If you’re in the process of selecting your wedding venue, you might have noticed a pretty big price difference between afternoon and evening receptions. In general, venues will charge less for afternoon weddings: Either the price per head is lower, or there’s no minimum guest count. Either way, you’re likely to save some money by starting your reception at 1 or 2 p.m. instead of 6 or 7.

However, many couples like the “vibe” of an evening event with cocktails and club lighting on the dance floor. After all, the whole point of a wedding reception is for your guests to have fun celebrating with you — and will anyone really have fun if they’re heading home before the sun goes down?

You might be surprised to learn that more and more couples are opting for daytime receptions. Many of our couples who have held their wedding during the day find that guests are just as eager to have a good time at 3 in the afternoon as they are at 10 p.m. However, depending on your vision for your wedding day, an afternoon affair may not be the right choice for you.

If you’re on the fence about when to have your reception, here are a few pros and cons to consider about afternoon weddings.

Advantages of afternoon weddings

1. You can save money.

Afternoon weddings are generally less expensive because people expect less food and drink during the day. Lunch portions are often lighter and smaller than dinner portions, and guests may consume less alcohol than they would at an evening reception. This is a big plus if you’re on a budget — many venues allow event hosts to have a running bar tab for their guests, rather than pay for a full open bar.

2. You and your guests will have more free time after the wedding.

When a wedding ends at 11 p.m. or midnight, some of your guests might head out early if they have a long drive home or hired a babysitter for the night. If the reception wraps up earlier in the evening, they may not feel as rushed, leaving you plenty of time to mingle and chat, or have drinks and dinner with your closest friends and family members afterwards. You and your fiancé will also have time to relax, unwind, and process everything from your wedding day, instead of crashing in your hotel room right away.

3. You have more food options.

Most venues offer the same types of entrees for a dinner reception, but a daytime wedding opens up your menu options to include breakfast and lunch dishes. This might appeal to you if you and your friends love brunch — hello mimosa and Bloody Mary bar! 

4. You’ll have more daylight for gorgeous wedding photos.

Most photographers agree that the best time of day to take outdoor photos is early in the morning or a couple of hours before sunset. An afternoon wedding allows you to take advantage of these ideal natural lighting periods without having big gaps between wedding events (or missing your cocktail hour). You’ll have plenty of time before and after your daytime reception to capture these gorgeous “golden hour” wedding photos.

Disadvantages of afternoon weddings

1. Your day will start early.

Your wedding day is going to be a marathon no matter when your reception starts. Brides having a traditional evening reception often start getting ready with their bridal party in the late morning. If your ceremony and reception are starting earlier in the day, your hair and makeup time will likely be closer to 6 or 7 a.m., which is not ideal if you and your wedding party are night owls.

2. Your wedding may feel more casual.

Some couples are okay with a laid-back, casual feel to their wedding reception, but if you want an elegant formal affair, an evening wedding is probably better for you.

3. Some guests might not feel like drinking and dancing.

As mentioned above, guests at afternoon weddings typically won’t drink as much as they would at evening weddings. While this is a pro if you’re looking to save money on the bar tab, it could be a potential negative if you want everyone to let loose and get on the dance floor.

4. Your wedding won’t be an all-night party.

Even if you have an after party for your afternoon wedding, it will likely end around the time a regular evening wedding reception would. If you envisioned guests hanging out and partying into the wee hours of the morning, the timing of an afternoon wedding probably won’t be ideal for you.

When should we have our wedding reception?

The question of afternoon versus evening wedding depends entirely on what you want for your wedding day. No matter when you decide to have your reception, know that your friends and family will have a great time because they’re there to celebrate you. Chances are they’ll be overjoyed to be part of this important milestone in your life, regardless of what time of day it is.

Hurricane Productions offers a full suite of all-inclusive media and entertainment services for your wedding day. Check out our pricing page or request a quote for more details.

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