When chatting with my clients one of the first questions I get asked shortly after being booked is how to plan the ceremony start time to help the day flow best. I love getting this question because it means nothing is locked in yet and I get to give my expert opinion based on my years of experience and if my couple goes with my advice, then my day is made easier on their wedding day. Win, win!
The first thing to consider when planning your ceremony start time is how the chosen time will affect your bridal portraits afterwards. You don’t want to be having your portraits in the dark, nor do you want to have them when the light is still really bright and the ideal time of day for soft, backlit portraits is the final 45 minutes before sunset.
So if I am offering advice to one of my couples I first look to see what time sunset will be on their wedding day. Once I know this, I know the time we have to stop taking photos as the sun will be gone and I can then work backwards from there. I tend to like 45-60 minutes for portraits (including bridal party) so let’s say sunset was at 7.15pm, I’d want to be starting portraits at 6.15-6.30pm.
Back to the ceremony, unless there is a traditional mass or more than 120 guests at a ceremony I estimate 90 minutes of time for this part of the day; 30 minutes for the ceremony, 30 minutes for congratulations, 30 minutes for family photos. So we’re starting portraits at 6.15pm remember which means we need the ceremony to start at 4.45pm (but no-one has a 4.45pm ceremony so I would suggest 4.30pm).
No matter how much time you are planning for portraits or what time you’re entering the reception, always remember that the ceremony start time will impact the rest of the day and in particular those beautiful portraits at sunset that we love so much here in Australia. Every wedding is different and any good wedding photographer will be able to offer advice based on your wedding day to help you get the best possible photographs. Let’s get planning!