Whether you were forced to postpone your big wedding celebration due to unforeseen circumstances, decided to elope or just want to host a celebration for friends in family in your hometown, planning a post I do reception shouldn’t be left to the last minute. From showcasing your vows and keeping a few wedding traditions to incorporating your original theme and adding elements of your personality to the day, there is a lot to consider. We’ve teamed up with the wedding planners at Sweetheart Events to share 7 tips for hosting the perfect post-wedding reception!
1. The Experience
Always consider the overall experience guests will have at your event. Since a post-wedding reception will not include the same timeline of activities, you want to ensure your guests are entertained throughout the evening whether that comes from dancing and drinking or munching and mingling!
Not sure where to start? Focus on the various creative stations you can offer from food to the bar and cocktails. When you’re not doing a sit-down dinner, you can stretch the budget a bit further and offer a menu that reflects you and your significant other. Perhaps it’s your favourite snack foods or perhaps the signature cocktail you shared on your very first date. Food is one of the most memorable parts of an event so don’t overlook it.
Speak with your caterer to think outside the box and create an interactive menu that is personalized to you and keeps guests entertained. Discuss the overall wow factor you want to create from the moment the guests enter the space. Is that a vignette of decor, a server with a signature cocktail or music that leads you straight to the dancefloor? You decide!
2. The Ceremony
Just because you’ve already tied the knot, doesn’t mean you can’t reshare that special I do moment with those that matter most to you. Whether you share a video from the ceremony followed by a grand entrance of you and your partner running in or have everyone circle around you while you exchange personal vows to each other, we love the idea of incorporating an element from your original ceremony into the post-wedding celebration. After all, everyone is here to celebrate your union so a small memory from what that special day looked like is a must. Plus, some might be viewing this for the very first time!
3. The Design
This is your chance to make it all about YOU!
Bring in elements from your love story to the design. We’re not suggesting to go full theme here but when you’re planning a cocktail reception or post-wedding wedding celebration, it opens up more areas to think outside the box and get creative with your overall design. In this case, our couple chose to get married with a private elopement and invite loved ones to their Havanna Night themed cocktail reception where they would have been celebrating their honeymoon. The food, the cocktails, and the overall florals and signage were designed around the bright colours and tropical vibes of Havana.
4. The Floorplan
Lounge areas are all the rage right now and they’re perfect for a post-wedding reception! Create a floorplan that includes not only soft seating with a fun lounge, but also an area for high and low seating! Guests can sit and mingle in the lounge area while enjoying cocktails. Or, they can sit at high table tops and enjoy the bites from the various food stations! The most important aspect of the floorplan is creating good flow throughout the room from the entrance to the dancefloor. You don’t want your guests to feel cramped, or like they can’t get down to all those groovy tunes!
5. Hire Professionals
While planning a reception may seem less daunting than just the ceremony, hiring the professionals will allow you to be fully present. You may not need a full team of professionals like you do for a full wedding rehearsal dinner, ceremony, and reception, however, we recommend a planner, a caterer, a rental company, and a florist! A bartender was never a bad idea, either!
6. Keep Traditions
While a wedding day is full of traditional elements, hosting a post-wedding celebration doesn’t mean you need to forgo those. You’ve already walked down the aisle but you can always cut the cake, dance with your parents, and even enjoy that “first dance” all over again with your spouse.
If you’re feeling inspired, create a few traditions of your own to celebrate on all future anniversaries!
7. The Guest List
The guest list is a huge factor for a wedding weekend and shouldn’t be overlooked for a post-wedding reception. First, sit down and talk about the budget with your significant other and those who may be contributing to the party. While a traditional sit-down wedding reception has many contributing factors, a cocktail party typically allows you to invite a larger crowd due to the cost breakdown.
Determining your budget upfront will allow you to plan with your caterer how many heads you can feed! Perhaps this will allow you to invite those cousins or college friends that didn’t make the original guest list. Work with the bartender and/or caterer to also determine the best route for alcohol and a specialty cocktail. This will be another factor that impacts your budget and total guest count.
If you’re considering throwing a celebration weeks, months, or even a year after your wedding ceremony or elopement, consult with a planner to determine the best action plan! And, remember to have fun with it. The most important factor is that you’ll get to celebrate together with your friends and family.