A question you've probably stumbled upon in your planning journey is "what is a wedding breakfast?". Whilst it may sound like you and your guests are about to polish off some scrambled eggs or a bowl of granola, hold your horses. The wedding breakfast holds a special place in the hearts of those in the industry as one of the most celebrated traditions - but there is understandably some confusion around the topic. That's why we're here! We're going to be deep diving into the world of wedding breakfasts. What they are, why it's called a breakfast, the symbolisms and traditions, and more. Get your knives, forks and beautiful tablescape ideas at the ready! 

What is a wedding breakfast? The renowned wedding tradition explained

So... what is a wedding breakfast?

Full English? Coco Pops? A black coffee and buttered toast? These are foods we typically associate with breakfasts. In British culture, however, a wedding breakfast is a customary term used to describe the meal enjoyed by the couple and their guests after the wedding ceremony. Despite its name, the wedding breakfast is usually served during midday or in the evening, rather than early in the morning. So, there's no need to worry about organising an elaborate English breakfast after your afternoon ceremony. This is especially good news if you're not a fan of breakfast foods... So, fear not - you can have any kind of food you want at your wedding!

Why is it called a breakfast, then?

Excellent hypothetical question. The origins of the wedding breakfast can be traced back to a tradition from the 19th century (or pre-Reformation times) when couples would often marry early in the morning, following a Eucharistic Mass. This meant that newlyweds would be fasting prior to their wedding, in order to be permitted to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. Consequently, a small breakfast-like meal was served afterward. Now, it goes without saying that we absolutely do NOT condone fasting. No one wants a bride passing out mid-walk down the aisle. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. You need energy, fuel, and a happy tummy before your big day - trust us. Although times have obviously changed, this tradition has persevered and become a trend in modern times. Now we like to think of it as the first meal shared by the newlyweds as a married couple. Breakfast is usually the first meal of the day - so the wedding breakfast is the first meal of your life together. So we still refer to it as the wedding breakfast, even though we HIGHLY recommend you have your breakfast prior to the event.

Symbolism, sister!

The wedding breakfast carries a lot of symbolic significance. It holds a pivotal role in the journey of the newlywed couple. Why, you ask? It marks the commencement of their life together, we answer! People sometimes leave this meal until nearer the end of their planning journies and checklists, but we recommend having a proper think about it earlier on. Through this shared meal, the couple rejoices in the commitment they have made to each other. It serves as a wonderful occasion where loved ones gather to offer blessings and support, strengthening the bonds of love. What a wonderful feeling, hey? Harmoniously bridging the gap between the past and the present, couples embrace the wedding breakfast with open arms. Ultimately, the wedding breakfast stands as a profound symbol of love, unity, and the commencement of a shared journey into a new chapter of life. Bit wordy. But in short - it symbolises all good things. 

Setting the scene

Picture this. It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining. There's a buzz of excitement in the air. You've just had the wedding of your dreams. The ceremony is over, and you, along with your nearest and dearest, gather to celebrate the rest of the day - and the start of your lives together. There's an array of different foods that you and your partner love on display. You're sitting with your friends and family, listening to speeches, laughing, crying, smiling. I think we've painted a pretty good picture, haven't we? The wedding breakfast is a time-honored tradition that allows you to share an intimate meal with your guests in a beautiful way, surrounded by delectable food and drink. Count me in! 

Culinary experience

Every couple and every wedding is different. One bride will want a grand princess wedding dress, and another will want a bridal suit. Both valid, both beautiful. So, by extension, every wedding breakfast is going to be different, too. Your menu can range from a formal sit-down dinner to a relaxed buffet-style meal. This of course depends on your general preferences and the overall theme of your wedding. It's a chance to showcase your culinary choices, your personalities, and offer a tantalizing array of dishes that reflect your tastes as a couple. Met in France? Maybe you want to dish out some Parisian cuisine. Is your family from Poland? Schabowy for everyone, then! Having a destination wedding in Mexico? Maybe you want to try out some local, traditional dishes. From decadent multi-course meals to trendy food stations and interactive grazing tables, the wedding breakfast is an opportunity to impress your guests with a delectable culinary experience. 

From grazing platters to a sushi station, your wedding, your way. So your wedding breakfast your way, too! 

Hopefully, you have found the answer to the question of what is a wedding breakfast. The main takeaways are as follows; it's the meal that comes after your big day, it is not actually your breakfast, and you should ABSOLUTELY eat breakfast before your ceremony. Now that you know what a wedding breakfast is, it's time to pick what you want. Our guide to choosing your wedding breakfast is a good place to start. Still not entirely sure where the wedding breakfast comes in on your big day? Then our article on the timeline of your wedding day will come in handy. 

Sasha Kirkham

Written by Sasha Kirkham

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