Wedding Reception Etiquette: End the Reception Party Without Killing the Vibe?


We really love our wedding reception site except for one thing -- if our guests linger even a minute too long, we're going to be slapped with some serious overage fees. Can you recommend some good ways to put the brakes on the partying and get people to go without killing the reception vibe completely?


Once you've signed the contract, a deal's a deal -- and nothing is going to kill your wedding reception vibe like a chagrined bride and groom whose wallets have just been made a good deal lighter. You've got a couple of options for dealing with the guest glut, depending on when you plan to make your exit.

If you were planning on leaving before the evening comes to a close (which some brides and grooms still do, opting for a bit more wedding night privacy), make sure your attendants and key family members know the game plan well before the reception party starts. You'll be relying on them to get people going once the lights come up -- whether it's calling cabs, shepherding them to the shuttles, or simply helping guests grab their coats. If you're planning on leaving at the same time as your guests, you've got a similar game plan. Enlist your wedding party in making sure your guests have everything together for your grand exit, and have them queue outside to blow bubbles, wave sparkers, or simply bid you bon voyage. Lastly, if you're a partying pair who plans on keeping the good times going post wedding reception, you can be there to end it with a bang -- and help make sure everyone clears the premises and moves on to the after-party. Afterward, you'll still be around to help collect everyone and make sure your party is on the move when the lights go up.

With any of these plans, guest shuttle buses or vans may be your secret weapon -- no one is going to hang around too long if it means missing their ride. To get people ready to go beforehand, choose a rousing last dance song and let your band or DJ know the exact time when you need it played (opting for fifteen minutes earlier than you need it may be a better plan than waiting until the last minute).

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