these moments. Someone who might be an aspiring photographer themselves. But an even more fun option could be to purchase a polaroid or disposable camera so that way you can keep a majority of those moments a surprise until you get them developed.

7. Wear Something Amazing & Affordable

Think switching up your look for the after-party has to cost a fortune? Think again. Our little white dresses start at just $99.95 (even less if they’re on sale!). Short and other easy-to-wear styles will let you join in the fun, especially if your wedding dress is larger than life, with a train and poufy layers.

You can also take this opportunity to dress more comfortably and casually than previously at your reception. You can swap your dress for a comfy jumpsuit, or cozy white PJs, or even wear matching t-shirts or outfits with your new husband or wife. 

8. Who Gets Invited and How Do I Invite Guests?

All wedding guests attending your reception should be invited to the after-party. But keep in mind that older guests or those with children may not attend the after-party. 

If your after-party takes place in a different location, it’s a great idea to include a separate insert within the wedding invitation or send out a massive e-vite. For a less formal approach, you can always use word of mouth, if the reception itself transforms into the after-party.

9. Have Fun!

This might possibly be the biggest party you ever throw for yourself, so you might as well really enjoy it. It’s your day to be selfish with your big day and drag the fun out for as long as possible with the people you love the most and who want to celebrate with you. It could be a small group towards the end of the night so it’s your turn to get creative with after-party options for the reception. 

Regardless of how you choose to plan and celebrate your wedding after-party, your day will be everything you’ve it will be. Your loved ones celebrate with you all day and night. Do what makes you and your new spouse happy.

Featured Image: @devinnmattson

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