How early is “too early” for a morning wedding?

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Photo by Andrew Kung
Photo by Andrew Kung
I am a wedding planner and I have a surprising amount of couples that ask me “How early in the day is too early for a wedding?”

What is your opinion?

Is there such a thing as “too early”?

Based on the weddings I've featured here on Offbeat Bride, I'm going to go for “dawn” as my answer.

Many readers will remember a sunrise wedding we featured. This wedding was remarkable for a lot of reasons, but it's worth noting that an 8:30am wedding allowed the couple to have essentially an open guestlist, thanks to knowing that only the most dedicated family would make it that early, combined with the fact that they weren't feeding everyone a sit-down dinner.

For micro-budget couples, morning weddings are an excellent option. Even if you have an open mimosa bar and nice brunch, you're just not going to spend as much as you would for an open evening bar and dinner. Not that people won't get buzzed on mimosas or bloody marys, but you're just not going to have as much drinking as you would in the evening — which also makes morning weddings a great option for couples who want an alcohol-free wedding.

I also think having a morning wedding is the quickest way reset your brain when it comes to planning the structure of the reception. Don't want to dance at your wedding? Brunch weddings make it clear you've got other things planned — treasure hunt in the park? Croquet? Good-minton?

We've featured numerous morning weddings, and even more brunch weddings. Go get inspired!

Comments on How early is “too early” for a morning wedding?

  1. “Don’t want to dance at your wedding? Brunch weddings make it clear you’ve got other things planned…”

    What if you don’t have other things planned and don’t really want to? I hope I don’t sound like a humbug or a big party pooper here. We’re getting married next June and having a morning wedding followed by a luncheon reception – partly because of budget considerations, partly because we both hate dancing and aren’t party people. And, to be totally honest, I would love to just go to the courthouse and get it over with. I’m sure that after the luncheon I’ll be dying to just get away from everyone and cozy up with my shiny new husband in our hotel room.

    Does this make me sound like a bad hostess? I love (most of) the people on our guestlist, and I really do want everyone to have a good time… but the last thing I’ll want to do after my wedding is have a treasure hunt in the park or play croquet!

    • I totally hear you on this one, and I don’t think you’re a bad hostess. I’m a textbook introvert, and while my husband is a textbook extrovert, we’re not “party people” either. However, I ran into the same feelings when thinking about my reception (and mine was even in the evening!). He’s a non-drinker, so we weren’t going to do that, and we were thinking about having dancing but for the sake of simplicity decided to drop it. Ultimately, we had a reception with no drinking, no dancing, no games, no set tables, and no awkward uncomfortable moments. The reception was totally casual (everyone just hung out with one another), fairly short, and AWESOME. My personal advice? If you don’t want to play some kind of game and you just want to hang out with people for a little while, go for it. I doubt you’ll look like a bad hostess because you’ll be way more comfortable in a more laid back setting than you would be otherwise.

    • As long as the wedding is right for you two, there is no “bad hostess”. We are skipping the dancing thing, but having games and video games at ours, but that is because we like to game and wanted it to feel like one of our dinner parties. People will be happy to celebrate with you, regardless of dancing and the like.
      We are also skipping dancing b/c most of our guests are flying in from the other coast. We want to spend time talking with them and visiting, not getting sweaty on the dance floor.
      If quite and simple is right for you two, it is right for your wedding. Anyone who gets in a tiff over no dancing, doesn’t know you well enough to be at your wedding, IMHO.

    • Deciding where the line is between “our wedding” and “making people happy is hard”. I don’t think it’s a question of being a “bad hostess” or not. But since you love (nearly) everyone on the guest list, and they’re coming to share your day with you, I do think they’ll want to greet you. Whether you do a receiving line or just work the rooom, it shouldn’t take much to give them something to do while you’re talking to other folks. If you joke with people beforehand about wanting to get down to busy, I’m sure they’ll be fine with you not spending time with those other people on your wedding day–but everyone will want to feel they’re special enough in your eyes to warrent a hello. If all you really want is to dig into your yummy hubby, this is the one day you can probably go for the PDA.
      Then again, my grandma had a chivery–the guests gathered outside the hotel and made noise until the groom hung the (bloodstained) bedsheet out the window to show them they had consumated the marraige properly.

    • I think it is fine that you don’t have specific activities planned in lieu of dancing.

      But it wouldn’t hurt to have a few activities available in case people want to partake on their own initiative. I think the key is to have games or whatever around, but don’t make a big deal about them, so that people don’t feel it is necessary to participate, but are welcome to do so if they’re interested.

      For example, we didn’t have dancing at our wedding, but the rental house that served as reception venue did have a foosball table, a ping pong table and a pool table. These were great ways for guests to get to know each other and stay active without just sitting around and eating. I would estimate that only about a third of our guests played, but those who did really enjoyed themselves. We have tons of hilarious pictures of people playing these games with ferocious intensity.

      You definitely don’t need to stay around for hours and hours after a morning wedding. But you will probably want to be able to greet all of your guests and spend a little bit of time with them. After all, they did travel and spend money to celebrate with you and you should return the favor by gracing them with your fabulous bridal presence. I promise that you will want a chance to catch up with all of your guests in the excitement of having just gotten married.

      If you really can’t wait to get your hands on each other after the wedding, you could always retreat for a quicky immediately after the ceremony and before making an entrance at the reception. A friend of mine did this and she said it was like having a fun little secret during the whole reception.

      Also, if you don’t want to hang out with your guests after the reception is over (which is totally fine) I would consider providing them with a list of possible activities in the area. I’ve only been to one morning wedding. But most of us weren’t leaving town until the next day and were eager for advice on what to do and see during the afternoon and evening.

  2. Years ago, when I got married (now divorced, and re-approaching the marriage topic) we had a 10 am wedding because of budget. The meal was over $5 cheaper per person!!! And that adds up QUICK! I was able to invite absolutely everyone and their brother with no worries. We had about 230 people actually show up too.
    One of the nice things about a morning wedding is nerves don’t have time to find you! You wake up, pretty up, and walk down the aisle. Boom, done!
    AAAANNNNDDDDD… we got the hall for a longer time than if we chose an evening wedding, we got to set up the night before, and because the staff wanted the next group to be able to come in quickly, they did most of the take down for us.
    All in all, I am very happy I had the big traditional wedding in the morning. My next wedding however, will be less traditional, more offbeat. (12 years later, I know myself way more intimately)

    • Shandee; exactly! and especially if you aren’t doing all the professional hair and makeup stuff and the nails and the ____ then you don’t spend time hanging around, killing time and second guessing yourself. You can just sorta leisurely get up do your normal special even hair and face, don the dress and head out. I can still remember sitting at the kitchen counter, rollers in my hair and eating a bagel and coffee.

  3. I am having my wedding (in 8 days, OMG) at 12 noon, precisely because I wanted to have a lower-key, smaller catering and bar bill, and no dancing reception. We should be wrapped up by 3 or so, and we left our options open – join out of town family at a casual dinner at my mom and dad’s, go get roaring drunk with friends (on their own dime), or go home, snuggle and pack for our driving trip to Asheville. All in all, this has worked well for the kind of weddinng we want and the crowd (my young kids and lots of others). The only thing that’s bothering me is how little time to get ready, do hair, etc. I just know that it will feel like the morning goes so quickly, and when there’s been some DIY and we’re doing flowers, etc., I’m afraid suddenly it will be 11:00 and I haven’t done my hair. Trade offs…

    • 2 weekend ago i got married at noon and was a little worried about having time to do my hair along with diy flowers. but i did all the flowers friday and they stayed perfect until saturday and surprisingly i got up early (which was another concern, totally not a morning person) and everything was done by 10:30 for pictures!

  4. The fiance and I are doing a morning brunch, starting the thing about 10:30 and ending at 2. We’re having bacon, mimosas, karaoke, and Thriller, not to mention it’ll be in October in Atlanta (just about the prettiest weather you can imagine). We were trying so hard to work out an evening event, when we just happened to look at the price of a morning shindig… yeah, lots and lots of money saved, so we were able to invite more people we wanted to have there.

    Another nice thing is that we’ll have the whole afternoon ahead of us afterwards. We’re going to Six Flags (and inviting the guests to come along!). 🙂 Not to mention, we never had to worry about vendors being booked. So many had evening events planned, but once they found out it was a morning thing, they all had no issue.

    Frankly, I don’t know why more people don’t have brunch weddings. Bacon! Mimosas! Sunlight!

    • Will you be riding the rides in your wedding clothes? If so, your wedding album is going to rock.

      Also, it will probably be good to have an excuse (roller coaster) to scream your lungs out with happies at least once on your wedding day.

  5. I have honestly never thought about a morning wedding, but you’ve got me considering it now!

  6. I had a mid-afternoon wedding with a finger-food reception for similar reasons. My husband (10 years ago yesterday!!) and I just aren’t major party people, and he absolutely did not want dancing. So we had a string quartet and it was absolutely lovely. One of the servers told my mother that it was the loveliest and most intimate (with 150 people) family weddings that she had ever seen.

  7. I think it just depends on the people involved and what they’re used to/willing to do.

    Our wedding involves a lot of night people. A morning wedding would probably annoy over half the guest list, including the groom. Also for some reason I don’t fully understand his family has this rule that you don’t go and see people in the morning because they ‘need that time to themselves’. They never schedule anything for before 12.

    On the other hand my mum knows a lot of pagans and wiccans who hold a lot of their various events at dawn so they’d probably be all in favour of a dawn wedding too.

    Hmm…makes me wonder if a midnight wedding could work. Could be tricky for bookings but kind of cool.

    • Yeah so much about a morning wedding depends on your family and friends. I would say that if you have a lot of guests traveling a long distance to you, many might not get into town until fairly late the night before, making them tired for the event if it is too early.

  8. We had a morning ceremony with a small brunch reception where we had mostly family, and then later did a “dessert drinks and dancing” party for all of our friends. It worked out great. 🙂

  9. A morning weddings sounds wonderful for the person that is not much into dancing or the big party. And although it would make it early, I think getting married with the sun rising on the horizon as you say your vows would be so symbolic to starting a new life with your soon to be husband as the sun is starting a new day for everyone.

  10. How late is too late to have a wedding? I want a pretty garden wedding, but want twinkle lights to dance under. It will all be outdoors and at the same location.

    • What about right before dusk? Then you get the light, the sunset, and the dark.

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