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Your wedding doesn’t have to end with the last dance at the reception. Many couples are hosting after-parties to keep the celebration going until the wee hours. Here are a few ideas for after-party celebrations.
Set up an outdoor or indoor lounge so your guests can relax and unwind after the wedding. Make sure the bar is still stocked and offer passed late-night snacks, like sliders and fries, for everyone to enjoy.
Photo by Arnau Dubois Photography
Late-night karaoke is a fun way to entertain your guests. Of course, the newlyweds get first dibs on picking a tune to sing, but then let all of your guests take a turn at the mic. As the night goes on (and the alcohol flows), expect the songs to get sillier and rowdier!
Photo by Whitmeyer Photography
Hit the Bars
Move the party to a favorite local bar or hangout, or, for your guests’ convenience, it may be more appealing to host a post-party function in the bar of the hotel where everyone is staying. If you’re expecting a large group, see if you can book a private space or table in advance.
Photo by June Lion
Food Truck Fiesta
After a long night of partying, your guests will likely be famished. What could be a better surprise than a food truck (or two) to feed your hungry revelers? Whether the trucks offer sweet or savory fare, your guests will certainly be appreciative.
Photo by Joshua McDonald Photography
Gather your guests ‘round a bonfire for a celebratory late-night event. From singing favorite songs to roasting marshmallows, it’s a fitting close to a joyful wedding day.
Photo by John Schlia Photography
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9 cute and creative ways to serve your cocktails -- Cheers!
Photo by: Michelle Warren
Water infused with mint, cucumber, and lemon -- sounds delish!
Photo by: Love Life Images
Rosemary lemonade and peach iced tea displayed in an antique white cabinet -- does an outdoor reception get any more chic than this?
Photo by: M. Norwood Photogrpahy
Does it get more refreshing than classic lemonade in the summer?
Photo by: Anjuli
Going for more of an indie, DIY vibe? Store your spirits in vintage crates.
Photo by: Hudson Nichols Photography
We love how Jessica and Matt repurposed an old cabinet to hold their beverage supplies.
Photo by: Karen Wise
Serve big batch punches in wide mouth jars. Don't forget the ladles!
Photo by: Neuschafer Photography
Don't think we'll ever get tired of mason jar mugs and striped straws.
Photo by: Jordan Ferney
A rainbow display of old fashioned sodas instantly doubles as reception favors.
Photo by: Katelyn James Photography
Mini chalkboards and log displays are the perfect finishing touches for a rustic beverage station.
1. The First Look
Photo by: Gideon Photography
You'll never want to forget the first time you see each other on your wedding day -- take some time before your ceremony to document this special moment.
2. The Classic Portrait
Photo by: Jillian Mitchell Photography
Face-on, big smiles, slightly leaning in to each other. Predictable, but this photo will likely end up on your office desk (or displayed in your parent's home).
3. The First Kiss
Photo by: Lindsey Gomes
Whether it's long and passionate or a quick peck (we're not judging either way!), the first kiss after your vows is an important one. Make sure your photographer is set up for a clear view.
4. The Signature Location Shot
Photo by: Gerber + Scarpelli
Getting married in a city? Or what about your hometown? Wherever you say 'I Do', there's a bound to be a spot nearby that's especially telling of your location. Find it and strike a pose -- we guarantee you'll be grateful for the context later.
5. A Quiet Moment
Photo by: Ulmer Studios
We know, we know -- the pressure's on to look perfect in your wedding pictures, and that can be hard if you tend to clam up in front of the cameras. If you're feeling nervous, take a tip from Heather and Tyler: close your eyes, take a deep breath, and lean in close to the person you love. You'll wind up with a gorgeous portrait you'll cherish for years to come!
6. A Laugh-Out-Loud Moment
Photo by: Paper Antler
The number one thing you'll (hopefully) remember about your wedding? How much fun you had. With any luck, your photographer will capture that sentiment in your smiles.
7. The Prop Shot
Photo by: Clary Photo
Weddings these days are all about showcasing your personality as a couple, so why not do it with props? We've got a soft spot for oversize inititals, but holding up a large ampersand (&) works, too.
8. The First Dance
Photo by: Davis Photography
Sure, you may not grace another dance floor this formally again in your life, but that doesn't make this more traditional moment any less sentimental.
9. The Cake Cutting
Photo by: Amelia Lyon Photography
Be sure at least one picture exists of the moments before you stuff it into each other's mouths.
10. The Faraway Shot
Photo by: Max Wanger
A Max Wanger signature, this long-distance portrait will remind you just how big the world is that you're about to take on together.
11. The Send-Off Shot
Photo by: Annabella Charles Photography
Sparklers, bubbles, confetti -- there's plenty of possibilities when it comes to spicing up a wedding exit!
Photo by This Modern Romance
We've all been there. You're at an event, wedding or otherwise, and are just plain uncomfortable. Too hot (or cold), strange food, long line for the restroom. You always vowed you'd do things differently at your wedding - and now's your chance. Here's our guide to how to make sure your wedding is memorable for the right reasons.
Think About Your Venue When you’re venue hunting, make sure that you keep your wedding guests’ comfort in mind. Will there be enough room to give your guests breathing room? Is there accessibility for handicapped or elderly guests? What is the climate control and restroom situation? Instead of just picking a venue for its beauty, think about it as though you were a guest.
Give Advance Notice Make sure to give your wedding guests plenty of notice when it comes to your wedding so they can plan accordingly. Save-the-dates should be sent a year in advance if you’re planning a destination wedding in a far-off locale. Six months in advance should suffice for a hometown or local wedding. And invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks in advance of your wedding. Also, make sure that you have a wedding website to provide additional updates.
Make Travel and Accommodations Easy Speaking of your wedding website, use that platform as an easy-to-navigate home base for all of your travel and accommodation information (if there are older guests who aren’t internet savvy, call them yourself or have another relative do so to keep them informed). Reserve a block of rooms at a local hotel or two, so there’s no question about where out-of-towners should stay. Direct them to airlines, train stations, and public transportation routes that will assist them on their journey.
Don’t Over-Ask Your guests want to come to your wedding to see you get married – so don’t make it difficult for them. There’s no need to ask them to wear something super-specific, bring a specific type of gift, or pay for their plate.
Welcome Them in Style Whether you’re hosting many out-of-town wedding guests or just a few, make sure they feel welcomed when they arrive to their lodging. Creating a welcome basket with ample drinks and snacks is great, but even just a kind and gracious handwritten note will suffice.
Keep Them Comfortable If you’re hosting an outdoor wedding, provide shawls or blankets if it’s chilly out and give guests fans and cold drinks if it’s super hot. And if the weather is extremely hot, cold, or just plain inclement, move the ceremony indoors. While you might not have the outdoor ceremony you expected, your guests will thank you.
Strategize Table Assignments Be sure to seat your guests at the tables where they’ll feel most comfortable. For example, put groups of people who know each other together whether they’re in couples or single. And while it’s okay to mix single people and couples, try to avoid seating one or two single person at a table full of couples. And think table placement as well – don’t seat elderly guests right next to the band or DJ.
Feed Them Well Make sure there’s plenty of food and drink for all to enjoy – and consider your guests who may have dietary restrictions or concerns. Most caterers can handle vegetarian, gluten-free, or other requests, so try to honor those whenever possible.
Get Everyone Home Safely You don’t have to provide transportation for your guests, but it’s sure a nice gesture. The goal here to avoid guests drinking and driving, so while having a shuttle bus or van bring guests to the wedding and back to their hotel is your best bet, even just providing a phone number for a taxi company in the welcome bags is appreciated.
Photo by Nancy Aidee Photography
Photo by IQphoto Studio
This may be one of the biggest wedding etiquette stumpers you’ll encounter during your wedding planning experience: How do you determine which of your guests get to bring a plus-one and which do not?
Married or engaged guests or those in a long-term, committed relationship should always be invited together – even if you have never met the spouse or partner. For those guests who are unattached or casually dating, it’s your call. You could nix any plus-ones for your single guests, or you may decide to allow your single wedding party members to bring plus-ones, but no one else. Or you could invite all of your single guests with plus-ones. The most important thing is to make a rule and stand your ground – no exceptions. And be prepared to explain your reasoning in case a guest asks you to bend the rules “just this once.”
If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not to allow your single friends to bring a plus-one, it may be worth considering the rest of your guest list – if you’re inviting many couples and there are only a few single guests, you may want to consider inviting them with an “and guest” – they’ll appreciate having the option. But if you have budget or venue capacity constraints, you certainly do not have to invite plus-ones.
Photo by Nadia D Photography
Your littlest guests may be the ones to cause the most anxiety. If you decide to invite children to your wedding, it’s important to consider their needs when planning your day. If you follow these simple rules, your young guests can be adorable additions to your day.
Decide Who You’re Inviting: Make a rule and stick to it. If you’re open to having all the children of all of your guests attend, do so – particularly if you’re having a super-casual celebration. You can allow only children over a certain age to attend your wedding. You may choose to only invite the children in your wedding party and that’s it. Or you may prefer to have a child-free wedding. Whatever you decide, don’t make any exceptions or risk causing hurt feelings and confusion.
Pick Your Flower Girl and Ring Bearer Wisely: These roles are best suited for children of close relatives or friends, ages 3 to 7. Talk to your flower girl and ring bearer in advance about how important their role is and how much it means to you that they’ll be a part of your special day. Provide their parents with the music that will play when they walk down the aisle so they can practice. And if all else fails, bribery always work! Make sure you get your flower girls and ring bearers small gifts to reward them for a successful walk down the aisle.
Let Them Feel Grown-Up: If you are inviting children who are not in the wedding party, feel free to give them small tasks so they feel like they have a role in your day. They can hand out ceremony programs, give out favors, hold your bouquet while you’re getting a makeup touch-up – even the smallest of tasks will help little ones feel important.
Lay Some Ground Rules: This should be common knowledge for most parents, but before the wedding, tell your guests with kids that if a child starts to become loud or distracting at the ceremony, they should be immediately removed from the premises.
Smile! If you’re concerned about children smiling for portraits, have a parent or grandparent of the child stand behind the camera with a puppet or singing a favorite song. And be sure to make your photo sessions with kids very short (like, a minute or two) – little ones will not stand still for very long, so take a few shots and then set them free!
Offer Activities: Ask the invited children’s parents if their little ones would prefer sitting at a table with other children or staying close to their parents. Whether you create a kids’ table or allow children to sit with their parents, be sure that you offer lots of entertainment for them – games, coloring books, and small toys (that don’t make noise!) are all good ideas.
Kid-Friendly Food: Sure, you may be offering gourmet cuisine at your wedding, but for kids, chicken fingers and grilled cheese is their dinner of choice. Be sure to have kid-friendly meal options for your smallest guest – and be sure to ask parents in advance of any allergies or preferences.
Offer Babysitting: It’s not necessary, but having babysitting at your reception site is a very kind gesture for your guests with children. If your reception will run until late in the night, ask your littlest guests to bring sleeping bags and create a fun slumber party environment.
Don’t Sweat It: No matter how much you prepare, children will misbehave and act out. If a child behaves poorly at an inopportune moment, just laugh it off – the unexpected moments are often the most endearing of the day.
Photo by Michelle Lindsay Photography
The bridal shower is an opportunity for friends and family to celebrate a bride’s upcoming nuptials. While it should be a fun and relaxed event, there are lots of questions and etiquette concerns that often arise. Check out our top do’s and don’ts for planning a bridal shower.
DON’T invite people who aren’t going to be invited to the wedding. The only exception would be if you’re having an extremely small wedding (like, less than 20 people) and your guests know and understand this in advance. Also, if your office is hosting a shower for you, not everyone you work with needs to be invited to the wedding.
DON’T host the shower yourself – it looks like you’re asking for gifts. Normally, the maid of honor and bridesmaids host the bridal shower, but it is acceptable for family members (yours or your future spouse’s) to throw you a shower if the situation is appropriate.
DO allow multiple parties to throw a shower for you, if they want. But DON’T expect guests who are invited to multiple showers to bring more than one gift. They only need to bring a gift to the first shower they attend.
DON’T use the wedding décor as inspiration for the bridal shower. The bridal shower should have its own theme and color scheme – let the wedding’s décor be a surprise!
DO send a paper invitation, rather than via email.
DON’T include registry information on the shower invitation. It may be noted on an insert, or guests may be directed to the couple’s wedding website which can feature registry information.
DO set up an activity for guests. This will allow everyone to meet, mix and mingle. From a toilet paper wedding dress contest to a cooking class, a group activity will liven up any bridal shower.
DO create a ribbon bouquet. We love this tradition, a bridesmaid or other attendee can gather all of the ribbons from the gifts and create a bouquet for the bride to carry at the rehearsal. Just be sure that the bride takes it home with her!
DO thank everyone promptly. Send handwritten notes to the attendees thanking them for their gift, and give a small gift to the hostess or hostesses (some ideas: a personalized mug or a gift certificate for a manicure).
DON’T stress about your shower. This is a party that’s thrown for you, so allow others to do the work and enjoy the day!
Photo by Rylee Hitchner
Of course, your guests are super-excited to share in your joy, participate in your romantic ceremony, and celebrate with you all night long. But there’s one important part of your wedding that they’re almost just as psyched for – the food! So it’s important to make sure that your food is both delicious and plentiful. And why not put a creative spin on the standard wedding cuisine? Here are a few of our favorite wedding food trends for you to consider for your own menu :
Food Trucks These mobile eateries are a huge trend around the country, so why not hire one – or several – for your wedding day celebration? Surprise your guests with a food truck as they’re exiting the ceremony, or create a mini food court of several food trucks during cocktail hour!
Brunch! Morning weddings can be a foodie’s paradise. Think classic favorites like omelets, crepes, and mimosas.
You Name It! Add a personal touch to your menu items by naming dishes after yourself, your partner, and your family and wedding party members. If there’s a specific drink or menu item that someone close to you loves, share it. Some examples: Grandma Molly’s mint juleps, Melissa’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese, etc.
Family Style Fare Serving dinner family style (meaning: a large platter of food is served to each table, and everyone passes the dish around to share), is a great way to get your guests to mix and mingle – and it can also be a good money-saving serving style.
Mason Jars Clearly, mason jars are a popular décor item, but they’re also a great vessel for drinks and food! Serve signature cocktails, desserts, even salads in mason jars for a unique treat!
Unique Desserts We recommend having a wedding cake for tradition’s sake, but it’s always fun to add other desserts to the spread. Of course, cupcakes are perennials favorites, but what about cookies, pies, French macarons, whoopee pies, cake pops, or creative popsicles? Yum!
Interactive Food Stations If you’re the DIY type, why not extend that style to your menu? Have your caterer set up food stations where guests can create their own foods – think make-your-own tacos, stir fry, sundaes, and more!
Tasting Menus If yours will be a wedding full of foodies, offer your guests a tasting menu full of delicious small bites. You’ll need to make this a multi-course affair full of small but satisfying favorites, but your guests will enjoy sampling lots of delicious items.
Seasonal Favorites Think about the season when it comes to creating your menu. For fall, offer your guests hot cider and apple doughnuts. In the winter, serve peppermint hot chocolate in to-go cups to keep everyone warm and cozy. Edible flowers can be used to highlight springtime fare, and in the summer, we love lots of fresh seafood and cold lemonade!
Late Night Snacks Your guests will work up an appetite after a night full of dancing. Pass savory or sweet easy to eat favorites to your hungry partiers – think sliders, tacos, French fries, root beer floats – even a s’mores station!
Photo by Viera Photographics
It’s the big moment – your walk down the aisle. Whether you love it or not, all eyes will be on you, so it’s important to plan ahead and make sure your processional goes smoothly. Follow our simple tips to ensure a memorable processional (for the right reasons!).
Practice Makes Perfect It’s essential to do a run-through of the ceremony beforehand. Usually, this occurs before the rehearsal dinner, but some couples choose to hold a cram session on the wedding day before guests arrive. Either way, gather your wedding party, family members, and your officiant to practice the order of the processional and recessional, as well as where everyone should stand or sit during the ceremony.
Order, Order While you can switch things up based on your religious or cultural traditions, family structure or your preference, this is the traditional order of the processional:
Mother of the Bride
Groomsmen (The groomsmen can also serve as escorts for the bridesmaids. The best man should be last).
Groom (Sometimes the groom doesn’t walk down the aisle, but emerges through a back or side entrance so he can immediately stand at the altar.)
Bridesmaids (maid of honor is last)
Ring bearer and/or flower girl
Photo by IQPhoto Studio
Assign a Stage Manager Whether it’s a wedding planner, family member, or friend, make sure you assign someone to cue the ceremony music and then signal for each person to walk down the aisle. The “stage manager” should wait until the wedding party member has taken his or her place at the altar before cueing the next person to begin his/her walk.
Walk This Way We’ve all seen Father of the Bride and know the whole “left together, right together” routine – but that’s a pretty old-school technique. Encourage your wedding party to walk normally, just a teeny bit slower than usual so it doesn’t look like you’re racing down the aisle. Your stage manager should emphasize this point before each wedding party member starts to walk.
Photo by Retrospect Images
Keep The Path Simple Sure, it may look really cool to enter your ceremony from the top of a grand staircase, over a narrow bridge, or down a cobblestone path, but consider your dress, your shoes – and your sanity. Try to keep your aisle as straightforward and simple as possible to avoid every bride’s worst nightmare – tripping and falling. If your ceremony site does have a tricky aisle setup, be sure to practice (in your dress and shoes!) beforehand.
Your Escort, Your Choice The tradition is for a bride to walk down the aisle with her father. However, you don’t have to do it this way. Depending on your family structure, you can walk down the aisle with just your mother, both parents, a grandparent, sibling or other close relative, alone, or even with your soon-to-be spouse. If you’ve been raised by several people (stepparents, etc.), you can have one person escort you partway down the aisle, and another bring you the rest of the way.
Photo by A Blake Photography
Pick the Right Songs Of course, there are some classics (Pachelbel’s Canon in D, anyone?), but there are a wide variety of both traditional and contemporary songs that would work for a processional. Just make sure that the tempo isn’t too fast or too slow – try walking to the beat of the music to make sure it has the right rhythm. Instrumental versions of songs usually work best, but if a song has lyrics, listen to them carefully to make sure they are, ahem, wedding-appropriate.
Change the Mood After the flower girl and ring bearer have walked down the aisle, take a few-seconds long pause before you begin your processional to add a bit of suspense (your guests are excited to see you!). And be sure to change the music – you should walk down the aisle to a different song than your wedding party members.
Photo by Nadia D Photography
Take It All In Many brides focus squarely on their grooms during the processional, but try to glance at your guests as you walk down the aisle. This is one of the only opportunities you’ll have to gather all of your nearest and dearest in one place, so take mental pictures to remember this important moment.
Relax Try your best to smile and stay cool and calm while you walk. Many brides tense up their shoulders and hold their bouquets too high, almost blocking their face – so relax your shoulders and arms and hold your bouquet low.
Photo by Frame 36 Photography
Throughout your engagement, thank-you notes will be a constant part of your life. Every time you receive a gift, you’ll need to break out your stationery and pen and hand-write a note to the giver. As much as we love technology, it’s important to write thank-you notes in the traditional way.
If you’re having a bridal shower, you’ll need to write thank you notes no later than two weeks after the event. Yes, we know you’re busy but it’s essential to show your guests your appreciation in a timely fashion - so don’t let yourself get behind. Purchase nice stationery, but don’t use any paper goods with your married name or monogram on them until after the wedding.
While your thank-you notes should be personal to each guest, there is a formula that you can follow to make writing them a snap. Here’s how it should go:
Thank you for the (name the gift)
A sentence about how much you love the gift and how you will use it.
A sentence thanking the person for attending your shower (or expressing sadness that they weren’t able to attend)
Share how you are looking forward to seeing them at the wedding (if they aren’t attending the wedding, say you’re looking forward to seeing them soon and share where you’ll likely see them – Thanksgiving dinner, at church, etc.).
Here’s an example:
Dear Aunt Suzanne,
Thank you so much for the lovely teapot. I’ve been using it every evening to make a nightly pot of tea for Sam and I. I was so glad that you could attend my bridal shower and hope you had a great time. Looking forward to seeing you at the wedding next month!
Easy, right? So get out those pens and stationery and start writing your bridal shower thank-you notes!