When most people think wedding, they think party but let’s not forget the real reason everyone is actually there, the ceremony. One of the first things to decide in regards to the ceremony is the timing of it. There are a few things that affect the timing of your ceremony. Things like the time of the year, the location and the length.


To figure out what time to start your ceremony, first you’ll need to know if you have any start time restrictions. Houses of worship often have a specific time that a wedding ceremony must take place. So, first thing to figure out is if you are getting married in a house of worship, ask if there are set ceremony times. If there’s not, then basically you’ll want to work backwards to find the time that’s going to work best.


Most receptions are four hoursplus a one-hour cocktail hour. So, if your reception is going to end at 11, that means it starts at 7 with cocktail hour from 6 to 7. Here is where you want to consider other factors before setting the ceremony time.


1.Ceremony Location

If you are having your ceremony at the same venue as your reception, it makes things a little easier. You can end the ceremony at the same time cocktail hour is scheduled to start since no travel is involved. However, if your ceremony is off-site, then you need to allow extra time for travel.


2.Ceremony Length

Unless you are in a house of worship, like a Catholic Church with a full mass included in your ceremony, it is fairly common for a ceremony to be scheduled for 30 minutes. But, always talk to your officiant before you finalize the length.


3.Time of Year

Whatever season you choose to get married in may somewhat affectthe time you decide to start your ceremony. For example, the sun is out much later in the summertime so natural light for pictures after the ceremony won’t be much of a problem. However, if you are having a winter wedding and want some natural light for pictures after the ceremony, you probably need to schedule your ceremony a little earlier in the evening. Or, if you are having a Jewish wedding on a Saturday and you can’t get married until sundown, that will often change your ceremony time depending on the time of year.


Once you consider all the above, choose the ceremony time that works best for you. So, going back to our example, if you have a 6 to 7 cocktail hour and 7 to 11 reception, a 5:30 to 6 ceremony on-site or 5 to 5:30 ceremony off-site will likely work. If it’s winter though you may want to move things up a bit to account for sunlight!


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Photo Courtesy of [vetted] Southern Oaks