As I venture into the wedding planning for our wedding along with being in the industry for 12 years now, I know the importance of reducing wedding stress. So here I am creating content to try to help you through this process, even if we aren't a great fit for eachother I'm happy for you and excited to help in any way I can.
Ceremony lighting is really important and taking into consideration the time of year is even more crucial when planning your ceremony time.
One of the things you want to avoid when planning an outdoor ceremony is the extremely harsh sunlight. I suggest planning your outdoor ceremony time 3-4 hours before sunset if you are having a first look and about 5 hours before sunset if you aren’t.
Now these times for season depend on where you live. I live up in Northern Alberta where we get a lot of sunlight in our summer months and very few daylight hours in the winter.
Winter weddings are so gorgeous, cold but beautiful. When planning a winter wedding you do need to make sure you have your portraits completed before it is dark. An ideal winter ceremony start time without a first look being planned would be either 12pm or 1pm, no later or you run the risk of loosing daylight hours during your portrait time. If you are planning a first look you can ideally do your ceremony at 3pm then family photos before jumping into cocktail hour with all your guests.
Spring weddings are wonderful because we have more daylight hours, less mosquitos and the daytime heat isn’t intense. Since we have more daylight you can plan a later ceremony start time. A great start time for your ceremony without a first look would be 3pm. If you are planning a first look I would do a 4 or 5pm ceremony start time depending on travel between venues and photo locations.
Summer weddings are my favourite! I love the heat and those long summer nights! A lot of couples still plan a 2pm ceremony in the summer and unless your outdoor ceremony location is fully shaded you really are doing a disservice to yourself and your guests. With our sunset not being until 10-11pm in the summer I get that a 6pm ceremony time isn’t ideal however if you plan your timeline out you can really make this day work well for everyone and end up with the most beautiful light. For an outdoor ceremony without a first look I recommend a 5pm ceremony if you are brave enough to wing it. I love these ceremony times because while it means a bit later of a dinner the sun isn’t as harsh and I can still steal the couple for sunset photos during the reception. With a first look followed by a ceremony/reception at the same location or within a very close distance I say go for doing your first look photos followed by all the bridal party and parent portraits. Immediately after your 6 or 7pm ceremony you can jump into cocktail hour and dinner before the party really gets going… oh and still run out for some sunset portraits!
Fall weddings… ahhh the fall colours are the most magical and that fall golden hour is unlike anything else. Maybe it is a tie between fall and summer weddings for me. The bugs have finally disappeared, the evenings are a bit shorter and the heat is usually back to where it won’t melt your makeup the moment you step outside! For that ceremony without a first look you can plan to start around 2 or 3pm. With a first look you can aim for a 4pm ceremony start time, this gives you time to get the post ceremony portraits then head to the reception and still sneak out for a dessert time sunset portrait session.
These are just “ideal” ceremony start times, your best bet to properly plan is to really nail down a timeline around the parts of the day that the two of you value the most. Where you want to spend your time, your moments and make your most incredible memories. If you do opt for an afternoon ceremony in full sun I would strongly suggest adding sheer curtains to your alter if shade isn’t available as well have the groom standing with his back to the sun so you are in his shadow vs squinting into the sun. You can find more about timeline planning here.