Wedding Ceremony

You are killin’ it at checking off your to-dos, and are starting to design your wedding invitations. Location? Check. Date? Check. Wedding ceremony start time? Uhhh…?

Don’t stress! We’re going to walk you through all the considerations for when to start your wedding ceremony. By the end of this you are going to be dusting off your hands and sending those wedding invites to the printer!

Here are our top six considerations for when to start your wedding ceremony.


Ever heard of the golden hour? Well it’s not fake, but a real time of day that is the most ideal, flattering light – especially for your wedding photographer! The two hours before sunset is ideal timing for family photos, wedding party photos and bride + groom portraits (You know, some of the most important photos on your wedding day). So, when planning your ceremony start time, aim to have your ceremony end about 1.5 hours before sunset to capture the best lighting for pictures.

Be aware that the time of year effects the sunset. During the summer months the sunset is much later, so you would want to consider starting your ceremony later in the day. While during the winter months, the sunset can be as early as 5:00 pm, so you would want to start your ceremony at 3:00 pm to allow ample daylight for pictures after your ceremony.


How much time do you have your venue rented for? Are the hours ample or strict? When considering your ceremony start time, you need to leave ample time for vendors to set-up before your ceremony. Typically vendors need at least 1-2 hours to set up for your wedding.


Your ceremony length can vary depending on if you are including any special events (knot-tying, sand pouring, unity candle, etc.) or any religious traditions. Definitely discuss ceremony length with your officiant, but I suggest planning 30 minutes for your typical wedding ceremony.


Are you doing a first look before your ceremony? This will determine how much time you need for pictures after your ceremony. If you are doing a first look and planning to get wedding party and family photos out of the way before your ceremony, then you will require less time after your ceremony for pictures and could push your ceremony start time back a little further.


Is your reception at the same location as your ceremony? As you decide on start time for your ceremony and reception, you’ll want to consider how much time it will take to travel between the two locations.


Below is a general timeline for a 30 minute ceremony with a sunset time of 7:00 pm:

Ceremony | 5:00 – 5:30 pm

Cocktail Hour | 5:45 – 7:00 pm

Reception Begins | 7:00 pm

Now you are ready to check ordering wedding invites off your to-do list!

Need a Colorado Wedding Photographer for Your Small Wedding?

Meet Larissa + Bailey! As two Colorado Natives who have photographed over 150+ couples in 100+ locations across Colorado, we specialize in creating a different kind of wedding day that is just as adventurous as you are. We use our experience and knowledge to craft a different kind of wedding day that feels completely authentic to you. Want to hike to a high alpine lake? We can give you trail options for that! Want to canoe along the banks of a mountain lake? We can tell you the best lakes to do it on! Want to watch the sunset from the top of the world? We’ll lead you to our favorite spots for sunset! Book your Colorado wedding photographer today!





What Time Should Your Wedding Ceremony Start?

  1. Traci says:

    Hi there! Such a great short article, thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *