Choosing the Most Ideal Time of Day for Your Wedding Ceremony

Once your wedding date has been set, you’ll want to decide what time you will get married.  Clients often approach us to ask what the most optimal window of time is for pictures on their wedding day.  Engaged couples tend to lean towards an emphasis on photography when deciding what time their wedding ceremony should take place.  Photography of your wedding day should absolutely be one of your top 3 priorities.  Once you’ve exchanged vows, performed your first dance, and tossed the bouquet, the images documenting these memories are one of the few mementos you will have to reflect back on your big day for years to come.  While we understand the importance of photography on your wedding day, we also feel your event should not be a photo shoot.  There are multiple factors to consider when selecting the most ideal time to proceed down the aisle.  Our advice is to place the following vendor services in order of priority and base your decision on the most important one to you for your celebration.

Photography – The most optimal opportunity for photography is later in the afternoon approximately an hour and ½ to 2 hours prior to sunset.  The reason for this is due to weather and conditions in the sky if you plan to take pictures outdoors or will be saying “I do” in the walled garden.  By this point in the day, the sun has dropped lower in the sky behind the trees.  The best weather conditions for pictures are an overcast sky with plenty of cloud coverage.  These conditions allow your guests to watch you say your vows and smile for pictures without squinting.  Finding shaded areas under trees with back lighting also creates an ideal backdrop for pictures.  There are many locations to choose from under Oak and Magnolia trees on The Sutherland’s 6-acre Estate.  With this timeframe, the photographer will have about 30 minutes to capture your processional, ceremony, and recessional.  Once the ceremony concludes, family portraits will take about 30 minutes once everyone is in place and posed appropriately.  The photographer should have an additional 30 minutes to capture shots of your wedding party and moments with just the two of you right before the sun goes down.

First Look – Do you plan to have a first look and have most of your pictures taken prior to the start of the ceremony?  If you are planning to see each other and get a head start on your photos beforehand, you can have your ceremony closer to sunset such an hour to an hour ½ or hour before dusk.  Once your ceremony has completed, you’ll have about 30 minutes to take any additional pictures the photographer still needs to capture.  Afterwards, you can move forward with taking advantage of the extra time you’ll have during your cocktail hour to spend alone or join your guests.

Dinner Service – If you have many small children or older guests in attendance you may want to opt to have an earlier ceremony.  Typically, your wedding meal will be served about an hour and ½ after the ceremony concludes.  This allots enough time for cocktail hour, introductions and your first dance to take place prior to start of catering service.  If you are having an evening event and feel serving dinner at 7:30 pm or 8:00 pm may be a little too late for these guests, you should consider a ceremony time of 5:30 pm or earlier.

Entertainment – We do have neighbors within close proximity to The Sutherland property and want to ensure we are courteous to those around us.  We require all events to conclude no later than 11:30 pm.  With an 11:30 pm end time, the latest you can schedule your ceremony is at 6:00 pm for a standard 5-hour event.

It is a good idea to consult with a few vendors who provide different services when deciding on the best time of day to have your event.  Photographers, caterers, and entertainment providers may have different points of view based on the services they each provide.  We feel it is always a good idea to take multiple vendor’s opinions into account prior to choosing the timing of your event.  Good luck and happy planning!