Okay, y’all… Let’s talk about exits! I absolutely LOVE exits, and there are so many different ways you can do them. In this post, I’m going to talk about the “faux exit.” In other words, holding your exit-type event earlier than you actually plan on leaving your reception.
First, let’s discuss the difference between a “faux” exit and what people consider to be a traditional exit. With a more traditional exit, the bride & groom wait until the last minute of their day to bid their guests farewell and leave for their wedding night. In this situation, the exit is the very last element on the timeline before the bride and groom drive off. In contrast, a faux exit is held earlier in the reception and can be thought of as just another reception event and way for guests to celebrate the couple (and a great photo op!).
If your photo/video coverage ends before your exit time, or if you know some of your traveling guests or older guests will be leaving early, you always have the option of doing a faux exit. There are benefits to planning a faux exit in advance, but you can also decide to do one during your event if you see the party dying down earlier than expected. Faux exits are actually more common than you may think! Instead of saving your exit until the very end, you can plan a faux exit with all remaining guests OR just the members of your bridal party and a few family members… and then you can continue to party with the friends who will stay till they’re kicked out!
Benefits of the faux exit include:
Faux exits are much easier to control and thus better lend themselves to creating amazing photos. By waiting till the end of the night to have your exit, you run the risk of fewer guests remaining to participate. If you wait till the very end, you’re also trying to manage your guests when they’ve had a little more alcohol in them (trust me, this can be quite the challenge!) By doing the exit earlier, people are less inebriated, more guests are still in attendance, and you can take your time and have fun with it! Play with your sparklers / bubbles / etc., or even run through several times for fun rather than jumping straight into the getaway car. Did you know that many of the gorgeous nighttime exits you see on Pinterest are staged?
2. Money saver!
Faux exits actually help make the most of your time & money. The rule of thumb is that the people dancing during the first hour of your reception will be the same people dancing during the last hour. Dancing photos of the same people get repetitive really quickly, and you really don’t need hundreds and hundreds to capture the vibe of your reception. Therefore, if you’re paying your photographer or videographer an hourly rate, you can send them home early (thus saving money) and still get that epic grand exit shot. If your photographer/videographer works on a set amount of hours, allowing them to leave earlier in the night means an earlier arrival time at the start of the day, which could give you more coverage of getting ready moments, details, or portrait time!
3. Less pressure all around!
While there are definitely ways to keep a party hopping, you can never guarantee that people will stay as long as you expect. More times than I can count, I’ve seen brides start to get anxious when they notice the reception space getting emptier or when guests start interrupting their dance moves to hug them goodbye. A faux exit held earlier in the night is a great way to bid farewell to your older guests, guests with young kids, or guests that traveled in for the event. These people will want to leave earlier in the night anyway, and this signifies an appropriate time for them to do so without feeling uncomfortable. Because it’s a joint celebration, the faux exit also avoids guest after guest coming up to you & your groom individually to hug you goodbye while you’re trying to enjoy the party. They can slip out after the grand send off, and now you and your more party-oriented friends can stay as late as you’d like!
From my experience, the most popular nighttime exit seems to be sparklers. If you have alcohol at your wedding, chances are your guests are going to become more and more intoxicated as the night continues. Gathering tipsy guests into an organized exit is enough of a challenge by itself… and then giving them fire in the form of sparklers… well, it’s not the safest option. :) While I do my absolute best to ensure that sparkler exits are implemented safely, there is only so much control at the very end of a wedding night depending on the state of your guests. I know both photographers and brides alike who have been burned during exits that got out-of-hand.
In conclusion, depending on your specific timeline, budget, goals, etc., it could be beneficial to plan on a faux exit. It could be a good way to include people in the event who have to leave early, a way to break up a long period of dancing to grab some fresh air, or a chance to change into an after-party dress if you’re choosing to continue the party. This is something you can also decide at your reception if you see the environment changing rapidly. And if you choose to do a controlled exit with just your bridal party & a few family members (simple, still provides gorgeous images, and doesn’t pull guests off the dance floor), we’ll set it up during open dance time so that no one even realizes you’re missing for a few minutes. Exits always provide some of my favorite shots, so talk to your vendors and determine the best plan for yours!
Fun fact: Exactly half of the exit photos in this post were taken during faux exits, and the other half were traditional exits… and I bet you can’t guess which are which!