Early Afternoon Wedding Reception Ideas

Keep costs low and take advantage of the daylight with an afternoon event

By Danita Fausek

Wedding couple with sunset
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With weddings continuing to be one of the most expensive events to hold, an afternoon reception is a way to keep to your budget manageable while still celebrating with your friends and family. This type of reception will shorten the bride's timetable for the morning's activities and yet allow more time for the new couple to spend together that evening.

Cocktails and Appetizers

Many receptions will begin with the reception line and end with the couple leaving the venue. This is also true for an afternoon event. Due to an afternoon wedding's shortened timeline, consider holding an appetizer reception immediately following the wedding ceremony. See if your wedding hall or chapel has a connected room that can be reserved to serve appetizers, cocktails, and champagne.

Tea Time

Nothing says elegance like afternoon tea. Keep to the tradition and theme your afternoon reception with this English tradition. Offer your guests a selection of miniature desserts, scones, watercress sandwiches with the crusts removed and their choice of champagne or, of course, tea. This light repast will take the edge off of your guests' hunger while providing you with a chance to mingle. Include servings of your wedding cake as part of the food offerings, and serve the tea in traditional teacups with saucers.

Afternoon in the Park

Especially easy if you are considering an outdoor wedding, an afternoon in the park picnic can be your wedding reception theme. Provide blankets spread in various areas for your guests to lounge on, and have traditional picnic foods available buffet-style for them to enjoy. Finger sandwiches, fried chicken, slices of cheese and bread as well as bottles of wine or glasses of champagne are just some of the offerings possible, along with slices of your wedding cake adorned with fresh fruit.

Day at the Beach

Afternoon beach weddings are especially popular in the summer, when the sun stays up until late and you can take advantage of the longer days. Beaches offer beautiful backdrops for an outdoor summer event. You can still have a formal event, even though it's outdoors. For a unique aesthetic, encourage your guests to wear all white to a beach wedding. This attire at a beach wedding looks great in pictures. Take a walk on the beach and look for sand dollars and seashells to decorate your tables with.

About the Author

For more than 15 years, Danita Fausek ran her own business doing weddings and event planning.

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Wedding Glossary


A folk dance, usually performed at Jewish weddings, where guests hold hands and dance in a circle together. The wedding couple is sometimes raised by friends and family on chairs.

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