© Melissa Nowakowski 2008

When one thinks of a party -- any kind of party from weddings to birthdays to corporate galas -- their mind automatically centers on an evening affair. After all, the term “event” has long been associated with the sophistication, style and mystique of the night. Perhaps it’s the stars romantically scattered within the night sky or that dinner is always the largest, more formal of meals. Or perhaps it is simply a matter of convenient timing for guests. There are no historical facts to support why most parties are held in the evening and so we’ll just have to chock it up to tradition. Which is fantastic news because as we all know, tradition can be always be skipped over.

My absolute favourite, yet-rarely-utilized, time of day for a soiree is early in the day. Now I don’t mean a late lunch. I mean early in the day – as in mid- morning. To me, there is nothing more visually stunning and physically enjoyable than a formal function held mid-morning when the sun is shining, the air is fresh and everyone is alive and energetic. There’s a kind of peacefulness associated with the morning and what better way to kick off your day than with good food and good company?

Not to mention that brunch receptions can be much easier on the wallet. Consider this: very little alcohol is consumed during the middle of the day, brunch receptions can be held on less expensive days of the week such as Sundays without interfering with guests' work weeks and brunch items can be less labour and staff intensive (depending on the size of the function and how ornate the brunch of course!)

Below are some design ideas that show how elegant and lively a morning function can be – regardless of the occasion:

• Holding the event outdoors on a patio, under a tent or indoors in a covered terrace or in a banquet room with lots of windows will make use of as much natural light as possible providing natural energy to your event.

(From L-R) Estates of Sunnybrooke, a tented reception in Scarborough, Graydon Hall Manor

• Create a light and airy atmosphere with pastel colours or a bright and playful atmosphere with bold colours. Use these colour schemes in your décor and accents, including your food accents! Flowers always work beautifully with morning events. Not into flowers? A colourful fish in a beautiful vase, beaded garlands entwined in branches or even a Bonsai tree for the ultimate Zen effect are great alternative options. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

• Serve mimosas paired with a chocolate truffle to guests as they arrive and have trays of fruit kabobs and a variety of cheese passed as they mingle

• Roaming magicians or a stationary caricaturist prior to brunch or a cigar roller after brunch can add a fun and interactive twist to your event

• Keep beverages to sparkling water, fruit juices and to light, signature cocktails such as mimosas and daiquiri’s

• Rather than have a DJ, enlist a quartet to play throughout the meal. Even a single guitar player can add an air of romance or tranquility. A live band is a perfect choice for post-meal dancing but a DJ works well too.

Carly and Mark (

• The style of meal will most often determine its precedence in the event. Buffets tend to move more quickly than plated meals which are perfect if you plan to have dancing or entertainment follow the brunch. Plated meals, depending on the number of guests and the number of courses, can be drawn out which works well if you do not have any post-brunch plans.

• Regardless of whether you are hosting a buffet or plated brunch, the food at your mid-morning reception can be just as glamorous as that of an evening function. Think warm brie soufflé with berry compote, Eggs Benedict over Brioche, scrambled eggs with duck comfit, scalloped potatoes, rack of lamb or roast beef in a Brandy glaze, French toast stuffed with banana and mango. Consider food stations for items like crepes and omelets and don’t be afraid to incorporate seafood such as lobster and shrimp in a lobster watercress sauce or a tuna steak piperade.

• Avoid heavy desserts like cheesecake and instead opt for a variety of pastries, fruit and miniature cakes such as strawberry shortcakes.

Weddings are just beginning to catch on to the appeal of morning functions but most other functions like birthdays, bridal/baby showers, anniversaries and especially corporate galas continue to shy away. This is a shame because regardless of occasion, you can host an incredibly elegant event that will always be remembered simply by getting rid of the moon and raising the sunshine.