Have a wedding after-party at your favorite bar

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After Party
After Party © by Edward Allen L. Lim, used under Creative Commons license.

Wedding receptions are awesome! For some, it's the bestest part about going to the wedding — getting to party with all your friends well into the night. But the problem is that it's usually the biggest expense of all the expenses. Here's an awesome idea from a former Tribe member for those of you who don't want to pay for a DJ, drinks, decor, or even the venue space at all…

Have your reception OR after party at a bar or night club!

Speaking as someone who's experienced this venue switcharoo, I can say that it was awesome. After crying at the wedding, munching on some appetizers, and sipping lemonade at their subdued reception, I was ready to do some crazy partying. So, after the appetizers were consumed, and the grandparents were ready to take off, all the “big kids” headed out to a nearby bar and continued the revelry.


  • No paying for drinks. None of us minded pitching in for drinks — in fact, we were happy to do some “hosting” of our own for the newly weds. And by the end of the night, even total strangers were buying the drinks!
  • No DJ woes. We danced to whatever the DJ spun and had a blast. Since she wasn't a “wedding dj” there were no cheesy tunes or awkward announcements.
  • No cleanup. When were good and exhausted, we just left. (For some that point came when the bar was closing. For the bride and groom it was slightly earlier.)
  • No kids. This is for those of you who want a kid-free wedding, but aren't able to do so for various reasons, or maybe you want kids there… but not necessarily when the party starts kicking in. This is your chance to break up the kid-friendly and kid-free time, and have some adults only fun.

Obviously, this guerilla reception/after party idea would work best if there happens to be a bar or club nearby for an easy transition, so it may not work for everyone. But for those of you who wrestling with your need to partay and your empty pocketbook, this option may be worth considering.

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Comments on Have a wedding after-party at your favorite bar

  1. It would be hard in a rural area, but one could always crash the locals’ bar. It could work!

  2. That’s what we’re planning since most of FH’s friends aren’t really the wedding and reception sort of people. Going to a bar in downtown Boise that has $3 buckets that night. It’s cheap, fun, and will be much more comfortable for everybody involved. It probably will be the earliest “afterparty” I’ve ever been to though, lol.

    • Oh My GAWD! I’m in downtown Boise, and we would be having the whole wedding at The Neurolux if we could convince our families to allow it! As it is, we’re planning on after-partying there, around 8PM in July. So yes, the sun will be sooo up when we get there… A couple of the bartenders are photographers, so they cut us a bomb! deal, and one of the DJs is a friend, so she said she’d DJ for the price of “six hourse hanging out and picking music with [us] guys.” Best idea ever!

      • We’re using Tom Grainey’s, but you probably figured that out when I said “$3 buckets.” We thought about using a cool warehouse space we know of that involves a small half pipe and a bunch of arcade games, but it was harder to work out the logistics on.

  3. Most amazing advice indeed!! I just cancelled our DJ (saving us $1200) and told everyone that we will be heading across the street to the club to end our night!! Great advice!! Thank you

  4. YUP! We had our after party at home: with homebrewed beer, a few (seven) cases of Sam Adams, friends with guitars and motown on the stereo. We spent maybe $500 on booze, and it was THE BEST PART of the day.

    • I’ve long thought about having a bonfire after-party on my parents property. Grab a keg and their stereo system and it’s on ’til the break of dawn.

  5. We’re doing an after party for a different reason. My mom glares at me when ever I have booze so we’re having a dry reception,with a party at a local pool hall after. Derrik loves 8 ball billiards so much he’s on a league so the after party at the pool hall is just logical.

  6. I love hearing how the guests reacted to this. I’ve always sort of thought about something like this, but I had wondered if anyone was feeling put-out because they didn’t bring any cash or expected to be entertained, or anything like that. I’m bad not to bring much cash to weddings (tiny purses for the lose) but if I knew beforehand that this would be on the evening’s itinerary, I’m sure I’d be down.

    • Our invites will include that, while the champagne toast will be free at the reception, The After-Party will have a “no host bar.”

      And on the Wedsite FAQ, “What the heck is a ‘no host bar’?” “It’s a bar without a host; or in simpler terms, if you want to drink, you can bring cash or a card, because no-one (including the broke-ass newlyweds) will be picking up your tab.”

  7. We are doing a destination wedding in NOLA, and this is exactly the plan. Our reception ends at 8:30pm, and then we are just going out on Bourbon afterwards. No obligations, no plans – just hanging out in a city that we love! I can’t wait. 🙂

  8. We did something like this. After our noon wedding and afternoon reception, we had an after party at a nearby casino/bowling alley. We reserved a party room for dirt cheap and had some appetizers there for snacks, and people drifted in and out as they pleased. They seemed to like it and a few people won a decent amount at the casino.

  9. i love this idea, too. my partner and i had been talking about doing something similar (bar-hopping or dancing or something) but he was worried that unless we arranged it beforehand we’d have too many people, or this or that other thing would go wrong. nice to see it’s worked for someone already — can i ask how many people from the wedding went to the club? wondering how big a crowd we can get away with without pre-arranging…

    we’re having an afternoon reception that’ll be over by dinner time, so our idea was that we’d let everyone get dinner on their own, have some time to ourselves, and then meet up for partyin’.

  10. We’re very lucky that the venue where the reception is being held has a restaurant upstairs and also a bar with a dj and dance floor. The reception ends at 10p, so by 10:30 or so the bride and groom will be joining their friends upstairs for the after party!

  11. We too had an after-party, but at my parent’s house. We supplied the alcohol (which was a nice balance to our dry reception), it gave my partner’s out-of-town family a chance to meet everyone, and it was really relaxed. It was probably one of the best parts of the day for me, simply because expectations were lifted off me.

  12. This is a good idea, if you work it right like the friend in the post. I attended a wedding which ended by 4PM, and then an after party 45 minutes away on the other side of a large metropolitan area. It was not handled well, being too far away and too much time lapsed in between, and many people with kids who had traveled to the wedding felt left out since it was a 21+ only bar.

    We had our after dinner party at the bowling alley less than a 5 minute drive away, kid friendly, and all we did was reserve lanes and order late night snacks.

    I really love the idea of an after dinner party elsewhere since moving location can really change the mood of a party!

  13. Ummm…. what??? My mind is blown. This whole time ive been trying to budget in an open bar, without making my older or more… conservative… friends upset. This is a game changer. We are not dance people, so im thinking we can do this with a local bar instead. This way, our drinking friends and relatives can party away, and our sober friends and fam can leave after dinner. Holy dang, i am impressed!

  14. we asked the hotel bar to stay open late. They were more than willing. They also stocked up on our favorite drinks. The groom and I didn’t pay for a drink! A lot was on the house, and our guests pitched in. We opted out of alcohol at the reception, but invited everyone upstairs afterward. It worked out perfectly.

  15. We’re doing something like this at the suggestion of the wedding planner. Our hotel is famous for its fabulous bar, so the reception can have conservative family levels of alcohol and those who want to party only have to walk down a flight of stairs. No obligations, and we’re free to roam downtown Austin for the rest of the night with only the people who want to have that kind of fun.

    No pressure. No feeling responsible for an inappropriate song being played or someone getting wild and offending older guests. It took away SO MUCH stress, not to mention the savings.

    • Woah! I’m getting married in Austin too. What hotel are you using for your after party?

  16. This was a no-brainer for us!
    We have a limited guest list for the reception due to who we can afford to pay for! We are also having a lunch reception to save more $$ on the resturaunt..

    So we decided to have everyone who wants to, plus nearly our whole town (all of the people we would love to shre our day with but we cant afford to pay for!) come down to the local bar/nightclub where we’re gonna have dinner at 6:30 and stick around till they kick us out!

    We figure people will show up when they want, eat or drink as much or little as they want and can leave whenever they’re ready and its not my headache to deal with.

    Although, we were hoping to be able to put a bit of a tab on the bar.. but this might prove too hard to organise as we will have NO IDEA who or how many people will show up for the party.

  17. My husband and I did this and it was AWESOME.

    We pre-ordered and paid for the cabs, but included the phone numbers of cab companies in our out of town bags.

  18. I do think this could be a really fun idea, and lots of the variants in the comments sound great too, but I can see this causing some hurt feelings, too. The nice thing about a wedding is that those who enjoy dancing and drinking can stay in the same room as elderly folks sipping tea, and little kids running around. If we went to a bar afterwards, those last two groups would not be want to/be able to join us, and I think they’d be sad. Me too, actually. I love everyone I invited to my wedding–I want to spend the whole evening with as many of them as possible.

    • This is an issue of timing — at NONE of the weddings I’ve been to are there any small children or older folks on the dance floor after 9pm. THAT’S when you hit the bar.

      I say this as someone stayed up until 5am dancing at my own wedding reception. I’m now more in the “passed out by 10pm” phase, and if I was at a wedding where I knew people were going to be going all night, I certainly wouldn’t be sad that I wasn’t going to be with them. I don’t think it’s insulting anyone to continue the party after some folks have gotten tired and opted out.

      • Ariel, I totally agree that with a certain crowd, people are happy for a venue change where the tired can gracefully say goodbye and the untired can party on. I’ve definitely been at events like that.

        But that’s not every event. Our wedding is a huge deal to our families, many of whom I’m sure won’t be dancing or drinking, but *will* be family-reunion-ing with each other and eating cake and watching *us* dance until the wee hours. It’s just a matter of knowing your crowd, I think.

        • Totally agreed. As with all things offbeat: different things will work for different people.

          • We love the idea of an after party. We’d like to celebrate with just our close friends after the reception, without having to be on guard for awkward parents and just having a relaxed time. But we’re not the party till 5am type of people, so when should we end the reception and start the after party? What time will make the other guests not feel left out? I mean, they’re going to feel left out… but, I hope you know what I mean 🙂

  19. It’s a good idea, but I’d advise brides and grooms considering this to do one thing: Buy a round for your guests. Still cheaper than an open bar or buying a bunch of booze, and it’s a good way to thank your guests for sharing the day with you.

  20. We’re planning to do just this! Our venue is full-service and we have it for four hours — each additional hour is an ungodly amount of money. One of the local pubs here is our go-to spot: we met there, first said ‘I love you’ there, got engaged there. We love the owners and they love us. It’s only about 15 min from our venue, and a great spot to head to once times out at our venue.

  21. We are having a “reciparty” instead of a reception. We aren’t doing this just because of the money, but also because the bar we chose means a lot to us. We are having a little outdoor wedding (with <100 people over all), then we are having our first dinner as a family at a local restaurant, just for family and close friends, then we are off to the bar for madness and mayhem. The bar is letting us use the stage and tables s for the wedding party, we are decorating, taking in our cake and snacks (no one wants a drunken wedding party!)and wedding gifts. It's karaoke night that night, and the dj, who is a friend of ours, is coming in early to dj for us until karaoke starts. All information needed will be provided in the invitations, so hopefully no one is surprised. ^_^

    • I LOVE this idea. My FH and I just scaled our wedding back to 20 family members. We are having a very private ceremony and dinner with those that mean the world to us. We are party people with a GREAT bunch of friends and are sad that we can’t afford to have everyone there. I just saw this post and am totally stealing this idea. I am wondering for tips on how to invite people who are not attending the wedding to the after-party and how to let those attending the wedding know about the after-party? Please help anyone ASAP! Thanks!

  22. My best memories from my childhood was dancing until past midnight at my siblings’ weddings. That would be lost at a club.

    • Yeah, I can see that. Especially when I was younger (<21), I loved being ABLE to stay up til the wee hours dancing with everybody else, which couldn't happen at a club, and it was also so little pressure to look "cool" because really it was just family and close friends there, it's not like you really have to impress anyone (versus a club where I would inevitably want to flirt like crazy all night and therefore not dance the stupid-but-fun songs…. well, that's not entirely true, but you get the idea). But, as Ariel said up top, different things work for different people, and if this could work for you, it really is a brilliant idea.

      My venue closed at midnight (they near-literally kicked us out), and a lot of people went on to party at clubs anyway, but since it was not organized, my husband and I missed out, and not everyone went to the same one, and in general I wish I had read this earlier. 🙂

  23. Our venue is right across the street from a local biker bar! This is probably going to need to happen.

  24. we’re planning this as well! We have to leave our venue by 10pm anyway, so the plan is to just have the reception until 9pm or so, then clean up a bit and head for the clubs.
    We’re just trying to find a club right now that fits our needs. I’m not usually a club person and have only been living here for a little over a year so I actually don’t know where to go, but we still have a couple months to figure that out 😉

  25. Not sure if this has been answered, but…

    In the case of this, who takes care of the “tear down”? Cleaning up the venue, gathering any gifts, etc.? I would want to make sure as many people as possible could get down at an after party!

    • My vote would be a day-of coordinator, or family members who really wanted to help and weren’t interested in going out. Obviously, you’d need to plan beforehand, like any other tear-down…

    • Ugh, even if you DON’T head to a club after, this can be an issue. We (very regrettably) did not have a coordinator who stayed all night (what kind of venue gives you a day-of coordinator who then leaves at 9:00??), so at midnight when they were telling us to GTFO (well, nicely) my husband and I and our parents were running around trying to figure out what was being done with the cupcakes, was the rock band equipment packed up, what about the printer and computer for the photobooth? Etc. etc. etc. It was sadness all around when the (100+) cupcakes were forgotten, and then nothing was organized and packed up for us the next day, when we needed to be getting back to our home-town. I definitely recommend hiring a day-of coordinator!

  26. My man and I are eloping and planning our receptions for a month later in Colorado. Since we aren’t having a ceremony we figured it wasn’t worth getting our elderly parents and grandparents in the same place as our drinking friends hence we planned two events. One is a Friday night bar crawl and the other is a hosted family-and-out-of-town guest Sunday brunch. We get to do exactly what we want with our friends and catch up with family over a relaxing meal (with mimosas!).

  27. We’re having an outdoor wedding/backyard bbq style thing at a campground. We’re just renting a large space with a number of campsites and bringing beer/kegs and hanging out till the sun comes up. All the food is cooked on site, no dj is required…

  28. Heads up! MOB here to report that we are post-marriage celebration, and in case you’re still on the fence about this particular topic, I’m here to state that the after party was fantastic! Everyone that needed to leave at the end of the reception, older folks, young families, the tired or the overwhelmed, did. What was left was the OBB’s core of friends, us, and even her DJ team changed out of their ‘work clothes’ and joined us for some off shift partying! The shoes were kicked off and we’ve got a different stack of memories from the earlier events of the day. It was great for the OBB and OBG to be able to change into their after party outfits and let their hair down for a couple of hours with friends after the reception. While they did get to eat, dance and have fun, the reception was still filled with the responsibilities and obligations associated with hosting the event, and a challenging setting for actually catching up with friends they hadn’t seen in a while. They were eager and now able to do exactly that at the after party. We bought the first round and happily joined in the fun since we’ve known them all since childhood. It was the perfect ending to the day, and we’d do it again in a heartbeat.

  29. I’m so glad you suggested this! One of the things I find disappointing about weddings is that they end too early for my taste! Why not party late into the evening (or morning!)? My fiance and I are having the ceremony and dinner at a beautiful French restaurant in Brooklyn with immediate family and close friends only, then taking the party to our friend’s bar where we will be meeting up with additonal guests that we couldn’t accomodate at the restaurant. They already have an great DJ, an enormous backyard, and plenty of tables reserved for our guests. We have to share the bar with non-wedding guests but we saved ourselves thousands of dollars so who cares!

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