If you are like most couples, you booked your venue and they gave you an arbitrary start time. Sound familiar? While it that is great because it gives you a starting point, it is also detrimental, as not all weddings should start at the same time!
And with that being said, one of the biggest mistakes I see couples making is not really thinking through their ceremony start time. So often when you book a venue, they give you their 'standard' start time, but that isn't going to be a good fit for every wedding. Every wedding has different needs and depending on the time of year, that start time is going to be very different. Below are a few key points I recommend before getting your ceremony start time set in stone.
Photo: Renne Hollinghead Photography
1. The Time Of Sunset
When it comes to the time of sunset, there are a few factors that comes into play. The first comes down to where the sun is located when you are saying your 'I Dos.' I can't tell you how often photographers will tell me "These photos would have been sooo much better if we would have started 30 minutes later!" And this kills me, as ceremony photos tend to be the MOST framed photos of the day. Before you set the time in stone, be sure to pay attention to exactly where the sun is located during your ceremony and be sure to also run in by your photographer. I will be the first to admit that photographers have MUCH more insight that we do!
On a similar note, if you are getting married in the winter, you want to be sure there is enough daylight to get all the photos you and your fiance are wanting. For example, I've had couples want to do a sunset ceremony without doing a first look (aka. seeing each other before the ceremony). The challenge here is that there wouldn't be any lighting for their couple photos, family photos or detail photos of their reception space. I find that once couples realize this, they either change their ceremony start time or embrace the idea of a first look. Understanding when the sun sets in relations to the day as a whole is just SO insanely important!
Photo: Elicia Bryan
2. Length Of The Event
The length of your wedding actually comes into play more than you would expect, especially if you are getting married during the winter months. I want you to keep in mind that a standard wedding is 6 hours in length from the start of the ceremony to the end of the reception. I find this tends to be a really good length. Anything shorter feels very rushed and anything much longer starts to feel drawn out for guests. Keeping this in mind is helpful in thinking through how late you want guests to be celebrating with you. For example, If your guests are more family oriented, then you aren't going to want to start / end as late, whereas if your crowd are big partiers and dancers, then starting a little bit later isn't a problem.
3. Talk To You Vendors:
Talking to your vendors about your ceremony start time is something I CANNOT stress enough. I can't begin to tell you how many couples I have worked with and wished they would have talked to be about their ceremony start time before they ordered their invitations.And here is why: You have never gotten married before. You don't know what factors to be looking for and while something might seem okay on paper, it may not work well in reality. Now, when I say you should talk to your vendors I am referring to are your planner, your photographer and your venue.
When you speak to your planner about the start time, they are going to be able to give you a lot more insight into the logistics of the day and what is going to make the most sense for your day. If they know you don't want to do a first look or REALLY want to do sunset photos, they want to ensure that is going to logistically work into the timing of the day. For example, we don't want toasts to be occurring during sunset and we want to be sure you have enough lighting for family photos after the ceremony!
The second person to speak to is your venue; particularly is they have multiple events going on per day. If they have more that one ceremony occurring in a day, they are going to try and stagger them so that guests are not arriving at the same time. For you, as a couple, it;s important to understand what time that other ceremony is occurring and it's important for you to ensure you have enough time to work with the venue to ensure you ceremony time is starting when it's ideal for YOU; not when it's ideal for them.
The last, and most important, person I recommend speaking to is your photographer. Your photographer is the one who understands lighting and knows EXACTLY when your photos are going to look best. Your photographer also know exactly how much time is necessary for you to get all the photos you are wanting. With that being said, I ALWAYS recommend speaking to your photographer before getting your ceremony start time set in stone. Photos tend to be the most important aspect of the day for people, and your photographer is going to be the gate keeper for when those photos are going to occur.