No two weddings are the same. That’s a truth as powerful as any. They all have different styles and cultures, budgets and blooms, gowns and guests, personalities and idiosyncrasies. But there is one thing every single wedding has in common, and that’s a date.
Of course, you already knew this. It’s why you spent the first three and a half weeks of your engagement pouring over the different options, desperate to get settled on the perfect day so that you could start planning your dream wedding. Something special in spring, a winter wonderland or maybe a splash of awesome in autumn. The entire year is your oyster.
However, for all the possibilities you’ve danced with, how much thought have you given to your wedding time of day?
Afternoon affairs, evenings of excitement, mornings to remember, a combination of them all - a wedding can be at any time that takes your fancy. Yes, this is your day, your big day, that one moment that will stand out from a lifetime of memories, and one that will whizz by way too quickly, which is why you’ll want it to make it last as long as you possibly can. But you’ll still need to know when to kick things off and bring them to a crescendo, which is why we’ve pulled together this little guide; to help you time your wedding perfectly.
An Evening Of Elegance
PROS: If you’re looking for the classic choice, then an evening reception is the one - there are no two ways about it. The stage will be set, the atmosphere created and each of your guests will look a million dollars as they dance the night away in evening dresses as sublime suits; one hand clasped to a fine wine, the other raised in the air, swaying back and forth to the music of love. To sum it up: evening receptions have a unique way of filling your guests with confidence and cheer, and that’s what makes a great party.
CONS: First things first, it’s the popular choice and that means it usually comes at a premium. It’s that time of day when elegance comes at a slightly high expense. Secondly, you might find some of your guests slip away a little early, when the night is still young and the reception far from over, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something worth thinking about. And, last but not least, revelling in the euphoria of a late reception can create a dollop of tiredness amongst you newlyweds, which could mean you’re too tired, if you catch our drift.
An Afternoon Affair
PROS: This is the most magical way to enjoy a small and intimate occasion, offering up an amazing solution for those couples tying the knot on a tightish budget. The idea is to kick off your wedding at about half-one or two o’clock and have everything put in your memory box by about six-ish or seven, your love story enjoying the romance of a single location or, at least, a couple of spots very close to one another. The reason this is such a popular choice amongst those needing to pinch a few pennies is simple: there is no need to serve up a full meal of wow-factor dishes and, even if you do decide to put on a lavish late-lunch, your guests will drink a lot less wine than they would at an evening bash where carriages are due in the wee hours of the morning. That’s not the only positive, though. Of all the hours in the day, it’s the afternoon light that tends to be the warmest and most flattering, giving you the perfect backdrop before you step into the back of a car and drive off into the sunset, the sound of cans clattering and crowds cheering as you start your lives together.
CONS: One of the things you might need to address is confusion. Even though you are hosting an afternoon wedding, you might find some of your guests show up half-expecting a meal. It’s no bother; just be sure to pop an order of play into your invitation suite so that everyone knows the form. The other thing you might need to expect is higher vendor prices, the reason being they won’t be able to book another event on the same day. Think of it as food for thought, if you like.
Mornings Made Of Magic
PROS: You might be surprised to hear this, but the uncommon morning wedding is, in fact, the most traditional of them all. Just close your eyes and you can imagine the flurry of wonder now; guests cutting it fine as they run toward the ceremony holding their breathtaking hats down so they don’t fly off their heads, the morning sun making the dewdrops sparkle and glisten, and the bells from some near or far church ringing out across the blue sky. That’s what morning weddings are all about. That is their magic. The real bonus, however, is the price you can party for since this is the cheapest time of day to have a wedding. A lot of vendors offer discounts knowing they can do a morning bash and still make an evening one elsewhere, brunch is a more budget-friendly option than both lunch and dinner, and you’ll have everything wrapped up in a gorgeous bow so soon you’ll be able to enjoy either a relaxing first day as a married couple or a flight to some faraway honeymoon hotspot.
CONS: Early mornings come with a special set of considerations, including your own ability to roll out of bed at the crack of dawn to have your hair and makeup done (and that’s if you can find a stylist willing to book an appointment that early). The other thing you need to think about is your guests, who may not be up for dancing and drinking and partying at that time of day. Some will. That’s for sure. But maybe not everyone.
The Best Of Both Worlds
There is nothing in the wedding rulebook that says you can’t combine two of these to create the big day of your dreams. In truth, these are our pick of the bunch. You might like the traditions of a morning wedding utterly charming and a reception in the warm afternoon sun totally irresistible, in which case you should bring them both together. Or, if you want to keep your ceremony small and intimate - something for just your friends and family, nearest and dearest - before hosting an evening bash where the bigger bulk of your guest list show up, ready to carry you and your elation into the early hours of the next day, then an afternoon-slash-evening combo could be the one. Yes, there will be some things you need to consider, like sending out two sets of invitations, having a food van show up at midnight to feed those that have visited the bar a few too many times, and providing people with a chance to catch their breath halfway through your big day, but there is so much to get excited about when having a combination-celebration - something that enjoys the best of two times and the best of both worlds.