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!

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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.

  11. My wedding was at 10:30am at the courthouse. It was me and my husband, my sister, my dad and his dad. Afterwards we came back to our apartment for mimosas and coffeecake. After the dads left my sister and I went to get prints of the pictures she took of the day. It was a lovely day and I wish I could relive it over and over again.

  12. If you’re a morning person I say go for it! I personally hate mornings with a passion. There’s absolutely no way I would wake up in time for an 8:30am wedding, even if it was my own wedding haha.

  13. We agreed right away that we both wanted a morning wedding for a number of reasons: the light is great, we’re not late-night people, and brunch (with mimosas, of course) is our favorite meal!

    A note on dancing: Lots of people in this thread have talked about how morning weddings can be good for those who don’t like dancing, but I’ve got to say we were both really excited to have a barn-dance reception after the ceremony. We had a live band and everyone got into the contra dancing!

    On timing: If it’s in the morning, someone’s going to be late (someone’s probably going to be late regardless, actually). I think ours was at 10:00 (6 years ago now, can’t remember!), although that was later than we wanted. People convinced us that 9:00 was too early since most people would have to drive about an hour to get there. It was a fine compromise, but guests were still late (we didn’t wait for them).

  14. We were married at 11am, followed by an hour of photos / cocktail hour for guests, and a lunch reception. In the afternoon, we also had a live band. Everything was wrapped up at about 5pm. Not your typical wedding, but it worked really well for us. I’m a morning person and would have been drooped-over with exhaustion had we done the standard evening event. It also helped us with the budget. Our wedding wasn’t dry, but we only served wine & champagne punch to our guests – no need for an open bar with lunch.

    • That’s pretty much our wedding day plan exactly – do you remember what your day-of timeline was? Trying to figure out how much time to allow for everything…

      • Libby,

        Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. My husband and I just moved cross country (TN to WA) and we just got our internet set up at our new place. Here is a rough outline of our wedding day. I did hire a day of coordinator that I found at a Lovesick Wedding Show which worked out really well for us. We didn’t have any dancing or tossing of garters or flowers.

        5am – 9:30am Get Ready
        9:30 – First Look Photos
        10:00 – Ceremony
        10:30 – 11:30 Family & Wedding party photos / Guest started “cocktail” hour – smoothies & waffle appetizers
        11:30 – Brunch reception begins
        12:30 – Toasts
        1:00 – Cake Cutting
        2:00 – Bride and Groom photos

        That was really about it. Our venue was the Denver Botanic Gardens and there was a Chihuly Glass exhibit going on and so a lot of our guests floated in and out of the reception to go look at the sculptures and enjoy the Garden. We were scheduled to have the reception go until 3pm but we had pretty much wrapped up the party by 2:00pm

        Hope that helps!

  15. I’ve never been to a morning wedding myself. Sounds interesting but maybe that’s because I’m a morning person.

    I think I’d be too worried that nobody will show up though lol

  16. I have been to an 11am wedding with luch and a whole afternoon of events. it was great but the full day event can be very tireing.

  17. My partner and I just attended a wedding at 7:30 AM at the GA Aquarium. There were 50 people in attendance. So if your friends and family love you, I’d say there isn’t such a thing as “too early”.

    As guests, we sort of blinked at the 7:00 AM arrival time (my partner was the best man), but that was the only time they could have the wedding in the aquarium when it wasn’t open to the public and didn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars.

  18. These ideas are awesome and once again “to each his own” but all I can see for myself is hitting the snooze button and missing my own ceremony!

  19. I’m getting married in 2 months 🙂 and we’re having a 10am wedding. I’m beginning to get nervous that half of the people we’re inviting won’t show up because they have to get up so early on a saturday morning just to make it on time. I kind of wish we have set it an hour back (11am) but its too late to change things because every vendor has their deposits… Although I wish we had set the time back, I’m still happy with the decision we made to have a morning wedding because we’re not the party type, I was going for a more casual vibe so we replaced the dancing with a caricature artist, photo booth and candy table; we will however have a band who’s amazing. I’m excited for our special day but worried about low attendance. We’re sending the invitations out soon so I’m praying for a mailbox full of rsvps

  20. I’m really playing with the idea of a dawn outdoors – I love the symbolism of the rising sun. Plus (and not to mean this meanly), it would definitely filter out the guest list. I would probably also offer a later option to party with friends.

  21. Wow. This looks old, but I’m going to add in my 2 cents anyway. For ME too early would be anything before 10:30 am. I honestly wouldn’t go if it was earlier than that. I hate mornings. HATE them. My body revolts and I get physically sick if I have to wake up early. So wouldn’t matter to me who was getting married. I wouldn’t be there.

    Also, and maybe this is my lack of knowledge since I’ve never been to a wedding (except my first marriage) but it just doesn’t sound like a lot of fun without dancing, or at least some sort of fun activity. I remember my first wedding there was no dancing, no alcohol, and nearly everyone told me after that it was boring. So I’m basing my thoughts from that.

  22. That day is your and your to be husband’s day alone. Plan it for you. Your guests are coming to celebrate you, remember that. We had an early afternoon wedding but it was short sweet and to the point! Vows under my favorite tree on my dad’s farm, desert bar and lemonade. Music playing in the back ground. Enjoy your day! Good luck!

  23. I can say that I have performed a dawn wedding. It was a lovely same sex couple who wanted something small and unique. Sunrise that day was 5:24 am. And it was overcast. Ah, Washington state weather. I have also performed a midnight wedding. They wanted to kiss at 12:01 am New Years Day. Have the wedding when you want it. Where you want it. And how you want it. 🙂

  24. We had a luncheon with the ceremony starting at 10 am and appetizers at 11 am. It was nice to get the craziness over early and just enjoy the day. Gave me the excuse to have a mid afternoon nap with the new husband and then go out with a smaller group of family and friends at night to have a second smaller celebration.

    • We did a 10:30 am wedding with an 11:30 luncheon with champagne and a huge luncheon buffet, a jazz pianist rounded out the morning events. Honestly it, it wasn’t the least bit boring and folks still fondly tell me it was one of the nicest weddings they have been to, 13 years later. It helped us merge my Southern Baptist and his Lutheran family. Loads of out of town guests arrived the night before and it still wasn’t too early for those 1:45 minutes away to make it either. We had over 200 guests! Between the eating, the toasting, the speeches and the little kids running around plus the view of the golf course from the wall of windows it was just magical. I love morning weddings and looking back, wished we’d had ours earlier. I love chicken Oscar, but Eggs Benedict are a close runner up.

      The guests all congregated for dinner post-wedding at a favorite barbecue joint and we’re sorry we missed it due to the start of our honeymoon. Handmade vellum bags of lemon-drops were the favor and the white, green and yellows flowers and color scheme worked perfectly with the venue and the early September setting.

  25. Our ceremony starts at 10am on a Sunday morning with brunch at 11am and we have the venue til 3pm. We choose brunch because breakfast is the meal me go out for the most! No dancing, our venue is a botanic garden that our guests get to wander and we bought a ton of board games for centerpieces!

    40 days to go!

  26. We did a sunrise wedding, at 7.15. We did get a few comments, but everyone showed up! The light was absolutely gorgeous and the wedding breakfast was an excellent reception option. We were basically done by lunchtime and had a lovely relaxing afternoon hanging out with people. Drawback was definitely the 4.30am hairdresser appointment 😉 But we had such lovely feedback about the day, so I’d recommend it!

  27. This guy is featured groom at a morning wedding- we have hiking in the state park and a haunted house planned for the evening! 16 days!

  28. Our invites listed 9am although our ceremony didn’t start til 9:30, but honestly, that didn’t even feel early. We did want to avoid morning traffic as we got married on a weekday and knew some people would be following a trafficky route. But in terms of absolute timing, I don’t think any of our guests felt it was too early.

    And yes, a lot of those advantages did apply. We had a sit-down lunch but it was still loads cheaper than a dinner. We didn’t serve alcohol and a total of two guests were less than thrilled about that (and one is an ornery and borderline-alcoholic aunt who would find anything to get annoyed by). We didn’t have dancing, either. Plus we had a nice long break to come home, take a nap, and refresh ourselves before the evening’s karaoke after party. All-in-all, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about scheduling.

  29. In most articles I’ve read about brunch weddings, it’s been mentioned it’s a good option for people who dont want dancing. I really want my wedding to still go in the ‘traditional’ format but I am having it in the morning to cut costs and because we love brunch! Even guests seem to think there wont be dancing… Im getting worried maybe I can’t expect dancing at 10am? Thoughts?

  30. Im not a party person but I cant imagine my wedding without dancing, hair professionally done, and my makeup done. I guess cause im in the health field i have to go without it but i miss it. On my wedding day not having it seems strange. Only my opinion, everyone has there own taste. Ive never danced with my fiance, so I cant wait for our first dance! The six flags idea is great!

  31. Our wedding HAD to take place in the morning, there was no way around it (it’s a cultural thing). We started around 6 am, and the mid-point was around 8:30. The guests who were dedicated enough to be there for the beginning and end got breakfast and lunch from us :p

    It wouldn’t have been *that* bad, but the wedding reception was held the night before so we were running on like, no sleep. Still, it could have been worse. One of our wedding date options required a mid-point to happen at 4 am. I was NOT a fan of that idea.

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