Everything You Need to Know About Hosting a Daytime Wedding

You don't have to wait until the evening to say "I do."

bride and groom cutting wedding cake during daytime

Photo by Valorie Darling

While the most popular time for a wedding is a Saturday evening, there’s no rule saying you can’t get married during the week or at other times of the 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.

"Now more than ever, couples are striving to be unique and authentic to who they are when planning a wedding," shares planner Kelsey Connely of Downey Street Events. "Perhaps you love the idea of a morning wedding at city hall or a park followed by a brunch, or you just don't want to focus as much on the party' aspect of an evening celebration. Oftentimes, a daytime fête makes sense when couples want a more intimate wedding and want to focus on connections with guests rather than dancing the night away. It's all about what is most important to you!"

Nathalie Cadet-James, founder of Luxe Fête, also notes how a daytime affair bring about unique and beautiful celebration experience. "There is a certain charm and nostalgia about gathering to celebrate in daytime hours, especially if it is set against a striking background," she shares. For photography, it also lends to a "higher percentage of picture perfect shots as long as the lighting is not harsh. Beautiful soft lighting is key for images that make you feel something."

A daytime wedding can also be helpful to your attendees who prefer engaging in the daylight hours. "People can see more of each other and connect and that’s a good thing! [And], some guests will appreciate having an evening to go home and enjoy Club Bedrock and Pillow Jam," Cadet-James says. "Important note, make sure there is plenty shade if you are outdoor and that the weather is comfortable."

Meet the Expert

Ahead, we answer some common questions that couples might have about hosting a daytime wedding.

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 a.m., which means putting on your dress at 10 a.m.. 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 should be ringing at 6 a.m.

After the ceremony, you can skip the cocktail hour and go straight to the meal you’ve planned at around 11:45 a.m.. 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 p.m..

daytime wedding timeline

Michela Buttignol/Brides

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?

"When planning a daytime wedding, you'll want to consider your attire as well as your guests'. Guests should always be informed about what to wear, and a daytime affair is no different," shares Connely of dress codes. "Depending on your wedding design, you could even encourage guests to wear bold colors, patterns, or hats! An exciting opportunity that the bride has in this scenario is to wear something a bit less traditional for the ceremony or reception—think a tweed blazer dress, a modern white jumpsuit, or a gorgeous midi-length column dress."

Can We Still Have Dancing?

Of course! If the newlyweds dance, guests will dance, no matter what. While many couples will still choose to hire a DJ, one idea is to skip it 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.

What Should We Serve?

Don’t forget to feed people. With a wedding during prime mealtime, 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, an omelet station, or serve a plated meal of breakfast favorites. And, don’t forget the drinks. "Since you will be dining for brunch or lunch, you may not want to serve guests a steak with a Manhattan as your specialty cocktail," says Connely. "Keep the menu light and fitting for the occasion so that you and your guests feel great going into the rest of the day!"

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