One of the most important aspects of planning a wedding is figuring out your timeline, and it can be pretty daunting. When should everything happen? How are you supposed to know the best time to have your ceremony? You haven’t done this before! Sure, you’ve been to a few weddings, but you were too busy drinking Prosecco and getting boomerangs to take note of their schedule.
Well don’t worry, because in this article I’m going to look at all the factors to consider when it comes to choosing the perfect wedding ceremony time…
Time of Year
The time of year you’re getting married is crucial because it will affect how many daylight hours there are. Something people don’t often consider is how much light there will there be both during and after their ceremony.
If you’re getting married in the Summer, sunset might not be until 9pm or even later, meaning there’s plenty of daylight all day long for your ceremony and everything that follows. On the other hand, if you’re getting married in the Winter, sunset could be as early as 4pm. This means that you have much fewer hours of light. As such, it’s probably a good idea to get married earlier in the day to ensure that: (1) there’s enough light during the ceremony to ensure your photographer and videographer can get nice shots of you with natural light, and (2) there’s enough light after the ceremony for your family photos and couple shoot. If the weather on the day is a particularly dull one, you may lose the light at around 3pm, and so a ceremony at some point between 12pm and 1pm might not be a bad idea!
Another important factor you may want to consider is the location of your ceremony.
If you’re getting married outdoors (especially abroad), you might want to avoid the hottest time of the day for your ceremony. The last thing you want is your guests being slowly picked off one-by-one from heat exhaustion while you’re saying your vows. Therefore, a ceremony some time after 4pm might be best. However, remember to keep an eye on that sunset time and ensure you leave an hour or so for photos after the ceremony before you lose the light (maybe even two hours, as the light is often best between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours before the sun sets).
If you’re ceremony is indoors, then you’ll probably want to ensure your wedding happens at the height of the sun so that you can make the most of the natural light streaming through the windows. Therefore, 1pm-3pm is ideal!
On an average wedding day, you’re going to have many different components: getting ready, the ceremony, the drinks reception, family photos, couple shoot, dinner, speeches, and dancing. Therefore, when figuring out your timeline, it’s a good idea to think about where everything else will lie too, so that you can pace things appropriately.
The later your ceremony is, the more rushed things will be. For example, a 4pm ceremony would mean a very leisurely getting ready, followed by a hectic 3-5 hour window of ceremony, drinks reception, family photos, couple shoot, dinner, and speeches before your DJ/band starts.
On the other hand, if your ceremony is too early, you risk having your guests waiting around for hours in-between the formal stuff. I’ve been to weddings with early ceremonies and then a huge gap before the meal, resulting in hungry guests hovering around the kitchen doors, like vultures, waiting for canapés.
So what exactly is the best time?
From my perspective as a videographer, a ceremony starting between 1pm-2pm is the ideal time, as it means the least amount of rushing (and therefore adequate time to make sure I’m prepared and have all my gear set up for each event throughout the day). There’s plenty of time in the morning for you and your groomsmen/bridesmaids to get ready, and for your guests to travel down and arrive in time. Additionally, there’s plenty of remaining daylight for photos and your couple shoot (regardless of the time of year), and plenty of time for the rest of your scheduled events, without guests having to wait around for hours.
Here’s an example timeline:
- 13:30 – Ceremony
- 14:00 – Drinks reception (during which family photos and couple shoot will happen)
- 16:00 – Called in for Wedding Breakfast
- 16:30 – Wedding Breakfast served
- 18:30 – Speeches
- 19:30 – Cake cutting & First Dance
Of course, it’s ultimately your day, so only you should decide what works best for you. But hopefully you’ve found something in this article helpful with planning your wedding and choosing your perfect wedding ceremony time.