What’s “golden hour” you ask? It’s the hour just before the sun sets under the horizon, also known as a photographer’s favorite time of day & type of light. I usually will look up the exact sunset time before any session or wedding so I can plan the start time and know how much light I will have to work with as we near the end of the session. When I meet with my wedding clients, I provide them with two versions of a sample timeline — both with and without a First Look or Reveal. (Watch for another blog post coming soon about wedding day timelines!) With input from the reception venue and DJ, I will often help the couple finalize their timeline leading up to the wedding day. I also send out a questionnaire to my couples about 1-2 weeks before the wedding, and one of the questions on it is “What time is sunset?”
One of my favorite things on a wedding day is to sneak the couple outside for 5-10 minutes just *after* sunset to maximize the color of the sky and get some gorgeous sunset photos, both with off-camera flash (also another blog post!) and as silhouettes. These techniques work best if there is a good view of the horizon, or access to a rooftop or parking garage. If you are a fan of my sunset photos though, and this is something you *know* you want on your wedding day, you’ll definitely want to take location, sunset time, and reception timeline into consideration as you plan.
You can use this link to calculate sunset (or sunrise!) times for any date in the future for any zip code. This can be useful for other events too! I find a lot of times that my fall/winter clients don’t always take the sunset time into account when they decide on the ceremony start time and whether or not to do a First Look. It’s easy to forget that it gets dark so early from November through March. For my December weddings, I usually just count on it getting dark at 4:30 to be safe. On the flip side, for my late June/early July weddings, I typically plan for it to be light out until almost 9pm!
To wrap things up, my advice to wedding couples is to set your date, book your venue, email Holly about your photography (!), and then check the sunset time for your date. :D Priorities!! Happy wedding planning!!