How to choose the BEST time of the day for your wedding ceremony

When working with couples, developing their wedding day timeline, the first question they ask is, “What time should I get married?”.  As a photographer, I am all about the lighting and the environment that creates the best images.  Low light on the beach and back lighting under and near the trees are the most flattering to the subjects. Choosing your ceremony time around the hour that makes the best pictures is wise.

 If you are having an east coast oceanfront ceremony, and the reception is at the same location, plan your ceremony one and a half hours before sunset.  There will be less people on the beach and in the summer it will be cooler.  This formula equals three 30 minute time frames.  Thirty minutes is usually needed for the ceremony, and a professional photographer can complete the family and wedding party portraits and candids within the next half hour.  This leaves the last time frame, just before sunset, for the couple’s images.  This is the time when the ocean waves and eastern sky picks up all the colors from the sunset in the west. This makes for romantic pictures at their best.

 If you are traveling from an oceanfront ceremony to a soundfront reception, you will want the ceremony two hours before sunset so you have time to take sunset images on the water.  Garden or backyard settings are best in the late afternoon when the sun is behind the trees and the subjects are backlit. Waiting too late in the day you will lose the “limelight,” the lime green colored leaves in the background.  If the sun is too low, the trees will be dark and flat in the images.

Weddings on the sound facing west can be tough to place with the dropping sun.  Late afternoon is best before the sun drops so low that it is bright in the eyes of your guests. They will be squinting to see you say your vows.  I suggest having your ceremony before this happens and return to the water’s edge for the pictures when the sun is at its lowest.  Hopefully, your soundfront setting has some open shade to take family portraits to get some groupings out of the way right after the ceremony.  You want to try to photograph images on the sound while the sky is still blue and not blown out behind the subjects.  Just before sunset, the sky will be colorful for the the wedding party and couple; however, this is a limited amount of time so proper planning and skill is a must. Make sure you are work with a very knowledgeable and skilled photographer.

Deborah Sawyer/Beach Portraits

Southern Shores NC
Southern Shores NC