Photo of a daytime ceremony by North State Photography.
Late nights, high energy, and loud music may be the trend for weddings, but if you and your partner are morning people, that doesn’t have to change for your wedding day. Instead of starting the festivities at 5 pm, yawning on the dancefloor, and staying up ’til midnight, your dream wedding evening might include curling up with your new spouse after an incredible day. With a few important differences from evening events, there are some specific things to consider when planning a daytime wedding, and we’re going to break them down for you.
Setting an Early Ceremony Time
As you plan what time to start your ceremony, the biggest factor to consider is the setup and preparation! Wedding setup typically takes about 3 hours for all your vendors to make the magic happen, so you’ll want to have a simple decor plan in place or make sure your venue can open their doors in the early morning. Another option is to complete most of the setup the day before, if your location will allow.
For just the bride’s hair, makeup, and dressing time, it takes about 2 hours. You’ll also need to consider any travel time and the ability to wake up without feeling immediately rushed out the door. For example, if you’re getting married at 11 am, you’ll want everyone fully ready by 10:30 am. Hair and makeup should begin no later than 8:30 am at the ceremony location (or 2 hours before you leave for the venue). As you consider waking up, getting showered and ready for your day, and traveling to your venue, you could easily be looking at a 6 or 6:30 wake-up time.
With an early ceremony, there likely won’t be much time for photos beforehand, so plan to start earlier if you want to include a first look or getting ready photos. Talk to your photographer about taking most pictures after the ceremony and decide which photos you want to prioritize in the early part of the day.
Inviting Guests to a Daytime Wedding
If you plan to invite guests, make sure they’re aware of the early start time, since they may not be expecting it. Draw special attention to the time on your save the dates, invitations, and wedding website so that no one misses it! If you know your guests will be traveling for your wedding, set up a hotel block that’s as close as possible to the venue so guests won’t have to travel far in the morning and make sure they’ll have breakfast options available.
Not everyone is a morning person like y’all are, so help your guests feel ready for the day. If you’re having a sunrise ceremony, consider keeping the ceremony intimate and inviting a larger crowd for your reception later in the day. For weddings starting before noon, we recommend setting up a pre-ceremony coffee & juice bar to help guests be fully awake as you tie the knot.
Daytime Wedding Attire Expectations
Be kind to your guests by setting the formality so their Google search doesn’t fill up with “What to wear to a brunch wedding.” The general expectation is that wedding guests will be wearing daytime attire rather than formal evening gowns, but you still get to set the formality.
If you’re going the super casual route, mention that jeans are welcome; for semi-formal, you can recommend sundresses and dress pants; and if your dream brunch wedding is an upscale formal brunch, suggest dress suits and cocktail attire.
Booking Daytime Wedding Vendors
Because daytime weddings aren’t as common, you’ll want to talk to each potential vendor about how they would handle a daytime wedding. With most vendors, you should feel comfortable asking if there is a discount since the wedding isn’t at a common time – but never get offended if the vendor sticks with their prices.
For hair and makeup artists, you’ll want to have a clear picture of how long the process will take, especially considering if you want bridesmaids or anyone else to be styled. With photographers, ask if they can handle high sun photos and see if they have examples, since the sun’s position can greatly impact your photos. You’ll want to check that your venue, planner, DJ, and any other vendors will be able to arrive to set up early, and ask about realistic setup times so you can be prepared. And of course, you’ll want to talk with your caterer about all the delicious options they can provide…
Wedding Brunch and Lunch Menus
As you consider the formality, think about the style of food. A more casual wedding is well suited for a cocktail-style reception with minimal food, while a formal sit-down lunch leans semi-formal to formal. Once you set the formality, it’s time to think about the menu! You can’t go wrong with a brunch spread of all your favorite goodies like fresh fruits, pastries, eggs, and bacon. Lunch menus allow so much creativity because you create lighter, more playful versions of dinner entrees, and your favorite foods can easily find their way onto the menu.
While you’re thinking about food, you’ll also want to consider your bar and dessert. When it comes to serving alcohol at a daytime wedding, guests typically drink less than they would at an evening reception, so you can easily cut costs. This gives you wiggle room to have fun with your specialty drinks – for brunch receptions, mimosas and Bloody Mary’s are sure to be popular, while a lunch reception pairs well with light, fruity drinks like sangrias and margaritas. For dessert, you can have a cake or get playful with options like waffle cakes and crepe cakes to keep with the brunch theme.
Entertaining your Guests
If you opt for a daytime wedding, the dance floor probably isn’t your top priority, since guests are less likely to dance in the middle of the day. Because of this, you have the option to create a shorter reception timeline or provide alternative sources of entertainment. For live music, a harp player or violinist is perfect for background music while guests enjoy their meal. Yard games are great ways for guests to have fun during your reception, and most guests will be happy to enjoy food, drink, and good conversation. Bringing in non-traditional entertainment like poets, magicians, and artists can also create a talking point for guests to enjoy.
Since the wedding is going to end earlier than guests may be used to, it’s great to provide recommendations for fun activities to enjoy afterward, especially if folks are traveling into town. Give guests a map of the town you’re getting married in, and pinpoint your favorite restaurants, bars, and hang-out spots so guests are still celebrating your love story throughout the evening.