After you set your budget and nail down your wedding style, then it's time to figure out what type of reception is right for you. While evening receptions are the most common choice amongst to-be-weds, if you're not a night owl or you have a tight budget, that kind of reception might not work for you. But fear not, Loverlies, there are plenty of other ways to party. Here are seven styles to consider...
1. Early bird special: Breakfast or brunch weddings are a great idea for early risers, pancake enthusiasts, and couples on a tight budget. Offer up a custom omelet station, a waffle bar with toppings galore, a pour-over coffee bar, a build-your-own Bloody Mary station, and free-flowing mimosas. Plus, Sundays were made for brunching (even at a wedding), which means you'll probably be able to score a good deal on the venue of your dreams.
2. Let them eat lunch: If saying your vows with the sunrise isn't your cup of tea, but you still like the idea of a daytime reception, consider a mid-day marriage. Set your nuptials for noon and then serve lunch shortly thereafter. It's a great excuse to have picnic in your favorite local park complete with champagne cocktails and lobster rolls or microbrews and barbecue.
3. Time for tea: A high-tea reception is perfect for couples looking to celebrate their big day in a low-key but elegant way. Plan to say "I do" in the late afternoon and then greet your guests with a variety of aromatic teas, freshly baked scones, and tasty finger sandwiches. Add a surprising twist to your tea party by spiking the tea with vodka! Bring in a string quartet for some classy entertainment.
4. It's 5 o'clock somewhere: Cocktail receptions are a fun way to keep things festive without the formality of a traditional reception. Instead of a sit-down dinner, set up food stations around the venue or have butler-style service. Consider a unique venue, like a museum or botanical garden, so your guests can take in the scene while enjoying some small bites and delicious drinks. But keep in mind that cocktail receptions tend to be shorter than traditional ones, so you'll want to make your way around the reception more quickly to ensure you talk to every guest!
5. Gather 'round the table: A full meal may be the most traditional reception option out there, but there's still some room for personalization. Go for family-style if you're looking for a cost-effective way to feed your guests, a sit-down meal for a more formal affair, or opt for the buffet if you want to keep things casual. No matter which style you choose, keep the bar open and the dance floor rocking for a party that lasts all night long.
6. BYO: The potluck part may be the most unconventional reception style we've seen, but it will definitely make your wedding stand out from all the rest. When you send out your invitations, include a note asking guests to contribute a dish to a communal celebratory meal. This reception style is perfect for families with storied culinary traditions or those craving a relaxed but festive atmosphere. Ask your guests to bring the recipe to the wedding...and make a cookbook guestbook!
7. Always eat dessert: A cake and punch reception — aka a Champagne and Cakes reception or a Drinks and Desserts reception — is all about the sweets. These types of parties tend to take place later in the evening after guests have had a chance to eat dinner on their own, and can be a bit more budget-friendly. Serve up a signature cocktail or your favorite bubbly alongside a slew of delicious treats...and don't just stop at cake; bring on the brownies, the cookies, the pies, and all of the baked goods you can imagine. Make time for plenty of speeches and dancing till dawn.
A version of this post was originally published on Lover.ly on January 29, 2014. It was written by Stephanie Hallett and contributed to by Claire Aven.