How to Throw a Brunch Wedding Reception

A table full of food and people at a brunch wedding reception.

If dinner and dancing seem too cliché for a wedding reception, why not do brunch instead? Brides and grooms everywhere are jumping on this trend for many reasons. First, it can save you money because caterers, venues, and other vendors often offer discounts for events hosted during off-peak hours. Second, it’s an easy way to end the day early, if only to escape to your honeymoon sooner. Third, it’s a great option if you’re having a winter wedding and would like to maximize the daylight hours. And finally, brunch receptions are generally a much more casual affair, and that’s a good enough reason alone if it suits your style!

If this sounds appealing, brunch may be the best thing for your wedding reception. In that case, here are some things to consider when planning a daytime celebration.

Choose an Appropriate Start Time

Brunch wedding receptions may not be for everyone, as there are two possible extremes in the scenario. Keep in mind that if you host a brunch, it has to be served between 11 AM and 2 PM, which means that you’ll need to get up really early if you’re to prepare for and host a ceremony. Not to mention, your guests will be in the same boat.

The other problem you might have is how to keep the party going. If you’re looking forward to your guests dancing into the wee hours, it’ll be hard to do so if the party starts around noon. On the other hand, if you wish to call it an early night, brunch is perfect for you. And if you don’t but love the idea anyway, you can also do brunch instead of a rehearsal dinner, or as a secondary celebration the day after the wedding.

Plan Ahead for the Day-Of

Because your day is bound to start early, you should set up the reception venue, if possible, the night before. Your vendors, who might otherwise have to wake up at 3 AM, will appreciate it. It’ll make your day less stressful, too. Even if your wedding is relatively simple by design, there’s more to putting it all together than meets the eye.

A morning ceremony also means less pre-wedding prep time for yourself, unless you want to wake up long before the dawn. So if you’re hoping to have a chill, champagne-drinking dressing session with your bridesmaids, it may be better to do something similar the day before or opt for a later ceremony start time.

Take Advantage of the Venue Space

Since brunches are hosted in the daytime, take full advantage of the moment and host at least a part of your wedding outdoors. (That is, if the weather and temperature allow.) Daytime celebrations also open up more opportunities for entertainment aside from the typical DJ and dancing. Get creative with your celebration by having games and other activities as part of your reception.

There’s only one warning: be aware of the venue’s rules when booking a daytime event. It’s likely they will have another event after yours, so double-check what time you should clear out the place (if at all necessary) and plan accordingly.

Plan a Delicious Brunch Menu

Since brunches are more casual than a typical wedding meal, you have a wide range of possibilities on how to serve food. You can keep it simple with a buffet, or go all out with a multi-course menu. You can also settle on a chill cocktail reception and serve just drinks and small plates.

If you like the idea of a buffet but find it too informal, try food stations instead. It’s a trendy take that creates the same relaxed ambiance. Having uniquely themed food stations and scattering them in different areas of the venue will also help prevent overcrowding.

Feel Free to Keep Everything Casual

The casual aspect of a brunch wedding reception means your wedding doesn’t have to be a strict, etiquette-abiding, formal affair. So feel free to loosen the dress code and skip unnecessary traditional to-dos. This means you can save money on everything from your dress to the decorations. You also won’t need to hire an expensive live band or entertainment program; a custom playlist may be enough.

You might find that you’ll save money on alcohol, as well. Not many people like to drink during the daytime and even if they do, it’s significantly less than at night. This also means you don’t need to have a full bar. Having just the basics, such as wine, beer, and champagne, should be enough. Or, consider offering up only mimosas and bloody marys to keep the bar menu simple and relevant to the celebration.

Know When to End the Event

A bride and groom kissing in a vintage car after their wedding.

Since you’ll likely be ending your party early, have a plan in place about when and how you’re going to call it quits. Keep in mind that your guests might be disappointed to be told to go home just when the celebration is getting started.

If you have a set time when the reception has to end, make sure your guests are aware of this scheduling plan, and remind them at the beginning of the event. It can also help to transition from brunch to a casual cocktail period as a way to signal that the reception is coming to a close.

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