Picking the best start time for your wedding ceremony is one of the most important decisions you will make in scheduling your wedding day. The entire day hinges upon when you decide to walk down the aisle.
The start time affects:
- When you wake up
- When you get your hair and makeup done
- How much time you have for pictures before hand
- How much time you have for pictures after
- Reception start time
Knowing that this is one of the most important decisions in creating your wedding day itinerary, how do you go about choosing what works?
4 Simple Guidelines to Finding The Best Ceremony Start Time
Are you a morning person?
Whether or not you are a morning person can be a huge deciding factor on what time you should walk down the aisle.
You want to feel the best on your wedding day, and if getting up at 6AM is going to make you feel terrible the rest of the day, then it may not be the best idea to have your wedding start before noon.
The morning is usually best spent getting ready, gathering your thoughts, and taking the time to settle your nerves.
For this reason, afternoons weddings seem to work best.
Are your guests traveling from out of town?
If you have guests traveling from far away, then it may be best to consider a later wedding time.
Not only may your guests’ flights arrive the same day as your wedding, but if you have people who are driving 3 hours to get there, they will be hard pressed to make an 11AM wedding start time.
While your wedding day really is your day, be sure to keep other people in mind at least a little.
Weather and Lighting
You should also take weather and lighting into consideration for your wedding start time as well.
If your wedding is outside in October, you may do best to have your wedding during the warmest part of the day, usually between 2PM and 4PM. This way you will snatch the warmest part of the day.
Conversely, if your wedding is outside in the summer, you may want to choose an earlier morning or later evening time to avoid the warmest part of the day.
Lighting should also be taken into consideration.
High noon means the sun is directly overhead and you won’t get any high contrasting (the best looking) photos.
Your photographer should have lighting that they bring with them to help remedy this, but for the best use of natural light, avoid any time close to the noon hour.
When do you want your day to end?
On the opposite end of the spectrum of when you want your day to start, you must consider when you want it to end.
Receptions usually last around 4-5 hours. If you have older guests, or aren’t a fan of staying up super late yourself, you should consider an earlier ceremony start time.
Remember that you are going to want some time to get home or to a hotel and spend some time with your new spouse afterwards and reflect upon the day.
Knowing about when you will be able to do that is helpful in planning your itinerary.
What time works best for you?
What it boils down to is, “What time works best for your situation?”
Take all of these things into consideration, and make the best choice for you.
If you want to share more tips on scheduling your day to help the readers of this blog, be sure to comment below. For my itinerary planning suggestions, be sure to take advantage of our Wedding Day Itinerary Download!
My best advice for your start time
I have been a wedding videographer in the Midwest since July of 2014. I have filmed over 40 weddings, and have made some observations on what works best when planning your start time.
Here is what I have observed:
- None have been before noon
- Few have been at 5:00PM or later
- Most are at 2:00PM
- Second most popular time is 4:00PM
- 1:00PM is also fairly standard, though not as popular
I paid a lot of attention to start time and how the rest of the day turned out early in my wedding videography career, because I was in the middle of planning my own wedding and wanted to know what worked best.
I have to say that my wedding went off without a hitch, and the timing was one of the best timed weddings I have seen.
Not because I am an excellent wedding planner, but because I learned from others.
If you are interested in more of my wedding day itinerary planning insights, be sure to check out our Wedding Day Itinerary Guide.