8 Tips That Will Help You Own Your Brunch Wedding

Nighttime isn't always the right time, you know?

bride holding a drink

Bacon, Bloody Marys, and bagels? Natural light, (sometimes) cheaper venue prices, and a more casual vibe? Girl, brunch weddings have so much going for them! But… as you begin planning a morning wedding, it’s worth keeping in mind that daytime weddings often happen on, shall we say, compact timelines. Also? Just because it’s a brunch wedding doesn’t mean it’s going to be inexpensive—which is something that Meg (who had a morning wedding) noted in the APW planner:

Although morning weddings can be cost effective in a variety of ways, the lunch or brunch meal doesn’t always save you the fortune that is sometimes promised. Lunch lets you skip lobster with fewer people noticing, and it will definitely lower your alcohol bill. But the food alone won’t tend to save you enough to justify moving your wedding to earlier in the day.

But having said that, a brunch wedding can be the best! I even had one myself. Of course, they do come with their own learning curve. With that in mind, here are the eight lessons I wish I’d learned before my 5:30am wake-up call and 11am start time.

1. you actually start prepping your brunch wedding the day before it happens

Everything you need to do on the day of an evening wedding needs to happen the day before for a brunch wedding. Be aware of hidden to-do lists and reserve some flex time before the parade of scheduled appointments begins. You know all the things you do to prepare for a houseguest? I did all of the tasks (setting out linens, writing a note with cat care instructions) in about four minutes while also stuffing my wedding dress into a bag and calling a cab, already late for the first of seven appointments I had leading up to the rehearsal dinner. I’d failed to merge my “prepare for houseguest” to-do list into my master to-do list. And because I’d forgotten to roll out the welcome mat, my guest ended up texting me questions about our Wi-Fi password and air conditioner right as I was coordinating a bouquet-making team under a tight deadline.

To avoid stress bombs like that one, get all the essential tasks onto a single list. Don’t forget that your actual life needs to continue while you celebrate. Is someone coming to feed the goldfish? Is your rent check due? Merge ho-hum tasks into your morning wedding to-do list so they don’t crop up right when you’re at your busiest. On the day of a brunch wedding, all you have time for is the wedding itself; get whatever else that needs to be done hammered out the day before.

2. cocktail hour isn’t always an actual hour

When it comes to a brunch wedding, your cocktail hour isn’t always an hour, which may mean less time for photos. If you’re planning on getting photos done during that cocktail (half hour), make sure you’ve worked out a speedy plan with your photographer. My sister’s jovial wedding photographer worked at warp speed, hailing a group of people and allowing them to naturally gather into a pose. He kept us laughing, resulting in formal photos that were both posed and organic at the same time — and painlessly fast. That’s what you want, not a photographer who micro-manages the angle of every shoulder and chin, as your brunch wedding speeds by.

3. you should schedule anything that happens pre-ceremony

The moment when his grandma, spinning around the dance floor in her wheelchair, grabbed my beer so she could pretend she was chugging it for a photo? Spontaneously adorable! But other adorable moments are more predictable — but can still be tricky to fit into a compact schedule. Lesson learned: If a particular moment is important to you, put it on the timeline, even if that seems wooden or forced.

Pausing for a moment of gratitude was essential to me, so I spent time the week before the wedding writing a heartfelt card and selecting a small gift for each of the three moms and three bridesmaids who got ready with me. But I never directly communicated to them or the photographer that we needed a two-minute window for gift distribution and hugs during the flurry of hair and makeup prep that morning. I figured it would organically happen in that natural, sweet way I’d seen in photos of other weddings — not realizing those were probably evening weddings with ample pre-ceremony downtime. I should have squeezed “sit down for two minutes for something special” onto the timeline so all six women would be better prepared to gather and grin in between mascara applications and zipper-related crises.

4. brunch weddings are short, but you’ll probably get to dance

You know it’s a good wedding when you’re on the dance floor and bemoan the arrival of the last song. But “Oh man, I can’t believe it’s already the last song!” is a good feeling, not a bad one. It means you’re probably two songs away from actually collapsing and the wedding is ending right on time, not too soon!

We arranged our timeline to maximize time on the dance floor. We let our friends know that even though the sun was still up, we were hoping they’d bust a move. (They did!) But as we headed into the last forty-five minutes of dancing, I realized I only had about five more minutes (or maybe six if Beyoncé came on) of shaking my groove thing left in me. We could have had a more relaxed pace earlier in the day for the ceremony and toasts and still had plenty of time to boogie.

Like Halloween candy, dancing is often best when you have just a tiny bit less than you think you want. After waking up mega early to prep, you may feel satisfied with less dancing than you’d want on a regular Saturday night. You’ll end the day with blisters from those adorable shoes no matter what, so don’t rush some of those sweet moments early in the day!

5. plan to pack up your brunch wedding easily

We needed to be out at exactly 3 p.m. Not just the guests, but all our stuff. Sturdy, clearly labeled containers were clutch as a dozen pre-assigned friends packed up everything from thrift store vases to framed photos of grandma and grandpa on the memory table. The divided boxes in which wine glasses are sold at Ikea were a great way to contain and compartmentalize delicate items (such as votives) for transit. Save some extra bubble wrap from your Amazon purchases and have a few rolls of tape within reach. Ideally, get all this planned so that you can head out and your friends can pack up.

6. casual after parties are where it’s at (Unless You Wanna Go Get Laid)

When your wedding ends at 3 p.m., it’s a great excuse to day drink. It’s also a great excuse for wedding night day sex. You know, the kind that your friends with evening weddings said they were too tired to have? So pick your poison, or do both, but enjoy the hell out the rest of your wedding day.

Whatever you pick, the sun’s still up, Uber isn’t surging with the late-night bar crowd, and your hair is still lookin’ good thanks to those forty-seven bobby pins.

So whip your timeline into shape, plan for a painless exit, talk through tricky questions with your photographer, and enjoy your morning bliss! I know we did!

did you plan a brunch wedding? how did it go? what would you change, and what would you keep the same?

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