The Best Ways to End Your Wedding Reception

Here's how to make a great last impression!

wedding reception dance floor
Photo: Stories by Victoria

In psychology, the peak-end rule states that people are most likely to remember an experience by how they felt during two moments: the peak and the ending. While wedding planning, it’s easy to put a lot of thought into the peak moments of the day: the ceremony, first dance, etc. But what about the ending? We asked top wedding professionals for their favorite ways to end a wedding reception. Here’s what they had to say:

"End with your first dance song. What a fun and romantic way to wrap up the night! Your friends and family can circle you on the floor or even join in and dance with you. It’s a beautiful way to share the love and joy of the day with your loved ones." —Kate Rudloff, A Final Take Films

"We love bubbles! They’re fun, they’re festive. They don't create huge clean-up afterward or give intoxicated people fire wands to waive around! They also look super cute in photography. You can always take it up a notch by including a few bubble machines to create more of the look. We also really love the cold sparklers. These can be impactful at the beginning of a tunnel or end... or both! They shoot the columns of sparks up in the air, but are 100% safe and won’t damage a person or their clothes!" —Juls Sharpley, Juls Sharpley Events

"We feel that the best conclusion combines elements of grandeur and sentimentality, creating a send-off that lingers in the hearts of all attendees and encapsulates the love and promise of the union. To augment these, a heartfelt gesture like a lantern release symbolizes hopes and dreams taking flight. Guests releasing glowing lanterns into the night sky signifies best wishes for the newlyweds' future. Please keep in mind the use of bio-degradable lanterns." —Jaclyn Watson, Jaclyn Watson Events

"Make a heartfelt thank-you toast to all your guests. Let them know how much you appreciate their presence and support. Then, invite everyone to join the final dance of the night. Pick the last song of the night that represents you both as a couple." —Joan Wyndrum, Blooms by the Box

"Surprise your guests with a warm dessert station. We love s'mores pits, hot cocoa, or other elements that move people from dancing to slowing down and connecting." —Vijay Goel, Bite Catering Couture

"We really don't love things that negatively impact the environment or have huge clean-ups — like confetti or any other paper product. Those items just leave a lot of trash around. You'll probably also receive a fee from your venue for clean-up. Sparklers are beautiful, but they are very problematic. Giving intoxicated people wands of fire to essentially waive around can cause guests to get burned, or their clothes damaged, and then they can never seem to find the water buckets afterward, tossing their burned sticks wherever they are, again making a big clean-up." —Sharpley

"Add a twist to how ceremonies used to end with a 'receiving line of thanks.' As the evening ends, couples would include a farewell line where the couple is standing at the exit door, and as guests are leaving, they could bid farewell to their loved ones with hugs, well wishes, etc." —Orsella Hughes, Serenity Ceremonies by Rev. Orsella

"As a DJ/MC, I always advise my couples that we want to end the event on a high note. The dance party runs on momentum, and the goal is to get everyone out for that last song of the night. The best way to do this is to plan for a song that is recognized by everyone. Even the upper generations will be encouraged to get up and join you on the dance floor if they recognize the song. It is also important that the couple is front and center for this moment. I always try to create an epic circle of your guests dancing and singing with the couple in the middle." —Dominic Fournier, The Wedding Duo

The ending to your wedding reception is arguably one of the most important moments when it comes to making sure your guests have a good time to look back on. From the extravagance of floating lanterns to the simple intimacy of a heartfelt speech, putting the extra thought into your wedding's closing moments will leave your loved ones with special memories for years to come.