Morning glory: an elegant, early event

Fun, festive, even formal:
a brunch reception can have it all

Story by Mara Severin

For most couples, the most romantic day of their lives ends pretty…well, unromantically. After months of planning, preparing and panicking, it’s no wonder that after a ceremony, a sit-down dinner, and hours of toasts and dances, the couple is bleary-eyed and exhausted. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Turn the day upside down and consider an early event. A morning wedding, a brunch reception, and your wedding day can end any way you want it to.

“A brunch reception can allow for a smaller party in the evening with just your closest friends and family,” says Christine Gire, a Beverly Clark Certified wedding professional and the wedding planner at the Dena’ina Center. “You can plan a group event later on in the evening,” she suggests. “A baseball game, boating, golf or a bar crawl.” After all, she says: “People have traveled far and wide to be with you and you want to spend as much time with them as you can.”

An early reception also allows the couple to head out for an immediate honeymoon, says event planner Brandii O’Reagan of Imagine Designs. You might want to get a jumpstart on travel or just have a romantic evening with your new spouse, she suggests.

The early bird gets the venue

Having a morning or daytime reception can save you money, says Christine. A daytime event can be simpler while still feeling elegant she says. For example, “you might not feel the need for a DJ or a live band,” and instead might opt for a string quartet (consider hiring student musicians, she suggests), to create an elegant atmosphere at a smaller cost.

An early event also means more venue choices, says Christine. “You might be able to get a reduced or even waived room rental,” she says, “because there’s time for the venue to turn that room over.”

Catering costs can be significantly less, says Brandii. “There’s a wider variety of cost-effective food choices.” Plus, she points out, there is less drinking. Even if you offer a choice of traditional brunch beverages like mimosas, bloody marys, or champagne punch, people tend to imbibe more cautiously during the day.

Let there be light

One of the advantages of a daytime wedding is sunlight, plain and simple. “You’ll get better pictures, of course,” says Brandii. And, depending on your venue and the time of year, you’ll want to “take advantage of the beautiful Alaskan scenery.”

The Tikahtnu room at the Dena’ina Center, for example, boasts floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Chugach range, says Christine. Combined with skylights, it’s a room that that is flooded with natural daylight. People like the views in the summer and “crave the light in the winter,” she says.

Savor…AK, the catering arm of the Dena’ina convention center, will cater any venue within reason, says Christine. Other venues with lots of natural light and a view worth illuminating are the chalet at Kincaid Park and the Bayshore Clubhouse, says Christine. “They have such nice views and they’re fun and affordable.”

Daytime drama

Just because you’re having a daytime event doesn’t mean it can’t be just as formal as an evening affair, says Brandii. “It’s important to set the tone early with the invitations. Feel free to say, ‘followed by a formal brunch reception.’ ” Then she says, go a little big on the décor. “Go a little taller. Add a little more volume without going overboard.” For example, while curly willow is often painted silver for an evening event, for a morning reception, “you can just give it a light touch of glitter.” Or use small rhinestones in the center of the flower for a bit of fun and fantasy. And, she adds, “don’t be afraid to use black, or really deep chocolate brown for an added drama.”

If you don’t plan on having dancing, there are lots of entertainment alternatives. Brandii suggests arranging for a concert-style performance. Or for more “non-traditional brides,” she suggests an afternoon of lawn games. “Croquet is always fun and can be played no matter how everyone is dressed,” she says.

The menu: from savory scrambles to ‘Simple Love’

Brunch is such a versatile meal that your only menu problem will be in how to limit it.

Sacks Café, one of Anchorage’s quintessential brunch destinations, can cater at your location or serve as your reception venue. In-house, the restaurant offers such delicate, made-to-order breakfast fare as crepes, eggs benedicts and creamy risottos topped with poached eggs. “But there are so many fun brunch choices that travel really well,” says JoAnn Asher, the restaurant’s owner. Egg scrambles and flavorful hashes satisfy the breakfast element when combined with unique lunch offerings such as “a green coconut curry with sautéed Asian vegetables with papaya and arugula salad.” Other sophisticated options include a robust nicoise salad, Mediterranean platters with hummus, baba ghanouj and roasted vegetables, caprese salads with a drizzle of pesto, endive leaves holding curried chicken, and gougeres stuffed with salmon mousse.

Drink offerings can be just as exciting. Offer a juice bar or an espresso station, suggests Christine. Brandii suggests a twist on a classic – like serving a mimosa made with blood oranges. “It has a richer color and flavor but with the same brunch feeling,” she says. Joann offers a similar twist to a breakfast drink – muddled basil and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice served with a float of champagne on top – with an irresistible name – “Simple Love.”

Wedding vows, champagne cocktails, brunch and croquet – all elements of a romantic day that actually has a chance of becoming a romantic evening.