plan around the light for great photos

When you’re putting together your wedding day timeline, it’s important to think about what the light will be like during key parts of your day. Outside of moments, there’s no bigger factor to making awesome photos than having great light. While we’re very experienced at making outstanding images in less than flattering light, a bit of preparation can go a long way toward helping you get the best photos!

While I never want to dictate the schedule for your day entirely there are a few factors that I suggest considering when you’re thinking about the timeline.

Start with Sunset time and work backward

In general, the light is best during the end of the day, especially the last “golden hour” right before sunset. So it’s a good idea to find out what time sunset will be on your date, and work backward. Remember, this can vary pretty drastically depending on season. For example, if you’re having a winter wedding in Chicago, it starts to get dark around 4 pm. So you’ll need the ceremony to be over by about 2:30pm to allow enough time for outdoor portraits.

Outdoor Ceremonies

If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony, aim for two to three hours before sunset. This ensures nice soft light during the ceremony and still allows for enough time afterward for portraiture. Also plan to check your venue to make sure that the ceremony location won’t be in a mix of partial sunlight and shade. It’s better to be in consistent sun or total shade.

Sneaking away in the evening

Every wedding day timeline is different and we’re not always able to schedule portraits for perfect time of day. Don’t stress though, even if you’re able to schedule 10-15 minutes during cocktail hour or before your first dance it’ll be worth it. You’ll have the most stressful part of the day behind you. And it’s a great chance for the two of you to escape for a few minutes and enjoy a moment to yourselves before the party.

Don’t forget about twilight

In Chicago, my favorite time to make pictures is actually slightly after sunset. The city lights and skyline look amazing when it balances with the blue twilight sky. This magic “blue hour” time doesn’t last as long as sunset – usually just about 15 minutes. But if we plan for it we can make amazing portraits – the kind you’ll want to make into a huge canvas for your wall!