Brunch, as a concept and an event, was designed to lighten things up. In his article “Brunch: A Plea,” English writer Guy Beringer became famous for officiating the marriage between breakfast and lunch all the way back in 1895. He introduces the weekend celebration:
Brunch is cheerful, sociable, and inciting. […] It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.
By planning a wedding brunch instead of the traditional evening celebration, you’re opening wide the doors for a relaxed, casual, charming, and light-hearted reception. You want the planning to be as stress-free as possible, but you also want the day itself to be easy and spacious. It’s definitely a good idea to sit down early in the planning process to map out the morning wedding timeline, leaving plenty of space for your brunch reception and any other wedding activities.
A Preliminary Checklist for Planning Your Morning Wedding Timeline
In a practical sense, the more organized you can be around your wedding day timeline, the more organized all of your vendors and support systems will be. In a personal sense, why not capitalize on this rare opportunity to have a truly stress-free wedding day, during which you can breathe deeply and enjoy yourself, your partner, and your guests? We’re going to make it as easy as possible for you to sketch out a wedding timeline around your ceremony and brunch reception, taking into account the players and details these activities depend on.
First, prep your intended list of events, checking in with related vendors and estimating how much time each activity will take.
<>How much of the setup will you need to be responsible for on the morning of the wedding (we’re hoping none!), and how much can you count on your wedding coordinator and the venue to do?
<>Will you be doing hair and makeup at the venue or off-site? With that in mind, how much time will the process take, including travel time if off-site?
<>How much time overall do you want to plan for you and the wedding party to get ready before the ceremony or for pre-ceremony photos?
<>Do you plan to have the photographer snapping pictures of you and the wedding party while you’re getting ready?
<>Will you be doing a first look and couple’s photos—or even wedding party and family photos—before the ceremony? If so, how much time does your photographer recommend for that process?
<>How long will your ceremony last? Remember that this is largely up to you, but generally speaking, religious ceremonies will run longer than secular ones will. Communicate with your officiate and be sure you’re on the same page.
<>If your ceremony and reception are at two different venues, how long will it reasonably take for the entire party to move from one place to another?
<>The reception timeline can be more open-ended, but you’ll want to develop a list of the activities you plan to include—for example, cake cutting, dancing, a photo booth, a photo slideshow, toasts, a garter and bouquet toss—and come up with some rough times when these activities will start and end. You don’t want to run out of time, or feel rushed to get through things.
<>Communicate with your caterer and venue to estimate how long the brunch meal will take from start to finish. A roaming cocktail brunch, a buffet, and a plated meal will all require a different amount of time.
<>With your venue, determine whether there is a time they will expect you to start clearing out. Decide when will be last call at the bar and last dance on the floor.
<>How much of the breakdown will you need to be responsible for after the brunch reception, and how much can you count on your support staff?
I know this is a dense list, but it’s better to cover all of these necessary items early so you don’t have to stress unnecessarily later. Plus, you can’t develop a realistic, grounded wedding day timeline until you have these details in the bag.
Timeline Tips for Planning a Brunch Wedding Reception
Now, for the timeline itself: You’ll want to keep in mind the realistic, informed time estimates you’ve given to each of your activities. But you’ll also want to cushion your timeline with brief windows between activities. You probably won’t need all of those 5–10-minute windows, but in one case or another, you may need a longer cushion before moving onto the next thing (like if family photos run long because you’re trying to wrangle all the kids and babies for a quality shot), so the schedule will likely even out.
Keep in mind, too, that holding your events all in one place, like at an all-inclusive wedding venue, will offer up a more spacious timeline in general. If the commutes between activities simply involve moving from one room to another or from outside to inside, you need less time and everyone will be more relaxed with the process. It’s likely, too, that without the travel from venue to venue, you and your guests will require less freshening up and fewer wardrobe adjustments.
Your Brunch Wedding Timeline: From Ceremony to Reception
Let’s take a peek at a sample wedding day timeline. We’ll assume that everyone is settling comfortably into an all-inclusive venue without having to relocate, other than around the private property. We’ll be serving a brunch buffet menu, introducing some creative and meaningful activities at the reception, and enjoying casual dessert and dancing. We’re not worried about the setup or breakdown on the day of because the wedding coordinator and her staff have us completely covered. Most importantly, we want this day to feel spacious and joyful—just like our married life to follow.
6:00 a.m.—Personal time for getting ready
8:00 a.m.—Travel to the venue (with the bridal toolkit in hand)
9:00 a.m.—Get ready with the bridal party in the venue’s dressing room, including professional hair and makeup and candid photographs simultaneously
10:30 a.m.—The couple’s first look and photoshoot in a private area of the venue
10:30 a.m.—Guests start arriving and are ushered to the redwood forest ceremony site
11:00 a.m.—The ceremony begins
11:40 a.m.—The ceremony ends
11:50 a.m.—Guests migrate to the courtyard for mimosas, coffee, fresh fruit smoothies, and mini quiche and pancake-stack hors d’oeuvres—while the family and wedding party stay behind at the ceremony site for photos
1:00 p.m.—The couple gives a welcome champagne toast in the courtyard before everyone moves to the terrace to find their seats
1:15 p.m.—The brunch buffet opens, and tables are invited to join the line one at a time
1:45 p.m.—The wedding party gives toasts after the last guests sit down with their food
2:30 p.m.—The couple shares their first dance while the guests all blow bubbles around them (following the inconspicuous instructions whispered by the wedding coordinator to each table)
3:15 p.m.—As an alternative to cake cutting, the couple performs a tree planting ceremony in a dirt-filled pot
3:30 p.m.—Garden-themed desserts are available for guests
3:45 p.m.—A flower-planting activity takes place for the kids
4:15 p.m.—The last dance
4:20 p.m.—The couple’s final “Thank You”
4:30 p.m.—Guests begin to leave
As you start to map out your ideal timeline, imagine yourself present in the day and be realistic about how much time you’ll really want in and around activities in order for everything to flow smoothly and feel relaxed. Know that the day will follow these guidelines but probably won’t happen exactly according to the schedule. And that’s okay! Your trusted coordinator will have the day-of timeline in hand, ensuring that every activity has its necessary space and time, encouraging the party to move forward whether early or late. Because you’ve done your part ahead of time to anticipate the morning wedding flow, you’ll be smiling and dancing and surrounded by love and sunshine, just as planned.
At Kennolyn, we take wedding planning to heart, so you really can have the ideal, stress-free wedding you deserve. Give us a call to learn more about our all-inclusive brunch and other wedding packages.
Lead Image Source: Unsplash user Andrew Itaga