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Pros and cons of an afternoon vs. evening wedding

blabla89blabla89 Atlanta member
Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
For the last couple weeks I've been waffling back and forth on whether I want an early evening ceremony with a dinner and dancing reception, or a mid-afternoon ceremony with a shorter, cocktail style reception. My FI is indifferent, so I'm hoping you ladies can give me some perspective to help decide which way to go. Which type of reception do you prefer? What factors do I need to consider? What are the pros and cons?

We'll have about 70 guests, mostly older family members, a few kids, and a few people our age (20's) and as much as I'd love to dance all night, I don't know how many guests would into that. Either way we'd still get a DJ to MC and play a little bit of dance music, but we'd probably cut that part short if we did a cocktail reception. We're planning an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception, and our venue has lots of windows that look beautiful in the afternoon light. Overall, I feel like our wedding is going to be low-key, which is what made me start thinking about considering switching from an evening to afternoon reception. We would also save some money on the venue fee, DJ, and rentals by doing it in the afternoon. We already signed the catering contract with a minimum guarantee based on a dinner menu, but that could be converted into a nice spread of hors d'oeurves for the same price.
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Re: Pros and cons of an afternoon vs. evening wedding

  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    It all just really depends on the vibe you want. We did a daytime event primarily because we don't dance and didn't want people trying to pressure us TO dance. So we lowered the expectation of dancing by going with a daytime event.
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
  • InkdancerInkdancer The Shire member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    Honestly, I am really excited about a daytime event. I look forward to spending the evening with my new husband, just the two of us. I don't want to be so exhausted at the end of the day that we can't even take the time to enjoy each other's company.
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  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I've been to both daytime and evening weddings.  All had full meals, open bar and dancing.  I can't say I had more or less fun based on the time of day.

    I personally wanted a sunset beach wedding so that set our time.  My sister had a 10:30am wedding that is still one of my top 3 weddings of all time.  

    Pick the time that work for you.

    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    For your situation, I would do the afternoon event, and leave the possibility of an after party open.  With quite a few older guests, it's nice to get the opportunity to mingle and chat with them that you wouldn't get at a loud dance party. You can always party with your friends later.  The part you remember is seeing people that you don't get to see often.  

    Plus, I'm cheap.  In the long run, putting the extra money toward a house or whatever goes a lot further.
  • Many of the younger guests were pleased with daughter's brunch wedding, which ended at 3:30PM.  They were free to make their own plans for Saturday night.  Older guests were happy that they could attend, and then drive home, well fed, and not have to spend the night or drive in the dark.

    Evening weddings?  Well, the men in your wedding party can properly wear tuxedos.
  • alpacalunchalpacalunch Toronto member
    500 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    I am so glad you asked this, OP.

    My partner wants an evening reception, but my father is really only 'good' until about 5pm (health stuff). We've been thinking of a 3pm ceremony, so hearing all this is very helpful.
  • lc07lc07 Sunny Southern California member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Take into account what time you'll have to be up to get ready if that matters to you. I'm not a morning person. Our ceremony was at 4, we started pictures at 1, hair and makeup came at 9:30 or 10 - I can't remember. That was plenty early enough for me.
  • ElcaBElcaB member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    It sounds like an afternoon wedding would better suit the vibe you're going for. But, in the end, do whatever makes you happiest. 
  • Sounds like an afternoon wedding will be perfect for you. They're so low-key and lovely.

    For us, we really wanted a fun party-type atmosphere, modeled after the summer evening parties my family threw when I was a kid. So we knew it'd be an evening wedding.

    There's really no right or wrong option. It's all about the vibe you're going for.
  • sarawifenowsarawifenow Denver, baby! member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    blabla89 said:
    @Inkdancer, that's part of what I was considering too. FI and I talked about leaving after an afternoon reception and going directly to a romantic dinner at our favorite restaurant, for just the two of us.
    This is exactly what we are doing!
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  • jenna8984jenna8984 clam bakes & patriots member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    My FI and I are not night people. On work nights (and even most weekends) we're in bed at 9pm. When we go to other people's evening weddings we are falling alseep in our food plate. So we decided to do a 2:30 ceremony and the reception from 3-8. There will still be a full dinner served and DJ, as well as a fire pit to just sit and relax at. I don't even care that the sun will still be up for the fire pit lol. We are so excited to go home early enough to have a few hours hanging out and not immediately go to sleep.



  • Like PP's have said, I think it really does depend on the vibe you want. I wanted an evening wedding because I am a night owl and didn't want a super early wedding. I think mid day or evening was what I had in mind when planning and the timing was worked out by the venue and I didn't mind it at all.

    If you have an earlier afternoon wedding, it might differ in what you serve, like a heavy meal or apps, etc. If it's a morning ceremony you might opt out of a bunch of alcohol and instead maybe mimosas, juices and things like that. But it all depends on the look or set up you had in mind. 
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  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Our ceremony is starting at 12 with the reception right after. We purposely chose our venue because of how gorgeous the grounds are, so I'm glad we'll get to enjoy that during the daytime. 

    Also, since our reception will be done by 6, it will give us time to do whatever we want - go out into town for drinks, catch up more with out of town guests and we'll still be able to get back to the hotel at a reasonable time. I'm old and I like my sleep! 

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