Food, drink, music, decor — you’ll put time and effort into many aspects of your wedding day. But what about when the day (sadly!) comes to an end? Many couples get caught up in their celebration plans only to forget to consider how they’ll make an exit.
From sparklers to confetti cannons, there are plenty of ways you can make a grand exit out of your ceremony or reception. But if you’re hoping to be a bit more creative, we sat down with a handful of industry experts to gather their best ideas. Here’s what they recommend.
Establish your goals
Before deciding on a grand exit, it’s essential to set a goal. Think about what you want out of the moment so you can work on bringing your vision to life.
As Julianne Smith of The Garter Girl notes, “Decide ahead of time what the goal of the grand exit is for your wedding. Do you want that one amazing picture of the epic moment? Do you want that feeling that brings all your planning and joy of the wedding day to culminate in one final moment? There are so many reasons to have a grand exit at your wedding, and getting clear on your goals for it will help you plan it out so that it goes as smoothly as possible.”
A shared vision will help you and your partner plan a grand exit that sets the tone for a spectacular happily ever after, so start thinking about how it will look!
Incorporate multiple exits
Though most grand exits traditionally occur at the end of a reception, know you can get creative with your timing. Think about incorporating some sort of exit for the end of your ceremony as well.
“The grand exit doesn’t have to be at the end of the reception, but rather at the end of the ceremony,” reminds Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss. “The photos are just as fun, and the pure joy that radiates from the newly married couple makes for the perfect photo opp! Think dried lavender, herbs, or other aromatics that are not only pretty but ignite your guests’ sense of smell for a truly magical experience.”
Get creative with your exit, and don’t feel like you must stick to one! If anything, you’ll get two sets of fun, celebratory photos as you enter the next chapter as newlyweds.
Consider your venue
A grand exit at a lakefront venue could look much different than a grand exit inside a hotel ballroom. So think about your specific spot and how you can ensure your exit goes off without a hitch!
“Every couple should cater their exit to the wedding venue they’re getting married at,” advises Caroline Robert of Caroline’s Collective. “For example, many places don’t have enough room for sparklers or would be dark enough for glow sticks to show. If you’re planning on hosting an after-party, have the DJ or band announce the exit, so everyone knows where to go.”
Work with your planner and venue coordinator to discuss plans, as they’ll likely have ideas to share from past weddings. Trust that experts know what will work best for your grand exit!
Map out your timing
If you truly want your exit to be grand, you’ll want to give guests enough time to gather. Work with your coordinator to guide loved ones to the right spot, and know you might have to leave a few minutes of wiggle room for those last-minute stragglers.
“You have to give guests enough time to gather if they are part of the exit,” notes Cathy O’Connell of COJ Events. “That typically means you have to hide the bride and groom away, or everyone keeps talking to them, and you never get the exit moment! Don’t forget to get the parents to the front of the line before having the couple run through — you don’t want their ire at the end of the night for missing this moment!”
Timing is of the essence, so don’t allow guests to linger! Look to the DJ to announce the final song and find a way to sneak off with your partner as your coordinator lines up the guests. That way, you can ensure you’re out before the venue cut-off time and get back to your hotel for some much-needed rest!
Keep safety at the forefront
You want your exit to be grand without putting your guests at risk, so make sure to keep everyone’s safety in mind before making a final decision.
“If you’re dealing with any safety hazards, such as fire, it’s vital to work with your onsite wedding planner to ensure you’re following any and all protocols to keep everyone out of harm’s way,” recommends Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group. “You may need to move your grand exit location to somewhere with plenty of open-air/space.”
Safety should always be the top priority, so avoid pushing the envelope. There are so many ways to celebrate your grand exit, so there’s no need to risk it!
Prioritize the lighting
With most grand exits happening after the sun goes down, it’s wise to consider the lighting at your venue. Incorporating different sources of light can make for a spectacular photo op.
“Wedding grand exits usually occur in the nighttime, which is why items that light up make an amazing impact,” says Shannon Tarrant of WeddingVenueMap.com. “LED light-up balloons create an amazing backdrop for your epic exit images without the extra work that goes into worrying about intoxicated wedding guests. Add a light-up balloon installation at either side of the doors you’ll be exiting to uplevel this idea.”
If you want a stunning grand exit, you don’t want to miss out on amazing photos! Discuss lighting options with your venue coordinator, or ask for a referral to a lighting designer who can do it up big for your final farewell.
Your grand exit serves as the perfect end to a perfect day, so don’t overlook this special moment in your planning. However, there’s no need to stress over every little detail — the hard work is done and you’re officially newlyweds, so let go of the pressure and enjoy the ride!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.