The Perfect Wedding After-Party: 8 Brilliant Tips + Ideas

wedding after party ideas disco ball
photo: Sydney Noelle Photography featured in this wedding

After the party, it’s the after-party! Planning a wedding after-party is certainly no requirement, but you won’t find us turning down an invitation to keep the celebration going. And for the couple who just want to let loose with their people, whose guest list includes beloved out-of-towners, who are just ready to have some FUN already a few years into a pandemic—the after-party is for you.

What happens at the after-party wedding?

The great thing about a wedding after party is that there are no rules. No age-old traditions to be aware of. No rights or wrongs! This is all about you and how you like to have fun. It could be a silent disco after the venue’s noise ordinance passes. Maybe you grab a small crew and take it downtown to a karaoke bar. Perhaps you just extend the reception and bring out a fresh lineup of food + entertainment. Ask yourself: what would be the most fun way to let loose celebrate? And then do that!

Who pays for the wedding after-party?

There is no etiquette in place when it comes to who pays for the after party. Again, no traditional rule means you get to decide. You might want to foot the bill as a couple or split it down the middle between families. The important thing is to plan ahead and put everything out on the table before a decision is made so that there aren’t any surprise bills after the fact.

How do you plan a wedding after party?

We spoke with professionals in the wedding industry to get the top tips and ideas when it comes to planning the party after the party! From decor to food, entertainment, and more, read on for 8 brilliant tips—and take notes!

Wedding After Party Decor Ideas

wedding after party ideas repurpose flowers
photo: Peyton Byford featured in this wedding

1. Choose decor that complements the theme of your wedding.

An after party is easier to plan than you think if your stick to repurposing your wedding decor and keeping a consistent theme. “The first thing you’re going to want to do is to pick a theme so that everything flows together,” shares Lisette Gatliff at Lisette OC Photography. “Choose a theme where the decorations complement one another.”

GWS Tip! Ask your florist to design the ceremony florals in a way that will allow them to move seamlessly from ceremony to reception to after party.

Food + Drink Ideas for the After Party

late night wedding party snacks

2. Provide late-night snacks and a lounge.

If the party keeps going, the people are going to need a late-night snack! “Your guests are probably a little hungry since your wedding dinner was most likely a few hours ago,” says Lisette. “Offering late-night treats will satisfy everyone’s cravings and give them the energy to keep celebrating throughout the night.”

And don’t forget the lounge area for the guests who don’t want to leave but need to give those dancing feet a little break! “Set up a lounge area for those who are feeling more mellow to still be a part of the celebration.”

wedding after party churros

Need a few late-night snack ideas? From burgers to mini pizzas, we’ve got you covered.

wedding after party specialty cocktails

3. Change up the ambiance or have it in a smaller setting.

“Nothing beats a good after-party, especially when it comes as a surprise!” says Nora Sheils, founder of Bridal Bliss + co-founder of Rock Paper Coin. “I love when the night appears to be ending and then guests are invited to a different area to finish it out. It tends to be a smaller, super fun crowd and I’ve seen it play out from totally chill to incredibly rowdy. The best after-parties change up the ambiance, serve both sweet and savory snacks, play club music, have some soft seating to rest your feet, and offer unique cocktails—and hangover remedies!”

After-Party Music + Entertainment

wedding after party ideas live band
photo: Carmen Lopez Photography featured in this wedding

4. Bring in a live band.

You might be hiring a DJ for the reception, so what better way to kick it up a notch by taking things live? Ashley Lachney, the owner of Alston Mayger Events, says that a live band can be just the thing to keep guests excited. “Incentivize your guests to stay a little longer by having a live band at the after party. Live music always brings such a different vibe and energy to celebrations! No one will want to miss it.”

5. Include entertainment and games.

Or, mix it up a little with some post-wedding games! “This is a good way of breaking the ice,” shares Allie Calzada of Allie the Wedding Officiant LLC, “Some ideas might be spin the bottle, post office (picking names out of a hat and sending funny after-wedding messages), and post-wedding truth or dare.”

Wedding After-Party Tips + Ideas

wedding after party ideas silent disco

6. Hire a photographer for the after-party.

Check with your wedding photographer to see what the package includes. Are they planning on staying through the reception? How much would it cost to have them hang around post-reception, too? Or, you could consider bringing in a different photographer with a totally different eye and style.

As Gatliff points out, “Having a photographer at your after-party is the perfect way to capture these memories as these will most likely be the moments that might be a little harder to remember.”

wedding after party disco
photography: Font & Figure featured in this engagement party

7. Incorporate the components you left out of your wedding.

If keeping the wedding theme all night long isn’t your vibe, why not take it in a totally different direction? “While you might have included almost everything you wanted in your wedding celebration, there’s likely to be at least a few things that just couldn’t make the cut,” shares AJ Williams, founder and creative director of AJ Events.

“Favorite foods like burgers and fries that might not have fit in with your sleek reception vibe, a dazzling disco-worthy photo backdrop installation that definitely didn’t match up with your chic pastel florals, or perhaps a flirty and fun fringed shorter dress that just didn’t seem to work with the ultra-glam style you were going for. Make note of the things that you wished you could’ve fit into the design of your wedding itself, and take this chance to utilize those ideas in your after party!”

wedding after party outfit sleeper pajamas
photography: Aurelia Baca featured in this wedding

8. Bring a change of clothes.

For a celebration that lasts all day and night, the wedding after party is the perfect opportunity to change up your look! Whether you’re going for comfort or style or both, Gatliff has the perfect final advice, “You’re going to want to feel good while you dance the night away with those closest to you!”

wedding after party jumpsuit

Not sure what to wear? Try one of these reception looks!