For many people, when you think about a traditional wedding day, it entails a ceremony, perhaps a cocktail hour in between as guests move from one space to another, and finally, a reception. It’s a pretty straightforward, albeit expensive, experience.
But for the last few years, people have been bucking tradition to tack an after-party on to the schedule for their big day, and they’re gaining in popularity. While the wedding and reception are buttoned-up festivities, the after-party is the ultimate bash.
“After-parties are an opportunity for couples to invoke a different vibe,” says Adaeze Ojeh-Teme, owner of the Miami-based full-service and destination event-planning company Cherish August. “After-parties are a luxury because they require a venue that can afford you a party with no time restrictions, noise restraints, etc.”
She adds, “For couples, it’s a chance to let completely loose. Live bands, pool parties, cigar and whiskey lounges, or just good ol’ dancing. What couples love is that the mood is completely customizable including decor, food, and of course, fashion. A dress change is a must.”
Ojeh-Teme says after-parties are most common as part of the celebration for destination weddings, as the bride and groom want to offer something extra special for guests who went out of their way to travel for their nuptials. And these events, popping up more and more domestically, can involve more than just dancing and drinks. Couples she’s worked with have curated experiences that range from intimate concerts to Cirque du Soleil shows, and even swimming parties.
And while after-parties are connected to the wedding and reception, they don’t have to have the same decor or vibe as the events that precede them.
“At times it’s a completely different setup. The clients want a different mood—a different vibe for guests to experience,” she says. “We may have continuity with branding for an overall cohesive experience, but a different perspective. Other times, we use the same reception and ceremony decor, but we remove dinner furniture and bring in lounge furniture, drapery, and lighting to give a different feel.”
These type of events might require a different venue altogether, but Ojeh-Teme advises that making guests hop from one location to another is not the best idea unless you’re going to make it worthwhile.
“Is it advisable to say, invite 150 guests to your reception at point A then invite the same 150 guests to drive, sail, etc 30 minutes to point B for the after-party? No. However, if the different venue is on a private island, a yacht, a one-of-a-kind location, then it may be worth it. The different venue is the treat for the guests’ efforts. Of course, communication and logistics are critical,” she says.
As you consider an after-party for your nuptials, the planner says to keep in mind your guest size, their demographics, the event’s location, budget, along with what feeling you want the party to evoke and the timing of it.
“Having a wedding ceremony at 1 p.m. and an after-party to start at midnight, depending on your guest demographic, may need to be adjusted accordingly,” she says.
Certainly, an after-party sounds like the ultimate fête. With that in mind, one might wonder if that means the festivities are only for certain friends or guests; but an after-party should be for all, whether they choose to attend or not.
“I strongly advise my couples that etiquette should not die on this hill,” says Ojeh-Teme. “You have brought your guests outside of their houses and they have spent a lot of money on flights, hotels, outfits, makeup, hair, gifts and more. Do not disrespect them at midnight by telling them their name is not on the list at the after-party entrance. Instead, let your guests decide if they have an extra hour or two in them to party after the reception.”
“All guests should be afforded the opportunity to attend, should they choose to,” she adds. “While after-parties are client preference and taste focused, the party is still for the guests. Turnup or not, Uncle Jimmy and grandma should have the discretion when it comes to their attendance.”