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How-to Pick Your Ceremony Time

September 15, 2023


Not many couples will put strategic thought into choosing their ceremony time, however, there is a perfect time of day to take photos outdoors. In photography, “Golden Hour” (aka “Magic Hour”) is referred to as the period around sunset in which the sky is softer with warm tones. You too can have those romantic swoon worthy wedding portraits by following these steps to pick the perfect ceremony start time:

secure your wedding date

Some venues will only have certain time frames available for events, however, you are at an advantage to be able to pick your ceremony time. Before you can plan any ceremony details, you will need to secure your wedding date by booking a venue.

google search sunset time

Once you have a wedding date, you will want to do an internet search for the exact time the sun sets on your wedding date. This is important because Golden Hour is indirect sunlight that evenly diffuses across the sky for only a specific time of the day.

know your ceremony length

Ask the person marrying you for an estimated time frame of how long your ceremony will be. Depending on what you decide to include (unity symbolism, bible readings, recited or personal vows, special songs, cultural rituals, etc), wedding ceremonies usually range from 20 to 60 minutes.

set the ceremony end time

To ensure post-ceremony photos are taken during Golden Hour, you want to have the ceremony end one hour before sunset. Accounting for the length of your ceremony, back the time up to give you the perfect ceremony time. You want Golden Hour to be your during your cocktail hour. Example: Sunset is 7:30pm, Ceremony is 30 minutes long, you want the ceremony to start at 6:00pm to end at 6:30pm. 

Furthermore, there’s a little secret to what ceremony time you print on your invitations. If you know your family and friends are culturally prone to running late, you should have the ceremony start time on your wedding invitation be 15 or more minutes before the actual start time. This ensures the ceremony starts on time to get you the romantic wedding photos you’ve dreamt of. If you already have ceremony time, no worries, just find out when sunset is and talk to your photographer and wedding planner about “sneaking out” of the reception to go take a few sunset photos.

Sunset Photo | iris and urchin life photography

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