How to Pick Your Ceremony Time to Ensure Best Available Light | Tuesday Tips

Tuesday Tips | How-To Pick Your Ceremony Time

I know, some of you are probably thinking, “Steph, is it really that big of a deal what time my ceremony starts?” The answer won’t be the same for everyone, but technically, it does matter to a certain extent. A big portion of why it matters has mostly to do with the time of year you decide to get married. You see, it’s really all about planning your events to maximize the amount of natural light available throughout your wedding day.

I know everyone reading this is perfectly aware of what time changes are – you gain an hour and then lose an hour at different points during the course of one year. During the summer (in our portion of the world), days are at their longest, giving us hours and hours of beautiful natural light. But during the winter, you’ll notice that it’s dark almost all of the time – not to mention gloomy when you live in Ohio! In the winter, the sun sets as early as 4 in the afternoon! Depending on the ceremony time, it becomes a challenge to provide the experience your couple books you for when they want to have their ceremonies later in the day in order to serve their guests dinner and party into the night.

Available light isn’t something that the average person thinks about when planning a wedding. And why should it be? Unless it’s your job to be aware of seasons, weather, and sunlight, it’s just how it is. BUT this is exactly why I’m writing all of this for you – to give you the opportunity to maximize your wedding day timeline in order to have the most light possible for your wedding photos.

 Taken while second shooting for Amy Ann Photography

Taken while second shooting for Amy Ann Photography

I realize that timing and planning around seasons isn’t always a concern to some people, especially those that are planning on having their ceremony AND reception indoors. Nothing wrong with that. However, do you want to take every single photo inside? Or would you rather take couple photos and photos with your wedding party outside? If you’re getting married during the last couple months of the year, when available sunlight is at a minimum, and you want portraits taken outside, you should definitely consider opting for a first look.

My suggestion is to get on Google and search for when sunset is on your wedding date. A good rule of thumb is to plan for you ceremony to start at least 3 hours before sunset. By doing that, you are not only ensuring that you will have enough soft light for your ceremony, you’re also giving us enough time to utilize the beautiful, golden hour light for portraits before and during the reception! Depending on how much time there is between the ceremony and reception, we can plan to sneak out during dinner to capture a few more portraits of you and your new spouse! If you’re unable to plan your ceremony time around this suggestion, ask your venue coordinator what time they would suggest that will be the most photography friendly AND if there are any options available to defuse some of the harsh light that comes from the sun during the early afternoon.

If you want to be even more prepared and plan your day to ensure you have the most available light during your wedding and ceremony, this free website is a great tool to determine an estimate of when sunset will occur on each day of the year. As I mentioned above, Google is also a great option for that 🙂

The bottom line is your wedding day schedule will end up being exactly what you need it to be. If you end up having a later ceremony time and won’t have as much access to outdoor/natural-light, you should look for a photographer that specializes and has the ability to shoot well indoors. Make sure to ask for sample images specifically that shows their indoor lighting capabilities.

All photos are © Steph Parker Photo.