New This Month

Essential Elements of an Unexpected Wedding After-Party

You may be planning a totally classic ceremony and reception, but that doesn't mean you can't have some fun with the after party. Event and floral designer Chris Hessney of Hessney & Co shares how to throw the coolest after-party ever.

Your wedding ceremony and reception might be totally classic, but that doesn't mean you can't have some fun when it comes to the after-party. In fact, event and floral designer Chris Hessney, of Hessney & Co, thinks couples should go in an entirely different direction than the wedding itself as they plan this post-nuptial celebration. After all, the guests at your late-night bash are likely a bit younger and often ready to party late into the night; give them a celebration they won't soon forget (and won't skip out on) by peppering your after-party with those unexpected and inspired ideas you didn't have a place for in your formal reception. "Don't be afraid to go a bit kitschy for an after party," Hessney advises. "It's a time to let loose a bit after the wedding." 


With help from wedding planner Laura Remmert Events, Hessney and his arsenal of industry pros headed to Neuehouse, an industrial space in the heart of New York City, and showed us exactly how to throw the coolest after party ever. Even better, photographer Twah Dougherty captured every funky detail. 


A Clear Theme

Wedding themes may be so out, but choosing a one overarching idea for your after-party can make for a lively and unique event. Hessney loved the idea of a Tarot card reader's tent, so he used that as his inspiration for this after-party.

Designated Lounge Areas

While guests will surely dance at your after-party, it's important to also create areas where friends and family can just relax. "Build out some lounge areas for guests who prefer chatting and mingling over dancing," Hessney says. "Or just want to rest their feet!" Tons of candles in various sizes, like these pink pillars in clear hurricane vases from Nordic Candle, cast a warm, cozy glow over the space, lending an intimate vibe to your seating areas.


And don't forget to add some decorative florals to these spaces. They don't need to be anywhere as grand as those you chose for the reception, but do think about color and texture. "If you went with classic all-white flowers for your wedding, switch it up a bit and choose those with pops of color for the after party," he says. "Bunch together cheaper flowers to create a fun look without a big price tag." Foliage Garden brought in tons of greenery and floral arrangements to make the space pop.

Unexpected Décor

Sure, florals will be an important element of your after-party décor, but you should also feel free to get playful. Hessney wanted this after party to feel fun and fresh, so he brought it in unexpected accessories like taxidermy, crystals, and books, all from  Creel and Gow, to give this space the unique vibe of a Tarot card reader's tent.

A Stocked Bar

Unlike your wedding, you don't need to offer a full bar at the after-party, but guests will surely indulge if you do. Hessney loves when couples create a special signature drink just for late-night revelers, and suggests choosing one that goes with the theme of your second celebration. For this party, his bartenders served up drinks made with Helix vodka. "It's amazing for cocktails," he says. "It's inexpensive and has a great taste!" 


In keeping with the other-worldly vibe of this after party, Hessney also stocked the bar with elixirs from The Herball, meant to align Chakras and turn up the party. "They're available without booze, but a touch of vodka or tequila never hurts!"

The Right Bites

"People love fun snacks and comfort food at after-parties," Hessney reminds us. "If you want to keep guests going, make sure to feed them." Think: Cocktail hour-style bites or sweet treats that guests can grab on the go. A calligraphed menu, like this one from Ink Revival, tells everyone what the evening's offerings are.

A Place to Dance

Your guests are staying late to extend the party, so give them the option to do just that. Make sure your dance floor really pops, either by renting a special colored floor, as Hessney did here from H & H Sign, or defining the space in some other clear way, like with draping, as done here by Gio Draping, signs, or flowers. "A more elaborate idea for an after-party would be to include a 'dance tent.' People love dancing in small, confined areas with less people watching," he says. "It helps to get the party started when everyone isn't afraid to be the first one to dance." 

Extra Entertainment

No, we're not saying you need to make the rounds like you did at your wedding, but you should offer fun alternatives for those that might not be interested in dancing. Tarot card readers, burlesque dancers, photo booths, or polaroid cameras are fun, interactive activities for guests to take part in. 

A Few Surprises

For affordable and adorable decorations that will wow guests at every turn, consider dressing up any mirrors in the space. Here, Hessney scrawled funny sayings on bathroom mirrors with bright pink lipstick. Talk about a go-to selfie spot!