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Everything a Bride Needs to Know About Hosting a Daytime Wedding

For those who can't wait till sunset to celebrate

outdoor rustic wedding reception daytime forest

Jasmine Lee

While the most popular time for a wedding is a Saturday evening, there’s no rule saying you can’t get married at other times of day. In fact, considering alternative times can actually save you a good amount of money and give you some flexibility when it comes to the type of event you’d like to have. So why not kick off a weekend of celebration with a daytime wedding instead of waiting until 6 p.m.? We’ve rounded up the most common questions surrounding a midday wedding and turned to our experts for the answers.

What should our timeline look like?

The biggest difference between a daytime and evening wedding is, of course, the timing. A couple can easily spend an entire day getting ready for their 5 p.m. ceremony, so bumping that up to 11 a.m. means getting creative with timing—and probably a very early start. Counting backward from 11 a.m., you’ll want to leave for your ceremony at 10:15, which means putting on your dress at 10. Allocate two hours for your hair and makeup (not including the bridesmaids!), which means the bride will need to be in the makeup chair by 8 a.m. To make sure you have a little time to wake up, shower, and relax with your friends, that alarm will be ringing at 6!

After the ceremony, you can skip cocktail hour and go straight to the meal you’ve planned at around 11:45. Guests should be wrapping up their meal around 1 p.m., and you can follow that with dancing, mingling, or another activity. Don’t forget to cut the cake! Your grand exit could be at 2:45 p.m., or if you’re planning to entertain guests for the afternoon, you can push it back as far as 4:30.

Do we have to provide evening entertainment?

Once your daytime wedding is over, there’s no obligation to entertain your guests for the rest of the evening. You may, however, want to offer some ideas for those who are in town for the weekend. Suggest activities (like local museums or sporting events) for the afternoon, provide a list of your favorite restaurants for dinner, and consider asking everyone to meet up at your favorite bar for a drink and another chance to toast.

What should we do after the wedding?

When it comes to the newlyweds’ afternoon, the sky is the limit! Book appointments at the hotel spa, take a nap in your honeymoon suite, or spend the evening with friends. We love the idea of an intimate celebratory dinner, either just for two or with your immediate families.

Can it still be a formal celebration?

Yes! Your daytime wedding can be as casual or as formal as you want. Of course, formal during the day isn’t quite the same as white tie at night, so don’t expect guests in ball gowns. You can, of course, still send formal invitations, use traditional wedding wording, and have a formal plated meal (think tablecloths and French service).

What should we wear?

Most couples having a daytime wedding opt for a slightly lighter and less formal version of traditional wedding attire. For a man, that might be a suit in gray or blue instead of black (or a morning coat instead of a formal tuxedo). For a woman, a traditional wedding gown is still the go-to, though often with a more relaxed silhouette (think A-line instead of ball gown) and fewer embellishments.

What should guests wear?

Your guests’ attire will depend on the formality you choose for the event, though they, like the couple, may opt for lighter colors and fabrics. Women might wear a skirt suit, a formal sundress, or daytime-appropriate cocktail attire. Men should wear suits (again, in a color other than black), and for a truly formal daytime wedding, should opt for a morning suit.

See More: 9 Things to Consider When Booking a Brunch Wedding Reception

Can we still have dancing?

Of course! If the newlyweds dance, guests will dance, no matter what. Skip the late-night DJ in favor of a jazz ensemble or acoustic guitarist who can entertain everyone while you eat, then up the tempo a little bit for dancing. We love the idea of a duo of Spanish guitarists who can get the crowd moving.

What should we serve?

Don’t forget to feed people! With a wedding during prime meal time, a full menu is key. You can go traditional with a luncheon, essentially serving the same meal you might offer at an evening wedding (though chicken and fish tend to take center stage more than beef), or you can get playful and offer brunch instead. Consider a waffle bar full of toppings or an omelette station, or serve a plated meal of breakfast favorites. And don’t forget the drinks! Offer lighter wines alongside a luncheon menu, or champagne cocktails, Bloody Marys, and spiked coffee with brunch.

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