Top 10 After-Wedding Party Planning Tips from the Experts
It probably comes as no surprise that nearly half of couples surveyed by The Knot postponed their wedding reception in 2020. Many of those wonderful receptions will be taking place in 2021.
“It almost reminds me of a first birthday party,” said Kim Forrest, a senior editor at WeddingWire. “There’s such a big deal about that first year.”
Whether you’re planning a big party, you’re searching for the wedding reception you never got, or you want to celebrate with an anniversary party, these tips go above and beyond normal wedding planning advice to help you plan a unique after-wedding celebration as COVID-19 becomes a memory and life slowly returns back to normal.
Set Your Budget
Coming up with a budget for an after-wedding party can be difficult. When you have two separate celebrations—a small wedding one year and another party the next—it’s easy to end up spending way more than you want.
Decide how much you are willing to spend. Then, Kelly Lannan of The Budget Savvy Bride recommends setting aside a portion of your budget for the unexpected. "It is better to anticipate overages than to convince yourself that you will be the one bride in the history of weddings who comes under budget."
Balance Your Guest List With Your Venue
The CDC still states that the more guests you invite, the riskier the gathering is, even into 2021. Although you may be able to invite more people to your after-wedding party than your ceremony, you still have to be mindful of your guest list.
Make sure the venue you choose can accommodate the number of guests you want to invite. You may still have to keep your guest list low if you choose an indoor venue.
Decide if You Want a Traditional Reception
Dayna Isom Johnson, a trend expert for Etsy, says that an after-party can be just like a wedding reception, but it doesn't have to be. “It’s really just about how they can bring their love story back to life and celebrate it with their friends and family.”
By all means, cut the cake, have a first dance, and ask important guests to write speeches. If you want something a little different, consider a cocktail party, a dance party, or even a karaoke party!
Send Out Invitations
Your after-wedding party is just as important as your ceremony. It deserves invitations too!
Kim Forrest, a senior editor at WeddingWire, recommends sending printed invitations just like you would for a wedding ceremony, but skipping the language the refers to the ceremony itself.
Tell Guests What to Expect
There are a lot of norms that guests can expect from a traditional wedding ceremony and reception. All that goes out the window when it comes to a party a year after your original ceremony.
What are guests supposed to wear? Are gifts expected? Will there be dancing, drinking, or games? Include some of this information in the invitation so guests know exactly what to expect.
Not sure how to decorate? Consider paper!
Dayna Isom Johnson recommends weaving anniversary symbols into your reception. Paper is an inexpensive and beautiful choice for decorations, like bouquets and centerpieces, and it also happens to be the traditional first anniversary gift.
Be Mindful of How You Serve Food
Even if the COVID-19 pandemic is winding down, many of us will still be at risk of catching the virus throughout 2021. Not to mention, many of us have woken up to just how easily illnesses can be transmitted, and we’ve become accustomed to certain precautions that many people may not want to give up.
Buffets are one of those things.
Don’t serve a buffet dinner at your party. Instead, Dr. Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at University of Florida says, “I would keep it to something more like cocktail and appetizer, rather than the big sit-down, close-to-each-other dinner.” At the very least, make sure appetizers and dinners are plated and served to guests by waiters and waitresses.
Keep Hygiene and Safety Top-of-Mind
Not only will people think twice about buffets, they have also become accustomed to certain hygiene and safety precautions that you should include in your after-party, regardless of whether or not COVID-19 is a serious risk.
That means providing guests with masks, hand sanitizer, and providing plenty of opportunities to social distance. That way, guests can mask up, sanitize, and separate themselves from other guests to their comfort level.
Play Your Wedding Video
Erin Asquith, a marriage counselor in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey recommends watching your wedding video on your first year anniversary, “Anniversaries are about remembering when and why you chose each other and to keep choosing to each other.”
If you don’t have a wedding video, consider showing a slideshow of pictures from your wedding and the year leading up to your after-wedding party. It is not only a great way for you and your spouse to revisit your wedding day, it’s also fun for reception guests to watch while they wait to be seated or they wait for dinner.
Consider Testing and Vaccinations
It can seem a little invasive, but if you want to host a large after-wedding party, you should consider asking guests to get tested. "I would certainly recommend that you tell folks to get tested before coming," Dr. Prins says. If anyone tests positive, they should stay home.
You can also consider asking guests to get vaccinated before your event. It is likely to become the norm for businesses and organization to require proof of vaccination, so you shouldn’t feel bad for doing it ahead of your after-wedding party too.