The reception is winding down after the wedding of your dreams. Everything was just as you imagined, but you’re not ready for it all to be over. Have no fear; your wedding day doesn’t have to stop here. Adding a few spirited wedding after-party ideas to the day’s agenda will keep the merriment alive and the party going!
Whether you’re deep into the planning stage or just starting to dream up wedding after-party ideas, we can help. We put together a list of ideas to help couples plan the post-reception bash of a lifetime. From sending invitations to picking the menu, we’ve gathered a list of ideas to help you plan, host, and enjoy a phenomenal wedding after-party.
Keep the wedding train rolling with these wedding after-party ideas
A wedding after-party isn’t much different than any other kind — it’s a post-party blowout complete with food, drinks, and entertainment. If you’re in the early stages of wedding planning, you may be trying to decide which wedding after-party ideas will work best for you. To help, ask yourself a few questions:
Will the party be intricately planned or a spur-of-the-moment affair?
Will you be footing the bill or will after-party guests pay-as-they-go?
Should guests plan to change outfits after the reception or stay in formal attire?
Wedding after-party ideas to get the planning started
1. Select your style.
Settle on a style for the after-party and plan the event around it. Whether you’re interested in elongating an elegant evening with extended family or party-hopping around town with a group of close friends, choosing an “after-party vibe” early in the planning process can make it much easier to nail down event specifics later.
2. Create a separate guest list.
Couples with the financial means to do so should invite everyone attending the reception to the wedding after-party, especially if both events are taking place in the same location. After-party invitation etiquette is comparable to wedding plus-one etiquette: If you can afford to extend an after-party invitation to everyone, great!
For many couples on a budget, however, extending an after-party invitation to all guests may not be affordable. If you’re not able to invite all of your wedding guests to the after-party, make note of individuals you would like to invite when finalizing your wedding guest list. Getting a headcount early will help you pick a venue for the event and give you a better understanding of the accommodations you can afford.
3. Include a separate invitation insert or a separate mass e-vite.
Couples who plan to host a more exclusive invite-only wedding after-party should take care not to advertise the party openly to non-invited guests. Friends and family may take offense or feel excluded to learn they did not receive an invitation, and that’s not something most newlyweds want to deal with. Avoid including after-party information on formal printed wedding invitations. Instead, include after-party information on a separate insert for select guests, send homemade invitations separately, or send a separate e-vite to your wedding after-party people.
4. Include event duration, location, and dress code details if applicable.
Wedding after-party invitations don’t have to be formal or follow any set guidelines. Many couples don’t send invitations at all — they simply spread the word as the event nears. For those who do send out invitations, feel free to simply include time and location details, and any wedding dress code information that may be required.
5. Keep the location a surprise.
If you’re looking for ways to wow your wedding guests, surprise after-partiers with the event destination on the way there. Keep in mind, however, that if you make secret after-party plans, those plans should include safe transportation for all guests, which we’ll talk more about later.
Wedding after-party venue ideas
Once you have a general idea of the kind of after-party you would like to throw, you’re ready to start exploring wedding after-party venues.
6. Have the after-party at the reception venue to save money.
Logistically, it can be much easier to plan a wedding after-party at the same venue as the reception. If all of your wedding guests are invited to attend the after-party, making a few minor changes can help transform reception space into an after-party arena. Couples who are hosting a more exclusive party in the same location should be prepared to book a separate area of the venue to avoid awkward encounters. Pick a wedding venue that has separate event space or a large suite to house the after-partiers.
Many wedding venues have noise restrictions or event cut-off times that could hinder hosting the ideal wedding after-party on location. Add “after-party accommodations” to your ultimate wedding venue checklist as a reminder to ask about after-party restrictions during venue tours.
Find the perfect wedding after-party venue!
7. Book an off-site venue for your wedding after-party early.
Don’t let finding a venue for the wedding after-party become an afterthought. In high-demand locations and popular wedding destinations, venue openings tend to get more difficult to find the closer you get to an event date. If you’re interested in hosting an after-party away from the wedding venue, reserve the after-party venue as soon as possible after confirming reception space.
8. Choose a wedding after-party venue near the reception or guest hotel.
The further the after-party venue is away from the reception venue, the higher the likelihood that some guests will fall off the party wagon in transit. Try to book an event venue within 10-15 minutes of the reception or the primary guest hotel to make switching locations easy on everyone.
9. Provide transportation to and from the after-party.
Depending on your wedding timeline, guests may have consumed a fair amount of alcohol by the time the wedding after-party rolls around. Guest safety should always be a priority, and choosing wedding transportation ahead of time will help prevent unnecessary risk. If you don’t have enough money left in your wedding budget to afford car service for post-reception party guests, consider using a ride-share service, such as Uber or Lyft.
Wedding after-party ideas for entertainment
There are endless options for keeping your wedding after-party guests entertained after an exciting and long day. Turn your after-party into an event to remember by planning an out-of-the-box affair.
10. Turn the reception into a silent disco.
Some wedding venues have licensing-related restrictions that may hinder how late music can be played or drinks can be served. If your wedding venue has such restrictions, discuss the potential of turning the wedding reception into a silent disco for the after-party. Instead of dancing to the same speaker-produced music, guests throw on a pair of cool headphones and tune into their favorite music genre. After-party guests can dance late into the night uninterrupted without infringing on any venue policies.
11. Parade through town in a party bus.
Book a party bus and take 10, 20, 30, or even 50 of your favorite wedding guests on a late-night tour of the town. Spend your wedding after-party sipping champagne under strobe lights while taking in the sites with your nearest and dearest.
12. Hit a pool hall.
End your wedding night with some friendly competition between your most cherished loved ones. Visit a pool hall or pub to play billiards, darts, or a few rounds of pinball before the evening’s over.
13. Kick-off married life singing karaoke.
When you can’t say how you feel — sing it! Before heading back to the honeymoon suite, take the after-party to a karaoke bar to belt ballads and eat burgers. See if you can sneak a few quick recordings that will surely get a laugh at a later date.
14. Cash in at a casino.
Is your wedding venue in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or somewhere else known for casinos? If so, consider moving your wedding after-party to the slots.
15. Share a laugh at a stand-up show.
Couples looking for late-night entertainment should consider shuttling guests to a stand-up comedy show after the reception. Opening late and staying open into the wee hours of the morning, stand-up comedy bars, clubs, and events can be found in just about every town.
Wedding after-party ideas for decor
There’s no pressure for couples to spend money on additional decorations for the after-party. Designing a wedding is expensive enough without adding another event to your “Need to Decorate” list, so keep the bill for wedding after-party decorations low, or even better — zero.
16. Keep it simple.
Focus more on the guests and the after-party experience than material decorations for this event.
17. Use lighting to transition from reception to after-party.
Looking for a way to transition from the end of the reception to the beginning of the after-party? A simple change, such as switching up the lighting and adding informal seating or lounge areas, can help signal the shift from reception to post-reception party.
18. Prep for a dance party.
By the end of the night, many of your wedding guests will be ready to really let lose, especially members of the wedding party. After a day of strict schedules and some high stress, treat your guests to the judgement-free dance party of a lifetime, where the most fun wedding songs you know will be pumping at high volume.
Feel free to provide glow sticks, leis, party beads, or other small dance-themed party favors. Or, put your efforts into creating a unique wedding dance floor where guests can bust a move and create a memory.
19. Display your married name(s) in neon.
Light up the after-party by displaying the last name of the newlyweds with neon tube lights. Whether you’re hosting an 80s-themed wedding or looking for a way to help shift gears into “after-party mode,” a custom neon wedding sign can make a great addition.
20. Forgo floral arrangements.
While you may feel compelled to include flowers at the after-party, as floral arrangements are a staple piece of wedding décor, there is no need to dish out extra cash on after-party arrangements. If there’s one place to embrace cheap wedding ideas without fear of judgment, it’s the after-party.
21. Prepare for phenomenal photos.
Your wedding after-party could lead to some pretty incredible photographs. Figure out whether or not you’d like professional-level photos of the after-party prior to choosing a wedding photographer. Discuss after-party event plans with potential photographers early in the planning process so that the after-hours celebration is included in the established service costs.
22. Capture the moments.
Wedding photography is a major expense for many couples. If your budget doesn’t leave room for an after-party photographer, consider setting up a polaroid station or wedding photo booth. Throughout the party, guests can stop by, snap a polaroid, add it to an album, and write a love note for the couple to look at later.
Fun and festive wedding after-party ideas for food and drinks
By the time the after-party rolls around, you and your guests will likely require a refuel. Here are a few ideas to make that happen.
23. Buffer the booze.
Get the guests to eat! Serve pizzas, burgers, tacos, and all of the other late-night snacks we love at your wedding after-party. Fries, sliders, chicken fingers — don’t be afraid to get greasy. Set up a snack bar instead of a cocktail corner to pump up the party’s energy without overserving your guests.
24. The perfect time for chips and dip.
A wedding after-party can be as informal as you’d like. Enjoy an intimate wedding after-party with select guests while snacking on chips and dip. To take your chip game to the next level, set up a buffet-style nacho bar and invite your guests to create a mile-high nacho pile with the toppings of their choice. In the early hours of the morning, this staple snack can really hit the spot.
25. Feast on fast food.
Fast food is not something we typically associate with weddings, but hosting an after-party tosses that expectation to the wind. Set formality aside and chow down on McDonald’s burgers, host a late-night pizza party, or bring the food to you by booking a food truck to greet guests post-reception.
26. Confirm whether the event will be open bar, closed bar, or BYOB.
Let guests know what to expect ahead of time. There’s no pressure to pay for after-party drinks, especially if you hosted an open bar wedding, but giving your late-night party people a heads up could help couples avoid any confusing hiccups later.
27. Keep the napkins nearby.
Wedding finger foods can get messy quickly, especially when in the hands of wedding guests who have probably been consuming cocktails for hours. If you’re planning to serve condiment-heavy snacks or anything that easily drips, be sure to have napkins at the ready. Try to avoid menu items that stain easily and take a tip from us — wet naps are an after-partygoers best friend.
28. Serve nostalgic nightcap shooters.
Depending on the event venue and your personal preference, you may or may not choose to serve alcohol at the after-party. Send guests off with a nostalgic shooter-style combination of vanilla milk and cookies. Serve up milk in a tall shot glass with a bite-size warm chocolate chip cookie to wrap up the evening and send your guests home with a smile.
29. Send guests off with a “snack pack.”
Gift your guests midnight-snack-themed wedding snack boxes as you wrap up an incredible wedding day. Not only will your guests benefit from a belly full of food after a long day of dancing, drinking, and wedding day hoopla, but it’s a gift your guests will genuinely appreciate. Pack affordable, recyclable folding cardboard snack boxes with soda, an energy drink, popcorn, pain relievers, antacids, or whatever post-party favors will best suit your wedding after-party.
30. Give yourself permission to be selfish.
It’s your day; don’t rush it. The after-party can go on for as long as you like (or as long as the venue allows). Do not let anyone rain on your parade. Soak up the once-in-a-lifetime sunrise the next morning if it suits you!
Pick the wedding after-party ideas that fit your style and have a blast!
Will your wedding after-party be hosted outdoors? Check out some of the most popular wedding lawn games couples are using for outdoor entertainment.