Wedding Grand Exits: Pros & Cons

Posted by in Wedding Advice | 3 comments

Will your wedding include a grand exit or big send-off by family and friends with flash bulbs, sparklers or fancy cars?  Read on to learn about different options for wedding grand exits, and then use the pros and cons to make your decision about how your wedding should end.


What is a Wedding Grand Exit?

A wedding grand exit can range from a simple coordinated farewell, or a full blown send off at the very end of the Reception.  It’s usually the  last line item in the Time Line. The main idea is for wedding guests to gather as the bride and groom leave the party in a special or symbolic way. Guests gather on either side of a pathway, and the newlyweds walk between them. When the walk is complete, the bride and groom may leave in a fancy or unusual way, like a limo, fancy car or horse-drawn carriage.

Traditional Grand Exits

When you think of a wedding grand exit, the old tradition of throwing rice down the steps of a church comes to mind. Couples still do this (and no, it doesn’t actually hurt birds that eat it), but some have replaced the rice with more unique materials. Confetti, bird seed, and flower petals are popular alternatives. If you aren’t keen on having something thrown at you, you could have guests blow bubbles, wave ribbons, or fun LED fiber optic sparkler wands.

Modern Grand Exits

New twists on this old tradition include a red carpet “paparazzi” style, where everyone snaps photos of the couple as they leave. This is especially stunning for an evening exit, because all of those flashing lights can really make the bride and groom feel like celebrities. Another fun trend involves a more sensory experience.  You could have your guests ring bells, hold sparklers, or even release some (safe) colored smoke bombs!

Wedding Grand Exit – Pros

There are plenty of advantages to a grand send-off or dramatic exit from your wedding reception.

Leave on a High Note

Leaving before the night has ended means that you see everyone at their brightest when you exchange goodbyes. As the hours pass, more and more guests will get worn out – probably from spending so much time on the dance floor! Catching them when they’re still excited and cheerful keeps the atmosphere positive for your grand getaway. Your big exit before the last song might also mean that you get to skip out on the clean-up and ushering out of guests when the venue is ready to close!

Great for Photos

There’s a reason movies focus on the grand exit for wedding scenes – they make for great videos and photos! Everyone is arranged well, there are often props involved, and the whimsical moment just feels photogenic. The send off is also one of those iconic wedding shots that some people have to have. Many couples find the perfect final photo for their wedding album at this moment. Looking at them later will remind you of the love and excitement you felt during the last minutes of your wedding.

Symbolic & Traditional

Many view their grand exit as symbolic of leaving behind their single life, and taking those first steps into the world as a married couple. Being surrounded by family and friends makes the moment all the more meaningful. A grand exit might be expected because of family traditions, religious reasons, or cultural norms. In New Orleans, for example, it is common to see couples doing a traditional “second line” exit where they parade off behind a marching band!

Fun & Romantic

Grand exits are fun! It can be exciting for you and your guests to come together for a festive farewell at the end of the event. You’re surrounded by loved ones, perhaps being showered by flower petals, and walking hand in hand with your new husband or wife. A dramatic send off feels like an appropriate way to end such a significant and beautiful day, and it gives everyone one last chance to express their thanks, well wishes, and affection.

Wedding Grand Exit – Cons

All of the moving parts and people involved in your grand exit means there are lots of ways that things can go a little bit wrong. These are the cons that we’ve seen most often:

Venue Issues

You first need to check that whatever it is you’re thinking of doing is allowed. No church or hotel is going to prevent you from leaving, of course, but they can and often will refuse to allow sparklers, bubbles, and anything potentially messy. Some places don’t even allow a horse-drawn carriage to pull up out front! If you get the all clear on those elements, you also have to make sure your photographer is booked long enough to capture all of the fun. Some couples end up with no professional shots of the grand exit they put so much into!

You and Your Guests Might Feel Rushed

A grand exit requires that someone gather up all of the guests and get them into place. Everyone will want to know what to do with their things – if they’re going back inside or heading home, etc. It is common for guests to leave once the bride and groom have departed, so they might feel hurried or excluded if your grand exit is earlier in the evening.

Coordination Issues

You also have to make a plan for coordinating where the guests should stand, how to usher them into place, and what they should do with their things. If your reception is upstairs and down the hall from the exit, it will take some planning and coordination to get everyone in place and ready. An experienced wedding DJ can be really helpful with making announcements and helping coordinate things.

No Music, Usually

I’ve helped plenty of couples plan, coordinate and execute a big Grand Exit from the reception. Sometimes they’ll “pick” a song that they want to have played. However, there are usually no sound systems nearby, and it’s not feasible to have one brought in and setup. In the dozens and dozens of grand exists (that are away from the reception area) I’ve helped coordinate, not a single one of them included music or song.

Potential for Mishaps

Wedding usually include any number of variables that can make all of the preparation for naught. Giving children bags of things to throw, for example, can quickly get out of hand. The same goes for adults who may have been to the open bar, and are now supposed to hold lit sparklers. Even if everyone is on their very best behavior, you still have to clean up whatever mess is left over. Bird seed can be a slippery fall hazard if left on the ground, and colorful confetti can stain clothing if it gets damp.

Your Turn

Have you seen or been part of any special or unique grand exits? Comment below.

Wedding Grand Exit Images

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Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Taylor Wright

    I like that you said to make a modern grand exit by having guests hold sparklers. My sister is planning her wedding in the summer and can’t think of a creative way for her send-off. I’ll have to share this with her so she can get more ideas about what she likes for her own wedding.

  2. Brianne McCord

    While rice may not be harmful, balloon releases are EXTREMELY harmful to the environment and are not an ethical suggestion.

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