In last week’s blog post, we discussed some factors to consider in deciding whether or not an official after-party is an activity you should be adding to your wedding festivities. Now that you’ve discussed it all through and decided that you want to go ahead with an after-party, here are some logistical points to check off.
How will you communicate the party to your guests? If it’s important to you that lots of guests attend your after-party, it’s important to communicate it early on so your guests can factor it into their plans – suddenly hearing about an after-party at the close of the wedding, when guests were just starting to dream about their beds and rub their aching feet, is not the best way to get attendance. You can mention it briefly in your wedding invitation (eg, “reception to be followed by after-party in hotel lobby”), and give more detail on your wedding website about exactly when, where and how your guests can reach the event. At the wedding itself, you can ask your MC to mention it at the beginning of the evening as part of the night’s agenda, and/or with more detail at the end of the reception when it’s time to move people there. Make sure your bridal party is at the ready to lead people to buses or on foot.
In our case, our reception/hotel venue was concerned about noise from the after-party breaching their sound restrictions, so they asked us not to promote the party too heavily to our guests. As such, we only spread it via word of mouth – not even on our wedding website. Because we live in my groom’s country, and the wedding was in my country, we only got to spread it to guests from his country through this method… and guests from his country were the only ones who showed up. That still made a group of 20, but I was disappointed that none of my friends and family came along. In hindsight, I wish we’d politely ignored the venue’s request: sure, they would have caught us out if the MC promoted it at the reception, but they wouldn’t have known if we’d put the after-party on our invitation or wedding website, or simply mentioned it in a group email to our guests.
Will you and your new spouse attend the after-party? Just because you’re having an after-party, doesn’t mean that you and your groom actually have to join it. If you want to continue hanging out with you guests, especially if they’re people you don’t see very often, then by all means stick around! However, if you’re organizing the after-party so that your guests have more fun ahead, but you’re hoping to relax at the end of a very busy day, feel free to skip it. Also, if you’ve done a particularly grand exit from your reception, you might feel awkward re-surfacing for an after-party. Alternatively, compromise by making a short visit to your after-party.
At the Reflective Wedding, I was fine to skip our after-party, but my groom was keen to join (because in his country weddings last much longer than they do in mine), so we agreed to stop by. However, I wish we’d agreed in advance on what time we would arrive and leave. I was exhausted by 3am, but my new spouse wanted to party on. As such, my brother walked me back to our hotel room, and I went to bed alone… until my new hubby showed up an hour later. Not the most romantic start to married life!
What will you wear? If you’ve decided that you will attend the after-party, next consider what you will wear there. The groom can easily continue on in his wedding outfit, but wedding dresses do rather stand out, and aren’t always the most comfortable things to wear. If you’re going somewhere public, like a local bar, you might prefer to change outfits so that other patrons aren’t staring at you all evening. However, you might be happy to wear it if you’re just at the private home of a guest. Also, a long train might not be the most practical accessory if you are walking around in public places where it could get stepped on. For our after-party, I bought a knee-length silver dress – short enough to move around easily in, but the silver gave it a bit more of a bridal look.
How will you handle music? If you’re in a public bar for your after-party, you music needs are already covered. But if you’re in a private space, you might like to arrange some tunes to ensure a better atmosphere at the celebrations. If you’re budget and venue allow for it, you could invite a DJ along, but most guests won’t have expectations that high for your after-party. You could consider asking a musically-inclined guest to take care of things, or simply create a playlist or CD in advance. (Just make sure you pay for a subscription, so that your partying isn’t interrupted with advertisements.) If your stereo or computer speakers aren’t loud enough, buy or borrow some extra speakers to make sure your fav songs don’t sound too tinny.