A question I get asked all the time is “When is the best time for our ceremony?” For those of you who have worked with me, you know that the photojournalist in me makes any light work; but if you are really wondering when the best time is for the best light, I can tell you it’s not so much when your ceremony starts, but rather when it finishes.
We want to time it right so when you are saying “I do” just as that sun starts to dip towards sundown.
If we had an engagement session, you know where I am going with this. We photographers often talk about the idea of the “Golden Hour,” which is the hour before sunset when everything is just, well, golden. The light from the best flash there is–the sun–is less direct, which makes it much softer than at other times during the day. The light is also much more even, creating more consistency between subject, foreground, and background (which is exactly what we want).
This is important because I know you may have selected your venue based on the background it provides. Maybe it has a gorgeous field or forest you want to include. Maybe a skyline. Perhaps a lake. As your photographer, I want to make your wedding dreams not only come true, but I also want to be sure we save the moments that you have dreamed of since you started to plan your big day. To make sure we make full use of your ideas and your beautiful venue, let’s save them for the golden hour. This is not to say that it might not work earlier in the day, but just to be safe, carve out a little bit of time during the hours right before sunset so we can sneak away for a few portraits as a beautiful couple during this gorgeous time.
See this example? Two very similar portraits taken at two very different times. The one of the left was when the sign was higher in the sky, creating a sense of vibrancy, while the one on the right was taken during the Golden Hour, giving it a soft, dreamy feel. Both gorgeous? You bet. But it serves as an example of how different the sun can make an image based on its location in the sky.
So when is this Golden Hour time specifically? During the summer, this is somewhere between 6 and 8 pm, and in spring and fall it will be a little early, 5 pm to 7 pm. Winter and all its long-day glory, the times between 3 pm and 5 pm are the best bets.
I’m telling you this not to be that bossy photographer; I am letting you know this little tip so as you create your timeline, you know when the best time for bridal portrait is, only so you can be sure to leave a little time for them. As you determine your ceremony time, keep in mind that the best time for you and your other half to strike a pose is during this golden hour. If you want a sunset ceremony, I would suggest planning for photos beforehand so we can capture this great light. If you are not planning for a first look, consider having the ceremony a little earlier so we have time afterwards to take the stunning images that will be perfectly illuminated.