How can we make our wedding celebration at a bar more...weddingy?
April 3, 2015 9:10 AM   Subscribe

About a month after our small civil family-only wedding ceremony, we're throwing a party at a bar so we can celebrate/get drunk/dance with about 50-60 of our friends. Open bar and our playlist: done and done. We'd like to put some creative, inexpensive touches on this event to make it feel more like a wedding and less like a big birthday party. (Inexpensive is key. We love the idea of a photo booth for example, but they're rather pricey to rent.) I'm hopelessly uncreative. Any ideas?
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
White party streamers
posted by aniola at 9:12 AM on April 3, 2015

White mardi gras beads
posted by aniola at 9:13 AM on April 3, 2015

Ask your guests to wear bridesmaids gowns from previous weddings or thrift stores.
posted by myselfasme at 9:13 AM on April 3, 2015 [8 favorites]

Handmade butcher paper banner that says blackcatcuriouser <3 spicyblackcatcuriouser or something to that effect.
posted by aniola at 9:17 AM on April 3, 2015

Ask ALL your guests to wear bridesmaid gowns from previous weddings or thrift stores.
posted by aniola at 9:18 AM on April 3, 2015 [9 favorites]

Centerpieces (even if it's just a vase with some colorful stones in it) on tables and having people wear formalwear will help, too.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 9:19 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

A wedding cake on display that you serve a few hours into the party. Wedding cakes can get pricy, but a homemade cake or a supermarket bakery cake would be fine. Who doesn't love a piece of cake after a few drinks?
posted by amro at 9:20 AM on April 3, 2015 [6 favorites]

Apparently it's common for people at wedding parties to give speeches about marriage and the awesomeness of the couple.
posted by aniola at 9:20 AM on April 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

You could build your own photobooth, if you have a camera and are allowed to hang a backdrop. Triggers are dead cheap, and you just need a tripod to set the camera on. I've done this for numerous parties and it's always a hit. For a background, you can buy a colorful, cheap plastic tablecloth. Make your own props, or buy cheap ones and you're all set!
posted by Fiorentina97 at 9:21 AM on April 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Jewish Wedding Chair dance. Even if you're not Jewish.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:25 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, absolutely, cake! Also, think about whether you want a round of fizzy drinks to toast with?
posted by yarntheory at 9:26 AM on April 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We did something similar after our wedding, and we stood up in front of everyone and did a quick recap of our vows/ceremony before the partying kicked off—not a reenactment, but a "hey, thanks so much for coming! We got married last month and made a bunch of promises [insert examples], and it means so much to us that you're here to support those promises and to celebrate with us!" We also did wedding reception-style toasts later in the event.

Are you planning to wear special outfits for your ceremony? Any chance you'd be up for rewearing them to the bar? Getting dressed up like people getting married (in whatever style that means for you) can help everything feel more wedding-y.

We also hung up photos (with clothespins & bakers twine) of ourselves, going in order from when we were little all the way up to and including photos of us dating, in lieu of a more in-your-face PowerPoint slideshow that some people do at receptions these days.

N-thing cake (or pie!) and a cake-cutting, a homemade photo booth (even a decent phone camera can work), and fizzy drinks.
posted by rebekah at 9:31 AM on April 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

White and lace goes a long way to making something feel wedding-like. A white dress, white and lacy party supplies, etc.. I got my party stuff (table cloths, paper plates, etc.) from Oriental Trading, they looked great and were very inexpensive.
posted by bleep at 9:34 AM on April 3, 2015

Best answer: Mason jars in the center of each table with flowers in them. (Flowers are cheap at Trader Joe's, and the arrangement is just "cut stems, shove in jar, add water".)
posted by pie ninja at 9:35 AM on April 3, 2015

Instead of a cake, maybe a cupcake tower with individual wedding-y toppers? Or put the toppers into centerpieces on the tables...
posted by current resident at 9:37 AM on April 3, 2015

My wedding reception was in a bar. We used cheap paper lanterns (from Oriental Trading) to decorate and had some small flower centerpieces made. I've seen herbs used for a fun effect and then you can give out herb wedding favors.

There were a couple things that made it feel like a "real" wedding: 1. I wore a dress. 2. We weren't at the reception when it started, we arrived 20 minutes later and were announced. 3. We had a first dance and a father/daughter dance. 3. Cake!

In lieu of a photobooth, we put disposable cameras on all the tables. Turns out bars have bad lighting and drunk people don't remember how to take film picture, so they were kind of a bust.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 9:39 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Make a photobooth area with funny props...and the dreaded Selfie Stick. Put a sign on the Selfie Stick with your wedding hashtag and have everyone Tweet/FB their best photobooth pictures.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:41 AM on April 3, 2015

Throw a bouquet? Choose someone to pick up a bunch at Trader Joe's and but a really pretty ribbon before hand.
Instead of "next to get married" everyone can try to catch for fancy drink or a 20 dollar scratch ticket.
posted by beccaj at 9:45 AM on April 3, 2015

Do the silly wedding dances like The Hokey Pokey, or whatever is typical in your area.
posted by littlewater at 9:58 AM on April 3, 2015

Best answer: "Like a Wedding" is a construction of the industrial wedding complex (which I myself have professionally belonged to, and, full disclosure, have come to despise). That template is not very "special" or fun or connubial or really anything but a bunch of stuff everyone rotely imitates for lack of imagination.

I suspect what you really want isn't to make it feel more Like a Wedding(TM) but simply more special, period. Right? If so, that opens up so many more options. You're not creative, but people you know and love are. As you continue this quest, asking around and posting to places like this, I'd urge an adjustment. Un-constrain it from the wedding meme thing. Throw a frigging incredible party (rather than a second-rate version of a cheesy catering-hall style reception). It's the incredibleness that will elevate it from a birthday bar party.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:00 AM on April 3, 2015 [6 favorites]

We got software and used our camera to make our own photobooth, which was awesome, I also bought a cheap lighting rig off Amazon that meant we got amazing pictures. Maybe wear something amazing, decorate with things that you love.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 10:11 AM on April 3, 2015

One thing that you can do with built-in software on most laptop cameras, is to add crazy photo backgrounds instead of the simple white curtain you hang as a backdrop. Troll google image search for backdrops that show the fanciest church wedding, the cheesiest beach wedding, the craziest nightclub, the Elvis chapel, etc. and insert yourselves as the happy couple (buy a giant white monstrosity dress for $35 at the thrift store, if necessary). Print those out as posters of all the ways you *didn't* get married, along with one of your actual wedding day at the courthouse.
posted by aimedwander at 10:16 AM on April 3, 2015

I think everyone (participant or guest) has those things that they find delightful about weddings that feel wedding-specific. I think for lots of other people, cake is one of those things; for me it's flowers and champagne (ie, bubbly wine, not necessarily expensive though it's nice if it's not too terrible).
posted by vunder at 10:24 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you don't have a deejay, ask a friend or two to act as host a few times during the evening. Dance to "your song" for at least half of it and have the host ask everyone to join you for the next song (or the last half of your song). The host can also lead a few things like a bouquet/garter toss, a shoe game, or an anniversary dance.

Ask your guests to wear bridesmaids gowns from previous weddings or thrift stores.
That is a great idea! If you DIY your own photo booth, have a bunch of dress up items (including clothes) and at some point during the night, you could raid the stash and have a dress up dance.
posted by soelo at 10:51 AM on April 3, 2015

Fancy fresh flowers! At least a bouquet/boutonniere and on the tables.
posted by amaire at 11:03 AM on April 3, 2015

Flowers, definitely flowers, and yes, you can get them cheaply at places like Trader Joe's. We got some inexpensive baskets with handles at a craft store and filled them with cut flowers (in jars). Looked nice and were portable, and we gave them to selected guests to take home afterwards. You can add a bit of lace or ribbon to the baskets fairly easily if you want.

Cake and champagne or something else fizzy are also good. You can get a sheet cake with white icing fairly inexpensively at various groceries. If you want to fancy it up, here's an idea about turning a grocery store sheet cake into a wedding cake.

I also love the Mardi Gras beads suggestion.
posted by gudrun at 12:09 PM on April 3, 2015

Fairy lights
posted by superfish at 1:32 PM on April 3, 2015

Ask your guests to wear only black and white.
posted by Dragonness at 7:12 AM on April 4, 2015

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