When putting together a wedding reception timeline — i.e., a simple schedule that lets the major players in the wedding and the emcee know when the first dance will go down and the cake will be cut — many brides- and grooms-to-be neglect one important detail. Namely, for all the time spent thinking about when they’ll get to the reception, they never consider when they’ll leave the reception. Whoops! Look at enough wedding photos, and you’ll see that the big exit makes for some great snapshots of the newlyweds. That is, of course, if the newlyweds take steps to plan that big exit ahead of time. Here are six tips that will ensure your grand exit lives up to its name:
You can always have an after-party if you’re not going directly from the wedding reception to your honeymoon destination. Unless you actually have to stick around to clean up — and some brides and grooms do — don’t feel obligated to wait around until your last wedding guest has said goodnight. People will actually expect you to cut out before the last dance, so you won’t be offending anyone.
Do be sure your wheels have arrived
Standing on the curb in your wedding day finery waiting for your limo (or whatever) to pull ’round or for the valet to bring your car only gets weirder as the clock ticks. You don’t need to suffer in the cold or get stuck talking to your new spouse’s creepy uncle… the one who’s always popping out for stinky cigars. Before you wave your final farewell, have someone check on the status of your transportation.
Don’t sneak out
I’ll admit that the whole couple-sneaking-away thing is kind of romantic — in fact, it’s how my maternal grandparents first got together! He threw her a birthday bash, and an hour into it, asked her if she wanted to ditch the party. Long story short, they left and fell in love. Cute, right? But if you have wedding guests who have traveled far to see you and your new spouse or guests whose only chance to speak to you is at the reception, be kind and say goodbye at the end of the evening instead of leaving your loved ones hanging.
Do keep it low key
If you want to, that is. Some brides love the idea of being sent off in a photo-worthy shower of cheers, camera flashes, and grains of rice. Other brides cringe at the very idea. Those who fall into the latter camp should know that there’s nothing wrong with saying goodbye to wedding guests quietly and individually before slipping away without fanfare.
Don’t forget anything
But don’t try to handle everything! You’ve had a long day… probably even a long week. A long month? Be sure you grab your clutch, your cash, and your wrap before heading out the door, but when it comes to wedding gifts, the top tier of your cake, your bridal bouquet, and anything else you want to keep, designate a helper (e.g., a bridesmaid, your maid-of-honor, or your mom) to grab that stuff for you. This is especially important if you’re leaving directly for your honeymoon.
Do keep the photog around
Again, this is one of those “if you want to” kind of things. Those brides who want to make their exits truly grand should remember to coordinate a fixed timeline with their wedding photographers. For example, if you know you’ll be leaving at 10 p.m., be sure that your photog knows you want to book her through then so she doesn’t hit the road at nine.
Everything else will depend on your preferences. You want to change into special bridal suit for traveling prior to leaving the reception? Fab! You’d like to fly away with your new spouse in a hot air balloon rented specifically to impress his relatives? Okay, then. You want your wedding guests to pelt you with ribbons as you head out the door. No prob. Just make sure you’re having fun!