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! I’m 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 my 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?

Meet Larissa. Larissa is an adventure wedding and elopement photographer based out of Colorado. She’d take and adventure in the mountains over shopping any day and prefers and date night snuggling on the couch over dinner and a movie. Larissa’s obsessed with: morning snuggles with her rescue pup, Hazel, hot chocolate, a good book and yoga pants. She believes in making you forget a camera’s even there, that your story is the actual thing she wants to capture on camera and that real, raw moments are more important than perfectly curated poses. 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!

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