Keep your wedding night going with a post-reception after-party


More couples tying the knot are hosting wedding after-parties, according to event planners near and far.

“There’s been an uptick over the last two years,” says Nina Dolin, catering sales manager for the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester. “It’s just one more way to personalize a wedding weekend for couples.”

With family and friends often coming in from out of town for weddings, “Couples are trying to find as much time as possible with guests whom they don’t see often enough,” says Dolin.

Dolin’s events typically span at least two hours following the formal wedding reception, with 50 guests on average joining the newlyweds in a more casual setting such as the lobby lounge or a banquet space. Extending the fun comes at a price however, as couples pay a catering minimum to keep the party going.

Following a black-tie ceremony and ballroom reception among 215 guests last New Year’s Eve, New York City residents Remy and Jared Chariton, ages 26 and 30 respectively, ordered up a soft pretzel cart along with different types of pizza as snacks, plus an open bar.

“We knew we wanted to do an after-party. It has a different vibe than the rest of the wedding,” says Remy.

To tactfully alert their nearest and dearest to the extended affair, “We put an insert into both of our friends, and family’s wedding invitations,” says Remy.

The pair’s DJ set up a two-hour set list and a crowd of 75 partied until 3 a.m. in an informal lounge at the hotel.

“It was the first point of the night we were really able to just dance and have fun as husband and wife,” says Remy. “We could let loose with our closest friends. All of the formalities were over.”

After-party themes are popular, too. Most recently, “There was an after-glow party with lights flashing throughout the room, glow sticks on tables — everything was glow-in-the-dark. It was easy to accomplish and cost-effective,” says Dolin.

To up their after-party game, one couple hosted a wedding of 100 guests at the Rittenhouse Hotel, in Philadelphia, which featured a sports-themed after party, says Lanay Zarallo, director of catering for the venue.
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“The groom was a Giants fan and the bride was an Eagles fan, thus the decor and style of the room was divided down the middle to represent both teams. There was even a dueling pianos act by the Philly Keys, with each piano representing a team. It set the tone for dancing and fun,” says Zarallo.

To tie in the theme to late-night bites, the couple ordered up Philly cheese-steaks, old bay fries and soft pretzels.

With the general expense of a wedding here priced at up to $300 per person, the after-party costs add an additional $50 to $75 per head, says Zarallo.

Additional add-ons include custom cocktail napkins, a photo booth and experiential food station splurges like a s’mores station, where the hotel’s pastry chef torches marshmallows to order.

One more reason that after-parties are on the rise stems from the trend toward destination weddings, says Isabel Flota, event sales manager for Andaz Mayakoba Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

“Couples have already invested in the trip — it becomes a family vacation for their guests, who may have covered their own airfare and hotel accommodations. Couples want to reciprocate and offer entertainment for them,” says Flota.

Following the reception, gigs last until 4 a.m. at one of the property’s bars.

“People let loose. That’s where the shots start,” says Flota. To set a laid-back vibe, “Couples have given away flip flops with the couple’s initials on them, so girls aren’t wearing their high heels.”

Food stations that serve up finger foods like hot dogs, hamburgers and tacos are popular, as is including local culture, to distinguish your after-party abroad.

“One couple’s after party theme was ‘Lucha Libra’ — a term for our professional wrestling matches, characterized by colorful masks. Masks were given out — it was something very Mexican,” she says.

With the average price of a wedding here running $35,000 for 100 people, the after-party can put you out an additional $7,000 for as many guests, says Flota.

“It’s another event to spend time together as a group,” says Flota. “With guests often flying in from all over the world — some of whom couples haven’t seen in years — they want to mingle.”