9 Things to Consider When Booking a Brunch Wedding Reception

To brunch or not to brunch? That is the question..

Updated 08/30/17

Kelly Anne Photography

Truth: People love brunch nearly as much as they love weddings. So, it makes sense that it was only a matter of time before couples combined the two to create the ultimate wedding bash. Maybe you have your heart set on a church that only performs morning ceremonies, or you and your fiancé are just not big on the drinking and dancing part of traditional receptions. No matter the reason you're in favor of a brunch wedding, consider these five points before you commit to throwing an A.M. affair.

1. Your Day Will Start Really Early

Day-of wedding prep is no joke: hair, makeup and final touches will take hours, no matter what time you plan to walk down the aisle. If you're interested in a brunch wedding, consider talking to vendors ahead of time to get an estimate on timing: How long will your hairdresser need to style you and your bridesmaids with different hair textures? Does the makeup artist want everyone's hair done before starting? Is it possible for the venue (including the church, if that's in your plans) to set up everything but the flowers and food the night before? If not, how much time—and manpower—will it take to kick things off before noon? Depending on the details of your big day, you might be working with a tight schedule that starts before the sun is up.

2. Some Guests May Not Be Able to Attend

The morning hours pose a challenge for guests who tend to work weekends. "You know your guests," says Tracie Domino, founder and creative director of Tracie Domino Events in Florida. "If your guests all own their own businesses and have to work Saturdays, it might be challenging for them to get there." Consider your crowd before settling on a brunch wedding—or at least be prepared to receive a handful of regrets.

3. You'll Have Less Time With Family and Friends

Sometimes the pre-wedding festivities can feel just as special as the reception: sipping mimosas during hair and makeup, distributing gifts for your 'maids, and taking the "getting ready" photos that might feel silly in the moment but will be some of your fondest photo memories. If you opt for a brunch wedding, it's still possible to have these moments, but when you're crunched for time, it's tough to stop and take it all in. You might also swap out pre-wedding mimosas for coffee or caffeinated tea—after an early wake-up call and super-busy morning, you don't want to be yawning at the altar!

4. The Reception Will Be More Casual

A brunch wedding differs from an evening event in more ways than just the time of day. For one thing, "no one's wearing sequins at 10 a.m.," Domino says. A brunch wedding tends to feel more like a garden party or a co-ed bridal shower, and that could be something your guests look forward to. "It's kind of fun to make a brunch event a bit of a fashion show," Domino says. The gentlemen can pull out the seersucker suits, brightly colored pants, and playful bowties they rarely have a chance to wear.

5. Your Décor Should Match the Brunch Wedding Vibe

For those of us who've kept a mental wedding inspiration board long before Pinterest existed (you know who you are!), it might be tough to rethink color schemes and flower choices and gold trim on the flatware. But because a brunch wedding is general more casual, it's important to consider the ways décor details can reflect that: instead of billowing floral centerpieces, use wildflowers in mason jars; or have your caterer set up a food bar instead of a sit-down meal or traditional buffet. Casual décor options are different, but just as endless as formal ones.

6. You'll Save Money on Some Things...But Not Everything

A brunch wedding is a simple way to stick to your wedding budget while ensuring it's an event to remember. "If you have a traditional brunch menu and it's not elaborate, it should be substantial cost savings over a multi-course dinner," Domino says. You'll save even more by opting for mimosas or a Bloody Mary bar over a full open bar and by choosing a casual wedding dress and simplified décor to fit the tone of the event. "Flowers, linens, and décor, it depends what you pick, but no one's expecting a crystal chandelier at 10 in the morning," Domino says. Still, the cost of some things won't budge, such as your wedding planner, photographer, and band or DJ.

7. This Will Impact the Food Choices, Perhaps More Than You Think

When you hear the words "brunch wedding" there are a few things that may come to might (pancakes, waffles, and mimosas, anyone?). But you might not have thought about this: brunch may be fun, but brunch food is serious business! And choosing a spread that's got something for everyone is no easier at brunch that it would be at dinner. Not to mention, it might be a good idea to rethink your cake preferences. While layers and layers of fondant and icing are beautiful and perfect for the evening, most people won't be interested in that at the end of brunch, especially if they've just had three servings of chicken and waffles. Consider a smaller cake in a lighter or breakfast-y style—angel food, coffee cake, and crepe cakes come to mind, along with the ever-popular doughnut offering. If you're still somewhat traditional in this area, have the baker make a small, one-tier wedding cake to eat on your wedding anniversary.

8. You Shouldn't Expect a Wild Dance Party

"People who would normally have a few cocktails in the evening and dance might find that a little strange at brunch," Domino says. This may be music to your ears if you and your fiancé are generally dragged onto the dance floor against your will. "You can have what you want without thinking all of your guests are doing something you wouldn't even do," Domino says.

9. You'll Need to Make a Plan for What Happens Next

When the reception ends, "you just don't want your guests staring at each other like, 'Now what?'" Domino says. You have two options: First, you can keep the party going by transitioning from brunch to another activity, like relaxing in cabanas by the pool. Or, you can signal the party's over by jetting off on your honeymoon and leaving guests free to spend the rest of the day however they'd like. Consider setting up a tour of the city or including other activity suggestions in the welcome bags. "Happy wedding guests are informed wedding guests," Domino says. "As long as they know what's going on, they're going to be fine and enjoy it."

There's lots to think about before booking a brunch wedding, but if you keep those things in mind as you plan, you'll end up with a morning you and your new spouse will never forget. Here are some of our favorite ideas for brunch-time nuptials:

For a casual affair, simple décor can still be elegant.

Brunch weddings are all about understated elegance, like this table setting
Lucy Saechao
Casual wedding table décor for an outdoor brunch wedding
Luke and Isabel Photography
Tablescape at a country-themed brunch wedding
Emilie Olson

There are sweet ways to highlight the brunch theme within wedding traditions you love.

On theme with a Sunday brunch wedding, this couple printed a special edition newspaper for their guests
Luke and Isabel Photography

At this wedding, guests could pick up a special edition of the newspaper—the kind you'd normally read over breakfast.

Image of Cheerios in a glass jar for send off at a brunch wedding
Luke and Isabel Photography

This couple put out a jar of Cheerios for their guests to throw as they left the venue—so cute!

New couple gets a special sendoff from their brunch wedding: with Cheerios
Luke and Isabel Photography

Embrace the brunch aspect wholeheartedly.

Coffee cup heat sleeve with custom art for a wedding
Jason Smelser
Image of beautiful stack of fluffy pancakes at a brunch wedding
Luke and Isabel Photography
Veggie quiche served at a brunch wedding
Phillip Van Nostrand
Chicken and waffles served at a brunch wedding
Phillip Van Nostrand

Most importantly, there should be doughnuts literally everywhere.

Donut tower at a brunch wedding with assorted donuts and pastries
Jason Smelser
Wall of colorfully glazed donuts, with plates and to-go boxes at a brunch wedding
Abigail Miles
Assorted donuts (with sprinkles and icing and cinnamon-sugar) stacked at a brunch wedding
Luke and Isabel Photography
Mini donuts are stacked on a tiered serving tray at a brunch wedding.
Kelly Anne Photography
Image of donuts and a donut pun sign at a brunch wedding
Luke and Isabel Photography

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