A wedding day timeline is so important to ensuring your wedding runs smoothly! So… it’s kind of a big deal. 😉 And whether you are working with a wedding planner or flying solo, one of the biggest questions when planning a timeline is, “What time of day should I get married?” Aka: When should the ceremony be?
And to figure that out, you first have to answer this question: Are you getting married indoors or outdoors?
This question plays a huge part in when your ceremony should be. And, it’s all based on the light, the sun, and sunset. So, let’s jump in!
Whether you are getting married on a intimate rooftop or a large estate, outdoor weddings are so dreamy! But, the biggest question is the sun, right? Where will it be? Will it be too bright? Etc. Etc.
Well friends, here’s the secret: Plan your ceremony based on the sunset.
About 2 hours before sunset, something magical starts happening. The sun’s rays start to become softer. And they get more brilliant and golden as you get closer to the sun setting. And, guess what? It photographs beautifully! The light is soft, and there are fewer harsh shadows compared to earlier in the day. And, it’s for this reason that I schedule all my engagement sessions to start 2 hours before sunset!
So, knowing that the best light starts about 2 hours before sunset, you have some options. If you have quite a few portraits to do after the ceremony (family, wedding party, bride & groom), you will probably want to start your ceremony at the beginning of that 2 hours window or slightly before.
However, I would suggest doing a first look! If you do a first look, you can do most of your major portraits earlier in the day, and your wedding ceremony can be in some of the dreamiest light. That being said, your ceremony would ideally start about 1 to 1 ½ hours before sunset (depending on how long your ceremony will last). It will take place in gorgeous light AND you can take about 30 minutes worth of Bride & Groom portraits afterwards in the amazing light!
Caveat: If it is usually overcast in city you are getting married, plan to move those times up by 30 minutes to an hour.
The timing of indoor ceremonies is much different than outdoor ceremonies. For one, you don’t have to worry about the placement of the sun. It doesn’t matter if the sun is directly overhead. And, actually, I would suggest having your ceremony while the sun is a little higher in the sky. That way, the most light can pour through the windows and brighten your ceremony space.
So, having your indoor ceremony 2-3 hours before sunset would mean you have plenty of light to fill your ceremony space. And, (this is a big, big plus) your portraits and part of your reception (if it is outdoors) can be during the dreamy, sunset light!
One Last Thing
If you can’t schedule your ceremony around sunset, I would offer this one piece of advice! Set aside some time during the reception to sneak outside with your photographer and take some sunset portraits! Dinner and dancing are the most common times that your guests will be pre-occupied for a while. (If you are super stealthy, no one will even realize you are gone!) So, break out those ninja moves, and go get some amazing portraits of you and your new husband!
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