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Timings: Wedding Breakfasts v. Buffets
Date: October 17, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Catering & Planning & Reception

This is my third and final part to the question on comparing wedding breakfasts to buffets.

Firstly I compared both in the context of budget, you can read this earlier post here. Secondly I compared both from the view point of catering, what exactly will you and your guests be eating during the day. You can read my comments on this by clicking here.

This third post on the subject focuses on the actual timings of wedding breakfasts and buffets:

♥ You need to consider the time of the day of your reception. General meal times for weddings are:

o Wedding Breakfast or Buffet served sometime between 12.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.

o Canapés/ hors d’ouvres/finger foods served sometime between 8.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m.

o Dessert and coffees served sometime between 9.00 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.

♥ When considering what time to commence your reception you should bear in mind that some wedding guests, and attendants for that matter, really appreciate an early start to the wedding day as opposed to having to wait around for the celebration to commence.

♥ However, if you have a large amount of guests who have decided not to arrive in town the night before your wedding then a later start to the wedding ceremony and reception will allow them more travel time.

♥ The advantage of choosing a wedding breakfast followed by an evening reception it that it allows your guests a chance for a break in between the festivities.

o Although the wedding reception can seem to go quickly for the bride and groom, the overall day can be a long one for your guests, particularly those who have traveled a considerable distance to attend your wedding.

o Typically a wedding reception should rarely last longer than 4 hours at a time. Guests usually need a breather after this from all of the celebrating to recharge their batteries. A couple of hours break after the wedding breakfast also gives the catering staff time to clear away and prepare the venue room for the evening reception (allowing the DJ to set up, setting up the evening buffet, re-arranging tables and chairs, re-stocking the bar in the venue room, setting up the dance floor if necessary). A couple of hours break between the wedding breakfast and the evening reception can be beneficial to you and your fiancé too. You could arrange to take some formal photographs, freshen up, mingle with your guests or just chill out and enjoy some downtime before the evening reception.

o It might be an idea to provide a hospitality suite at the reception venue so that your guests can enjoy a drink, freshen up and wait for the evening reception to begin. If your budget allows for it an idea is to provide a tea reception for your guests in the interim period, serving them pastries, cakes, tea and coffee.

o If you do have a break between the wedding breakfast and the evening reception this allows you the option of inviting some guests solely to the evening reception if budget constraints are tight and you can’t afford for them to come to the sit-down wedding breakfast.

o You should consider also that guests will be more prone to dance and party at an evening reception if they have had a chance to re-energize after the wedding breakfast.

♥ Alternatively you might choose to have a buffet reception which continues straight into an evening reception without a break in between.

o An advantage of this is that it gives continuity without breaking up the party atmosphere. Continuity in a wedding reception is a major factor. If you have a large number of out-of-town guests who are not staying the night locally perhaps you would prefer to go for this option to save them having to spend a lot of time waiting for the evening celebration to begin.

o If you choose to have your buffet meal continue straight into the evening reception you will save money with setting up costs for venue staff to move furniture around before dancing can commence.

♥ The common format of a traditional wedding reception after the meal is the toasts, the cake cutting, the first dance, bouquet and garter toss, dancing and then the bride and groom leave in a car decorated by their friends and family for their honeymoon. If you decide to choose a wedding breakfast with a break and then an evening reception then it is usual for you and your new husband to cut the cake at the evening reception rather than during the wedding breakfast. However with a buffet continuing straight into an evening reception it would be more common for you to cut the cake after the toasts and before the first dance.

♥ Whichever option you choose, ensure that you have chosen music as this is a prime tool for setting the mood for your reception. Provide music in different styles and varying moods to complement your reception. You could have background music whilst eating and then more upbeat music such as a DJ or band for the evening dancing. Whether you have an evening reception following a wedding breakfast or a buffet a major part of the reception celebration is the dancing. If your guests are dancing then they are having a good time.

Whether you choose an evening reception after a wedding breakfast or choose to have a buffet which continues into an evening reception remember not to lose sight of the reason for your celebration. Your guests will enjoy all of the food you serve, but they are there first and foremost, to celebrate your wedding.

Good luck and enjoy yourself

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As you plan your wedding you will receive advice from just about everyone. Friends and family have a million and one tips to pass on, in fact here at Wedaholic I have been offering tips galore.