The Best Time to Start Your Ceremony | Lynchburg Wedding Photographer

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December 18, 2020

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I’m Emily! James, and I are a husband and wife wedding photography team based in Lynchburg, Virginia. We specialize in weddings & engagements and serve our EH Couples in Virginia, South Carolina, and beyond!

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WEDDING DAY TIMELINE GUIDE

Create your custom wedding day timeline to have a stress free & fun wedding day. Sample timelines included for each season!

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glass hill wedding

Wedding Wednesday with Em Series | Lynchburg Wedding Photographer


This has been a requested post for awhile now and I am honestly so excited for it to be my last big wedding planning tips post for this year. Yes that’s right!! This is the last education based blog post for the rest of the year because I am working on my favorite post of the year: The 2nd annual Dundee Award post!! This was a crowd favorite last year but it takes time putting it together. So I will be finishing up that post next week! YAY!

So let’s dive into this tricky topic of when you should plan on starting your ceremony.

Choosing your ceremony times also dictates when the reception starts and how many portraits you get in your final gallery!! So it’s important to consider your timeline before sending out those invitations.


Here is my post that goes through a complete timeline layout
if you want to see what your entire day will look like!!


seclusion wedding

Before we go into the specifics we need to start with which timeline type you want for your day! My couples choose between 2 timelines: A Timeline with a First Look or a Traditional Timeline. A traditional timeline also includes a First Look No Peek or sometimes referred to as a First Touch.

These two different approaches really affect how the day
is laid out and how your ceremony & reception will unfold.

Seeing the timelines side by side may help you make your decision as well. So have your photographer create some timeline options! I take this task off my couple’s hands because I have done this for 4+ years now and I have worked with so many different timelines in different seasons!

So first, let’s break this down into 2 different timelines options!


glass hill wedding

First Look Timeline

My personal favorite! Here is what this timeline entails and what I recommend for your day!

  • Start your ceremony anywhere between 1-4 hours before sunset (I will have examples of this for each season in a moment).

  • We will take most of your portraits before the ceremony. This would include all of bridal party and the first set of bride & groom portraits.

  • After the ceremony, plan on setting aside 15-30 minutes for family formals & 10-15 minutes for newlywed portraits. For some seasons this is the last opportunity for bride & groom portraits!

  • During the reception, if there is time & light available, we love to take our couple out again for 15 minutes to get BONUS portraits of them in the golden hour glow!!- My favorite time for portraits! But keep in mind, this might not be possible for some timelines in fall & winter.

The amount of time needed for portraits in-between
your ceremony & reception is realistically 45 minutes- an hour.


seclusion wedding

First Look No Peek &
Traditional Timeline

Here is what this timeline entails and what I recommend for your day!

  • 1) Start your ceremony anywhere between 2-4 hours before sunset (I will have examples of this for each season).

  • Depending on the light, we will either immediately start family formals or bride & groom portraits. Plan on setting aside 20-30 minutes for family formals

  • We try to get most of the bridal party photos done before hand but we will still need 10-15 minutes for all of bridal party before or after bride & groom portraits.

  • In addition to family & bridal party, we will then have to set aside at least 30 minutes for bride & groom portraits. For some seasons, this is the ONLY time for bride & groom portraits.

  • During the reception, if there is time & light available, we love to take our couple out again for 15 minutes to get BONUS portraits of them in the golden hour glow!!- My favorite time for portraits! But keep in mind, this might not be possible for some seasons.

The amount of time needed for portraits in-between
your ceremony & reception is realistically 1.5-2 hours.


So now that you know what timelines to choose between,

Let’s break this down into seasons


Roanoke Wedding Photographer

 

Spring Wedding

Weddings in March, April, & May
*These times are based on a ceremony lasting 30 minutes*

These months offer great weather and the days start to become longer and longer allowing more time in the evening for photos! When choosing your ceremony time during these months, think about how many opportunities you can have for photos.

If you want golden hour portraits you may need to pick a time that allows you to sneak out during the reception in that good light. If the sun sets earlier and you have later ceremony you may not have time for those portraits.

Here are some examples of when you could start your spring ceremony & reception:

  • First Look Timeline:

    • Sunset time: 5:55PM – Ceremony starts between: 2-5 – Reception starts between: 3-6

    • Sunset time: 7:40PM – Ceremony starts between: 3:30-6:30 – Reception starts between: 4:30-7:30

    • Sunset time: 8:15PM – Ceremony starts between: 4-7 – Reception starts between: 5-8

  • First Look No Peek or Traditional Timeline:

    • Sunset time: 5:55PM – Ceremony starts between: 2-4 – Reception starts between: 4-6

    • Sunset time: 7:40PM – Ceremony starts between: 3:30-5:30 – Reception starts between: 5:30-7:30

    • Sunset time: 8:15PM – Ceremony starts between: 4-6 – Reception starts between: 6-8


glass hill wedding

Summer Wedding

Weddings in June, July, & August
*These times are based on a ceremony lasting 30 minutes*

Ahh summertime. Where the days are as long as they are HOT. This is a very popular time to get married for so many reasons but as far as timeline is concerned, it’s the easiest to work with!! When choosing your ceremony time during these months, think about how many opportunities you can have for photos.

If you want golden hour portraits these months make it really easy!! Since the sun sets later you can have an evening ceremony and sneak out for a few minutes during your reception to grab some bonus photos!

Here are some examples of when you could start your summer ceremony & reception:

  • First Look Timeline:

    • Sunset time: 8:45PM – Ceremony starts between: 4:30-7:30 – Reception starts between: 5:30-8:30

    • Sunset time: 9:10PM – Ceremony starts between: 5-8 – Reception starts between: 6-9

    • Sunset time: 8:07PM – Ceremony starts between: 4-7 – Reception starts between: 5-8

  • First Look No Peek or Traditional Timeline:

    • Sunset time: 8:45PM – Ceremony starts between: 4:30-6:30 – Reception between starts: 6:30-8:30

    • Sunset time: 9:10PM – Ceremony starts between: 5-7 – Reception between starts: 7-9

    • Sunset time: 8:07PM – Ceremony starts between: 4-6 – Reception between starts: 6-8


Seclusion wedding

Fall Wedding

Weddings in September, October, & November
*These times are based on a ceremony lasting 30 minutes*

My FAVORITE time of year!! The colors, the temperatures, the holidays, etc. are what make this time so special. But it also means that day lights saving changes up the sunset time once again. When choosing your ceremony time during these months, think about how many opportunities you can have for photos.

If you want golden hour portraits, some months you may have to have a pretty early ceremony!! Since the sun sets earlier, you may have to choose the first look timeline if you must have a ceremony time after the sun sets. Once the natural light is gone your portraits will require flash to achieve our style of photography. If you absolutely do not want a first look then you may have to consider having an early afternoon ceremony.

Here are some examples of when you could start your fall ceremony & reception:

  • First Look Timeline:

    • Sunset time: 7:17PM – Ceremony starts between: 3-6 – Reception starts between: 4-7

    • Sunset time: 6:40PM – Ceremony starts between: 2:30-5:30 – Reception starts between: 3:30-6:30

    • Sunset time: 4:32PM – Ceremony starts between: 12:30-3:30 – Reception starts between: 1:30-4:30

  • First Look No Peek or Traditional Timeline:

    • Sunset time: 7:17PM – Ceremony starts between: 3-5 – Reception starts between: 5-7

    • Sunset time: 6:40PM – Ceremony starts between: 2:30-4:30 – Reception starts between: 4:30-6:30

    • Sunset time: 4:32PM – Ceremony starts between: 12:30-2:30 – Reception starts between: 2:30-4:30


The Maridor Wedding

Winter Wedding

Weddings in December, January, & February!
*These times are based on a ceremony lasting 30 minutes*

Not my favorite time of the year for weddings if I’m being honest, but I do prefer the cold weather in general! Brides getting married in these months need to be prepared with a fur coat or jacket of some kind because portraits in this weather can be really tough!

The sunset is consistently early in the day forcing my style of photography to finish up a lot sooner. If you are planning on having an evening ceremony & you book with us or a natural light photographer, then you must share a first look. Once the sun goes down we do have flashes for the reception but it would take a long while to do all the bride & groom portraits with flash. So because the time for sunset is always early these timelines require an earlier ceremony or a first look timeline for an evening ceremony.

Here are some examples of when you could start your winter ceremony & reception:

  • First Look Timeline:

    • Sunset time: 4:18PM – Ceremony starts between: 12-3 – Reception starts between: 1-4

    • Sunset time: 4:45PM – Ceremony starts between: 12:30-3:30 – Reception starts between: 1:30-4:30

    • Sunset time: 5:30PM – Ceremony starts between: 1:30-4:30 – Reception starts between: 2:30-5:30

  • First Look No Peek or Traditional Timeline:

    • Sunset time: 4:18PM – Ceremony starts between: 12-2 – Reception starts between: 2-4

    • Sunset time: 4:45PM – Ceremony starts between: 12:30-2:30 – Reception starts between: 2:30-4:30

    • Sunset time: 5:30PM – Ceremony starts between: 1:30-4:30 – Reception starts between: 3:30-5:30


husband and wife wedding photographers

To help you with planning, I made a FREE downloadable guide that you can save to your phone or print out to create your timeline! My hope is that this guide will help you come up with a game plan to make a wedding day schedule that reflects what is important to you!

Until next time,

Emily


Learn more about our services here!


the seclusion wedding


the seclusion wedding


husband and wife wedding photographers


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Hey there, I’m Emily! James, and I are a husband and wife wedding photography team based in Lynchburg, Virginia. We specialize in weddings and engagements and serve Virginia, DC Area, South Carolina, and beyond!


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I’m Emily! James, and I are a husband and wife wedding photography team based in Lynchburg, Virginia. We specialize in weddings & engagements and serve our EH Couples in Virginia, South Carolina, and beyond!

welome to my blog

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Hello

WEDDING DAY TIMELINE GUIDE

Create your custom wedding day timeline to have a stress free & fun wedding day. Sample timelines included for each season!

DOWNLOAD

FREE DOWNLOAD

STEAL THIS
wedding day timeline GUIDE

Create your custom wedding day timeline to have a stress free & fun wedding day. Sample timelines included for each season!

free download