What time of day should you have your reception?

When people think about wedding receptions, they typically think of an elegant evening affair complete with dinner and dancing. However, the dinner reception may not fit everyone’s needs. A brunch or a lunch reception can be just as fun as a dinner reception. When I was planning my own wedding, my mom told me that I’d better have a late lunch reception starting around 1:30 in the afternoon and that a dinner reception wasn’t going to be a good idea. I was taken aback because I had never been to a lunch reception. I thought that receptions were supposed to be in the evening. In the end, my mom was right. The lunch reception turned out great and everyone enjoyed it. I had to get up at 5:30 in the morning on my wedding day but it was worth it. I only had around 50 guests and dancing wasn’t a huge priority for me or my husband. I also had a lot of guests who had to drive 2 hours to the ceremony. They weren’t planning on spending the night so having a lunch reception gave them the ability to get home at a reasonable hour. You may be wondering what kind of reception you should have. I’m going to outline some pros and cons of each type. Remember that each wedding is unique and you need to choose the option that suits you best.

Lunch/Brunch Reception


  • You can serve breakfast food if you want. Everyone loves breakfast.
  • Sometimes venues charge less if you have your reception earlier in the day.
  • You don’t feel as tired at the end of the day and you have time to do whatever you want.
  • Out-of-town guests could leave the same day if they need to
  • A more casual atmosphere
  • You don’t have to worry about lighting if you are having your reception outside.
  • Your guests can enjoy the scenery more when it’s not dark. It also makes for great photos.


  • You will need to get up early to get ready for your wedding
  • People probably aren’t going to want to dance. If you want a fun dance party, it’s probably not going to happen during the day.
  • You won’t be getting those cool sunset photos because your reception will be over by the time the sun sets.
  • Your guests will need to get up early to get to your ceremony in time.

Dinner Reception


  • It’s party time! Your guests will be ready to party and dance.
  • You can get some awesome sunset photos either right before your reception or during.
  • An evening reception is very elegant and romantic. The dim lights set a great mood.
  • You can sleep in a bit. Most likely you won’t need to get up the crack of dawn.
  • Your guests will have enough time to get to your ceremony.


  • Depending on the time you start, your guests will probably expect a full meal.
  • You and your guests are probably going to be tired by the end.
  • Guests will most likely expect more alcohol than at a lunch reception. This can up your bill depending on what bar option you choose.
  • Sometimes your guests can get more rowdy later in the evening.

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