While you're absolutely not required, it is a nice touch.
wedding after party tray of in-n-out burgers

You've spent months and months (maybe even years!) planning your big day, so why not keep the party going after the reception by hosting an after-party? After-parties offer couples an opportunity to let their hair down and spend time with guests in a more laid-back setting. But after budgeting all the details for the ceremony and reception, you may be wondering what the etiquette is when it comes to your after-party.

We asked Jess Ford, owner of Peppercorn Events in New Jersey, whether couples are required to feed their guests at the after-party. "The short answer, no. But is it nice? Yes. A lot of caterers and venues will offer after-party menus to make planning easier," she says.

It's up to you how "casual" your after-party feels. When couples send invitations to the after-party and rent out a separate space, guests may expect additional food and alcohol to be served. Instead, consider mentioning on your wedding website that you'll be spending time at the local pub after the reception and guests are welcome to stop by. This will give guests an indication that the after-party isn't mandatory to attend and will be more like a night out with the newlyweds where they are responsible for their own food and drinks.

But guests ate during your cocktail hour and reception, so why serve more food now? Ford says, "People get caught up in the excitement, might have a few more drinks than usual, and less food than they realize." With this in mind, consider providing a few snacks or even ordering a few pizzas for your guests. There's no need to host a sit-down meal or even have a lot of snack options.

As for what to serve? "Your guests will love anything to eat at the after-party," chef Anthony Pino, proprietor of Pino Hospitality and owner of AD Catering and Events, says. "Think of it like when you leave a bar at midnight hungry—no need to look any further, it's already there for them!"

Be sure to check with your caterer after the reception (or ask a trusted member of your wedding party) to see if there are leftover appetizers from the cocktail hour or even a layer of wedding cake that you can bring to the after-party. Plus, there are typically a few unopened bottles of booze left—take those, too!


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