With just a few days to go until Christmas, I’m back for one last time with the final instalment of our advice series featuring the very best tips and tricks from all the experts you’ll find in our carefully curated supplier directory, Little Book for Brides. We’ve already covered the build up to the big day, the morning of the wedding and the ceremony itself as well as your drinks reception and dinner. Today, we’re quite rightly in the party mood as we talk about your evening reception and we’ll finish with a look at life post-wedding.
After all the formalities of the wedding day, when it comes to your evening reception, it’s definitely time to let your hand down! This is the time to absolutely enjoy yourself and have the best time with your friends and family. However, before you kick into party mode, there are just a few things you might want to think about and let’s start with a practical hosting tip. Here’s Liane from stationers LoveLi:
“Make sure that any additional evening guests are greeted by someone and also ensure that they’re given a drink. There’s nothing worse than arriving at an already-started party and feeling a bit uncomfortable. Have your best man or maid of honour (or both!) available to greet your guest and make sure they’re comfortable and ready to enjoy themselves.”
And why might you not be there to welcome them? Well, you’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime party to get ready for so you need to look and feel fab.
“Take your bridal style from day to night,” says wedding dress designer Charlotte Balbier. “I love the option of having a second dress for your evening reception or mix up your day to evening style by changing your accessories. For the evening, remove your veil and add some glamorous accessories to really transform your look from traditional bride to high fashion red carpet. Add some killer heels, a dash of vibrant lipstick and your new look is complete!”
“If your dress has a lace-up corset, don’t be afraid to go back to your bridal suite to ease or re-tighten the laces,” says Lindsay from bridal and honeymoon boutique Dress in Love Weddings. “You might want a bit more room or the laces may have come a little loose while you were sitting down for your wedding breakfast meaning your dress no longer fits you snugly around the bust which might not be what you want as you’re hitting the dancefloor!”
Lindsay continues, “Also, remember to ask your bridesmaids to bustle your dress before the dancing starts to avoid damaging your gown. Don’t leave it until they’ve had too many drinks though – those bustle ribbons can be tricky to find under all those petticoats!”
Bustling can be a great idea, particularly if your dress has any kind of train. In short, loops and ribbons are attached to your dress that allow the fabric to be ‘bustled’ – tied up neatly and safely so your precious gown isn’t in your way (or available to be tripped or trodden on) on the dancefloor. If this sounds like a something you might be interested in, just speak to your boutique when you go to have your first fitting. There’s also another reason why you might want to consider a bustle as Helena from Heavenly Vintage Brides explains:
“A lot of brides like to change their shoes in the evening and that’s totally understandable after such a long day. However, do consider the height of your new heels! If you’re really going down in height (changing into Converse or ballet slippers for example) then make sure your seamstress allows for this when you have your alterations because you won’t want to be catching yourself in your hem or have your gown dragging on the floor all night.”
However, it’s not just your wedding dress that needs to get party ready – you do too! Our makeup experts explain:
“As part of my service, I always include a ‘mini touch-up kit’ for my brides,” says Laura Barrow. “This means that you can totally revive your look for the evening. Dip into this kit now and re-do lipstick and powder etc. so that you can feel super-fresh for the evening party.”
“Blotting papers are great to have to hand all evening and can prevent sweaty dancefloor moments,” says makeup artist Kylie McMichael. “I give a few to my brides so there’s no need for pressed, congealed makeup. Give yourself a little dab should you need it and get back out there to strut your stuff!”
Talking about strutting your stuff, there’s probably no dance in your life that comes with more weight of expectation than ‘the first dance’ but again, don’t worry, our experts are here to guide you around the dancefloor as brilliantly as a Strictly pro:
“Firstly, if you’re having a summer wedding, we always advise couples to start the party a little bit later. Guests love mingling outside on gorgeous summer evenings so go for some upbeat background music so people can chill for a while,” says Kate from musical duo Music by Kate & Dave. “Make sure that your DJ or band announces your first dance so everyone can be there. Then, after that dance, kick straight into the dancing and encourage everyone onto the dancefloor as they’re already there!”
Of course, keeping everyone dancing can be tricky sometimes but here’s Kate from Music by Kate & Dave again with some great tips:
“If it’s possible, have the bar in the same room as your dancefloor and evening entertainment. No matter how good your band or DJ are, people love socialising by the bar with a drink in hand and, if this area is nowhere near the dancefloor, you’d have to be a hardcore danceoholic to decide to leave that lovely social space.”
“Also communicate with your musicians or DJ before the big day to let them know the songs you’d like (or not like) to hear,” says Kate. “Usually a band will have decided their set list before they get to your wedding and it can be tricky to change lots of songs. This goes for your DJ too – you don’t want to be constantly going up to them, changing songs or feeling unhappy with what they’re playing so send them requests and suggestions beforehand so they can get to know your taste. A good DJ will take everything on board and tailor their set to you and not just play what they want to!”
“Your first dance is definitely a big deal,” says photographer Ross Hurley. “There’s just one small tip I’d like to pass on because it can totally change the look and feel of those first dance images. If you’ve booked a band to play throughout the evening but decide to have your iPod or DJ play your first dance song, make sure the band know this and don’t stand on the stage waiting. When this happens, the images of the bride and groom look awesome with lights going off and guests all watching in but, if the band are on stage, you’ll simply see them not playing anything and just standing around waiting to start their set. This really changes the aesthetics of the images.”
That’s a really great point from Ross and certainly not something I’d ever thought of, but I can totally see that it makes sense. Ross also mentions lighting there and this is something that’s great for evening receptions and really helps with that ‘day-to-night’ feel, as Amanda from wedding tent and teepee company PapaKåta explains:
“Lighting is so very important and can create a fabulous atmosphere from day to night. We recommend directional spotlights that can point onto tables, uplighters to give a feeling of intimacy and lots of ambient lighting such as festoon lights and fairy lights for added sparkle. Lanterns, candles, mirror balls and open fires will also create a beautiful ambience.”
Amanda continues, “Check any spotlights and uplighters are fitted with dimmers so that you can dim or brighten the lighting to change the mood of the party! At PapaKåta, we suggest that you have the lighting turned as high as possible during the day and as low as possible at night to get the party started. You might also need to think about external lighting so that your guests can see their way to cars as they leave or to toilets or other facilities. Coloured uplighters can create a magical effect, shining onto the canvas of the tents or into tree foliage.”
Another lighting option that we’ve all fallen for of late is definitely giant light-up letters and the guys from the original light-up letter company, Vowed & Amazed just love a great party:
“Your evening reception is the time to let loose! Our favourite client photos are the ones where people are really breaking out the moves in front of a fabulous light-up backdrop. You can almost feel the atmosphere and hear the beats. You made it through all of the planning and now it’s time to DANCE!”
In addition to dancing (make that LOTS of dancing!), there might be a few other things to do during your evening reception, all of which will make fantastic memories:
“Does your photographer have awesome night-time shots in their portfolio?” asks photographer Winston Sanders. “When you fancy a breather from dancing, why not grab your photographer and head outside for 15 minutes. Not only will you get some (almost) private time with your other half, you’ll also get some unique images that will really capture the magic of your day.”
Spending time together is definitely the best tip I can give you – when you look back at your wedding day together, you want to share memories and talk about things that you both experienced. If you spent huge chunks of the day apart, your recollections of the day won’t join up which is such a shame.
“Do make sure that you spend time with your new husband or wife,” says Claire from stationers Littlebird Weddings. “You’ll have had a busy day being the focus of attention and it’s now time to relax and have fun. Don’t forget that the day is about you two coming together and making a life together so you need to focus on each other for a bit!”
Georgina from stationers Georgina Read Creative agrees:
“Agree with your now actual husband or wife to slip away from the party, if only for a little while, and some quiet time together. Go for a stroll in the garden or find a quiet corner to sit in and appreciate just how amazing the day has been.”
However, there’ll come a time when your wedding is over and after your last dance, your goodbyes and your big exit, it’s time to head off (or even just to head upstairs to your bridal suite!). Before you both tumble into bed together, I’ve just got a few more tips for you:
“Yay! You’re married! If you’re anything like me you will sleep in your wedding hair and make up. YES, I know that’s a beauty sin but you’re exhausted and doing this once in your life won’t kill your face,” says makeup artist Kylie McMichael. “Make sure you double cleanse the next day, first of all with an oily cleanser to really remove any grease, dirt and strays and then with a yummy specialist cleanser or exfoliator to truly pamper. Spritz with tonic and slather on moisturiser and serum as appropriate. This is your skin’s time to recover from the rich diet and stressful period of planning. Expect post-stress/ alcohol spots to appear and tackle those with Healgel and regular cleansing.”
“Hang your dress up!” says Helena from Heavenly Vintage Brides. “Then, don’t leave it too long to have it professionally cleaned. Marks will sink into the fibres and then they’re so much harder to remove. Remember that old fibres don’t like modern chemicals and I’ll often talk my brides with vintage dresses through the process of hand-washing their dress. After that, the dress should be stored in a box, packed with acid-free tissue paper. Hanging it up for long periods will just put too much stress on the shoulder of delicate fabrics.”
And with that, I feel we should probably leave what’s left of your wedding day to your own imagination…!
Now, whether you’re jetting straight off on honeymoon, heading away for a mini-moon or spending a little more time with friends and family, the day after the wedding will need a little thought in advance as the wonderful Joanne from florists Fletcher & Foley explains:
“To my mind this is the one area that is totally forgotten in the excitement of the big day. For the day itself many couples have friends helping out and a myriad of suppliers delivering all manner of gorgeous props, flowers, cakes, favours… The day after, you will need some of those people again for breakdown. If you turned up with a van load the day before, you will need to think about how you remove everything plus presents. I encourage my couples to give the flowers out to favoured guests at the end of the evening. It’s one less thing to think about if they haven’t asked for breakdown services.”
When you’re back from your honeymoon, all of our experts agree that there are a couple of things that you really should make time for as soon as you can:
“Remember to acknowledge and show your appreciation to everyone who helped make your day special,” says Emmanouela from couture designers Nymphi Design. “It’s all about the people you love.”
“Write your thank you cards!” says Sian from boutique Tilly Trotter’s Brides. “Don’t think about it! Just do it! Otherwise, it’ll be six months down the line and you still won’t have officially thanked anyone for coming to celebrate with you or for giving you all of those amazing gifts and you’ll just look ungrateful.”
“Try and have your thank you cards sent out relatively quickly so your lovely guests and loved ones know just how much their love and support meant to you,” agrees Lorna from stationers EYI Love. “If you’d like a photograph from your wedding day on your cards, make sure that you organise this in advance with your photographer and stationer so they know when to expect your call and can allocate space in their schedules to you.”
“We often receive a flurry of requests for thank you cards during wedding season,” says Harriet from De Winton Paper Co. “This is such a perfect way to show your gratitude and what could be better than with something a little personalised and perfectly designed to reflect the wonderful day that you both had.”
Hear hear! I’m a big believer in saying thank you to people so it’s not just your guests that you should get in touch with after your wedding:
“We work with lots of amazing wedding suppliers who truly pour all their passion and time into creating the happiest day in the lives of their brides and grooms,” says Sian from The Flower Lounge. “Receiving a thank you card and some photos from the day is simply the best reward a supplier can get and genuinely means a lot; so don’t forget to add them to your list.”
Sian from Tilly Trotter’s Brides completely agrees:
“Suppliers love hearing from couples after their weddings. Take some time to thank them and review the suppliers who helped make your day as perfect and as memorable as it was (hint hint!). We really appreciate the feedback and newly engaged couples really appreciate the recommendations from people who were exactly where they are now.”
Now’s also the time to capture all of those amazing wedding memories whilst they’re still fresh in your mind:
“Get some lovely keepsake boxes and keep those precious memories safe,” says Sam from Sass & Grace Bridal Boutique. “Keep little things that will bring a smile to your face in twenty or thirty years time as you remember a special moment from your wedding day.”
“Share information, memories and photos after the wedding,” says Ann-Marie from stationery and décor company Paper Tree. “Create a closed Facebook group for guests, check out your hashtag on Instagram or use a wedding app where guests can upload their photos.”
Whilst we’re talking about photos, here’s photographer Ross Hurley with some words of wisdom:
“With technology moving at such a fast pace, today’s digital media will be tomorrow’s VHS tapes. If you don’t back up your images, they can be lost forever but, the best way to keep your images and certainly the best way to view them is to have them in print. There’s no better way to show all your friends and family your stunning wedding than with a gorgeous book. It certainly beats turning on the laptop and putting in the USB!”
Of course, without wedding planning to keep you busy and the prospect of the wedding itself to get excited about, it’s totally understandable that some people feel a little down when it’s all over. You’re not alone however.
“Don’t worry when you feel like there’s a massive whole in your life now that all the planning isn’t taking up every spare minute,” says Liane from LoveLi. “Post wedding blues aren’t unusual. Just enjoy time as a couple and plan your next adventure. One of the best things we did was to save our honeymoon for a few months after our wedding as it gave us something to look forward to after all the excitement of the day died down.”
“Give yourself a project after your honeymoon,” says photographer Angela Ward-Brown. Planning a wedding can be all encompassing and it can feel pretty deflating once the honeymoon is over and the photos and videos have been viewed. Be kind to yourself and have something lovely to do in those ‘wedding free’ hours, ideally with your new partner. You could find yourself a new hobby, enrol for classes or just catch up on all those great box sets you missed!”
And so, there you have it. You’re married, in love and starting out on the next chapter of your love story. Yes, it might feel daunting now at times and yes, there’s a lot to do and a lot to remember but, at the root of all this is love so forever take comfort in that undeniable fact.
I hope that you’ve loved reading this series as much as I’ve loved putting it together and I hope that you’ve take a couple of ideas from it for your own wedding. If I don’t speak to you again before, have a wonderfully relaxing festive break and here’s to a fabulous 2017 for us all.
Love Tamryn x