Get the Afterparty Started

by Allison Stice Bulka

Festive tips for a fabulous postnuptial celebration

They say the big day goes by in a flash so why not keep it going long after the last dance — all the way to last call? Many couples are opting to cue up the wedding afterparty: a post-reception celebration that keeps the good times rolling.

“Couples are aware of the distances their guests are traveling from and try to provide a high level of guest satisfaction by inviting them to more than just the wedding ceremony and reception,” says wedding planner Anna Swanson of Swanson Signature Events.

Intimidated by the thought of assembling yet another piece of the wedding puzzle? We asked local wedding experts for afterparty etiquette to ensure the perfect end to your perfect day.

Photo by ASH & MILES PHOTOGRAPHY

Invitation Sweet

When deciding where to host your postnuptial celebration, determine what portion of your guest list will likely attend.

“The afterparty typically attracts one-third or less of the wedding guests — and normally the younger crowd,” says Swanson.

Still, it’s good manners befitting the Hostess City to include your entire guest list. Hunter Beals, director of sales and catering at The Drayton Hotel, recommends even asking for RSVPs, especially when booking a private space. But even if you’re not renting and instead congregating at a public hotspot, you’ll want to make sure it has ample space for your guests.

Photo by NELLIE BRADFORD PHOTOGRAPHY

Location, Location, Location

You can book a private room, cocktail lounge or a few tables at a favorite pub. If you opt for a nightclub or bar without a formal reservation, you could still benefit from a special hosting touch by calling ahead to let them know a crowd will be arriving.

Ideally, the afterparty should be easily and safely accessible from your wedding venue. Check with the coordinators of your big day about whether there is a less formal area on the grounds of your ceremony location that can naturally flow into the afterparty.

If your venue is near downtown Savannah’s bar scene, picking a place where guests can walk over as the reception winds down prevents any transportation headaches. If your second venue isn’t within walking distance from the reception, a party bus or trolley can continually shuttle guests.

Photo by ASH & MILES PHOTOGRAPHY

Vow to Vibe

Like the ceremony and reception, the afterparty should be a reflection of the wedding couple. For the young-at-heart and playful, karaoke, a DJ or live music, or even a sing-along at Savannah Smiles Piano Bar does the trick.

A more mellow couple might go for something more sophisticated with handcrafted cocktails and an elegant atmosphere to drink it all in, of which there are many in Savannah, including The Drayton Hotel’s downstairs lounge, where candles, vinyl records, velvet seating and leather barstools set the mood.

The Vinyl Room at The Drayton Hotel // Photo by Digital Love

Bites and Booze

The reception menu is where you pull out the stops — freeing up the afterparty menu to be more casual. Jessica Mathis, event services manager at The Alida, says the hotel’s rooftop venue, The Lost Square, offers lots of satisfying, late-night snack options.

“Some of our most popular selections are the Sweet and Salty Pretzel Bar, the Late Night Drive-Thru Burger and Fry Bar, and the Southern Fried Chicken and Waffle Bar,” Mathis says.

Depending on your budget, you can cover the food and drink tab for the first hour, the whole night or simply provide the venue while guests nosh and imbibe on their own dime — just let guests know in advance.

Electric Moon Skytop Lounge + Moon Deck
Electric Moon Skytop Lounge + Moon Deck // Photo courtesy PLANT RIVERSIDE DISTRICT

AFTERPARTY HOTSPOTS IN SAVANNAH

Whether you’re seeking rooftop revelry, cool cocktails or a private affair, here is a short list of places where you could end the night on a high note.

Arco Lounge Cocktails + Coastal Fare
Bar Julian at Thompson Savannah
Electric Moon Skytop Lounge + Moon Deck
Myrtle & Rose at Plant Riverside District
Peregrin Rooftop Lounge at Perry Lane Hotel
Savoy Society
The Trade Room at The Alida
The Vinyl Room at The Drayton Hotel

Find more wedding planning resources and ideas in the 2023-24 issue of Southern Coastal Weddings.