advice from a planner
Real Weddings

The Journal


What Time Should Your Ceremony Start?

Advice From A Planner

Your ceremony start time is the foundation of your wedding day. It will determine the time the night ends, when hair and makeup will need to begin, and everything in between.

There are a few things to consider before choosing a ceremony start time; how long your ceremony will be, whether or not you’re doing a first look, travel time between ceremony & reception locations, and most importantly, what time the sun will set on your wedding day! Knowing these factors will give you the perfect ceremony start time.

Answering the questions below will guide you through choosing the right ceremony time for your wedding day. 

1. How long will your ceremony be?

The first step in setting a ceremony start time is knowing how long your ceremony will be. If you’re having a Catholic, Jewish, or other traditional religious wedding, your ceremony will likely be 45-60 minutes. For less traditional religious weddings and non-religious weddings, ceremonies can range anywhere from 10-30 minutes including the time it will take your bridal party to walk down the aisle. Make sure to confirm this with your officiant before finalizing.

2. Are you doing a first look?

Choosing to do a first look or not will have a major impact on the schedule of your wedding day and therefore needs to be considered when setting your ceremony start time. If you’re not doing a first look, I recommend ending your ceremony 90 minutes before sunset so you have over an hour with natural light for all of your family photos, bridal party photos, and most importantly, portraits with your new spouse. If you are doing a first look and will be taking many of your photos before the ceremony, I recommend ending your ceremony just an hour before sunset.

3. Are your ceremony and reception taking place at different locations?

If your ceremony and reception venues aren’t on the same property, make sure you account for time you’ll need to get from one location to the other before starting or continuing photos. If there is a 15 minute drive to your reception venue where you’ll be taking the majority of your photos, then you’ll need an extra 15 minutes of sunlight after your ceremony.

4. What time will your sunset be on your wedding day?

With a quick google search of your wedding date and location, you’ll know exactly when the sunset will take place on your wedding day. Whether or not you decide to do a first look, you don’t want losing sunlight to rush you through any remaining photos after your ceremony. If the sun will set at an odd time, round to the earlier half-hour and use that as your sunset time. For example, if sunset is at 7:43pm, base your ceremony off of a 7:30pm sunset time for simple math.

When in doubt

Consult a professional! You’re ceremony should be about 1.5-2 hours before sunset on the day of your wedding but always ask your wedding planner if you’re not sure.


- Fanny S.

It wouldn't have been so without the amazing work and planning from Anna and her team. Anna consistently made herself available throughout the wedding planning process and never hesitated to offer up suggestions and additional thoughts and options she had for us. We so highly recommend Anna and her team and it's bittersweet the process of planning with her is now over.

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We understand that an unforgettable wedding requires meticulous planning, thoughtfully curated design, and flawless execution. With this in mind, we collaborate with a select number of couples each year to plan weddings that are both visually breathtaking and deeply meaningful. A wedding that friends and family will be talking about for years to come.

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