Cally and Paul: Wedding reception

What exactly is a wedding breakfast?

Confused about wedding breakfasts? We tell you everything you need to know.

Whether you’re choosing a religious, civil or alternative ceremony, weddings are full of old traditions and some of them are little more baffling than others.


Take veils for example, did you know they were originally used to hide the bride from evil spirits? And that bridesmaids all wore the same thing as the bride to act as decoys for the evil spirits? Are you now wondering if there is a tradition not linked to evil spirits?!

Well, thankfully there are plenty and one of the most important is the wedding breakfast. Yep, that meal that sounds like it should be bacon and eggs but isn’t. Wedding breakfasts have been a huge part of the day for hundreds of years and it happens to be one of our personal favourite things to organise too.

When it comes to deciding on your wedding food these days you’re totally spoilt for choice. From trendy street food carts to build your own burger stands and, of course, the traditional three-course meal, you can dine on whatever you fancy.

Feasting table décor has also become an important element, with our Instagram and Pinterest feeds being flooded with inspiration every day. From round tables to a long banquet set-up or a casual outdoor dining experience, couples are coming up with increasingly creative ways to enjoy their wedding meal.

If you’re not sure where to start first when it comes to planning this important meal or you’re still feeling a little confused (and understandably) disappointed as to why it’s called a wedding breakfast when there’s no sign of pancakes, then read on for our ultimate guide to wedding breakfasts. We promise you’re going to love planning yours almost as much as you’ll love eating it!

Why is it called a wedding breakfast?

The term wedding breakfast dates back to the 17th century when wedding ceremonies were usually part of Eucharistic Mass and so newlyweds would have been fasting ahead of the service. The meal they shared afterwards was literally breaking the fast.

Although it doesn’t initially seem it, these days it still makes sense. The breakfast is the first meal you have after the ceremony and the first meal you eat together as a couple.

When does it take place?

The wedding breakfast takes place after the ceremony and usually after you have taken your photographs. To break up the day and to ensure guests don’t get hungry, canapes can be served at the drinks reception immediately after the ceremony.

Wedding Breakfast buffet

What does the wedding breakfast consist of?

Anything you like! Your wedding breakfast should be designed around your tastes, just like the rest of your day. Do consider guest dietary requirements and make sure your venue or caterer knows about any allergies and intolerances, other than that the choice is yours.
If you have booked a venue with in-house catering, they will often provide a tasting free of charge and have a menu with a number of options for you to choose from. If you’re booking your own caterer, you can explore all of the options including food vans and world foods and most caterers will also offer a tasting service so you can make sure you get it right.

What about children’s food?

Make sure you check with the parents of any children attending for allergies and also if any infants will be able to eat the wedding breakfast or if they will be bringing baby food. Venues will often give you the choice of a children’s menu or a smaller portion of the adult wedding breakfast. Bear in mind that children won’t often be able to go as long as adults without food and so, for example, if you would like to have speeches before the meal think about bringing out a starter before they begin. It will keep them occupied while you’re delivering your awesome speech too – bonus!

Wedding reception canapés

Where do we eat the wedding breakfast?

Again, it’s up to you and it will depend on your venue. If you’re hosting a summer BBQ, it makes sense to set up seating outside and this is a great choice for more laidback wedding breakfasts. Your venue may have a choice of spaces to enjoy your reception and will be able to advise on the best room for you based on your numbers. When it comes to seating, you can choose to seat people at round tables or on long banquet tables. You can sit at a traditional long top table facing your guests or at a round table with your parents and bridal party or even at a sweetheart table for just the two of you!

What about drinks?

Venues will often provide welcome drink options along with wine lists and packages for your wedding breakfast. Most venues will allow you to bring in your own wine if you wish, but many of them will charge corkage. Corkage is a cost per bottle for uncorking the wine. Self-catering venues are likely not to have this charge.

Wedding reception drinks

Anything else I need to think about?!

If you’re hiring in caterers and your venue is a barn or marquee, make sure you check that they have all the equipment they need along with an electric and water supply.
Also check with your venue and/or caterer that crockery, cutlery, glasses and linen come with the hire cost.