The grand-exit of the bride and groom is a final farewell by wedding guests as the newlyweds leave the reception to spend their first night together as a married couple. Traditionally, rice or birdseed was thrown on the exiting couple; although many modern weddings utilize other items such as sparklers, streamers, bells, bubbles, confetti, or even glow sticks.
The send off is important – but the picture of the send off is usually the main motivation of this continued tradition…and a great picture is certainly the objective.
Sometimes, however, there are circumstances which make a grand-exit done at the end of the reception not as effective (or as great of a picture) as a ‘fake’ grand-exit done earlier in the reception. One circumstance, which happens often, is that a couple might not have booked their photographer for the entire evening. If a couple only budgeted for a three or four-hour photography package then that photographer will most like miss the end of the event. They can’t take a great picture if the photographer will already be gone. Sometimes a rental vehicle is to be part of the grand-exit and that vendor isn’t contracted to stay until the end of the wedding. Other times an older family member might have to leave earlier in the evening but you still want to share in the experience or have them in the photo. If you find yourself in one of these situations and, most importantly, the grand-exit photo is high on your priority list, then staging a ‘fake-exit’ is generally the easiest solution.
At P.S. Weddings, if we know that our clients may be facing some of these situations then the fake-exit is always on the table as an option. However, if none of these factors are at play then I will almost always advise against doing a fake-exit as there are several drawbacks and unintended consequences.
The biggest consequence is that a fake-exit breaks up the flow of the party since you are stopping the party to coordinate the picture…and then trying to get the party started again. This is easier with some crowds than others but almost any DJ will tell you that it doesn’t make their job any easier to kick all the guest off the dance floor to go outside for a picture. Besides breaking up the flow of the event, you will invariably have a few guests just decide to go home afterward even though they know it is a fake exit. If a couple is on the fence about staying and partying at the reception, and then you make them stop everything and go outside, they usually use that excuse to slip to their car.
To me, it comes down to this: The main reason to do a fake-exit is if you cannot, for some reason, get the exit-picture you want at the end of the reception. If you decide to do a fake-exit, make sure it is coordinated correctly to make it a smooth process that won’t be confusing to guests or hinder the flow of the reception.
If you do not have any of the circumstances mentioned earlier, or you simply don’t care about an exit-picture, then definitely stay and enjoy your reception and save the exit for when it is time to go.