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3 Major Factors to Consider Before Setting Your Ceremony Time

When it comes to creating your Pennsylvania wedding day timeline there are three main factors that all couples need to take into consideration before finalizing their ceremony time. With some foresight, couples can optimize their day to get the most out of their venue, available lighting, and the best photos!



First and most important, the venue must be considered. All wedding venues have different rules when it comes to how long you’re able to be there and how late you’re able to stay. Review your contract and check timing with your venue coordinator. Some private venues will allow you full access to the venue for the entire day, giving more flexibility.


The first thing I check when speaking to a new couple about their wedding, is sunset time! Since my my style is dependent on natural light, it’s important that we plan your timeline around the time that the sun sets. Sunset varies based on time of year and location, but a quick Google search for, “[Date] [City] sunset time” will tell you what to plan for (and automatically take daylight savings into account).

When possible, I recommend planning your ceremony 90-120 minutes before sunset. Of course, in the middle of summer when sunset can be as late at 8:30 pm here in Pennsylvania, that may need to be adjusted slightly to best fit your ideal end time or venue restrictions. And if you aren’t planning to do a first look, be sure to take into account how long you’ll need for photos after your ceremony (this is extremely important for late fall/winter weddings).

Some questions to consider… Would you prefer sunset to happen at the end of cocktail hour and then your whole reception be photographed using artificial light? Or, maybe you plan for sunset to happen while guests are eating so that the entire front portion of your reception is in natural light but all of the dancing happens once it’s dark outside?


Similar to sunset, seasonality will also change throughout the year and have an impact on the ideal ceremony time for your wedding. If you’re planning to be married outside, a mid-day ceremony in the middle of summer won’t be entirely ideal for your guests’ comfort, or for pictures. Likewise, for a late fall or winter wedding, you may decide to move the ceremony time up earlier in the afternoon to keep guests warmer. Depending on where your wedding is taking place, you may also consider insect seasonality. Working with your planner you’ll be able to counteract this some, but it may not be ideal to force guests into sitting outside during peak mosquito hour if you’re considering a sunset ceremony.

Planning your full timeline? Check out these tips for planning your wedding timeline — with full samples and tips for creating your own!


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