wedding reception idea

How Do You End a Wedding Reception?

You need to strike a balance between getting everyone out of the venue on time and putting a damper on the party atmosphere when planning the end of your wedding reception. You'll want this to be a moment your guests will always remember, and also the moment they know it's time to leave. Over the years, we've seen a lot of creative ways to wrap up a reception, but these are our favourites. All are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression, whether they are more conventional, more surprising, or more original. When making your wedding schedule, keep in mind that the venue staff will need at least an hour after you leave to clean up before the end of the contracted time.

If you're currently in the midst of wedding preparations, the thought of the reception coming to an end may seem inconceivable. Guests will have finished drinking their champagne and eating their leftovers, and they will be sad to see you go but happy for you. What do you think will happen when that time comes?

If you think the sparkler exit has been done to death or if the thought of throwing flowers or rice at the happy couple makes you roll your eyes, you'll need to come up with an original exit that will impress your guests. If you're stuck for ideas, we've compiled seven of the best ways to wrap up your reception to help get the creative juices flowing.

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Table of Contents

Grand Exit

For good reason, the grand exit is one of the most traditional ways to cap off a reception. After a night of raucous dancing, the newlyweds and their guests can make their way out of the reception venue by walking (or running) through the assembled guests. If your big exit is planned for the evening, most couples will hand out sparklers, but glow sticks would work just as well. Some couples even bring both glowsticks and bubbles to the party so that they can have a little illumination and a cute photo opportunity. If your reception is during the day, you can get creative and not just use glowing decorations. Flower petals, confetti, glitter, paper aeroplanes, and so on are all viable alternatives. Regardless of what you decide, this will be one of the best parts of the day and the perfect opportunity for your loved ones to show their support for you as a couple one last time before you begin your new life together.

You can ask the wedding coordinator to organise everyone into rows, hand out the props, and then collect the used sparklers and any other items left over after the ceremony. If you didn't hire a coordinator (which you should have!) then have your bridesmaids or trusted family members take care of this so you can leave in style. Signs announcing the departure time can also be placed in the reception at a highly visible location, such as the guest book table.

Surprise Fireworks Display

Throwing a fireworks show as the reception comes to a close is a surefire way to impress guests. And the element of surprise will add a touch of romance and exclusivity. A perfect way to get everyone outside and into your getaway car quickly and quietly. It's important to remember that you need to take extra care when handling fireworks. Make sure fireworks are permitted on the premises of your event's location before proceeding. Keep an eye on the forecast and any local burn bans as the wedding day approaches. If you get the go-ahead, tell your photographer what you have in mind and let yourself be swept up in the ethereal afterglow of your special day.

Check out our post on 29 Best Wedding Venues in Geelong Victoria.

Last Dance

Do not feel obligated to make a grand exit from the party if the thought of doing so makes you uncomfortable; instead, send your guests home on a high note by having them join you on the dance floor as the night comes to a close. Select music that reflects the vibe you want to leave with your guests. To end the night on a warm and fuzzy note, some couples choose a slow dance, while others go for an upbeat crowd favourite. Neither choice is a bad one. Make sure everyone knows to stay on or near the dance floor so they can say their goodbyes to the host as the party winds down to its final song by having the DJ announce that there will be no formal exit.

Performance By The Bride & Groom

Is there a better way to wrap up your reception if you and your spouse share a special talent or simply enjoy being the centre of attention? That's not what we've got here! Take the stage and perform an unforgettable musical number or dance routine for your friends and family. You can rest assured that this will be the highlight of the evening and the perfect way to send the celebration off in style. Keep it a secret from your guests and offer a brief toast before you get started to thank them all at once. Don't forget to invite a videographer to record the genuine joy on your guests' faces.

Late Night Snack Delivery

Even after a full dinner, your guests will likely feel hungry after a night of dancing and drinking. To avoid overeating after the party is over, have some late-night snacks delivered. Imagine a pizza delivery service, a cookie and milk/coffee station, or a mini-slider stand. To give your guests even more variety, you could even hire their favourite food truck to park on the premises. This is one of those thoughtful touches that will really set your wedding apart, and your guests will appreciate it if the celebrations continue after the reception. To cut down on waste, offer guests the option of taking party favours in takeout containers to enjoy on the way home or at the reception.

Have a Performance

We've all seen those videos of couples getting down during their first dance, so why not reverse the trend and have the night's most talked-about performance happen after everyone has left the venue? Dazzle your guests with a rousing round of Grease karaoke, or take them by surprise with a choreographed dance set to your favourite music. Here's your chance to wow the guests with your hidden skills and make an exit from the wedding that they won't soon forget.

Light Some Wish Lanterns

Is there anything more stunning than seeing a sky filled with white lanterns? Include "wish lanterns" in your exit from the reception so that your guests can send their best wishes for you on your new journey together as husband and wife into the ether. It'll be a beautiful way to cap off your wedding video and photos, and it'll be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you and your guests. However, before you go out and buy some lanterns from Amazon, you should confirm their legality with the venue and the local fire codes.

Make a Speech

After spending the night mingling with as many guests as possible, a heartfelt speech of appreciation is a great way to close the festivities. Take your time writing this speech and inject as much originality as possible into it. Try something humorous or sentimental to lighten the mood. People will be glad to hear your voices before you leave on your honeymoon.

After-Party At A Bar

It's not like the party has to end because the bar does. More and more newlyweds are opting to throw an after-party at a local watering hole or hotel lobby in order to spend more time with their guests and drink more champagne than is traditionally consumed at a wedding reception. After all, when else do you get a roomful of your absolute favourite people? If you decide to have an after-party, plan ahead of time so the bartenders can accommodate your large group. Make a reservation at a local watering hole and have them set up a private room or a few tables for you ahead of time.

If you're having a great time at your reception, there's no reason to stop! These days, after-parties are a common addition to wedding itineraries because many couples feel the reception doesn't give them enough time to mingle with all their guests. Even the uninterested couples recommend this to their party animal guests who won't be ready to wind down the celebration just yet. Share the details of the after-party location on your wedding website. Perhaps your favourite bar will play host, or perhaps you will be able to arrange for a kind relative or friend to open their home for the event. In this way, those who are tired can leave, the party animals can find a safe haven so that cleanup can begin, and you and your partner can take a deep breath and relax. It's totally understandable if you want to get an early start on your honeymoon or catch up on some much-needed shut-eye.

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After the Reception, Do These Things:

Deal with your flowers

Since flowers account for an average of 8 percent of the total cost of a wedding, you probably won't want to just throw them away after the reception ends. Guests can take them home with them, you can use them to decorate the venue for your post-wedding brunch, or you can keep some for yourself to use as decor. Keep track of your flowers by informing the venue coordinator where to send them.

Check out our exclusive list of Wedding Flower Shops here.

Take care of your gown

You may be eager to change out of your dress and into something more casual, but before you do that, make sure to pack it carefully so that it doesn't get wrinkled, torn, or stained. A handler will return your clothing to your hotel or home, where it will be neatly hung inside a garment bag. After the party is over, you can discuss long-term maintenance options.

Handle your rentals

Don't forget to return any wedding-related loans as soon as the big day has passed. Everything you rented, from tables and chairs to table linens and tents, must be disassembled and returned to their respective retailers. Before the big day, skim the contracts with your rental vendors to see if they take care of the breakdown or if you have to do it.

Preserve the top tier of your cake

Tradition dictates that on your first wedding anniversary, you must cut into the top layer of your wedding cake. Take a look at these instructions for freezing a wedding cake to ensure that you (or a trusted vendor, friend, or family member) can get the cake to a freezer as soon as possible.

Give your vendors a tip

Everyone on your vendor team worked really hard and spent a lot of time planning and preparing for your big day. They provided the flowers, the food and everything in between, so don't forget to give credit where credit is due. This wedding tipping guide is here to help you figure out who to thank personally and who to provide with a financial bonus (a tip) on your special day. Want to avoid the awkwardness of having to hand out checks at the end of your reception? Trust one of your sober wedding party members with the responsibility.

Say thank-you to your host

While you should spend some time at your reception thanking everyone who attended, there are likely to be a select few who deserve special recognition. Just who are these people, exactly? They are your hosts. If you wouldn't dream of leaving a party without thanking the host, don't do it at your wedding. Your parents and in-laws are the most likely candidates, so finding them shouldn't be difficult. In addition, kudos to you if you organised the entire gathering without any assistance.

Get All Your Stuff Together

Before getting into your getaway car, double-check the location to make sure you haven't forgotten anything. You wouldn't want to lose your phone, wallet, or other essentials, so double check that they're all in your bag. Assign a trusted friend or family member to take care of the guest book, presents, leftovers, and anything else you plan to keep from the wedding. Members of your family or wedding party will likely be happy to lend a hand.

Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and everyone is watching as you make your entrance, dance, and cut the cake. That's why the final moments of your special day shouldn't be any different. Let there be sparkles, bubbles, flashing lights, or just one last great ride as you say goodbye. At the end of the reception, you and your spouse-to-be can toast the good times you've had and the exciting new life you're about to start together. Mark that decisive moment with a spectacular send-off outside the venue or a sleek getaway vehicle. Still better? Think about it!

We really appreciate the creative ways that contemporary couples are choosing to close their receptions. In any case, exits with aesthetic appeal not only promise a good time but also make for some spectacular pictures. Here are some of the best options to consider if you want to cap off your party with one: from ribbon wands and giant sparklers to a slew of balloons. Prefer to leave in grand fashion instead? You can take a motorised vehicle off the island, but whether you do so by land or sea is up to you. Something that every single one of these doorways leads out of? They'll make sure the celebration goes out with a bang.

FAQs About Wedding Reception

The wedding recessional is the order in which the newlywed couple and wedding party exit the ceremony. Just like the processional, there's a specific order to follow based on the couple's preference. 

Traditionally, after the last song of the reception is played, guests usher the bride & groom off on their honeymoon. Since it is typically at night, sparklers, glow sticks, lanterns, and even fireworks are popular options to make this exit more formal & grand!

The cocktail hour is an opportunity to further personalize the decor, drinks, food, and other elements of your wedding celebration. During the cocktail hour, you can showcase your family history, your personality as a couple, or your culture or ethnicity.

No, it won't. You have to get a new one but I would recommend it. If it's possible to stay for the entire thing, I would - but the bride should understand if you HAVE to leave early. Like pp said, I think it's fine, just say something to the bride. 

If you already offered your best wishes and had some alone time with the couple, it's fine to leave without saying goodbye. According to wedding etiquette rules, it's acceptable for a guest to exit a reception once the wedding cake is cut; saying hasta la vista before then is considered rude.

Conclusion

Getting everyone out of the venue on time requires a delicate balancing act. Your goal is to make this an experience your guests will never forget. Here are seven tried-and-true methods for winding down the festivities at your reception if you're at a loss. Each and every one will stay in your mind for a long time. One of the most time-honored customs at the end of a reception is the grand exit.

The newlyweds and their guests can exit the reception area by walking (or running) amongst the other attendees. Sparklers are a common gesture for couples who plan their grand exit for the evening. If the thought of leaving the party with a bang makes you uneasy, there's no need to force yourself to do it. At the end of the night, invite your guests to join you on the dance floor for a rousing send-off. After the party is over, guests can avoid overeating by ordering late-night snacks to be delivered to their door.

The trend of after-parties is indicative of newlyweds' desire to spend additional time celebrating with their guests. You should call ahead to make sure the bartenders can handle your large group if you're organising an after-party. The reception is usually followed by a party. When it comes to socialising with their guests, many newlyweds feel their reception time is inadequate. When your bag is returned to your hotel or home, your clothes will be folded and hung up inside.

When celebrating your first year of marriage, it is customary to slice the top layer of your wedding cake. If you want to get the wedding cake into the freezer as soon as possible, check out these freezing instructions. Refer to this list as you try to decide who deserves a personal thank-you note and who deserves a financial bonus. Your wedding's closing moments should be no different. Celebrate this momentous occasion with a grand farewell outside the venue or a stylish getaway car. We have everything you need, from ribbon wands and giant sparklers to a garage full of cars.

Content Summary

  • You need to strike a balance between getting everyone out of the venue on time and putting a damper on the party atmosphere when planning the end of your wedding reception.
  • When making your wedding schedule, keep in mind that the venue staff will need at least an hour after you leave to clean up before the end of the contracted time.
  • If you think the sparkler exit has been done to death or if the thought of throwing flowers or rice at the happy couple makes you roll your eyes, you'll need to come up with an original exit that will impress your guests.
  • If you're stuck for ideas, we've compiled seven of the best ways to wrap up your reception to help get the creative juices flowing.
  • For good reason, the grand exit is one of the most traditional ways to cap off a reception.
  • If your reception is during the day, you can get creative and not just use glowing decorations.
  • You can ask the wedding coordinator to organise everyone into rows, hand out the props, and then collect the used sparklers and any other items left over after the ceremony.
  • Throwing a fireworks show as the reception comes to a close is a surefire way to impress guests.
  • Select music that reflects the vibe you want to leave with your guests.
  • Is there a better way to wrap up your reception if you and your spouse share a special talent or simply enjoy being the centre of attention?
  • Take the stage and perform an unforgettable musical number or dance routine for your friends and family.
  • To avoid overeating after the party is over, have some late-night snacks delivered.
  • After spending the night mingling with as many guests as possible, a heartfelt speech of appreciation is a great way to close the festivities.
  • It's not like the party has to end because the bar does.
  • More and more newlyweds are opting to throw an after-party at a local watering hole or hotel lobby in order to spend more time with their guests and drink more champagne than is traditionally consumed at a wedding reception.
  • If you decide to have an after-party, plan ahead of time so the bartenders can accommodate your large group.
  • Make a reservation at a local watering hole and have them set up a private room or a few tables for you ahead of time.
  • Share the details of the after-party location on your wedding website.
  • Keep track of your flowers by informing the venue coordinator where to send them.
  • Tradition dictates that on your first wedding anniversary, you must cut into the top layer of your wedding cake.
  • Take a look at these instructions for freezing a wedding cake to ensure that you can get the cake to a freezer as soon as possible.
  • This wedding tipping guide is here to help you figure out who to thank personally and who to provide with a financial bonus on your special day.
  • While you should spend some time at your reception thanking everyone who attended, there are likely to be a select few who deserve special recognition.
  • Assign a trusted friend or family member to take care of the guest book, presents, leftovers, and anything else you plan to keep from the wedding.
  • That's why the final moments of your special day shouldn't be any different.
  • At the end of the reception, you and your spouse-to-be can toast the good times you've had and the exciting new life you're about to start together.
  • Mark that decisive moment with a spectacular send-off outside the venue or a sleek getaway vehicle.
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