What is the Difference Between The Wedding Breakfast and Reception?

When planning your wedding, you may come across the terms “wedding breakfast” and “reception.”

While both are events that take place on your big day, they are not interchangeable terms.

Understanding the difference between the two can help you plan your wedding timeline and budget, and ensure that your guests have an enjoyable experience.

Understanding the Terms:

  • The wedding breakfast is the first meal that the newlyweds and their guests share together after the wedding ceremony.
  • The reception is a broader term that encompasses the entire post-ceremony celebration, including drinks, dinner, and dancing.
  • The wedding breakfast can take place at any time of day and is not limited to breakfast foods.

The Sequence of Events

When it comes to weddings, there are typically three main events:

  1. the wedding ceremony
  2. the wedding breakfast
  3. and the reception.

Each event has its own unique sequence of events that you should be aware of.

Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony is the main event of the day. It typically takes place in a church or other religious venue, but can also take place in a civil ceremony location or even outdoors.

The ceremony usually begins with the grand entrance of the bride, who is escorted down the aisle by her father or another close family member. The groom and his groomsmen will typically already be at the altar.

During the ceremony, the bride and groom will exchange vows and rings, and there may be other rituals or traditions depending on the couple’s cultural or religious background.

Wedding Breakfast

The wedding breakfast is the first meal that the newlyweds have together after the wedding ceremony.

Despite its name, the wedding breakfast is typically served in the afternoon or early evening. The name “breakfast” comes from the old tradition of fasting before the wedding ceremony and then breaking the fast with a meal afterward.

The wedding breakfast is typically a formal sit-down meal with multiple courses.

The bride and groom will often make a toast to their guests during the meal, thanking them for coming to celebrate their special day.


The reception is the final event of the day, and is typically a more relaxed affair than the wedding breakfast or ceremony. It is a chance for the newlyweds and their guests to celebrate and dance the night away.

The reception usually begins with the grand entrance of the newlyweds, who will be introduced by the DJ or MC. They will then typically have their first dance together as a married couple.

After the first dance, the party really gets started. There will usually be plenty of food and drink, and the DJ or band will keep the dance floor hopping all night long.

Overall, the sequence of events at a wedding can be complex, but knowing what to expect can help you enjoy the day to the fullest. Whether you are the bride, groom, or a guest, understanding the sequence of events can help you plan your day and make sure everything runs smoothly.

Wedding BreakfastWedding Reception
Served after the wedding ceremonyTakes place after the wedding breakfast
Typically a sit-down mealCan take many forms, from a formal sit-down dinner to a casual dance party
Can be formal or informalIncludes key elements such as the first dance, cutting of the cake, and speeches
Three-course meal, buffet-style, or family-style mealTraditionally steeped in tradition, but many couples put their own spin on it


In conclusion, understanding the difference between a wedding breakfast and a wedding reception can help you plan your wedding day and ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Whether you choose to have a formal sit-down meal or a more relaxed reception, the most important thing is that you celebrate your special day with the people you love.

Additional Wedding Reception Planning Topics
Wedding Reception Planning Checklist
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