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15 Essential Steps to Planning a New Year’s Eve Wedding

photographer: Dory L Tuohey Photography | venue: The Marriott, Burr Ridge

By Amanda Greenberg, Marketing Coordinator

As one of the most anticipated nights of the year for celebrations around the world, New Year’s Eve offers the chance for new beginnings and resolutions. For couples saying “I Do”, it’s the perfect time to start a new life together. On December 31st, the celebration is filled with love, laughter, and a highly anticipated countdown — not to mention, a once-in-a-lifetime New Year’s kiss. Pop some bubbly, and get ready for our 15 essential steps to planning a New Year’s Eve wedding.

1. Hire an Event Planner

bride and groom at a palm beach wedding reception laughing at the head table
photographer: Donna Irene Photography

You’ve heard it before, hiring a planner is one of the most important first steps of wedding planning — and when there’s a holiday like New Year’s Eve on the line, it’s essential that you have an expert to guide you through the process. Whether you’re counting down to the new year or celebrating on the dance floor, your wedding planner will take care of every last detail. With so much to celebrate, you’ll want to focus on enjoying your New Year’s kiss. This luxe celebration was perfectly planned by YSD Events.

photographer: Donna Irene Photography | planner: YSD Events | florals: Ines Naftali Floral & Event Design | venue: Loews Miami Beach Hotel

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2. Select a Venue that Suits Your Style

The Langham Chicago ballroom set up for a new years eve wedding with dance floor and reception set up
photographer: Tim Tab Studios

Having a New Year’s Eve wedding inevitably means that you’ll be saying your “I Do’s” in the midst of winter. Whether you’re in the chilly Midwest or along the East Coast, it’s likely that you’ll need to find the perfect indoor venue. This gorgeous wedding at The Langham, Chicago is a great example of an elegant soirée in a ballroom setting. Hotels offer some of the most convenient event spaces. Boasting multiple indoor spots, there’s plenty of space to hold a ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. With room blocks, guest suites, and restaurants, your out of town guests won’t even need to leave the premises.

photographer: Tim Tab Studios | planner: Bliss Weddings & Events | décor: HMR Designs | venue: The Langham, Chicago | entertainment: The Gold Coast All Stars

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3. Find a Seasoned Photographer

bridal party and bride outside in chicago during the winter for wedding portraits
photographer: Andrew Weeks Photography

With the unpredictable climate of late December, it’s essential to hire a photographer that will get the perfect shot in any condition. From finding the best lighting and backdrops to having solutions regardless of unwanted weather, an experienced photographer will ensure a seamless celebration. Don’t be afraid to ask to see some of their work or to stalk their PartySlate profile — in the end, you need to love their particular style for it to be the perfect match. This dreamy wedding shot was captured by the skilled team at Andrew Weeks Photography.

photographer: Andrew Weeks Photography | planner: Kristin Johansson Events | florals: Nancy Chase Design | venue: Union League Club of Chicago | entertainment: Larry King Orchestra

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4. Start the Countdown with On-Brand Invitations

former Atlanta Braves player Chistopher Johnson and his bride Tia Garavuso's new year's eve wedding invitation suite
photographer: Rob and Wynter Photography

It’s time to send out your invitations, and nothing makes an impact like a first impression. Utilize your event’s color palette and add personal touches to get your friends and family excited for a New Year’s Eve that they’ll never forget. We love how former Atlanta Braves player Chistopher Johnson and his bride Tia Garavuso added sparkling confetti, custom stamps, and a New Year’s Eve inspired “Save The Date” to their invitation suite from Ecru Paper at this CONFERO-planned year-ending celebration. The white, gold, and black hues perfectly foreshadowed the future reception’s décor. With invites like these, you’ll be getting all positive RSVPs.

photographer: Rob and Wynter Photography | planner: CONFERO | florals: Legendary Events | venue: The Biltmore Atlanta | Stationary: Ecru Paper | linens: Nuage Designs | cake: For Goodness Cakes

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5. Don’t Be Afraid to Add a Theme

gatsby themed floral centerpiece with feathers and pearls at a new year's eve wedding reception
photographer: R. Dione Photography

Nothing resembles the glitz and glamour of New Year’s Eve like a Gatsby-themed party. With dazzling pearls and swinging jazz, there’s no better time to party like it’s the roaring twenties — especially as we ring in the 20’s again this year! If you’re looking for subtle ways to incorporate Jay Gatsby-approved elements. go for a flowing champagne tower, sequin linens, or an overall black and gold décor palette. We love how this ballroom wedding from Something Fabulous used feathers, pearls, and a metallic vase to put a retro twist on the reception’s white floral centerpieces.

photographer: R. Dione Photography | planner: Something Fabulous | venue: Salamander Resort and Spa | rentals: Capital Party Rentals

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6. Cheers to the New Year

drink tower during cocktail hour of a new year's eve wedding with custom drink name
photographer: LaCour Images

You’ve said your “I Dos,” and now it’s time for the celebration to begin. Nothing gets the drinks flowing like a glamorous cocktail hour. Customized bar menus add the perfect personalized touch to any style of reception. Newlyweds Ashley and James used their “couple’s nickname” to craft a custom beverage for the guests at their elegant reception. We love how “The Jimleys” were presented in stacked tiers, serving as a fun twist on the classic champagne tower as executed by the team at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago.

photographer: LaCour Images | florals: HMR Designs | venue: Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

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7. Indulge in Great Cuisine Before Your Resolutions Start

mini grilled cheese and tomato soup passed appetizers at a nye wedding cocktail hour
photographer: Finch Photo

It’s New Year’s Eve. You and your guests are in for a long — and incredibly fun night — so don’t forget to add food to your cocktail hour. While everyone looks forward to a sit-down dinner, mouthwatering spreads and passed hors d’oeuvres will allow your guests to indulge before imbibing. Be sure to hire a caterer to ‘spice’ things up before the real party gets started. We love the elevated comfort food (tomato soup and grilled cheese bites, anyone?) at this intimate celebration.

photographer: Finch Photo | planner: ROQUE Events | florals: Flower Girl Em | venue: Julia Morgan Ballroom | entertainment: Ivy Hill Entertainment

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8. Place Cards That Pop (& Fizzle)

mini champagne bottle escort cards at nye wedding
photographer: Harwell Photography

Escort cards offer the perfect opportunity to add a fun and festive holiday element to your wedding reception. From confetti-inspired seating charts to noisemaker-adorned place cards, there’s more than one way to turn your guests in the right direction. Get creative — place cards can double as party favors and décor pieces. We especially love how these mini champagne bottles became part of the celebratory activities at this rocking wedding.

photographer: Harwell Photography | planner: Park Avenue Events | florals: The Perfect Stem | venue: The Georgian Terrace Hotel | linens: I Do Linens | floral design: The Perfect Stem | rentals: Peachtree Tents | stationary: Sandi Spells Design | entertainment: Cashmere

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9. Set the Perfect Table

A couple holding hands in the middle of the reception
Photography: Roey Yohai Studios

Dramatic tablescapes can completely transform a celebratory setting. A combination of high and low centerpieces can add dimension to your event space, while candles will add a romantic glow. Whether you opt for a pop of color with bright florals or indulge in luxuriant greens, your table design is the main focal point of your reception dinner. This Leslie Mastin Events-planned New York City wedding took advantage of the holiday season with leafy garlands and a romantic winter palette. We’re swooning over the décor and heightened candle centerpieces from Jerry Rose Floral & Event Design that perfectly lit up this fairytale setting. 

photographer: Roey Yohai Studios | planner: Leslie Mastin Events  | floral design: Jerry Rose Floral & Event Design | venue: Weylin

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10. Add Some Sparkle

wedding cake surrounded by gold accents
photographer: Wedding Documentary Photo + Cinema

Speaking of décor, there’s more to accentuate than the tablescapes. When we think of New Year’s Eve, we imagine glistening golds and sparkling black elements — and so did this bride and groom. We love how they implemented sequin draping and luxe gold furniture for their NYE celebration. When you hire a design, décor and floral company  — like Anaïs Event Planning & Design, who curated this design — their team will walk you through the ways that you can incorporate the holiday and a corresponding theme into your wedding.

photographer: Wedding Documentary Photo + Cinema | planning and design: Anaïs Event Planning & Design | venue: Marriott Fremont Silicon Valley

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11. Add Props For Photo Ops

photographer: Jenny DeMarco Photography

In the age of Instagram, it’s important to have plenty of photo ops at your wedding — especially on New Year’s Eve. From GIF photo booths to provided props, you’ll love looking back at your celebration photos and seeing everyone in on-theme attire. This shelf display not only offered festive photo props, but it also reminded guests to use the couple’s custom hashtag #LouGoesBlu while posing for pics. The couple also gifted attendees with “Happy Blu Year” slippers as a comfortable shoe alternative for dancing into the New Year at their fabulous reception

photographer: Jenny DeMarco Photography | planner: Wild Sky Events | floral design: Clementine Botanical Art | venue: Four Seasons Hotel Austin

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12. Get Down on the Dance Floor

photographer: Rebecca Marie Photography

At a New Year’s Eve celebration, you know there’s going to be plenty of time spent on the dance floor. With so many memorable moments captured there, dance floor décor should never be underestimated. There are plenty of ways to make your dance floor stand out. Consider framing it with custom balloons and ceiling installations or making it “pop” with colors, patterns, or monograms — or with oversized metallic balloon signage like at this stunning celebration from SQN Events. Once designed to perfection, it’s time to get your guests dancing. Find a band or DJ that you can work with to customize the perfect playlist. And make sure to keep your guests in mind when picking out the music.

photographer: Rebecca Marie Photography | planner: SQN Events | floral design: Persephone Floral Atelier | venue: The Kimpton Gray Hotel

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13. Supply a Sweet Spread

desserts topped with raspberries
photographer: Jenny Smith & Co.

Take a break from the dance floor and satisfy your guests’ sweet tooth with a decadent dessert spread. Your wedding cake is important, but extra treats offer a fun and festive addition to the sweet tradition. This Bel-Air wedding took dessert to the next level with glistening-hued treats that perfectly matched the celebration’s design. In case guests were too enthralled to take a dance break, servers walked around with passed milkshakes and oyster-inspired chocolates. Talk about a sweet surprise.

photographer: Jenny Smith & Co. | planning & design: Frankly Weddings | venue: Bel-Air Bay Club

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14. Incorporate the Countdown Tradition

couple dances on a projected clock on the dance floor
Photographer: Pen / Carlson

All over the world, New Year’s Eve ends with the same iconic countdown. Incorporate this beloved tradition into your celebration with creative event design. We love how this Chicago wedding rang in 2019 with a “timepiece” dance-floor projection.

photographer: Pen / Carlson | planner: LOLA Event Productions | design:  HMR Designs | ceremony venue: Alice Millar Chapel | reception venue: Venue SIX10 | Lighting: Frost Chicago  | entertainment: Talk of The Town Big Band | cake: Flourish Cake Design

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15. Seal it With A Kiss

couple stands and kisses for the new year
Photographer: Jenny Haas

No one will ever forget that first moment of the new year when it looks like this wedding vision from A Charming Fête . Confetti explosions make for a picture-perfect New Year’s Eve kiss. But the fun doesn’t stop there. For Gatsby themes, feather drops offer a chic alternative to confetti. Streamers, spotlights, and balloons provide even more drama to the anticipated countdown. Now get ready to start your life together as the new decade unfolds.

photographer: Jenny Haas | planning and design: A Charming Fête | floral design: Molly Taylor + Co. | venue: Hyatt Regency Cleveland At The Arcade

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