Now that you have your fiancé, want to know the other most crucial decision you will make about your wedding day? It’s not the color scheme, or flowers, heck it’s not even the venue. The second most important wedding day decision will be what time your ceremony is at.
When I photograph weddings, my first priority is an amazing light source, then a pretty background. Great light can make a not so great location amazing. And likewise, bad light can take an amazing location and make it horrible. So choosing the time of day for your ceremony will play a huge role. Arguably the most important images of the day will be your ceremony and couple images—so of course, you will want those during the best light of the day!
Okay, so now that you are on board you are probably wondering when the best light is. If you want super glowy light for your ceremony and Bride + Groom images, you will want your ceremony to start 120 minutes (2 hours) before sunset.
So what would that actually look like on a wedding day? Here is an example to show you:
In this example, say sunset is at 8:00pm
6:00pm – Ceremony
6:30pm – Family Images
6:45pm – Couples Images
7:40pm – Bustle & get ready to party!
8:00pm – Dancing under twinkle lights
Now, why two hours? Two hours is perfect because it gives you a little bit of wiggle room in case your ceremony starts late. Also, the best light is always an hour before sunset so it means your couples images will have the most glowy light of the day.
So there you have it—in a perfect world, all ceremonies would start 2 hours before sunset 😉
Is there ever a time you don’t recommend the two-hour rule?
Yes—basically the two-hour rule is so we have great light, but some areas lose light faster than others. So you will want to choose a time that is two hours before your location loses light—which is not always the time they say sunset is at! So if you are in a valley you will lose light faster than a mountaintop and will want to adjust your time accordingly. Our best advice is to scope out the light around the time you want a ceremony and see what it is like. Also, if you are NOT doing a first look, we suggest having your ceremony 3 hours before sunset, so we have time to capture all the post ceremony images in great light!
I have heard that in California, there is light 30 minutes after sunset—so does that change the two-hour rule?
The light 30 minutes after sunset is not bright warm light—it more the last light of the day. Basically while twilight may seem like you still have light, it is not the warm glowy light that epic wedding images are made of.
What if I can’t change my ceremony time?
Don’t sweat it! I have captured ceremonies at all times of the day and guess what—every single one of our couples have gotten beautiful photos. The above is more of a guide if that glowy light is your priority. If your ceremony time is set, but you still want glowy light photos we have tons of options. We can always sneak you out of the reception for some photo time. Or in the past when we have had 11am ceremonies, we have taken couples images after the wedding (after some touch ups of course). Or there is always the option of a ‘day after’ session which is fun. No matter what your situation is, if you want glowy images—let’s chat and I am sure we can make something happen.
What if I want the sunset behind me during the ceremony?
A sunset ceremony totally sounds amazing and romantic huh? You, gazing into your fiancé’s eyes as the sun (and your single days) dip into to horizon. I get it—it is totally romantic; however, unless you are planning on taking all of your images before the ceremony, you will actually be doing yourself a huge disservice! In the past when we have photographed sunset ceremonies we have run into two issues.
Want some inspiration for glowy images, check out some of our favorite ones below: