Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My #1 Tip for Wedding Planning

A couple of things first:

- Thanks everyone for your kind words about my new blog design... I really had fun working on it, and I feel so refreshed and ready to blog away! :) 

- If you skipped over my post yesterday because it was sponsored (not judging), be sure to go back and enter the giveaway for a $100 Visa gift card here.  The winner is selected from the comments on my post only, so the odds are really good! 

- I know all you want from me is a Bachelorette update; but I haven't watched it yet (gasp).  Don't worry, I'm on it, and I'll have a post up soon.

In the meantime... In honor of my sixth wedding anniversary (which was Sunday), I'm sharing my #1 piece of advice for wedding planning today.

Are you ready for it?

Here it is...

Leave your reception early.

Not what you were expecting?

I will explain... But first, you should know that while I've only had one wedding myself, which hardly makes me an expert in the field, I have attended a lot of weddings (like, probably 50) and - although it may not be your typical advice for brides and grooms, I feel pretty strongly about it.

One more disclaimer:  YES, I believe your wedding should be about the bride and groom.  I really do think you should do what YOU want and be confident in that decision.  If you want to party the night away because, for the first time (and maybe only time) ever, ALL the people you love are in one spot, I totally get that.  I do.  (And, for the record, I've been to some awesome weddings where the bride and groom were the last to leave.) BUT, as a general rule, the best thing you can do to ensure that your guests will be talking about your wedding for weeks/months/years and calling it "the best party ever"  is to leave at the peak of fun.

You know the point I'm talking about right? They've said their vows & shared their first dance, bellies are full, drinks are flowing, and all the "formalities" like cake cutting and toasts are done.  This is the point in the night when the music gets cranked up, the dance floor is full, and (if it's a really good party) people are starting to look sweaty and a tad bit sloppy (think: ties and shoes off).

From our wedding in 2007.
Identifying that point really isn't all that hard; the tricky part, however, is timing it just right to get the maximum amount of fun for you and your guests while still ending on a high note. Just an estimate, I would say this part of the party lasts about an hour - sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.  You know it has passed when people start taking water breaks and don't come back to the dance floor, checking their phones, or (worse) leaving.  If you get to this point, you've gone too far.

So, bride and grooms, here's my advice... (Take it or leave it).

Try to have a reasonable time in mind for when you want to leave your reception - this time should allow plenty of time for all of the above, but also enough time for people to continue the party out or get home to babysitters too (let's say 10 or 11).  THEN, work with your DJ or band and wedding coordinator (if you have one) to structure the rest of the night leading up to that point - i.e. casually time everything so that you can reach "the point" by about 9 or 10.  Are you following me?  Then, relax, totally make the most of that last hour or so (absolutely no "obligations" allowed at that time - tell your photographer), and leave at or around your scheduled time.

The advantages to this are many:

1. You can change into a cute white dress and make a dramatic exit with fireworks/bubbles/whatever.  These always make really great pictures.

2. This makes for a much more seamless and positive ending to the event than simply the DJ packing up and the lights being turned on.

3. Your older guests will feel like they got to experience the whole wedding, and get home before the tired/grumpy stage sets in.

4. Your friends will remember your wedding as being SO FUN because it ended on such a high note; and, likely, they will still have the energy to go our dancing etc. somewhere else.

5. You will get to spend a little extra time with your new husband ;) before you both totally crash after not sleeping for the past week.

Have I convinced you yet?

Seriously, one of my highlights of the night!
One last thing... I've given a lot of thought to the fact that today's brides and grooms often don't want the party to end themselves and make plans to go out after the reception with their guests.  I think this is totally fine; but, I would still suggest that you leave at a reasonable time to officially "end" the reception.  I think it'd be an awesome idea to go check-in at your hotel, change clothes, sip champagne, whatever and then meet up with your friends at a pre-determined location.

So... what do you think?  Am I on to something?

Oh! Onemorething -- TOMORROW is the return of Midweek Confessions.  Get your confession on (I can't be the only one doing ridiculous things) & plan to link-up here around midday.  If you want, here's a cute little button you can put in your post.


  1. I WISH I had read this before my wedding! I agree with you 100% My hubs and I stayed until the VERY end of our reception because it was such a great party. By the time we got home we were so exhausted we went straight to bed-romantic! ;) Plus, we had to be up super early for our honeymoon flight-it was horrible. I'll be passing on this advice to any brides-to-be as well!

  2. Completely disagree (sorry)! If you didn't want to party with your guests, don't have a wedding, or at least, an evening wedding. Have a nice brunch instead. People didn't spend tons of money to buy you a gift and travel long distances so you, the bride, can leave your wedding early. Going to weddings is a lot of work for people, especially friends in your 20s who usually have multiple weddings a year (I have SEVEN this year alone!) Don't act like you're the only wedding to ever happen on this Earth. People get married every day -- even gays in California now!

    You have the rest of your life to spend with your new partner. Spend some time with your family and friends on the best day of your life. There's a fine line between "This day is all about the bride and groom" and "respecting the people who came to celebrate you." Don't cross it.

  3. I also completely disagree! I had the best time at my wedding and everyone is still talking about how it's the best wedding they've ever been to. We were there until the bitter end and then went across the street and continued it. People left when they needed to, we got all the formalities out of the way early so they didn't miss anything and were under no obligation to stay. Many people stayed at the hotel across the street, we didn't change, and had the best night together. I would not have wanted to miss a single minute of the reception.

    I've been to weddings where the bride and groom leave early and I find it almost offensive - as a guest at the wedding, I am there to see and celebrate the bride and groom. Not dance and hang out with their friends who I don't know, while they leave. It abruptly stops the evening, an evening you may have paid a pretty penny for. Just my opinion, being a recent newlywed and having attended many many weddings!

  4. To my Anonymous commenters - I have to admit, you've definitely made me reconsider at least how strongly I felt about my "advice." You both make some really good points that I totally agree with.

    Mainly, I think you are right that the bride and groom SHOULD be a part of the party and SHOULD respect and honor their guests. I too feel strongly that the reception should be a blend of for you and for your guests. When I say "leave early," I definitely don't mean "cut the party short." Just to clear up any confusion.

    Ultimately though, when you love each other and you love your guests that shows through in whatever decisions you make for your wedding. Can we agree on that?:)

  5. As an assistant wedding coordinator (I loved my job!) we often had to tear the happy couple away from their guests and the dance floor. They wanted to party and enjoy the day so much they didn't want to do the cake, flower toss, any of the boring stuff. I'd say enjoy it while you can. We have even had couples who paid their bands and photographers and us more to stay for an extra hour! It's so rare that all the people you love most are in the same place. I know had I gone the traditional route instead of eloping I wouldn't have wanted to leave.

  6. I have both agree and disagree. We had a destination wedding in Duck, OBX. It was our perfect beach dream wedding. Because our a noise ordinance our DJ had to stop at ten so there was clear cut END to the reception. At this point the older guests left and "Partiers" stayed and moved the celebration to inside the large house we rented. I loved how or guests got both a nice "early" ending but we also had the option to party the night away. On Sunday we had a brunch and many of my guests stayed until MONDAY! My husband and I stayed with friends and family until Wednesday and then left our honeymoon. We loved every minute.

  7. Honestly, my reception felt like SUCH a whirlwind, like... kind of surreal?! Haha! I just don't know if i would have read this post first, if i could have timed it just right to leave at that peak time. You know? Ours was so much fun, a lot of dancing, but is such a blur to think back on it! We left when we were ready - i had no idea what time it was, how long i had been there, etc! I do know that i felt like we left "too soon" b/c we were pretty much ready to go after the traditional things (bouquet toss, cutting the cake, first dance, and just a little bit more dancing, etc), i worried that people thought we left too soon! But i asked my mom after & she said no, it was perfect & others still talk about it as the most fun wedding... so maybe i left at that peak time you are talking about without even realizing it! Haha! :)

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  9. Like so many others, I disagree. I got married 10 days ago and we stayed til the bitter end. If I left when the party had the most people, I would have left rather early...because lets face it, the older crowd will leave after they see you two dance, eat some cake and *MAYBE* hit the dance floor for 1-2 songs....that doesn't mean the party is any less good after they leave, just less people there. So although less bodies occupy the reception, the band may only be ending their first set and have a couple more hours of dancing and music coming your way! Your close friends and family will stay til almost the bitter end and dance and celebrate and thats the best part. I enjoyed the second half of the night more because the formalities were done -- and I could dance and be silly with my friends!! The band plays a calmer set for first set and the next two sets are more for dancing! My friends came to celebrate and I would hate for them to travel that far for an hour of dancing -- because lets face it, the party is over when you leave!

    So don't leave early because all your friends are there to celebrate with you til late! also, its your party. What a sad day if you leave an hour into it! You only get to get married and have a big wedding once, so enjoy it!

    I know it hasn't even been two weeks but I have heard most people enjoyed our wedding (despite the fact that we stayed late) -- i think having the option to stay as long as they wanted and dance, eat, drink and take pics in the photobooth made it fun for everyone. Sure, most folks didnt stay til 1130, but many stayed for a long while and I think thats because the party was still going so late!

    Just my thoughts! :) But, I have been to tons of good weddings where the couple stayed all night or left early, so I doubt the time of departure is the only factor!

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