Who says you can’t keep celebrating your day of love when the reception ends? While many people call it a day (or night) when their wedding reception comes to an end, others want to keep the good times going with a wedding after-party.
A wedding after-party is a great way to keep celebrating the love of you and your partner with your closest family and friends. Here are eight tips for planning the perfect wedding after-party following a San Francisco city hall marriage ceremony.
1. Invite the Right People
Your wedding ceremony usually includes a very long list of family and friends that want to gather together to watch you and the love of your life exchange vows and officially marry one another. Meanwhile, during the reception, everyone comes together to party, watching you and your new partner dance together while joining in on the dance floor later.
So who should you invite for the post-reception festivities?
Your wedding after-party guest list should be the same as the reception guest list. That way, the people that took time out of their busy schedules and traveled to see you on your big day can continue having fun and celebrating with you.
Keep in mind that not everyone who attends your reception will be able to come to the after-party. However, it’s good wedding etiquette to extend the invite, letting your guests know that you appreciate having them with you while you and your partner take this next big step.
2. Think About When It Should Start
Ideally, you should start the after-party right after the reception. This way, you can keep the hype going.
However, the time also depends on the venue. If you’re staying at the same place as the reception, consider changing things up a bit by dimming the lights, turning up some upbeat music, and encouraging your guests to kick off their shoes.
If you’re moving to a different party venue, check with the venue hosts about what time you can start and end the event. You also want to make sure that guests have enough time to travel from one venue to another and know where to go.
3. Send Out After-Party Invites
The best way to let your guests know that you’re having a wedding after-party is by sending them an invite! If you’re inviting all your wedding guests, you can advertise it on the formal wedding invite along with ceremony and reception details.
But if you’re only inviting certain people to the after-party, let them know separately. You can do this by word of mouth or by slipping an insert into certain wedding invitations. Make sure everyone is clear on who is coming to the after-party, where it is, and when it starts.
4. Plan for How Long the Party Is Going to Last
Although there are no actual rules saying how long your wedding after-party should be, most last around two hours.
However, if you’re having a destination wedding with a smaller crowd, no one will stop you from throwing an all-nighter. You know your guests better than anyone, so you can probably determine if you’re guests will want to party or night or call it after a couple of hours.
5. Determine Who’s Paying for It
Tradition calls for the bride’s family to pay for the ceremony, but since wedding after-parties are a relatively modern concept, there’s no tradition that determines who pays for it. Since you and your partner are hosting it, you can expect the two of you to be responsible for paying for the venue, drinks, food, and whatever else your after-party will have.
Keep this in mind when budgeting for your wedding. Some couples include it in the reception budget, while others keep it completely separate.
6. Plan the Decor
You put a lot of thought into how you decorate the venue for your wedding ceremony and reception, but you don’t have to do too much for the after-party.
You’ve already stunned your guests with your gorgeous wedding dress, dazzling ceremony, and exciting reception. So you don’t have to put too much thought into your after-party decorations.
To keep things exciting, consider changing up the lighting and adding some seats for lounging. You can also throw in glow sticks and fun hats to keep your guests engaged, but you don’t need to plan a separate floral arrangement or add new centerpieces.
7. Consider Who’s Going to Take the Pictures
You’ll hang the formal pictures of you and your spouse in your house while enjoying the beautiful reception photos with family and friends for years. But some of the most fun and memorable photos will come from your after-party!
If you’re hiring a professional photographer for the big day, consider whether you want them at the after-party. You will typically hire the photographer for a set number of hours, so you may need to pay extra to have them stay for the after-party in addition to the ceremony and reception.
If you want to keep things more budget-friendly, let the photographer go after the reception and give your guests disposable cameras. You can also be pretty confident that your friends and family will capture plenty of pictures on their phones while you all continue dancing and singing the night away. Just remember to get the pictures from them after!
8. Be Ready to Have Fun
If there’s one thing that every couple can agree on, it’s this: wedding planning can be stressful. However, the months (or years!) of planning, budgeting, and prepping are worth it when you see everything come together. So when it’s time for the wedding after-party, make sure you have as much fun with it as possible.
Dance the night away to your favorite songs, sing loud, and remember that this is one of the best days of your life, so go big!
Need more tips for planning your wedding or want to explore the top reception ideas? Contact us at City Hall Wedding to learn more about planning a killer after-party or getting married at city hall!