"What time of day should we start our outdoor wedding ceremony if we want to be in ideal light?"
Daylight/Time of Day/Season are factors that can greatly affect your outdoor wedding ceremony, the comfort of your guests, and ultimately your wedding photos.
If you're having an outdoor ceremony in open sunlight (not in a shaded area or under a tree) then try to avoid having the ceremony between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM. This also depends on how long the ceremony is expected to last, most last 30 minutes, so the guidelines below are based on that.
March (after Daylight Savings Time) 4:30 or 5:00
April - 5:00 or 5:30
May - 5:30 or 6:00
June/July/August - 6:00-6:30-7:00 (if you're okay with having a late dinner, OR just have the ceremony in an evenly shaded area and have it at 5:30 or 6:00 which may be best so that your guests won't get too hot)
September - 5:30 or 6:00
October - 4:00 or 4:30
November - (after Daylight Savings Ends) 3:00
When selecting the location/time of day for your wedding ceremony, here are a few things to consider...
1. Visit your wedding venue, try to time it so that you can visit around the time of day you are considering for the ceremony. This way you'll be able to see what the lighting will most likely be like. Walk in, as you would be coming down the aisle, do you feel like you are squinting, do you feel like the sun is blinding you? How about the groom and his perspective? When he looks down the aisle as his bride is walking to him, can he see without squinting? When the two of you stand at the ceremony, do you see very harsh shadows on each others faces? Or a sunspot on one persons face and a shadow on the other? Also, sit where your guests would be, do you feel comfortable, does the sun seem to be blaring down on you, causing you to get too hot? These are all great things to look for.
Note: If you're using a gazebo as a backdrop for your wedding ceremony, we strongly encourage you to stand to the front/outside of the gazebo rather than inside of it.
Note: Mid-day Sunlight is the hottest time of the day and can result in harsh shadows under the eyes, which is not flattering for anyone.
2. Ask your wedding coordinator when couples usually like to do their ceremony at your wedding ceremony location, he/she may be able to give you some advice based on what they have seen before and how things have flowed.
3. Visit Sunrise Sunset to find out the exact time of sunrise and sunset for that date. While you probably don't want to have your ceremony at sunset, you may want to time it so that your ceremony happens closer to the golden hour, or right before it starts. Sometimes a shaded area is very nice for a wedding ceremony, so that by the time it's over, there is lovely light for the photos afterwards as well. A great rule of thumb is to have the ceremony about 2-3 hours before time of sunset. The light will be as ideal as possible, and then you'll have enough time for family portraits, wedding party, and bride + groom portraits before the reception and in the loveliest light of the day.
4. Most importantly, talk with your wedding photographer and wedding coordinator if you have any questions. Your wedding photographer may be able to offer some helpful suggestions or give feedback if you are stuck on when to have the ceremony at your particular location.
5. If sunset photos, or "golden hour" photos are important to you, be sure to discuss this with your wedding photographer and coordinator so that they can arrange to do the photos during this time, or pull you away during the reception for about 10-15 minutes.
Jason + Heather
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