Postwedding Festivities: Hosting the After-Hours
by Amy Shey
These days, newlyweds no longer ride
off into the sunset, headed for an evening of unbridled post-nuptial
passion and other wedding-night cliches. Even if a bout of candlelit lovin'
is in the cards, most couples find that it's also important to prolong the
festivities at a post-reception blowout with friends and family,
especially with those who have trekked great distances to attend the
wedding. (After all, when is the last time all these people were together
in one place?) At any celebration, there are always revelers who refuse to
let the good times come to a close, so it's a good idea to have an
after-hours game plan. Gracious hosts (and just admit it, incorrigible
party animals) that you are, you'll need a quick guide to help make sure
everyone has a place to party while the adrenaline's still pumping and
nobody's quite ready to call it a night.
What probably started out as an impromptu idea hatched by someone not
ready to call it quits ("So, are we doing anything after this wedding
reception?") is now a fairly formalized institution. The
"after-party party" is still a pretty informal gathering,
though, generally thrown for the couple's closest friends and any crazy
relatives who want to attend. A stringent guest list is rarely adhered to,
but some couples aim to restrict the post-reception bash to the bridal
party, while others choose to invite anyone and everyone who's begging for
more. You might want to start by determining who will definitely be in tow
(your high-strung sorority sisters, your lushy little brother, and other
bon vivants) and then just know to expect other guests who spontaneously
decide they, too, want in on the action.
SPREADING THE WORD
Get the crowd psyched up for the festivities by sending out invitations.
Try not to make it sound exclusive and secretive -- you don't want to hurt
feelings. You needn't make the merriment undercover, because you basically
already know who's coming. Your grandparents, for one, will probably have
other plans. Ditto for your 13-year-old cousin. Mention the party at the
bachelor and bachelorette bashes (those crazy kids are all shoe-ins for
the shindig) and maybe follow up with invitations in the hotel room
hospitality baskets. Or send an electronic invitation (a.k.a. e-vite) to
guests: log onto www.evite.com, where easy how-to instructions allow you
to custom-design your invitation with electronic images and funky fonts.
As for handling the technically uninvited, have your attendants field
queries by delivering the where/when details via word of mouth at the
reception. Everyone should feel welcome to join, but most will probably be
WHERE'S THE PARTY?
Before you figure out where it's all going to go down, think about how
you'd like to celebrate. You might want to plan the party to contrast with
the type of wedding you're having. For example, if you'll be having a noon
wedding followed by a low-key luncheon affair, a buttoned-up reception due
to religious/military requirements, or an evening reception in a country
club that doesn't allow loud music, why not throw an all-out extravaganza
for your friends later that night? Springing for a simple gathering in the
hotel bar or bridal suite is standard. Or you can rent out a room at a
favorite local watering hole or restaurant (be sure to make reservations
in advance). Have the bridesmaids and groomsmen tote some of the leftovers
to party central for when you get the munchies, and a table centerpiece or
two will do wonders for ambience. Of course, if you're feeling creative,
choose from a variety of theme bashes to keep the buzz going strong. Here
are a few ideas to give you a head start:
BYOAB: (Translation: "Bring Your Own Airplane Bottles.")
Invite your friends to crash their mini-bars at your expense. Stash
the bathtub of your bridal suite with ice and sodas from down the
hall, and enjoy that cable television and souped-up Jacuzzi. When
you're ready to be alone, know that you reserve the right to kick
everyone out at any time.
Sing-a-Thon: Sing your hearts out at your local karaoke joint or
swanky piano bar. There's nothing wrong with a little healthy
competition between the guys and dolls: Compete for best ensemble act
with classic battle-of-the-sexes ditties like "You're The One
That I Want" from Grease, and Meatloaf's "Paradise by the
Rock-n-Bowl: Ditch your silk and stilettos for oh-so-chic bowling
shoes at your local bowling alley. You and your King Pin can score
with a great night of after-hours bowling and booze, ensuring that
there'll be little energy left to spare.
Big Spender: If you live within traveling distance of a casino, rent
a limo or party bus and hit the slot machines. For those of you who
prefer to stay close to home, hire a local entertainment company to
set up shop in your hotel suite -- roulette and blackjack tables are
easiest. Or just grab some cigars, a few bowls of chips and pretzels,
and play poker. Use Monopoly money...unless your friends prefer higher
The Night Train: If your friends are night owls, organize a local
bar or club crawl. Spring for transportation (cabs, limo, or party
bus), because absolutely no one should be driving to any of these
activities if drinking is part of the picture. Dole out $10-$20 a
person to cover first drinks or the cover charge. If possible, make
reservations at every spot you plan to hit, or else call beforehand to
confirm that they can accommodate your crowd.
A friendly word of caution: Even though you're a pair of
event-planning pros by now, try to leave the major details of the
after-party party to your maid of honor and best man. You've got
enough on your hands, and having fun 'til the fat lady sings should be
priority number one.
Even if the after-party party will be happening in makeshift
surroundings, you can generally expect everyone to still be in their
party clothes. At a hotel, many guests will want to change into more
casual gear, but if you want to sport your wedding day duds 'til dawn,
don't feel obligated to remove them. True, a poufy white tulle gown
will seem out of place at a local dive and will likely call much
attention to you and your satin-clad entourage, but don't let that
stop you from playing the princess card for as long as you wish.
Besides, you might even score some free congratulatory drinks. On the
other hand, if most of the party seem at home in their fancy
wedding-day getups and you'd prefer to ditch the pearls and pantyhose,
slip into comfy clothes. If appropriate, you can even stomp around in
your peignoir and pajamas.
FOOTING THE BILL
So, the big question is: Who's paying? Chances are there will be many
a guest offering to pick up some six-packs at the local convenience
store or slap down their credit cards at the bar. Yes, you've forked
out quite a chunk of change for the wedding, but so have your friends.
Between the showers, bachelorette and bachelor parties, gifts, attire,
hotels, and travel, they've spent quite a lot to be a part of your
celebration. Covering the cost of the after-party party is the perfect
way for you to thank your crew for their exertions. No need to go
overboard -- if you're worried about overspending, just put a cap on
the craziness after an hour or two.
This article originally appeared
Questions about South Shore Weddings.com
to contact us.