Photo: Bryan Miller
Wedding planning requires you to make lots of important decisions. The wedding dress, the bridesmaid dresses, the venue, the band, the flowers …
Food is another important element. Serving something delicious will help make your wedding day a memorable one.
The hard part is deciding whether you should throw a formal sit-down dinner in the evening, an afternoon cocktail party, or a wedding breakfast.
Not sure what a wedding breakfast is?
Here’s a full breakdown on what it means and when to have one, plus five ideas for how to make it unforgettable.
What Is a Wedding Breakfast?
Photo: Amanda W. Photo
The wedding breakfast is a British wedding tradition that has found its way into the hearts (and stomachs) of many Americans. Here, the wedding breakfast is more commonly referred to as a “wedding luncheon.”
Not everyone gets married on a Saturday night, so the idea of having a breakfast is perfect if you’re having your wedding ceremony in the morning or early afternoon.
Think Royal weddings with massive processions through the streets of London, which usually start around noon to give the new couple plenty of time to partake in all sorts of other festivities!
The wedding breakfast isn’t an actual breakfast in terms of the food served. While you certainly can serve pancakes and bacon (which we’ll discuss below), you don’t have to. The term simply refers to the first meal you serve your guests after you say your nuptials.
Historically, it served a religious purpose, as couples and their guests would fast before a wedding church ceremony and break the fast after the ceremony’s end.
In the U.K., a couple getting married early in the day might have a wedding breakfast as well as an evening reception
In the U.S., if your big event is a Friday or Saturday night dinner reception, you might want to continue the party by throwing a post-wedding brunch the following day.
Shopping for bridesmaid dresses? Head to a Bella Bridesmaids location in your city!
Wedding Breakfast Menu Ideas
Whether you want to hold a breakfast immediately following your daytime ceremony or have one the morning after your special day, there are lots of approaches you can take.
Below, we’ll share some of our favorite wedding breakfast food options, ranging from classically British to completely unexpected.
It’s up to you if you want to have a sit-down meal, passed plates, or a buffet station. However you decide to serve your post-wedding meal, consider options for people with any dietary restrictions.
Make It Traditionally British
Since the wedding breakfast is a British tradition, we love the idea of serving a truly British meal. This usually entails a three-course menu with a seafood appetizer, a meat entrée, and a decadent dessert.
At the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markel, they served langoustines wrapped in smoked salmon and garden pea panna cotta with quail eggs. Now that’s traditional British!
They followed it up with poached free-range chicken, Windsor lamb with roasted veggies, and slow-roasted pork belly with apple compote.
If you’re going the traditional route, an authentic British menu is sure to impress!
Make It an Actual Breakfast
Photo: Jared Ladia Weddings
Looking for a fun and unconventional way to set your wedding apart? Turn your wedding breakfast into an actual breakfast.
There are so many breakfast foods to choose from that it’s super easy to plan for a morning meal. Keep it simple and delicious with an array of waffles, pancakes, French toast, and eggs, or get super creative with a wall of doughnuts or orange juice popsicles served on sticks.
Make It a Fun Brunch
Photo: Austin Gros
Turn your wedding breakfast into the best brunch ever by offering an array of sweet and savory dishes. From canapes to cheese boards to crepes, you can make a brunch menu work for any garden party, barn wedding, formal wedding, or beach event.
Just remember the one key rule of a great brunch:
Must. Have. Bacon.
Make It a Picnic
Throwing a casual summer wedding in your backyard?
You can easily turn your wedding breakfast into a picnic.
We’re not talking about bringing in food trucks serving BBQ ribs, hamburgers, or hot dogs. (Though that could be a lot of fun too!)
We’re thinking more along the lines of a British picnic with Scotch eggs, various cheeses, rustic breads, and an array of pates, jams, and chutneys.
Don’t Skimp on the Sweets!
If your wedding breakfast is serving as your only reception, have a traditional wedding cake. No matter how many courses you feed your guests, it’s always best to finish it off with something sweet!
Having a breakfast the day after your reception?
Instead of a formal cake, opt for small, sweet bites such as petit fours, mini pastries, or cupcakes.
Who Should You Invite to Your Wedding Breakfast?
If you’re hosting a wedding breakfast immediately following your ceremony, you should invite all of your guests, just as you would if you were having a dinner reception.
If you’re having a post-wedding breakfast the day after, your immediate family, your bridal party, and their plus-ones absolutely must be on the guest list.
For a post-wedding day breakfast or brunch, it’s also a nice gesture to invite guests from out of town that have traveled a distance to be with you on your big day.
Are Seat Assignments Required?
Photo: Ivan Solis
It’s perfectly fine to go a bit more casual and informal with the seating at a wedding breakfast. Assigned seats are not required, and the fewer people you’re having, the less important assigned seating becomes.
If you decide to limit your guest list to a small number of people, make it an intimate gathering by setting one big table instead of multiple tables.
You’ll Want Some Wedding Breakfast Music Too!
Don’t forget about the music!
Your big day is cause for celebration, so hire a small band, bring in a string quartet, or find a piano player to entertain.
If you decide to have an American wedding breakfast the morning after the big day, just keep it light. Acoustic music, light jazz, and classical music are good options after a loud evening reception of drinking and dancing to a DJ or band.
If you’re not sure what type of food to serve at your wedding breakfast, ask your caterers! Tell them your vision, give them some guidelines as to what you like and what you don’t like, and ask for their input and suggestions.
Just be sure to settle on a menu that you yourself will enjoy. You might not be throwing a real royal wedding, but you should still feel like a prince or princess on your wedding day!