Photo: Erich McVey Photography
While traditional wedding-day timelines are still very common, more creative schedules are gaining in popularity. Morning ceremony and a brunch reception? Go for it! Cocktail party where you say "I do" in the middle of the room, halfway through the night? Sounds great! Ceremony after sunset, a late dinner, and dancing 'til the wee hours? How fun! The only downside to that last option, however, is that there's a lot of time to kill beforehand — and the chance that guests will get hungry or tired. So how can you make a late-night wedding work for you? Our experts weigh in.
First things first, make sure guests really know that your wedding starts on the later side. Even with the start time listed on your invitation, you'll want to make it abundantly clear on your wedding website, as well. Whether you offer activity ideas for earlier in the day or recommend your favorite place to grab a late lunch so they're not starving by the time dinner is served at 9 p.m., making an effort to help guests fill up their day will help emphasize that it's not the usual start time.
Once guests arrive for your wedding, take care of them! You might be more limited in a house of worship, but if you're having the ceremony at your reception venue, consider setting out a snack and a drink for guests to grab on their way in, then ask them to raise a glass and toast with you as you finish your vows. Be sure to have food stations ready to go for cocktail hour so anyone whose stomach is rumbling can take care of it quickly. Keep the setting and music upbeat. Opt for a funky jazz band over the string quartet, and consider hiring a mixologist to provide a little extra entertainment while you mingle. Even if you're planning a full dinner with no interruptions, consider going straight into a short dance set (three or four songs) right away to get everyone excited about the party to come — and ready for dinner! Again, keeping the energy high is key, so save things like the first dance and father-daughter dance for after dinner.
As the evening progresses, a great way to keep guests grooving late into the night is to have snacks and fun shots passed on the dance floor. An espresso-based sip would be a great boost, alongside a tray of sweets for a little sugar rush. You could also set up a gourmet coffee bar, with different flavored syrups and toppings. Incorporate a few surprises to keep guests guessing, and to have them looking forward to every last moment.