Wedding Planning 101: How to Choose the Best Ceremony Time

Wedding Wednesday

May 18, 2020

Today’s all about what time to start your wedding ceremony! Lighting can make a huge difference in how your wedding photos turn out. Things to take into consideration: time of year, best light for portraits, how long your ceremony is and whether or not you’re doing a first look. The one thing you don’t want to risk is running out of light and having to rush your portraits. 

Here are top five considerations to help pick the best ceremony time

Visit your wedding venue. 

Visit your venue, practice walking down the aisle, and look how the sun is hitting you and your partner standing at the altar. Then, ask yourself the following questions: Are you in full shade? Is half your face in full sun and the other half in full shade? Ideally, you want to either be in full sun or a full shadow. Are you squinting? Does the sun seem to be too hot for you and possibly your guests? 

five considerations for the best ceremony time by Dallas Wedding Photographer Kyrsten Ashlay Photography


A few factors to consider when choosing your ceremony time: are you having a first look and length of ceremony. If you are not having a first look, it is best to have an earlier ceremony to ensure you have enough time afterwards for your portraits, family formals, and wedding party photos. However, if you’re having a first look, typically you only need to worry about family formals and sunset romantics afterwards.

Next, is your ceremony going to be short & sweet or lengthy? If your ceremony is going to be shorter, then you have more time afterwards. Whereas on the flip side, the longer your ceremony, the more time you need to factor in for your portraits afterwards.

Do your research. 

There are many great websites online that will tell you when is sunrise and sunset for the best light. My favorite is You can type in the location, choose the date, and it will tell you the exact times for sunrise and sunset. Typically, 1-2 hours prior to sunset the light is the softest and most complimentary for portraits. If sunset romantics are of utmost importance to you, I would be sure to leave at minimum 30 minutes before sunset for romantics. 

five considerations for the best ceremony time by Dallas Wedding Photographer Kyrsten Ashlay Photography

Your Wedding Date. 

Make sure to schedule your wedding during a month that is most comfortable for you. Here is a good guideline to follow for the best ceremony times:

Spring or Fall Weddings: 

Depending on the month, sunset is going to be approximately 6pm – 7:30pm. This means the later your ceremony time the less daylight left for portraits. A first look would solve this problem and after the ceremony can be used for family formals and sunset romantics. If you’ve decided against a first look, starting your ceremony closer to 3:30 – 4:30p is recommended. 

Summer Weddings:

Besides how flippin’ hot summer is, summer weddings are my favorite. Summer weddings have the widest variety of options since the sun doesn’t set until 8 – 8:30pm (and, sometimes even later). If you’ve dreamed of a later ceremony time, it’s totally doable with or without a first look. Since, typically sunset romantics are typically done during the reception. 

Winter Weddings: 

Winter weddings are much more challenging when it comes to daylight. In the winter, sunset is close to 5:30pm. This means if you do not have a first look, your ceremony should be no later than 3pm to still have time for portraits. First looks for winter weddings are the best option to have a later ceremony time. 

five considerations for the best ceremony time by Dallas Wedding Photographer Kyrsten Ashlay Photography

Talk to your Team. 

Your wedding coordinator and wedding photographer will know what times that couples tend to get married at your venue and the best times for taking photos. They can also tell you what the most popular times are and why. They’re the experts and they want to help you! Trust me! 

Kyrsten Ashlay Photography is a Dallas Wedding Photographer specializing in romantic, genuine, raw imagery for wildly in love couples.  I hope you found this information incredibly helpful as you plan your upcoming Dallas wedding. Still trying to nail down the perfect wedding date? Here you go!  If you’re looking for a wedding photographer to capture your special day in Dallas or  the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, I’d love to hear from you! Or have you seen enough and want to book this Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Wedding Photographer for your upcoming wedding or event?! Send me a note and let me treat you to coffee (or a gin&tonic) – can’t wait to connect!

five considerations for the best ceremony time by Dallas Wedding Photographer Kyrsten Ashlay Photography

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