New Year's Eve Wedding Guide: Planning the Perfect Bash

New Year's Eve Wedding Guide: Planning the Perfect Bash

Your wedding is a one-of-a-kind event, the kickoff to the next chapter of your life. So make it memorable! You want to create an unforgettable day that you and your spouse will look back on fondly with each anniversary.

New Year's Eve is the perfect holiday to pair with a wedding. There's excitement, fine drinks, and an excuse to gather, but unlike Christmas, you're less likely to crowd out other family plans.

And the matching of a new year to a new marriage? Absolutely gorgeous. But how do you ensure your New Year's Eve wedding bash is one for the history books? Let's look at some creative New Year's Eve wedding ideas that take full advantage of the holiday season.

Tip #1: Start Your Wedding Later in the day and Celebrate Through The Night

The other upside of planning a wedding at New Year's? Time off. Most of your guests will already be free from work or school, so you'll have full mobility with planning the timing of your celebration. And since the new year starts precisely at twelve, let midnight be the climax of your event.

Schedule your ceremony late in the afternoon, and then segue into cocktails and festivities in the early evening. This will give you a few hours for your wedding breakfast and drinks before that clock strikes midnight and the fun really begins.

Go the extra mile: Invest in a countdown clock and decorate it to match the theme of your wedding. Alternatively, you can look into easy ways to stream the televised New Year's Eve countdown and use that as your timer. Either way, be sure everyone is ready to chant along with the final few seconds!

Champagne toast

Tip #2: Champagne, Champagne, Champagne!

Is it even New Year's without champagne? If you've got any extra money in your budget, spend it here! A tall champagne tower makes a delicious centrepiece to your wedding decor, and you should absolutely be offering different champagnes to match with dinner and dessert. Macarons, cheeses, chocolate… there's a perfect matching champagne or sparkling wine for each!

(And of course you'll need to save the finest bottle for the midnight countdown!)

Tip #3: Book Your Venue Early

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you'll be the only one planning your wedding during a holiday. New Year's Eve is a popular day not just for weddings, but for all kinds of parties and celebrations.

The general rule of thumb for booking venues is 9-12 months in advance, but you may need even more time than that to ensure you get your special location on the right dates. And be sure you're fully aware of the whole cost. Photographers, caterers and wedding bands will all need to be prepared to stay on late into the night. You don't want any last-minute surprises!

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Tip #4: Midnight Balloon Drop

Consider adding one last hint of flair to your midnight countdown by dropping party balloons over the dance floor right as you pop that twelve o'clock champagne open. You can also add in other fun, "droppable" items like confetti or origami.

A balloon drop might sound difficult, but they're really easy and inexpensive to set up. You can find the basic instructions for rigging up a balloon drop here. Remember to test it at least once beforehand!

Bonus tip: Throw a few fun, character balloons into the mix and watch the younger guests run wild.

Tip #5: Keep That Bar Open!

Remember, the midnight countdown is supposed to be the kickoff for the final, raucous hours of your reception, not the final bell when everyone goes home. Make sure your bar and snacks are all available to your guests well past midnight to keep the party going.

Just like the other booking tips, keeping bar staff past midnight may cost you extra, so be sure you're budgeting in advance. To save a bit of cash, send in a list of your choice New Year's Eve cocktails in advance and see which can be easily prepared in bulk.

Tip #6: Go Large on Your Wedding Entertainment!

New Year's Eve weddings are about taking your big day to the next level, so you'll need a healthy collection of epic tunes to match.

If you have the space, hire a lively wedding band that promises to get each and every one of your guests on the dance floor. Build the set list up to a midnight crescendo and see in the new year with an interactive performance of Auld Lang Syne.

At Bands For Hire, we represent wedding bands across the UK, from indie rock trios to showstopping 10-piece party bands. Whatever you're after, you'll be sure to find the perfect live wedding music to suit your day.

Tip #7: Glitter Up Your Accessories

New Year's Eve is nothing if not a loud, boisterous holiday. Consider coming up with a wedding party theme that really leans into the holiday. You want someone just glancing at your wedding photos to think, "Oh! This must have been at New Year's!".

Go all-out on sparkly, bright makeup and hair accessories (headbands and hats are particularly good choices, as they can be easily removed if desired). Consider ties with a bit of sparkle to them and don't forget the shoes!

Flip it around: If sparkly pins and bedazzled hats aren't your style, consider making your wedding a black tie affair - at least for the wedding party. Your formal, high-class attire will stand out against the sparkly decorations.

Wedding sparklers on NYE

Tip #8: Hand Out Sparklers

It may be your night, but you can still get your guests involved in the glamour. Sparklers make for an excellent addition to an evening wedding, and they definitely bring the New Year's excitement.

You can have guests light their sparklers at any time, but you may want to think ahead for the moments that make the greatest photo ops. The midnight ball drop is a no-brainer, but you might also have your guests light your path to the reception, bathing you and your spouse in an ethereal glow as you walk together from the ceremony to the party.

Tip #9: Festive Flutes

Leave the boring champagne flutes for those planning blander weddings. This is New Year's! Custom, festive wedding champagne flutes will not only make a statement, but they can double as a fun take-home item for guests.

The possibilities are endless: do you want your flutes etched with your wedding date? Or perhaps memorable quotes? Maybe you want to go all-out and put a personal message to each individual guest. Your imagination and budget are the only limits.

disco ball at wedding

Tip #10: Disco Details

What screams New Year's Eve party more than silver, swirling disco balls? Whether you choose to have a real, lit-up disco ball above your reception dance floor is just one detail. There are dozens of ways to incorporate this New Year's touch into your wedding.

Disco balls come in all sizes. Carefully place some smaller ones within the table centrepieces or strategically place larger ones on the floor next to wedding signage.

Tip #11: Plan the Practicalities

It's easy to get lost in the funner aspects of planning a New Year's Eve wedding, so make sure you set time aside early on to knock out the practical side of things before you end up waist-deep in champagne tasting and band bookings.

Here are some of the biggest details to consider:

1. Children: yes or no?

With the festivities going pretty late, you may opt to allow children at the ceremony but keep the reception adults-only. Alternatively, you can politely say "no children", at all. A lot depends on the ages of the kids in question. If you're going to have little ones at your party, make sure you have something to keep them busy and resources for parents.

2. Transportation for guests and wedding party

Make sure everyone has a safe right home. Shuttles, Ubers, whatever works best for you. Some of your guests might be pretty tired!

3. Outdoor weather

New Year's Eve is a cold time of year. If any part of your wedding is outside, be sure you're ready for snow, low temperatures, wind, or whatever else the environment might throw at you! It's not a bad idea to have a "backup" indoor location you and your guests can flee to and continue the party should unexpected weather arise.

chocolate wedding favours

Tip #12: New Year’s-Themed Wedding Favours

We already mentioned letting your champagne flutes double as unique wedding guest gifts, but there's so much more you can do to take advantage of the holiday theme.

1. Themed candies

Did you know they sell champagne gummy bears? Or you can even make your own. Pop these cuties into a custom flute or bottle and add it to your guests' goodie bags. Bonus points for designing a custom label that commemorates your special day.

2. January 1st recovery kits

Encourage your guests to party hard with you by gifting them next-morning kits with all they'll need for a relaxing, pain-free morning. Some painkillers and a little extra vitamin C can go a long way, and kits like these are easy to adjust for guests you know won't be drinking.

3. Wearables

Charms, earrings and headbands can all easily double as decorations during the festivities as well as fun take-homes after the party. You know your guest list best: will they be most excited about a bunch of fun, sparkly trinkets? Or a few, higher-end items they can wear outside of New Year's?

4. Recipes

Here's an easy and cheap way to impress your guests. Create custom menus with the cocktail recipes being served at your reception, and make sure there's a copy for everyone. Now people won't have to wistfully dream of the delicious drinks they had at your wedding; they'll be able to make them at home, over and over again!

Tip #13: Provide Props and a Photo Booth

New Year's is a very photogenic holiday. Set up a photo booth slightly out of the way of your reception and load it up with every fun prop you can imagine:

  • Festive pom-pom headbands
  • "Happy New Year" handheld signs
  • Black and gold plastic bead necklaces
  • Party blowers
  • Fake champagne bottles
  • Gold and black feather boas
  • Hats and glasses

Go the extra mile: Weddings can be incredibly hectic, but if you have time, making the effort to take at least one prop photo with each guest group will make your evening more memorable and beef up your photo album.

Blac nad gold themed wedding breakfast

Tip #14: Black and Gold Color Palette

If our sparkly suggestions from earlier don't tickle your fancy and you're not into the black tie dress code, another option is black and gold. Black and gold are traditional New Year's colours and do a great job of setting the mood.

You can use black and gold for your decor, wedding party clothes, or both. The best part is that traditional black evening wear with gold detailing (belts, jewellery, ties, etc.) can easily be reused for other high-end events. Your wedding party will thank you!

Tip #15: Sweet Bar

Salad bar, drink bar…sweet bar? Absolutely! Have a hidden candy bar tucked away until after midnight. Then, when the regular food has been put away and the cake's been cut, your guests will be deliciously surprised by the reveal of festive, late-night snacks to munch on while you dance the night away.

Candy can fit into any holiday, including New Year's. Something as simple as festive stickers on the bottom of a popular chocolatey treat can make all the difference. This is one of these New Year's Eve wedding ideas that requires so little work but makes such a big difference.

You can also provide guests with New Year's-themed, empty goodie bags to fill at the candy bar, so they can take home these tasty treats for later!

Tip #16: Make Your Guest Book Special

Your guest book should match your New Year's Eve wedding celebration. Traditional wedding messages are all well and good, but encourage your guests to also leave New Year's resolutions, plans or wishes for you and your spouse. Remember to make it clear that anonymous messages are okay, too!

Mix it up: Consider "reversing" the old guest book trope and instead write up resolutions and New Year's wishes with your fiance. Then distribute them in miniate books that your guests or wedding party can take home.

Tip #17: A New Year’s-Themed Wedding Cake

Let's be honest, the wedding cake is less about snacking and more about gorgeous photos. Go for broke and make a New Year's Eve cake to rival all desserts. Gold and silver detailing is perfect, and black cake frosting will make those colours really pop.

A helpful hint: There are ways to make black cake frosting that won't stain your teeth!

midnight fireworks

Tip #18: Have a Fireworks Display

Fireworks are a traditional way to ring in the new year, and they can make your wedding something truly epic. The reception is the best time for fireworks. Here are a few perfect moments for a few (or a lot!) of fireworks to accentuate the evening:

  • Couple's first kiss
  • Couple's first dance
  • New Year's Eve midnight countdown
  • Closing display at the reception

Remember to check local laws before setting off fireworks and to do so as safely as possible. Hiring professionals to set off the display is the best choice. You don't want your special day to end in disaster!

Questions to Ask Before Booking Your Event

Here's a quick cheat sheet to go over before locking in any other New Year's Eve wedding ideas.

1. Is New Year's Eve a popular wedding date?

While January is typically considered part of the wedding "off-season", New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are exceptions. Expect venues and services to book up early! Remember that "unusual" wedding venues like breweries and vacation houses can be just as elegant and much easier to snag bookings for.

2. Is a New Year's Eve wedding more expensive than other days?

While there are plenty of ways for the savvy wedding planner to come in under budget, expect to spend more on a New Year's Eve wedding than a regular one. New Year's Eve is typically a work holiday, so many services may charge extra to work for you on these days.

3. What time should my wedding start?

Definitely later in the day. You don't want your guests to be worn out before the New Year's countdown even starts! Your wedding should probably "start" around at around 5-6pm.

Don't Forget the Music

Music is what keeps the party alive and sets the mood. Our wedding entertainment experts at Bands for Hire can provide your wedding with calm, romantic melodies, fast, upbeat dance music and everything in between. Contact our team to find the best options for your special day.