How to Throw a Wedding After Party

An aerial view of friends at a wedding after party with confetti and a disco ball.

The year 2021 is dubbed “the year of the wedding after party”—quite a 180-degree turn from 2020, which is said to be the year of the Zoom wedding. Couples today are keen on making the most out of their special day by prolonging the celebration as much as possible. This is where the wedding after party comes in.

What exactly is a wedding after party? The most common version is a casual or semi-formal gathering after the reception. However, some couples who aren’t fond of staying up too late choose to organize it for the day after the wedding. Meanwhile, those who got married amid coronavirus restrictions are basically making it into a second wedding celebration.

With any of the options, the affair is definitely not a formal one; it’s all about having fun. Brides often opt for short dresses or jumpsuits, while the guest dress code rarely exceeds cocktail attire. A wedding after party is a great opportunity to step away from tradition and be a bit more adventurous. If you’re considering an after party as an addition to your big day, here’s all you need to know about hosting one!

Do You Need Invitations?

Who you choose to invite is up to you, but typically couples leave it open-ended and welcome everyone who attends the wedding ceremony and/or reception. If you’re having your after party on the day of or the day after your wedding, consider adding the details on a separate card in your invitation to get a headcount of who’s coming.

Should your afterparty be a separate occasion from your actual wedding, you will want to send out a save-the-date as well as a proper invite, but since it’s a casual event, feel free to skip the stationary and go the email route. However, if you’re timing it to match with your wedding anniversary, it is a good idea to get something printed.

What Venue Should We Choose?

Friends at a wedding after party.

With a wedding after party, your venue choices are essentially unlimited, but will depend on how many people are coming. You don’t need to rent out a proper event space. Feel free to go casual with a backyard picnic or a BBQ at the park. For something more fun, why not rent a party bus or book a private section at a nightclub?

What Is an Appropriate Dress Code?

As previously mentioned, a chic cocktail style is the go-to dress code, but you can be as casual or as formal as you’d like. Most brides, for example, are seeking out shorter, more functional dresses that reflect their personal style along with fashionable accessories such as sparkly heels and statement jewelry. Some, however, choose to make the most out of their ceremonial look. It’s entirely up to you. For guests, base it on the venue and plans for the evening, but encourage everyone to have a bit of fun with their outfits.

Is Entertainment Necessary?

Wedding after parties allow you lots of room for creativity, meaning you’re not limited to traditional wedding entertainment. As music is a must-have, make sure to hire a DJ (unless you have friends with great music taste) in lieu of a live band. But, you may want to go a bit above and beyond with additional things to do. Why not have a karaoke hour, book a stand-up comedian, or host a movie screening? Or, to keep your guests busy, rent out some games such as a pool table, dart boards, mini-golf courses, or even good ol’ arcade machines.

What About Food and Drinks?

A group of friends at an outdoor wedding after party.

There’s no need to go all out with catering—it’s supposed to be a party, after all. Think small bites such as sliders, fries, and tacos—basically, easy-to-eat appetizers that are satisfying. Remember that your guests will likely be drinking so there should be plenty of snacks on hand. If your after party is held on a separate day from your reception, you may want to serve some more substantial foods as well. If you don’t want a big hassle, a food truck is worth considering. And as far as drinks go, consider going for an open bar if you want the best party atmosphere.

Should We Expect Gifts?

Lastly, many couples who are having a wedding after party as a secondary celebration are curious if gifts should be expected. If you received them for your actual wedding, you should probably not count on it. However, some guests may want to bring you a little something, especially if it’s your anniversary. It’s best to avoid mentioning a registry since the after party is more of a casual gathering. But, if you didn’t have any formal event to begin with, you might want to create one in case guests ask.

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