Who is Responsible for Cleaning Up After a Wedding?

Once the lights have come up, the music’s stopped playing and the buffet food is going stale, there will be a mess for someone to clean up. This is true of any kind of party, and your wedding is no exception.

The post-wedding clean up is obviously an important aspect of any planning, but surprisingly it’s one that’s often forgotten! People are often so focused on getting to the actual wedding, and all the prep that needs to happen before that, that they forget to plan what’s going to happen after the celebration is over.

So, if you’re wondering how on earth you go about planning a post-wedding clean up, look no further. We’ll help you with what needs to be done, and who needs to do it.

What Needs Cleaning Up After a Wedding?

What needs cleaning up after your fantastic wedding day is over will depend on the kind of celebration you had, and what exactly is leftover in the room. For some couples, there will be food, decorations, gifts, flowers, and drinks that need cleaning up. For some, the clean-up may be limited to just food mess or confetti.
What you need to clean up will depend entirely on how big your wedding was, and how much decor etc. you had. But who cleans up what?

Food

Unfortunately, there is no cut and dry answer here. Some catering companies and venues will offer clean up as part of their service, but it’s worth remembering that this will usually only apply to what they’ve used. This means that anything related to the food will be cleaned up but you can’t expect the catering company to clean up anything else such as decorations or flowers.

Some catering companies offer food cleanup as standard and some companies will charge extra for this, so make sure you’re aware of the deal up front. There’s nothing worse than finding out your caterers have gone home and left everything for you to clean up when you weren’t expecting it!

If you’re having your wedding breakfast at a restaurant or a venue that provides catering, the food will be cleaned up by staff there, as it would any time you eat out. If you’ve had an outdoor wedding, you may need to have additional help on board.
Some couples choose to clear up the food themselves. You’ll need to do this if you hired the crockery and cutlery from a rentals company, as you can’t just leave it at the venue.

Drinks

Again, this depends on where you’ve got your drinks from, your catering company, and your venue. For many couples, their chosen wedding venue will feature a fully staffed bar – they clean up drinks just as they would any normal night. Some couples, in order to save money, provide their own drinks such as table wine and champagne. If you’ve provided these for yourself, getting them home will be your responsibility.

If your catering company has provided drinks for the event, then it may be their policy to clean up whatever’s left. Again, they may charge extra for this service so the sooner you find out, the better. Remember that if you’ve purchased bottles of wine for the table, then whatever is left at the end is yours to keep as you’ve already paid for it. So while someone else may clean it all up, it does need to go back to your newlywed home at some point!

Decorations

Decorations are a tricky one, because it will depend on how much you’ve got. Some couples like a simple wedding and so keep their décor to the minimum, or rely on the natural beauty of the venue. For some couples, however, there will be a plethora of decorations such as:

1) Table centrepieces
2) Wall hangings, such as banners and buntings
3) Lighting e.g. strings of fairy lights
4) Themed décor
5) Photo booth props
6) Floral garlands

If you’ve hired a wedding planner, chances are they’ll have provided the decorations for you, and may offer a clean-up service. Like the caterers, it’s a good idea to check this beforehand, as you don’t want to be left with any unpleasant surprises at the end of the day.
Some venues which cater especially to weddings also offer a clean-up service, though the decorations will technically belong to you. So, unless you give specific instructions to throw away anything you don’t want, you’ll end up with everything.

This also usually applies to flowers too. Unless you’ve given your wedding planner specific instructions, they will end up back at your house. And again, you should check whether the venue or your wedding planner offers this, as standard or for an extra fee.

Tables, Chairs and Linens

If the tables, chairs and linens (such as tablecloths, cloth napkins, and chair covers) belong to your venue, or if your venue hired them in for you as part of their service, they’ll organise the clean-up themselves and you don’t have to worry about it.
However, if you hired them from an external company, you’re the ones responsible for making sure they’re cleaned up and delivered back where you got them from.

The rental company that you hired these accessories from may offer a clean-up service, where they come and strip the room and cart everything away, saving you the hassle. However, you’ll have to arrange this well in advance of the big day.

General Mess

After all the remnants of food, drinks, decorations, tables and linens have been cleared away, you’ll be left with a very messy floor – most likely covered in confetti, spilled drinks and food. There may also be a substantial amount of litter, such as leftover favour boxes, napkins, and the like.

For this general mess, you’ll have to check with your venue in advance. Many venues will clean this up after you leave, as part of your wedding package – though they may charge an extra cleaning fee for doing so. However, some “blank slate” venues may expect you to leave the place exactly as you found it, meaning that you (and your special helpers) will be left to get on with it. Otherwise, you may face a fine or unexpected charge later on.

Who Has to Clean Up the Mess After a Wedding?

If your catering company, venue, or wedding planner doesn’t offer a clean-up service, then we’re sorry to say that the responsibility for cleaning up falls to you and your new spouse.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should do it all by yourself. This is your special day, after all! No newlywed really wants to hitch up their beautiful wedding dress and start lugging boxes to cars, or climbing up ladders to take down decorations.

Of course, you can leave it until the morning (more on that in a bit!) but cleaning up after all of your friends and family isn’t exactly the first full day as a married couple you had in mind.

This is where you should call in all the favours you can and recruit anyone available to participate in the post-wedding cleaning. Many couples choose to have a few trusted members of the wedding party on clean-up duty, such as:

1) Groomsmen
2) Ushers
3) Bridesmaids
4) Parents of the bride and/or groom

You can also enlist the help of close friends and family members not in the wedding party, such as siblings, aunts and uncles.
You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help out with weddings. You’ll have heard people say “if there’s anything I can do!” a million times, but probably politely dismissed this as you just want your guests to have a good time.

If anyone offers their help, take them up on it! Get together a group of people you know are responsible, and who won’t mind helping, and ask them if they’d mind sorting everything out after the party. But remember to tell them exactly what needs to go where, otherwise you’ll end up on the phone explaining so much that you may as well have done it yourself!

How Long Do We Have to Clean Up?

Depending on your venue, you may be allowed a little leeway in your cleaning up schedule. For some weddings, the venue is booked for two days, so there is no one else booked on the day following your wedding.
This means you’ll be able to leave everything as is the night before, and worry about it the next day. This is often most found in hotel weddings – as you’ll still be there in the morning to sort everything out. This isn’t always the case though, and some venues will require clean up by the night’s end.

Remember, though, that it’s always worth taking anything valuable and putting it in a safe place overnight, if you aren’t going to take it straight home with you. Wedding post boxes are an easy way to store your cards, and you can always ask a trusted friend to look after them until you can get home.

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