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Best Time & Location for Your Outdoor Wedding Ceremony

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post about wedding planning.

In my experience as a wedding photographer, I’ve seen wedding ceremonies take place as early as 12pm and as late as 7pm. How do you decide what’s the optimal time to start your outdoor ceremony that’s most beneficial to photography? Note that I said outdoor ceremony because it’s much harder to control sun light than it is to brighten up an indoor space with flashes.

I get that there are venue restrictions on the length and start time frame of wedding ceremonies and that circumstances are unique for each wedding, but the purpose of this post is to give you as much information as possible so that you can make a conscious decision what time is best for your wedding ceremony.

Here are my two cents to having a picture-perfect outdoor wedding ceremony.

Get it close to sunset.Log Cabin summer outdoor wedding ceremony kiss

Sunset times vary greatly by season/month. Obviously you don’t want to have your ceremony in pitch dark (unless that’s the mood you’re going for). The rule of thumb is to start your outdoor ceremony about 2 hours (or less) before sunset, which will give you AMAZING light. Most ceremonies last roughly 30 minutes, this plays very nicely into your timeline. You can do bridal party and family formals after ceremony to take advantage of the awesome light.

Move into the shade.summer wedding ceremony under shaded tree in Cambridge park

Some venues have designated ceremony locations (usually with the best view) and that’s great. For others that give you the option to choose your spot within the venue parameter, pick a shaded spot if your ceremony is in the early afternoon when the sun is overhead and casts unflattering shadows on your faces. This is especially important for your first look because it happens before your ceremony; finding a shaded spot will definitely make your photos more Pinterest-worthy. However, on overcast days, you can pick any spot of your choice because the light will be even and soft.

I’m purely speaking from a photographer’s perspective. I may be biased but I think it’s so worth it to move your timeline around to get the best lighting; yes, sometimes your guests may prefer an earlier time or a different background (does it really matter if it’s blown-out in your photos?), but it’s your day and you deserve to have a picture-perfect ceremony. That’s why you hired a professional wedding photographer.

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