Yay!! You’re engaged! It’s springtime, school’s out for the summer, trees are a bloomin’, and yo’ finger be a blingin’!! It’s the perfect time to talk….CEREMONY TIMES!


Who better to tell you WHEN to have your ceremony than your friendly neighborhood photographer?! That’s me, Maddie Moreeeee! 😉


So let’s start by talking about the light. Have you ever heard some photographers gush about the light? It sounds super uppity.

Oh dahling, just look at this light. It’s ALLLLLLL about the light.

You can’t pay for that light!

That light makes my job worth it. (I may or may not have said that one myself. Guilty.)

Haven’t you ever heard about the golden hour? (In this super accusatory tone, like gah! Everybody take a chill pill.) So of course you kinda feel like an idiot because you don’t know when golden hour is, so you literally google, “when is golden hour?” because you don’t want to sound stupid. (Thank the Lord for Google!)  


Well, the thing is, as much as I don’t want to sound uppity and all, the light is important.

Let me tell you why.


If it’s too sunny, no clouds, and it’s beating down on you….you’re going to have some shadows all over your face. And you will have a hard time overpowering the sun with a little flash. It just happens.


Here are the problems we will face with a ceremony that is too early in the summer months (Like 3 or 4pm):

1. It’s hot! We live in the South, people. And you will be in a 30-50lb dress. Eeeeek. Sweaty, oily, and shiny. The trifecta of not ideal picture situations.

2. The sun is not in the best position for ceremony, and you also risk putting all of your other photos at a non-optimal time like high noon for couples shots. This causes weird shadows, intense light, raccoon eyes…

I HIGHLY recommend between a 6-7 o’clock ceremony time in the summer months. And if you are getting married on a Friday, move that sheesh on down between 6:30-7pm (because you have to account for 5 o’clock traffic making everyone late and frazzled! And that comes from personal experience…)! But don’t freak out, we will still have plenty of time! Sunset in the summer isn’t until 8:15-8:30.

Now, on the flip side, let’s talk about ceremony times being too late. This is often times an issue because we are planning a fall wedding in – uhh – May, so sunset timing is really misleading. Sunset moves up considerably in the fall months, and we do not have as much time. So, if it’s too dark, then here are the problems you face:

1. You risk your ceremony shots being blurry OR grainy (there is a difference). Why? Because photographers have to adjust camera settings to accommodate the lack of light, meaning longer shutter times or less detail. Lower shutter speed results in possible blurriness. Less detail results in graininess. Let me show you the difference. Instead of using my husband for my test model, well, meet Edison! Edi is my awesome cousin who came into town for a quick trip, so of course I had to put him to work. Lol! Here are three different pics of the same scene:        

This photo is a normal scene. Consider this to be a ceremony at an optimal time. In focus with detail.

Edison Test Shots for ceremony light

This photo is where I turned off the lights and slowed down my shutter speed. When you have to change your shutter speed, you risk blurry images. Like below.

Edison Test Shots for ceremony light

Below, I raised my shutter speed back up, but I had to compromise the level of detail. You can see all the dots below in the image, called “noise,” which is a little more distracting.

Edison Test Shots for ceremony light

2. You may have to let the photographer use flash. (Certainly not ideal during the ceremony as it is distracting (in my opinion.))

3. Not to mention, starting the ceremony late, there will literally be no light left for couples pictures IF you choose to have a traditional look. At least by having a first look, you get those photos for sure!

So what does this mean for YOU?

It means that if you are getting married in mid-October, IF you want to get married outside your ceremony time HAS to be around 5pm or earlier, and I strongly advise having a first look. If you are getting married after daylight savings time (early November to mid-March), your ceremony needs to be at 4pm or earlier. The later in March, the later the ceremony can go. 

Tip! Google: sunset in Memphis (or other location) on {wedding date}. Take that time and subtract an hour. IE: Sunset at 5:16pm. Ceremony should be at 4. (or 4:15, though that seems like a weird time.)

Now, this all being said, I would rather have a bright, super sunny ceremony in the summer than a dark ceremony in the fall. That is a personal opinion, but if we have to compromise, I would take more light than less.

I hope this little ceremony time advice has helped in your planning! And if you have any questions on it, just drop me a line! I’m happy to give my opinion…obviously. Lol!



Blog signature

Leave A


[…] light! Ahhhhhhhh – I could gush about it ALL DAY! I will say, this was a hair earlier than golden hour, and you can see it starting to soften up as we go through the […]