When planning your wedding, you may feel that you need to go the route most-often traveled when it comes to the day and time – Saturday, early afternoon, followed by a nighttime cocktail hour and reception that goes into the wee hours of the night. This is what we most often see planning tips for, and most venues automatically assume that this is when you want to book and hold your event.
However, perhaps you want a smaller, intimate daytime affair. Or maybe you only want to have a cocktail hour reception with appetizers and drinks, instead of a full-blown night of dinner and dancing – that’s even better!
Holding your wedding on an offbeat day or time provides you the freedom to get creative and give your guests a special, personalized experience. This also is a great way to keep the budget in-check – a wedding held on a Friday or Sunday is significantly less expensive than its Saturday night counterpart. Don’t worry about guests having to leave work early or take a day off if you choose to have your wedding on either of these days – those that mean the most to you will do it in a heartbeat.
The following ideas and alternate wedding day timelines will not only help you get started on planning these types of nuptials, but they may even inspire you to think twice about when you plan to host your wedding!
FOR MORNING AND EARLY-AFTERNOON WEDDINGS …
Opt for Breakfast-Inspired Appetizers and a Brunch Buffet A morning or early-afternoon brunch wedding tends to be more relaxed and casual, so a formal sit-down meal may seem out of place. Breakfast-inspired appetizers – think fresh fruit, sausage links and toast with jam and butter – will hold guests over before and after the ceremony before bringing out a full buffet, complete with all the brunch favorites.
Offer a Bloody Mary or Mimosa Bar If you want to keep alcohol to a minimum on your wedding day but still want to offer something to guests, Bloody Mary's or mimosas are the way to go. You can set up a DIY bar that provides all the ingredients for each drink, and guests can create their own to their taste.
Have an Afternoon Tea Theme Thanks to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Downton Abbey, English-inspired weddings and tea parties are back in style in a big way. Require your female guests to wear a fun hat, and put out vintage teacups and saucers (thrift stores are great for finding those gems!) to keep it authentic.
Set Up Lawn Games for Guests If you’re choosing not to have a DJ or traditional wedding entertainment, your guests will still be looking for something to do between events. Lawn games such as horseshoes, bags and croquet are crowd pleasers and don’t require much set up.
Set Up a Craft Table for Guests to Create a Take-Home Favor Favors can be a costly detail of weddings, and guests often times forget to take them or they end up in the donation bin once they get home. So, why not let them make their own favor? If you’re going with an afternoon tea theme, consider purchasing white teacups and putting out watercolor paints or markers for guests to decorate their own. Going the vintage route? Have guests make their own brooch. Participating in creating a craft at a wedding will be both a memorable and personalized experience for your guests.
FOR EVENING WEDDINGS …
Host a Cocktail Hour Before the Ceremony If you’re wanting to walk down the aisle in the early evening light or nighttime darkness, consider holding a cocktail hour prior to the ceremony. This will give you the opportunity to greet your guests and mingle, which ultimately may put you and your nerves at ease before the big moment.
Have Your Bridesmaids Carry Lanterns Down the Aisle Candles and lanterns can create a romantic ambience to nighttime weddings. Instead of flowers, have your bridesmaids carry lanterns down the aisle – and have your groomsmen hold lanterns up at the alter – so then you and your soon-to-be spouse are surrounded my candlelight as you exchange your vows.
Sit at a Candlelit Sweetheart Table If you’re hosting the wedding outdoors, sit at a separate sweetheart table lit up by only candles in the middle of the table. You can achieve the same effect at an indoor venue; just ask the building’s manager or whoever is in charge to keep the lights dimmed.
Pass Out Late-Night Snacks and Treats Whether you’re having a formal sit-down dinner or casual appetizers, your guests (and you!) will appreciate a round of late-night food. This is a great way for you and your spouse to inject a bit of personality – pass out your favorite types of snacks, whether it be trail mix or slices of pizza, and you even can include your must-have sweet treats, such as Oreos or mini root beer floats.
Send Paper Lanterns Into the Sky for Good Luck Regardless if your ceremony or reception is inside or out, sending paper lanterns into the sky at night will create a beautiful, unforgettable scene. Have guests write a message of good luck or best wishes on their lantern before sending it on its way.
When it comes to planning your wedding, hosting the event in the daytime or early evening can only open up the possibilities and creativity – and often times, the budget! – for a memorable and unique affair. Talk to your wedding venue about the available options, and ultimately, decide what is best for you and your fiancé.