Pros and Cons of an Afternoon Wedding

I think it’s a natural tendency of most couples to think of an evening wedding and reception as the only option. While almost all of our Hitched Events clients have chosen to have evening affairs, one of our couples last month had an afternoon wedding, and I thought it was a fantastic change of pace. It totally and completely changed my thinking about afternoon weddings!

There are some very valid reasons for choosing to have an afternoon affair, but just like everything else, there are a few downsides as well. If you are considering an afternoon reception or you’re simply open to the possibility, check out my pros and cons of an afternoon wedding.

Pros of an Afternoon Wedding:

  • If you are trying to stick to a modest or even average wedding budget — if you’re not sure where your budget fits in, see my former post about the average wedding budget in the Dallas-Fort Worth area — an afternoon wedding can save you substantial dough in terms of food and beverage. A reception that’s between lunch and dinner doesn’t require a full, heavy meal. Our recent afternoon wedding has a 1:30 p.m. ceremony with the reception from 2-6 p.m., so naturally guests didn’t expect to be fed lunch (since they had likely had something before the ceremony), and since the whole affair ended before traditional dinnertime, they didn’t expect to be fed dinner either. Heavy hors d’oeuvres or a few light food stations were plenty! And since people usually are lighter drinkers earlier in the day, your bar tab will certainly be less than it would be for an evening affair.
  • An afternoon wedding allows the bride and groom to have a private, quiet evening after the festivities, a formal dinner with a small group of family and close friends, or an all-out after-party. With an early end to the formal events, the evening is wide open for both the couple and guests.
  • For guests coming from a close, but not too close distance, an afternoon wedding allows those guests to get back to their hometown before it gets too late and without having to stay in a hotel overnight. With so many major Texas cities within a driveable distance from Dallas-Fort Worth (Austin, Waco, Houston, San Antonio), if your guest list includes a lot of these folks, an afternoon wedding might be quite convenient for them.

Cons of an Afternoon Wedding:

  • If you want your reception to be an all-out, dance ’til dawn type of party, an afternoon wedding probably won’t fit the bill. You can absolutely have a band or DJ and dancing, but the number of guests who cut a rug might be a bit reduced. While I’m one who has no problem getting up on the dance floor at any time of day, there will likely be a handful of guests who will hold off dancing when it’s daylight outside or they haven’t had enough “liquid courage.”
  • If you’re not much of a morning person, an afternoon wedding might not be for you. With hair and makeup appointments several hours before the ceremony, chances are high that an afternoon reception will have those appointments starting pretty early.
  • There are some expenses that likely won’t be reduced by moving your reception up earlier in the day. A band or DJ will have to book the entire day for you, as they likely can’t fit in another event that day after yours (with load-in/load-out, etc.). This may also be the case with your venue, photographer, florist and wedding planner. If you are expecting price breaks on every aspect of your event because of the afternoon time, that’s extremely unlikely.

So, what do you think? Would you consider an afternoon wedding or reception? Why or why not?

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