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Creating A Wedding Timeline Series | Part One – Ceremony

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Ohio wedding photographer obsessed with love stories & people. This blog is the home for some of my favorite things — from weddings, engagement sessions & more personal things. 

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i'm Courtney

Let’s face it. Creating a wedding timeline is stressful for most couples. I mean, for a lot of us, it’s our first time planning a wedding. How in the world are we supposed to know how to create a wedding timeline which our ENTIRE day is based on? Thankfully, with almost one hundred weddings under my belt, I can help you create the perfect timeline that will help make for a stress free day!

It is typical to plan a timeline out of order. So today, we are starting with what should be the base of all timelines… The Ceremony. Deciding when to have your ceremony dictates what time you will start getting ready, how long you have for photos, what time you can start your reception and many other factors.

So, how do you know when to have your ceremony?

Let’s start with looking at the overall picture for your dream wedding day. Will you be getting married outdoors or possibly want any of your photos outdoors? Most people want at least part of their day photographed outdoors, because who doesn’t want dreamy, glowing photos in the beauty the outdoors has to offer? If this is you, then you have to figure out what time sunsets in your chosen season, even on your chosen day.

Thankfully for you there are all kinds of apps and websites where you can plug in your specific date and know exactly what time the sun goes down. I highly recommend this easy to use one from the Farmers Almanac, and its FREE! While it is possible to take photos at nigh time with flash, the glowy and dreamy photos I create for my clients are taken during the daytime hours, with my favorites being right before the sun sets! But that doesn’t mean you should get married right as the sun is setting.

If you are wanting to take family photos after the ceremony and have them outdoors, you will want to factor in about 30-45 minutes after your ceremony for family portraits. If you are not doing a first look and need to do your bridal party and newlywed portraits after the ceremony as well, you will want to add an additional 45 minutes to that time as well. A no first look ceremony should typically start at least 2-3 hours before sunset or earlier, depending on how long your ceremony will be. Where a first look can allow your ceremony to be as late as 90 minutes before the sun sets.

Another factor to consider is the season you choose. The sun could potentially set after 9pm in the summer months. So remembering that your guests may get a little crabby and hangry if they are not served dinner until this time, its okay to definitely have an earlier ceremony time! Or vice versa, if you choose a winter wedding, the sun often sets at 4:30 to 5:00 pm. So if you want outdoor photos for your winter wedding, you will want to schedule those before your ceremony or hold your ceremony early enough that your photos can still be taken afterwards, before sunset.

What You Should Avoid When Choosing a Ceremony Time

No matter what season you choose, the number one thing I recommend my couples to avoid is scheduling their outdoor ceremony for when the sun in the highest in the sky. In the summer months, the sun is at its highest around noon. When the sun is very high in the sky, it’s definitely warm out, but the sun also creates dark shadows and unflattering light in photos. Because most of my couples prefer to be photographed in a flattering way on their wedding day, I definitely recommend avoiding a very early afternoon ceremony outdoors in the summer months.

You will also want to avoid a very late ceremony, as the sun is setting. If you have always dreamed of a night time ceremony, you should absolutely have one! But keep in mind the style of photography you prefer if you choose to have a nighttime ceremony. My style of photography means I use the sun or window light to give you dreamy photos with naturally smooth and glowing skin. I only use my flash during the reception or if your getting ready room is very dark. So scheduling a night time ceremony could affect the way your photos look.

I know its a lot, so lets recap:

Step One: Determine the sunset time on your specific date

Step Two: Determine if all photos will be done after ceremony

Step Three: Schedule Ceremony a MINIUM of 90 minutes before sunset, 2-3 hours if you aren’t doing a first look

Step Four: Determine approximately when you would like to eat dinner

Step Five: Avoid Noon or Harsh Sun

Step Six: If you have already chosen me as your photographer, you don’t even have to stress BECAUSE I WILL HELP YOU CREATE YOUR TIMELINE

If you are superstitious…

The old wives tales say: Speak wedding vows on the upward strokes of the clock hands and you’ll work well together in marriage. This means your ceremony would start after the :30 of what ever hour you choose so that the hands of the clock are moving upward towards the next hour and not downward towards the :30. It’s definitely superstition but still super common to follow these days! I firmly believe my #CourtneyPaigeCouples have marriages that will last a lifetime, so they shouldn’t be worried that the hour they choose will affect the outcome of their marriages. (I wont lie though… I did get married on the upward moving hands of the clock though, because… tradition lol!)

Part 2 – Getting Ready coming next Tuesday!

Creating a timeline is stressful and one of the top questions I get from my couples. I hope this series will be helpful in taking a little of the stress off of your wedding planning plate! If you need more help, or have questions I would love to connect! OR if you’d like to find out more about becoming a #CourtneyPaigeCouple head back to the home page and fill out a contact form and I will be in touch!

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