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Hello, and welcome to the CSP blog! I'm Chris Sosa—ice-cream-lover, encourager, and wedding photographer based in Miami, Florida! My passion is photographing timeless estate weddings for joyful couples who put their marriage first! Grab a pint of your favorite ice cream, curl up on the couch, and enjoy scrolling through some of my recent weddings, getting all the latest planning inspiration, and learning from my best photography tips!

Welcome to part two of our series on choosing the perfect ceremony time for your wedding day! The ceremony time is often one of the first decisions to make while planning a wedding… But if you choose the wrong time, you risk running out of daylight for your wedding portraits, and you’ll be rushed all day to make up for it!

We want you and your love to have a stress-free wedding day! So in part two, we’re telling you exactly when to start your ceremony, so you’ll have plenty of light for your photos!

But first, make sure you’ve read part one to make sure you have a general idea of what your wedding day timeline will look like.

Now that you’ve caught up, let’s get into it!

Plan your ceremony time around sunset!

While good photographers can shoot beautiful portraits at any time of day, our favorite time for photos is about an hour before sunset—what photographers call the “golden hour!” This is when the sunlight is at its most glowy and romantic!

If you want bride and groom portraits in natural light, it’s super important to find out what time sunset will be on your wedding day! The easiest way to do this is by doing a quick Google search for “sunset in [your wedding city] on [your wedding date]”. For example, when we were planning our wedding, we just typed “Sunset Davie Fl November 2 2018” into Google, and the time popped up right at the top of the search results! You can also use a website like or to help you.

Google search results for sunset time on our wedding date to help choose the best wedding ceremony time

Once you know the sunset time, you can use that to choose the perfect ceremony time and make sure there will still be enough light for your photos!

If you are having a first look, begin your ceremony approximately two hours before sunset.

This is assuming you’ve taken your bridal party portraits and most of your bride and groom portraits before the ceremony. It will ensure you have time for:

  • A 30 minute ceremony
  • 30 minutes of family portraits
  • 30 ish minutes of glowy bride and groom portraits (because you already took some before the ceremony!)
  • A little time for you to join your cocktail hour, and/or to hide away before you make your grand entrance to the reception!

Another benefit to starting your ceremony two hours before sunset is that the sun will be softer and lower! Translation: for outdoor ceremonies, this is when the light first starts getting dreamy and romantic! Win win!!

Quick tip: If you know your family will be ready on time, you can even choose to do your family portraits before the ceremony! Micaela and I both have small families, so we did all of our bridal party and family portraits before the ceremony. All that was left after the ceremony was to take some extra portraits of us!

If this is the case, you can start your ceremony a little bit later. You’ll still have plenty of time to get some beautiful golden light portraits and enjoy your cocktail hour! However, this doesn’t work for all families (like if Dad is always late, or if Grandma can’t be out for long). For many families, the best time to do family portraits is immediately after the ceremony, while everyone is already gathered.

If you are not having a first look, begin your ceremony at least three hours before sunset!

If you want to have a relaxed wedding day experience, I cannot stress how important this is!! You do not want to be rushed through your photos!

This will ensure you have enough time for:

  • A 30 minute ceremony
  • 30 minutes of family portraits
  • 30 minutes of bridal party portraits
  • 45-60 minutes of bride and groom portraits
  • A little time to hide away before you make your grand entrance to the reception!

Unfortunately, it will also cause your reception to start a lot later. That means leaving your guests waiting around at an extra long cocktail hour (make that cocktail hours) while you get all your photos done!

When these rules fail…

Here’s the thing… Every wedding is completely different!

The rules above work for most weddings, but they’re not one-size-fits-all! Depending on the time of year, your wedding locations, and other factors, you may need to adjust your ceremony time to make things work!

So don’t miss part three, where we’ll discuss the most common factors that could affect your ceremony time! It will help make sure you still have enough light to get all the wedding portraits you’ve been dreaming of!

Planning Tips, Timeline Tips

February 12, 2019

Choosing the Perfect Wedding Ceremony Time (Part Two)


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