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The Perfect Ceremony Starts Times based on the Seasons

As an experienced wedding photographer, one of the first questions I ask my brides is, "What time is your ceremony?" While many brides are still unsure about the exact time, this actually makes me happy....

As an experienced wedding photographer, one of the first questions I ask my brides is, "What time is your ceremony?" While many brides are still unsure about the exact time, this actually makes me happy. It gives me the opportunity to help them plan for a successful and stress-free wedding day right from the start. And one key aspect of achieving a stress-free day is having the perfect ceremony start time.

The Superstition and Seasonal Considerations

Traditionally, most brides opt for a half-hour start time on the upswing of the clock. This superstition claims that couples will have good luck if they get married during this time. However, the actual timing of your ceremony should also take into account the season and the natural lighting conditions.

In the fall and winter months, the sun sets relatively early, sometimes as early as 4:30 PM. This means that if you're not planning to have a first look, your photographer will need plenty of time for outdoor photos of the bridal party and the most important shots of the day - the bridal portraits.

Recommended Ceremony Start Times for Each Season

Here are some suggested ceremony start times based on seasons in the Akron, Ohio area:

Spring/Fall

In March, the sunset is a little after 6 PM. With the time change halfway through, the sunset moves to around 7:30 PM. By the end of September, the sunset is again around 7:30 PM, and in October, it's around 6:30 PM. After the time change in November, we're looking at a 5:30 PM sunset.

If you're not planning a first look, a ceremony start time around 2:30 PM would be appropriate for these two seasons. Here's a sample timeline:

  • 2:30 PM Ceremony
  • 3:00 PM - Exit from Ceremony
  • 3:15 PM - Family Formals
  • 3:45 PM - Bridal Party Photos
  • 4:15 PM - Bridal Portraits
  • 5:00 PM - Entrance into Reception

Keep in mind that this timeline does not include any drivetime and is ideal for a wedding where the ceremony and reception are held at the same venue. If you do opt for a first look, you can start your ceremony an hour or two later, giving you more time to relax in the morning.

Summer

Summer is a beloved season for weddings, thanks to the warm weather and long days. Sunset times range from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM between May and August.

To ensure dinner timing for your guests, a ceremony start time of 5:30 PM is ideal. This allows you to complete all the necessary photos before the ceremony. Here are the sample timelines for summer weddings:

With First Look:

  • 2:30 PM - First Look
  • 2:45 PM - Bridal Portraits
  • 3:30 PM - Bridal Party
  • 4:00 PM - Bride in Hiding
  • 4:30 PM - Ceremony
  • 5:00 PM - Ceremony Exit
  • 5:15 PM - Family Formals
  • 6:00 PM - Entrance into Reception

Without First Look:

  • 5:30 PM - Ceremony
  • 6:00 PM - Exit from Ceremony
  • 6:15 PM - Family Formals
  • 6:45 PM - Bridal Party Photos
  • 7:15 PM - Bridal Portraits
  • 8:00 PM - Entrance into Reception

Winter

Winter weddings can be stunning with a picturesque winter wonderland as the backdrop. However, planning your day around the sunset can be a challenge. Sunset times in December are typically around 4:30 PM.

If you're not planning a first look, be prepared to start hair and makeup early to allow for ample time for outdoor photos. Here are the sample timelines for winter weddings:

With First Look:

  • 1:30 PM - First Look
  • 1:45 PM - Bridal Portraits
  • 2:30 PM - Bridal Party
  • 3:00 PM - Bride in Hiding
  • 3:30 PM - Ceremony
  • 4:00 PM - Ceremony Exit
  • 4:15 PM - Family Formals
  • 5:00 PM - Entrance into Reception

Without First Look:

  • 1:30 PM - Ceremony
  • 2:00 PM - Exit from Ceremony
  • 2:15 PM - Family Formals
  • 2:45 PM - Bridal Party Photos
  • 3:15 PM - Bridal Portraits
  • 4:00 PM - Entrance into Reception

I hope this guide has provided you with a better understanding of the perfect ceremony start time for your perfect day. Remember, a stress-free wedding day begins with thoughtful planning. Cheers to your special day!

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