How to choose the right time of day for your wedding

How to choose the date and time of your wedding? Well, certain types of parties are best suited to different times of the day and night. It makes sense when you think about it. Cocktails at noon are a stretch and a garden tea feels odd in the evening. Guest count and your attire should both factor in, too. The first terms to define? Daytime and Evening: Generally, any ceremony that starts before 5 p.m. is considered to be a daytime wedding; anything later is evening.

Here, the typical differences between breakfast at the beach, a hyper-formal bash and everything in between. After all, figuring out the differences is the first step to figuring out which wedding suits you and your groom best.

Informal Daytime

An informal daytime wedding could be a breakfast, brunch or lunch, will have a smaller guest count (say, fewer than 100) and see you and your guests in fairly casual dress. A short veil (or no veil) works, but a train is probably a little out of place. Guys can wear suits or blazers or something appropriate to the location — guayabera shirts and pressed linen pants for a Caribbean fiesta, cowboy boots for a mountain bash. This reception may be shorter than a dinner reception. If you’re not serving a meal, you’ll still want to offer food and drink, but you can go with lighter fare and perhaps only nonalcoholic beverages. Present it in a thoughtful way and guests will be charmed. Don’t worry about a large musical presence, but do have light background music and don’t skip your first dance unless there really and truly isn’t space or time for it. It’s a sweet tradition (and a great photo op) that you’ll remember for years. Try to stick to just one or two attendants each. Sizable bridal parties invoke a level of hoopla better suited to a more formal event.

How to choose the right time of day for your wedding

Informal Evening

Like with an informal daytime wedding, your guest count will be less than 100 people and the event will likely take place in a chapel as opposed to a large cathedral. Home receptions make sense, as do small wedding parties. You’ve got options when it comes to your dress, but whether you go long or short, you’ll want to stay away from a train (any sort of veil can work). The guys can’t go wrong in dark suits and four-in-hand ties. A brief cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres is acceptable as long as you’re not holding the event during a typical mealtime. The decor and music can be more elaborate than an informal daytime event.

Formal Daytime

Formal daytime weddings have larger guest counts (between 100 and 200 people) and should include a meal. You can wear a more formal dress, with a short train if you wish (chapel or sweep are as far as you likely want to go). Guys can wear the arch-traditional stroller waistcoats (grey formalwear worn with grey striped trousers and ties) or opt for dark suits. A bridal party of about two to six feels right. You can get away with a more limited bar: Either serve just wine and beer and a signature cocktail or go with a full bar. In terms of music, most crowds are not going to fully boogie down, so a great jazz band, string ensemble or the like may be a better use of your music money.

Formal Evening

A formal evening wedding will probably have more than 100 guests and both the ceremony and reception will be in locations befitting a long dress with a veil and train and guys in tuxedos. Two to six attendants are usual. This is going to be a dinner reception or very heavy hors d’oeuvres. Book a band that will get the crowd up and moving and don’t go too precious with the decor.

Very Formal Daytime

Didn’t think you could do über-formal before the sun sets? Think again. Invite a crowd of 200 or more revellers, wear a dress similar to what you would choose for a formal evening wedding (though tone down sparkly embellishments), put the guys in cutaway coats, flank yourselves with four to 12 attendants and you’re pretty much set for the ceremony. Your reception will be a hearty lunch and bar. You’ll likely not get the full-on dance party that you would at an evening wedding, but the music can be fairly raucous and the decor more elaborate.

Very Formal Evening

This is as dressy, as princessy and as big as it gets. You’ll want to dress to impress your large guest list (more than 200 people). Big dresses with veils, trains, and as many sparkly embellishments as you’re comfortable with will keep up (but not show up) with the men in the party, who will wear full-dress tailcoats or white waistcoats, and those wing-collared shirts. Your glamorous attendants should number between four and 12. The party? Dinner, full bar, and dancing in a formal space like a banquet hall, ballroom, museum or historical society, or big tents outside filled with elaborately festooned tables and entryways.

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