Wedding Exits and Why You Can't Fake It Anymore
Updated: May 19, 2021
The number one most popular wedding topic we discuss with our couples is the EXIT. We are asked questions like, “How do we get photos of our exit if our wedding timeline is set 2 hours earlier and you won’t be there?” “I love sparklers, but we are having a day wedding.” “My venue doesn’t allow anything but bubbles, but how will you see them at night?” By this point, having seen such a variety of exit’s done well (and not so well), we’ve learned a few tips and tricks for the perfect wedding exit!
Bubbles are such a great no-mess alternative to some of the other wedding exits and it’s very cost-effective. For the best result, we recommend purchasing a $20 bubble machine from Amazon along with some bubbles from the dollar store (very inexpensive). Couples considering a bubble exit often worry they won’t photograph well at night. Rest assured if we can see you in your exit photos, then we will be able to see your bubbles as well. If there isn’t a great source of light, we create one. It’s important for us to illuminate a couple - and that same light will do glorious things for the bubbles. That being said, it’s easier to trust when you can see for yourself, so check out this adorable bubble exit featuring Trey and Christen Breaux along with their bridal party.
Sparklers are beautiful for exits, though they do pose some challenges you should prepare for. Be sure you discuss your plans with your photographer and film crew. Make sure they have the know-how to light it properly and get the shot. You’ll want to purchase the long sparklers with extremely long burn times - giving your guest more than enough time to light them and you more than enough time to get a variety of exit shots: walking, kissing, dipping, or even dancing down the aisle! Have several lighters or igniters available so that you can light the entire line as quickly as possible. A coordinator is super helpful for timing it just right - but if you don’t have a coordinator, have a family member organizing your lines and reminding your guests to hold their sparklers high enough to not set anyone on fire. Finally, make sure your photo and video guys are ready before you start lighting and take it slow.
Add a bit of color
If you’re going for a party atmosphere and craving a good bit of color, Glow sticks or LED light tubes are very popular. Both add a fun element to the vibe of the party itself and are especially popular for receptions with kids who love taking glow or light-up items home. They photograph beautifully, are extremely easy to find for a good price online, and make for fun party favors!
Incorporate Music - The Second Line
Living in Cajun country, the second line is a classic. You don’t have to take a literal stroll through New Orleans to bring that big band, big easy flair to your reception. Our favorite second-line exit was performed by the Rouge Crew Party band at Warehouse 535 for Kayla + Evan’s fall wedding. It was one of the first post-pandemic live music events we’d attended and the band sent the couple off playing live music from the stage all the way to the trolly. It was magnificent.
Skip the exit, Do an entrance
For ninety percent of the weddings we film or photograph, we have not stayed until the very end of the reception, therefore missing the exit. Our couples spend too much time and effort planning the exit to not have quality footage of the grand finale - so we tend to reorganize the day’s events to make sure we have a chance to capture it! Some creatives, wedding planners, and even venue coordinators encourage the “FAKE EXIT” where guests leave the venue in the middle of the party to have their exit, then return to the party to dance more. If you take only ONE thing from this blog, let it be this: DO NOT DO A FAKE EXIT! First, it’s far too easy to do an entrance. Have your exit items ready to use immediately following your ceremony. Most do this just after family photos and the must-have grip & grin post-ceremony moments. Have your guests or bridal party line up for an exit leaving the ceremony location, or entering the reception. It looks the same in the photos or better (because you’re not organizing intoxicated individuals).
Second, when you stop the party in the middle you lose all the dance floor momentum you’ve built up - ask any quality DJ how they feel about this! Guests on the cusp of leaving are now outdoors and have little motivation to follow you back inside. Worse, those that understand the drill and know the party isn’t over just received a reminder that the party is close to over (even if it’s only halfway through the party), and they get into leaving mode - saying their goodbyes, packing, etc. Of the over 100 weddings we’ve attended, in every case but one, after a fake exit, the reception never amped back up. The parties nearly always flatline; fizzle to a halt and never recover. And third, but most importantly, it opens the door for something to go wrong and take away from your day. In one instance this was the bride's dress catching fire. In another, two guests got into a drunken altercation just outside the door. In the worst case, the groom's father took a spill on an uneven part of the sidewalk and the entire family rallied around the father of the groom to make sure he was alright - leaving the dance floor empty and the couple concerned. If your exit cannot be an actual exit, trust us when we recommend that it not be done in the middle.
The biggest concern over moving the exit earlier usually revolves around sparklers and worry they won’t show up at night. Sparklers are actually very beautiful at dusk with a blue or amber sky as the backdrop. Ideally, you’d want to shoot a day sparkler exit with the sun at your back and the blue sky helping them to pop off the background. Even when those ideal conditions aren't possible, you can still get great day shots, as you can see in this snippet from Caleb and Kallie’s White Magnolia wedding. Even with the very bright sun setting behind the couple and the sparklers, they are still visible and stunning.
No guests, no problem. If you plan to elope or will have a limited guest list for your wedding, you can still have a big wedding exit without a long line of guests. Confetti cannons these days are powerful and made with environmental consciousness. Etsy sells several biodegradable confetti cannon options in all sorts of colors, from plain white to multicolored. When you fire the cannons off, it looks like you just won the biggest prize on a game show - which is how you should feel leaving your wedding with your new husband or wife, right?!
Streamers are great for tons of reasons. You can coordinate the streamers to match your wedding colors, giving some consistency to your photographs. You can add bells to the ribbons which also enriches the audio. We’ve noticed that extra ring of excitement amps up the guests and plays out beautifully in videos.
We see flower petal exits most for our spring day weddings, and especially as an entrance alternative that is low cost. If you are planning a flower petal exit, talk to your florist first. Let them know that you’ll need buckets of flower petals for your wedding exit and ask them to save any of the petals they prune while they work. Florists prune all the flowers they use when making their arrangements, which means they throw out hundreds of petals each week as the clean-up and prep arrangements. Why spend money when you don’t have to! If you’re aiming for fresh petals, ask several florists if they would be willing to sell or donate them.
For my personal wedding, we used dried petals and were able to get several bags of old petals that we laid out to dry in the months before the wedding. We proportioned the petals into small cones - that way everyone could toss as we passed!
Above images are personal wedding portraits, provided by
Meagan Andrepont Photography - 2017
This one pretty much speaks for itself. Most Champagne shower exits are done with the bridal party only after all the essential photos have been photographed. If you do it right, there is a 90% chance things get a bit messy.
Make It Your Own
The type of exit you decide on doesn’t matter, as long as it’s true to your style. Don’t feel pressured by Pinterest to have the perfect exit that no one else has done before. With the hundreds of thousands of weddings that happen each year I’d venture to say that unless you’re exiting on alpacas or firing yourself off in a clown cannon, you’re extremely unlikely to meet that expectation. Rather than finding an exit no one has done, find a way to make the repeat a reboot and reimagine it in a way that is true to you and your fiancé.
The getaway car
Bike enthusiasts, Kait and Casey, are our best example of reimagining an exit by putting a little extra thought into their post-wedding transportation. Not every exit has two lanes of guests throwing things and waving. The Trahans reinvented the sparkler exit by lighting a lane of sparklers to drive through as they left their venue together on a motorcycle.