The cake has been eaten and the last dance is over but the wedding celebration isn't finished yet. Next up on the big-day itinerary? The after-party!
Wedding planner Greg Palomino of CRE8AD8 LLC says that though there are many after-party options, "50 percent of your guests want to keep partying, so by not having one, you're doing yourself a disservice and cutting the night of your life short. Enjoy it and keep it going all night."
No matter how long or short the ceremony and reception are, these days the party continues with more food, drinks and revelry.
"The addition of an after-party of any kind is rapidly gaining popularity," says Diane Wegener of PaperStyle.com, an online stationer, describing an after-party as "a great way to keep the celebratory mood alive."
Typically, after-parties have been more popular with destination weddings where guests have traveled a little or a lot to attend the nuptials. That creates "a sense that you need to show them a good time for the whole weekend in order to make the trip worth it," says Wegener.
But after-parties aren't limited to destination weddings. At weddings near and far, newlyweds want to have a good time and share more of their moment with family and friends.
--Who's the host? Decide whether you want to plan and host the after-party or you want to delegate the job to someone else, like a friend or family member.
--Choose the venue, menu and entertainment. The after-party location should reflect the newlyweds' interests because it's their celebration.
"There is no specific protocol as to venue for hosting as long as you exercise modern manners and don't disturb neighbors or guests trying to sleep," says Sharon Schweitzer, etiquette expert, author and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, noting venues can range from a yacht to a nightclub.
After-parties at Miami's 24-hour ultraclub, E11even Miami have gotten so popular the club offers an "After The Party, It's The After Party" package, which includes VIP table service and a congratulations message for the couple streaming on the club's LED screens.
--Set a budget. Weddings are pricey and after-parties are definitely an added expense.
"The after-party can usually be as much as the reception itself since it's more booze, more food, more fun, more entertainment," says Palomino.
Many couples hire a food truck for late-night munchies like donuts, burgers or pizza. It's not cheap but it's more affordable than hosting a bar tab.
"It may be impossible to underwrite another open bar or catering costs," says Schweitzer. "Snacks are always welcome. Friends can pick up the tab in a smaller group setting."
--Continuing the celebration. The festivities can continue for the couple and guests the day after the "I do's," too. Many couples and their families host a farewell brunch, which is especially popular for destination weddings with many out of town guests.
"They're a great opportunity to visit with your guests one last time before everyone packs up and heads home," says Wegener, explaining the brunch can be at a relative or friend's home or at a rented restaurant or ballroom.
Guests should not have to pay for brunch. The hosts pay for those expenses.
*Want to Have an After-Party? Follow These Tips:
--Plan ahead. While after-parties often have "a last-minute thrown together vibe," it's best to "plan months in advance and avoid chaos," says Schweitzer.
--Don't feel pressured to party. You don't have to have an after-party! "Only have an after-party if you want to spend more time with your guests," urges Schweitzer, explaining many couples are tired after the wedding just want to head to the newlywed suite.
--Be inclusive. Here's the tricky part: Everyone who's invited to the wedding reception should be invited to the after-party. The guest list can also include anyone you didn't invite to the reception including co-workers and friends.
"It's important that anyone who is interested can attend, even if only for half an hour," says Schweitzer. "There will be party animals, dancing stars and besties who've traveled many miles who are likely to keep celebrating."
--Spread the word. Give guests details about the party at least a few days before the wedding. You can post the information to your wedding website and share it word of mouth. Be careful about posting it to social media, because you could end up with uninvited guests.
Kristen Castillo is a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. An
editor and writer for wedding magazines, she's written hundreds of wedding articles, as well as an e-book, "Weddings on a Dime."