A wedding breakfast has its roots in pre-Reformation time when a bride and groom abstained from food the evening before the ceremony and then heard Mass and received Holy Communion before leaving the church. Nowadays, it can resemble a wedding reception and can be a time for the wedding party and others to eat after a morning wedding or a simple meal the day of or the morning after a wedding. Because of the specialness and uniqueness of the day, it is important for all parties to observe proper etiquette.
The wedding breakfast is traditionally hosted and paid for by the bride's parents, or a friend or neighbour of the bride, according to the Wedding Channel. It can also be held in honour of those who have come for the wedding from out of town. In the cases of a morning or daytime wedding, the breakfast could include guests from the ceremony, as a time to eat and send the happy couple on their way to their honeymoon. In some cases, especially for an evening wedding, the wedding breakfast is a simple meal held to make out-of-town guests feel welcome, either on the day of the wedding or the morning after. The bride and groom and their families do not necessarily attend that type of wedding breakfast.
The wedding breakfast is an exclusive event. The guest list is shorter and includes family and intimate acquaintances, more exclusive than a reception and even the wedding ceremony itself. Because the hosts are providing a complete and sometimes elaborate meal rather than hors d'oeuvres and wedding cake, it is important for guests to RSVP to let the host know whether they are attending or not. It is not appropriate to bring uninvited guests. Depending on the family dynamic, the wedding breakfast may or may not include children. Arriving on time is important, even though it may start late.
Many wedding breakfasts are not breakfast at all, occurring at brunch or lunchtime, according to the wedding website The Knot. The meal can be served by wait staff or buffet style. Either way, guests should observe proper table manners and wait patiently in line at buffet tables, allowing the bride, groom and wedding party to go through the line first. The breakfast could feature favourite foods of the couple.
The bride, groom, their parents and other members of the wedding party sit at a table at the head of the room. The other guests sit at tables around the room. Guests can be assigned tables, grouped together by the host with things they have in common, according to the website for Serendipity Stars.
A wedding breakfast may include alcohol, although guests are less likely to overindulge at a wedding breakfast than an evening reception. In either case, wedding party members and guests should limit their intake to avoid an unfortunate incident on an otherwise joyful day.