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How to Choose Your Wedding Ceremony Start Time | Wedding Planning and Tips

It can be pretty stressful when you aren’t quite sure about how to choose your wedding ceremony start time. There are things that you should consider, that most don’t think about when choosing it! Most just think that 5 o’clock PM will work because that’s when most people get married. Well, I’m here to give you some tips to help make things a little easier, and help you make your wedding day even more special! Here’s a few things to think about.

Indoors or Outdoors

How to choose your wedding ceremony start time

This is a key thing to think about when it comes to your ceremony timing. If you are having an outdoor wedding, and want to have your wedding photos have that gorgeous glow you see all so often, and you want to have them all done before the wedding ceremony even happens, you need to take that into consideration when figuring out a time for your ceremony. Also, if your ceremony is indoors, and you plan to do your photos indoors as well, you have a little more lee-way when it comes to timing because you will always have available light inside. Just know that your images won’t have that beautiful natural light if you plan on doing all your images inside.

Think About Light

Sunset is a GORGEOUS time for images, but the key to it is having your ceremony two hours before sunset is! There’s a few amazing sites on the inter-web that can tell you when the sunrise/sunset is in your area, and throughout the year! I use for almost ALL of my sessions to make sure we’re going to get the best lighting possible. With an outdoor wedding, this is exceptionally helpful!

Portrait Timing

How to choose your wedding ceremony start time

Another thing to keep in mind as your figuring out your ceremony timing is when you plan on doing your formal portraits. I would say about 85% of my brides and grooms choose to do a first look and because of that, we get practically ALL the formal images out of the way before the ceremony even begins. That include family formals, and the entire wedding party. I have a few blog posts all about why I LOVE first looks and you can see one of my favorites HERE. If you are planning on doing your first look as well as your other formal photos done before the ceremony, it is best to start them at least 3 hours before the ceremony–which would also be about 3 1/2 hours before sunset– just to get the best lighting!

Ask Around

There are other things to consider when you are choosing your wedding day timing, and talking with your vendors can be some of the best ways to figure out what works best. Chances are, they have been to hundreds of weddings and will be willing to help you out in choosing what is best for your big day! As a photographer, I love when my bride and grooms ask me what time will work best to get the best images possible! I always tell them these tips and we end up with some amazing images at the end of the day!


  1. Ashley Durham

    July 18th, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    These are important things to think about!!

  2. Joanna

    July 19th, 2016 at 3:14 am

    That willow tree is stunning!

  3. Brook

    July 19th, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Some great points, Misty!

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