12 Ways to Make an Epic Wedding Exit, Inspired By OTM Brides and Grooms

By Cathleen Freedman
Photo: Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay

When you’ve spent months planning the picture-perfect wedding, you almost don’t want to think about how it will end. But lest you forget, the grand finale can be one of the most memorable and photographic moments of the big day. Whether you opt for  a recessional or reception send-off, toss rose petals or ricethe moment should be uniquely yours and anything but an afterthought. For inspiration, we turned to 12 OTM couples who are proof  that it’s possible to pull off a truly epic wedding exit.

Photo: Katie Farr Photography

1. Rice Toss

Tossing rice is a tradition that dates back to Ancient Rome; dousing newlyweds with the grain was said to promise fertility and fortune for the bride and groom. While many modern-day couples have reinterpreted the practice, others still have a taste for the Old-World sentiment. Case in point: At their wedding in France, Airlie and Nicolas’s version of the “getaway car” was actually an iconic red Chamoix train where guests (and skiers coming off the glacier) celebrated with a rice toss at the station.

Norman & Blake

2. Flower Petals

Aromatic and fragrant, flowers will create a natural perfume—not to mention a picturesque exit. Bride Katherine dreamed of getting that just-out-of-the-chapel shot with petals strewn all around while hand-in-hand with the groom. Norman & Blake made sure she got it!

Photo: Mili Ghosh

For a color-coordinated twist, consider petals in a similar palette as the scenery. After making it official, Ashley and Aanand were showered with proverbial love and, of course, pink petals that perfectly matched the mandap.

Photo: James McGillis

3. Confetti Cannons

Upon saying “I do,” Lucas and Chris left the Irish castle holding hands and a crystal flutes. “After the ceremony, it’s tradition to open a bottle of Champagne, raise a glass, and walk out of the castle as your crowd awaits,” Lucas shares. The crowd greeted the newlyweds with a shower of confetti. A.K.A. the ultimate pairing to bubbly. 

Photo: Hajley Photography

With a church ceremony in the morning and a civil ceremony that followed, Jessica and Sheedo took the opportunity to keep confetti cannons at the ready all day and at multiple locations. For an intimate celebration, a little confetti goes a long way.

Photo: Leah Marie Photography

At Natalie and Ross’s wedding in Barbados, the confetti toss was “all-important” to the bride and groom. When looking back on the joyous day’s photos, Natalie laughed, seeing that Ross struggled to keep his eyes open against the barrage of pink paper. The takeaway: Novices may want to consider a pre-wedding confetti toss practice run, and real-life bloopers are just as fun.

Photo: Jordyn Smalling Photography

4. Ribbons and Streamers

If you’re having a reception at your new in-laws’s home, take it from us and be mindful of sparkly but sticky situations—lest you want them to gloat at the leftover glitter that somehow remains on their lawn at your tenth anniversary . . . Instead, give guests handheld ribbons to wave in the name of happily ever after. Before bride Mary Virginia and groom Tyler stepped inside a light green 1950 Chevrolet convertible, their friends and family cheered them on with self-contained streamer wands.

Photo: Hope Allison

5. Bubbles

You’re never too old to delight in bubbles. In fact, you may even appreciate them more at a mature age. Just ask Ajinkya and Jinah who rigged machines of different bubble sizes along the aisle at their wedding. Talk about a fun (just) married couple!

Photo: Sophie Kaye Photography

6. Glow Sticks

Light the way to the honeymoon with a throwback party favor from childhood like Sara and Ty Gretzky. They left their reception through a tunnel of glow sticks. Here’s another bright idea for newlyweds who may be famished after hours of dancing and mingling: Sara and Ty already had their fast-food orders waiting in the car.

Photo: Astrid Photography

7. Arch of Sabers

“When your husband is a Green Beret, your processional looks a little something like this,” OTM bride Sarah shares about her Virginia wedding. Ahmad’s service and military clearance allowed the couple to leave their ceremony with the signature arch of sabers. This tradition demonstrates the military’s symbolic pledge of loyalty to the newlyweds. If you or your betrothed is eligible for this special service, consult the specific branch for best practices and guidelines. For example, sabers cannot be unsheathed in a place of worship.

Photo: Holly Haffner Photography

8. Musical Moments

Regardless of what guests throw your way, play a soundtrack for your exit. At Carly’s Boca Raton wedding, she and her groom walked down the aisle to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” which definitely set the tone for the rest of the night. As newlyweds Permele and Garner Robinson recessed at their upstate New York nuptials, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” sounded on the speakers. This was a tongue-in-cheek homage to the couple’s married name.

Photo: Sophie Kaye

9. A Second Line

New Orleans draws couples who love a good time—hence, the rousing wedding tradition of the second line. Emilee and Patrick both agree that their second line through the streets of the Big Easy was their favorite activity they planned for their nuptials.

Photo: Meraki Weddings

10. Sparkler Send-Off

There was only one thing that could top Alex and Tinsley’s Moulin Rouge-meets-West World after-party. That’s right, long-lasting sparklers. With 300 guests lighting up the road, Alex sped off with his bride in tow. “Do not try this at home!” Tinsley laughs. Sparklers will no doubt add a dazzling finish to any wedding.

Photo: Cedar & Pines

A shimmering send-off is possible for any reception size, barring your venue’s fire ordinances, of course. At their micro-wedding in Colorado, Brenna and Sabrina ended the night with sparklers and their closest family and friends.

Photo: Brooke Johnson

11. Firework Show

The first foray into married life deserves nothing less than a spectacular light show. End the reception with a bang, just like Heather McMahan and Jeff Daniels at their Italian wedding.

Photo: Lucy Cuneo

12. A Getaway Car

After getting hitched, hitch a ride in the getaway vehicle of your and your spouse’s dreams. The model, make, and even type of transportation is totally dependent on the couple, though. For a James Bond-inspired exit, Mary Katherine and Bob absconded in a 1964 convertible Jaguar.

Photo: Mel Toms

After their wedding in Georgia, Laura and Cannon drove off in their family’s farm Jeep. At first, the couple thought the getaway car might be too rugged for their elegant nuptials, but they eventually realized, “Who cares?” All that matters is that they loved it!

For country club receptions, maybe a golf cart lovingly decorated by the mother of the bride is more appropriate. Libby and Ryan certainly thought so and used the adorned vehicle as their getaway from the ceremony and the reception.

Photo: Perry Vaile

For those more nautically inclined, jet out of the ceremony in style. Shortly after exchanging vows, grooms Eddie and Ryan hopped on a private boat ride along the May River in South Carolina.

Whatever vehicle you choose, seafaring or otherwise, label it with an apropos “Just Married” sign. And with that, fin! You pulled off a beautiful wedding and a memorable exit for all of your guests. Now enjoy your honeymoon, just the two of you.