Best Wedding Day Timings

The golden hour is 30 minutes BEFORE sunset and 30 minutes AFTER sunset.

The following information is provided as a guide only. Your individual wedding plans may differ.

Depending on the time of year you have chosen for your wedding, you’ll need to put a little effort into thinking about your timings. The time you plan your ceremony has an impact on your photography through the day. Especially important if you’re looking to catch the best natural light called the Golden Hour, later in the afternoon. If you’re unfamiliar with the Photography term “The Golden Hour,” it means the time 30 minutes BEFORE sunset, and 30 minutes AFTER sunset in dusk, until the light completely fades. In other words, the hour before darkness arrives.  It’s by far the best time of the day for wedding photos. During the Golden Hour when the sun is low in the sky, light is soft and sky colours are rich you can obtain stunning imagery. It makes for a sensational back drop. Golden Hour light is also available in the mornings. 

The trick on your wedding day is to plan your timings throughout the day so your post-ceremony location photo time, lands smack bang in the middle of the Golden Hour. Keep in mind that as the season change, darkness can come earlier or later in the afternoons so it’s important to factor this. There are various apps such as sun rise sun set to help you plan your day.  and of course with daylight savings in the states that embrace it. So if you want the best light the golden hour offers, it’s important to plan your entire day carefully.

Use this guide when considering your preferred ceremony time as it will help you arrive in the golden hour.

  • For weddings in May, June, July, August and September we recommend you schedule your ceremony at 2.30pm if you have a 30-minute wedding ceremony with less that 150 guests.
  • For weddings in May, June, July, August and September with guest numbers larger than 150, we recommend a ceremony time of 2.00pm.
  • For weddings in October, November, December, January, February, March and April we recommend you schedule your ceremony at 3.30pm if you have a 30-minute wedding ceremony with less that 150 guests.
  • For weddings in October, November, December, January, February, March and April with more than 150 guests, a 3.00pm ceremony is recommended.
  • These suggested timings are considering a 30-minute ceremony. If your ceremony is expected to be longer you will need to adjust your timings.
  • The timings provided above also take into consideration congratulations, group shot and family photo shoot time allowances.

If your state has daylight savings this will affect the ability to obtain Golden Hour shots as it’s likely you will already be in your reception when the sun goes down at around 8.30pm.However, if time permits and your reception location is suitable, it is possible to slip outside for a quick shoot in the most amazing light of the day.

Here’s an example of wedding day timings you may consider. The example below is based on a spring wedding in September (non) daylight savings time with standard Australian ceremony of 30 mins.

  • 1.30pm     Photographer arrives.
  • 3.30pm     Ceremony commences.
  • 4.00pm     Ceremony complete.
  • 4.30pm     Congratulations complete.
  • 4.45pm     Group shot complete.
  • 5.00pm     Family photos complete.
  • 6.00pm     Guests enter reception.
  • 6.30pm     Bride & enter reception.

If you have been reading this post from the top, you may be wondering what the reference “congratulations” means? What are congratulations? It’s the time directly after your ceremony when all your guests approach you to kiss, hug and congratulate you on your union. It’s an important part of your day for mums, dads and family members, and it does take time. You need to allow time for this.

Couples usually forget to make allowances for congratulations, group, and family shots. Use the following calculation to estimate the amount of time you need to complete your congrats:

As an average, each guest takes around 15 seconds to move up to you, kiss, hug and congratulate the both of you. Using this ratio, you will greet four guests per minute. Simply take the total number of guests you have and divide by 4 to calculate the total time needed to complete congratulations.

Here’s an example:

Jenny has 150 guests attending her wedding. 150 guests divided by 4 guests per minute = 37.5 minutes of congratulations. You also need to allow a minimum of 15 minutes for a group shot and 15- 30 minutes to complete both sides of family photos. At that point, you can head off to commence your location photo shoot.

Other important factors to consider are travel to and from your photo shoot locations.

Couples that have a reservation with MMG enjoy unlimited access to our full-time support team and educational resources to help you maximize your wedding photography results.



Sam is a talented photographer and videographer responsible for the development of various areas in the business.