Why Have a Morning Wedding Ceremony and Reception?

I like to run wedding ideas by The Beard by prefacing them with “If I was planning our wedding all over again, I would…” and the last wedding planning idea I hit him with was having a morning wedding. Gack, I hear some people thinking, a morning wedding? Why?! And I will admit, later on in this very post even, that there are definitely some downsides to having a morning wedding. But there are upsides, too, and for the right couple with the right families and social circle, a morning wedding can be the ultimate antidote to the whole overwhelming wedding cluster-you-know-what.

Built-in ambiance
I wouldn’t advise anyone not eloping to say their vows at sunrise exactly, but morning light can make for some amazing photographs. Outdoor morning weddings are awesome, particularly if you’re getting married somewhere that gets hot as heck midway through the day. Sparkling morning dew! A refreshing breeze! Birds chirping their cheerful little heads off! What more could you want at an outdoor wedding? And for the indoors set, that great morning light still makes for fantastic photos.

Morning weddings can be cheaper
As long as you’re working with wedding vendors who are not opposed to handling more than one wedding in a day, you can get some great deals from caterers and the like who can set up your affair in the a.m. and spend the rest of the day prepping for a p.m. fete. And the fact is that morning weddings are often simpler animals – possibly sans alcohol, sans wedding dj, and less elaborate dishes at the reception. And if you’re open to marrying on Sunday? Zow! There are a lot of great ways to save on a morning wedding, keeping in mind that if you want something huge or fancy, you’re still going to pay for huge and fancy.

Dance (and drink) or not, as you like it
Who says there can’t be dancing or drinking at a morning wedding? Not this chick! But if you’re not entirely keen on either, it’s a lot easier to justify your choices to persnickety guests when your nuptials will take place in the first half of the day. On the other hand, you can have drinking and no dancing (think morningish cocktails like mimosas) or dancing and a dry wedding (yes to the dj, no to the booze).

Breakfast and brunch foods are usually favorites
Maybe you’ll go for the basics at your morning wedding – pancakes or an omelet station or quiche come to mind – or maybe you’ll get some super chef to design you a menu with fun, upscale versions of classic breakfast foods. I’ll suggest (and you can prove me wrong in the comments if you like) that most people when faced with a breakfast or brunch buffet comprised of lots of choices will be able to find something they like. After all, you’ve got your sweet foods and your savory dishes, filling fare and lighter options!

You have a whole day ahead of you (and you’re not exhausted)
By the end of our wedding day, The Beard and I were absolutely exhausted. Sure, our wedding was in the afternoon, but we’d both stayed up late the evening before, then there was a post-wedding casual dinner near our hotel, and there were some other social obligations we had to fulfill. If we’d had a morning wedding, we could have either had plenty of time to fulfill those obligations or we could have told people to sod off, since we’d gotten up so early in the a.m.

Which actually brings me to the downside of morning weddings, or one of them.

We can’t ignore them: The cons
It doesn’t matter whether you’re saying your vows at 9 a.m. or some time later… if you’re having attendants and getting your hair and makeup done, you will be getting up with or before Mr. Sun. And no matter how early you wake up, you’re probably still going to feel rushed. Oh, and you can forget having a late rehearsal dinner the night before, as all those little details that couples having evening weddings get to take care of in the morning will be on your plate the previous day. Your guests will probably have to stay at accommodations closer to the venue, and they may look like the walking dead in your wedding photos. And you may want to consider, as per The Beard’s recommendations, pre-feeding your guests at the ceremony locale with something like coffee and doughnuts while they wait for you to finish putting your face on.

Now spill: Have any of you out there had a morning wedding? Or are you thinking about having one?

(Image via Elizabeth Anne Designs)

17 Responses to “Why Have a Morning Wedding Ceremony and Reception?”

  1. Though you discussed the cons right, but still the pros are more appealing. Specially the point of being cheaper. There are many planning a budget wedding, and for them the idea sounds nice.

  2. @pour la victoire I’m with you there, mainly because breakfast and brunch foods are my favorites!

  3. Cassie says:

    *ponders* If I thought I could get it to go over with everyone who’ll be involved with my wedding, I’d totally have breakfast/brunch foods no matter what time the wedding was – I’m a breakfast FANATIC, which is super-ironic since I never get up early enough for it to be breakfast and not lunch.

  4. Twistie says:

    @Cassie: You know, I could really get into being served breakfast at a wedding any time of day.

    I saw a wedding once on Four Weddings that I really loved. The guests arrived early in the morning, were served breakfast while mingling with the bride and groom, then there was a ceremony followed by a short reception with dancing and finger foods. It was my favorite of all the weddings, but it did score the lowest of the four, sadly.

    My wedding to Mr. Twistie was an afternoon one (early afternoon), but we had pictures taken before the ceremony, which was great. The light was wonderful and we didn’t get held up on the way to our own party by the need to take formal photos.

  5. @Cassie I bet you could! The nice thing about brunch is that you can find ways to incorporate almost any food into your menu… how about pancakes, quiche, and salad with thin slices of steak. Maybe little tarts! And smoked salmon! I swear, there is nothing brunch can’t do!

    @Twistie The whole posed pics before the ceremony really needs to catch on. We didn’t do it but I really wish we had, because there I was getting posed, watching people eat all our delicious food (it was casual, the buffet was set up, so we let people dig in). And I’ve had to wait for ages to eat at weddings where there was basically nothing for guests to snack on while the wedding party did all their posed shots. NOT FUN.

  6. Abby says:

    I had a morning wedding. It was due to neccessity because we booked our HM flight to Paris Sunday afternoon before our venue was completely finalized/booked. When we had to change venues, the only opening that weekend was Sunday morning. Or have it New Years weekend. So we had a 9 AM wedding on 1.10.10- Sunday.

    pros: saved us several thousand dollars on venue rental, and we were able to save on the food minimum. We served fruit, pastrys, juice, coffee(my husband and my favorite drink ;-)) and mimosas during the breakfast hour, and for brunch we served an additional frittatta and fruit dish for each person. Our grooms cake was baklava–a good morning pastry. 🙂 We had an ipod DJ and people still danced. The light was amazing for our photos outside and we did a first look. We had a rehearsal luncheon and had game night at the hotel with friends and family the night before.

    cons: I woke up at 4 am and still was short on time to get ready and take pre-photos. Our reception was shorter than what we’d hoped for because people were afraid we’d miss our plane. Friends and fam from out of town had to stay at our hotel–this prevented a few people from being able to come due to cost. I got married on the most unseasonably cold weekend in Dallas. There were ice warnings the day before and I worried people would not be able to get there due to the weather. Taking photos outside was brutal for my poor bridesmaids. 🙂

    All in all, if you are morning ppl, I recommend it. Just aim for 10 or 11…

    and here are some pics 🙂

  7. Jill says:

    I got married 5 years ago and had our wedding at 10:30am. It was plenty of time to get ready I just had to b really organized. The best part about having our wedding early was that we were able to have our afternoon reception at a really high end restaurant that normally didn’t open till 5pm. We had the entire restaurant (including a patio) to ourselves. I still have people tell me that we had the best food of any wedding. It was great to have the reception at the restaurant because we didn’t have to rent or decorate anything. It was WAY cheaper then going to a normal venue and WAY more classy! I would totally recommend it!

  8. Gail says:

    I can’t imagine wanting to get up at 5am to get ready for a morning wedding… an hour to shower and have breakfast, probably an hour and a half to get hair and makeup done, another hour and a half for photos, and to get to the location and be ready to walk down the aisle at 10am seems impossible for a very not-morning person like me!

  9. Dabney says:

    We had an 11 am wedding. I had hair done from 8 – 9. My makeup artist met us at the church and we did it there, and had pictures starting at 10. We were wrapping up pictures when people started showing up, and I was ok with that. We did a brunch reception from 12 – 3 and the food was a big hit. We had Mimosas, Screwdrivers, and Bloody Marys. We did cupcakes so that people could take them home if they didn’t feel like have cake right after French toast.

    We had a band and people danced. We also saved on the venue – the club where are first date was – because they aren’t normally open on Saturday during the day, and so we only paid for food costs, liquor costs and some for the sound guy. It turned out great.

  10. Fabrisse says:

    My parents had a morning wedding, around 10:30, followed by a wedding breakfast. Mom’s only real problem was that Dad’s family was Baptist and they couldn’t have champagne.

    Wedding breakfasts were really popular in the Fifties, much of it because people could get home if there were a long drive afterward. Only one night at a hotel is often easier on the guests.

    My idea, if I ever find a groom ;-), is afternoon tea. An early afternoon wedding followed by afternoon tea.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I had a 10:30am wedding in December. I had not originally wanted a morning wedding but the cost of having an evening wedding was too expenisive for me. Even though it was not the wedding I had orginally envisioned, it turned out beautifully. I still get compliments on it and it was almost three years ago! The down side was having to get up early and being in a rush to do hair and makeup. Otherwise I had a very positive experience and received a lot of positive feedback.

  12. SusanC says:

    If everyone is staying at or near the venue, I think it’s a great idea. Another bonus- the whole vegetarian/non vegetarian issue becomes moot, even vegans can serve up some really nice pastries.

    I’d think that having a pre-wedding mini-bar for coffee, juice and rolls/muffins/donuts would hit the spot. Then have your gala brunch reception afterwards, with or without champagne.

  13. Giggles says:

    What’s interesting is that for us to have our wedding at 1pm was unusual. It seems to be the norm among our culture having the ceremony before noon is the norm. After the ceremony you have lunch with the few family and friends that were invited to the ceremony and then the reception with the larger invite list in the evening.

  14. Little Red says:

    I am so not a morning person. I can’t imagine adding to the stress of a wedding with the stress of getting up early enough.

  15. I got married at 10:30 in the morning and had a noon reception. By moving the wedding to earlier in the day, I was able to have a sit down lunch with strip steaks, instead of a buffet with rubber chicken and baked mostaccioli. We had to clear out by 5:00 p.m., so my mom invited all the guests back to the house and had party platters of cold cuts and lots of nibbles. My husband and I went home, changed, then headed back to the homestead to join our guests. The guests were delighted, because they were able to watch us open their gifts. We were delighted, because we got to spend so much time with family and friends.

    The only downside? My mom finally closed the door on the last guest at 2:00 a.m.

    It was a wonderful celebration!

  16. Nati says:

    I have already made my plans for my wedding and it will not be a “morning wedding”. I just cannot imagine waking up around 4 am to get ready for it. It is impossible prepare everything so quickly. To be rushed on the biggest day in my life? Not me. We need a lot of time to get hair and makeup done. Then to just relax a little bit before the whole ceremony. Another thing is that in our culture, people always are getting married in the afternoon and then the reception in the evening. And now something about the pictures. I agree that morning light makes fantastic photos. That is why my finance and I chose the photographer we were recommended to. You can always schedule a photographer to take some pictures another day. Here are some ideas for you to look at it. http://www.capturedbyizabela.com . Go and check how amazing photos comes out in the morning. “Trash the dress” is the best part for me.

  17. Surely the point about the budget being low is very valid but even if you consider all the pros listed above, people won’t like to experiment too much with that. After all it’s a day that comes only once in their lives and they are surely gonna be very hesitant when it comes to going against the set trend and tying something new on their big day.