Here’s the thing about a wedding day…there is so much that has to get done. Since certain parts of the day need to happen at a certain time, it’s almost impossible to ensure your “bride & groom portraits” time slot falls during golden hour. Most photographers remedy this by carving out a small chunk of time during the reception to make sure you get sunset photos during golden hour! Here are three reasons why you should make sure this happens on your wedding day!

  1. I’m going to show you some bride and groom photos side by side of what their photos looked like during their “bride & groom romantic portraits” time of the day vs. their “sunset photos” time of the day. It’s obvious what a massive difference lighting can make in how glowy the images are of the two of you! On the left is midday lighting, and on the right is sunset lighting. The sunset photos are way warmer and offer this pretty glow around the couple. Not that the midday ones aren’t pretty, but they just offer a totally different look. Honestly, I could show you DOZENS of these, but to save some time I’m limiting myself to three different weddings!

2. Another huge advantage to carving out time for sunset photos is you get an additional chunk of photos of you and your spouse on your wedding day. Let’s be honest, the photos you’re going to print the most are the ones of you and your spouse. They will be gifts, wall decor, thank you cards, screen savers, phone backdrops, profile pictures…the pictures of just the two of you are the ones you will cherish most. So, let’s make sure we invest our time wisely in those photos.

3. You know what else I love about having time allotted for sunset photos? The fact that you get some time to yourselves during the reception. After the ceremony, you will likely go straight into family photos, and if you did a first look, you will likely go straight to the reception after family photos. If you did not do a first look, we will spend some time getting your entire bridal party photographed. Then, we will spend the remainder of our time doing portraits of the two of you before flowing straight into the reception. Most receptions have a grand entrance, a bride and groom first dance, and a prayer over the food. Afterwards, they open the buffet, during which guests will immediately begin coming up to you, hugging you, congratulating you, and telling you how beautiful you are. That leaves very little time to enjoy a conversation with each other alone, and if we are really talking candidly, the only time you get to do that the entire day is during the bride and groom romantic portraits. I like to designate about 10-15 minutes during sunset so you can have just a little bit more alone time. To really soak in the fact that you’re married and how amazingly awesome your day has been. To talk about the mad dance moves you’re about to break out and how delicious the food was. How insanely pumped you are for the honeymoon and how weird it feels to have that band on your finger. And overall, it just gives you a tiny break from the fun chaos of your reception. To step outside, look back in, and see all of your favorite people gathered in one room to celebrate you. Yeah, let that soak in. Every single one of the people that will be there on your wedding day are there to celebrate you and the love you have for each other.

So, those are the reasons you should make sure to include sunset photos in your timeline (and in case you missed the importance of having a timeline, you can see that Wedding Planning 101 here!). Here are some answers to some stereotypical questions I get about sunset photos:

  1. What’s the best time to do them? This varies. It mostly depends on the venue. For instance, at Ramble Creek Vineyards, you will want to do them about 1-1.5 hours before sunset because there is a giant mountain that the sun will go behind long before it actually sets, and if you want that glowy halo around your heads, the sun has to be above that mountain. At Hunter Valley Farm, however, the horizon line is WAY lower in the sky, and you can do them about 30 minutes before sunset. Ask your photographer what they recommend or have a bridal session at your venue so you can see exactly when the sun is behind the horizon line at your particular venue!
  2. How long do they typically last? I would say this depends on how long you will give your photographer. If you’re having a 2 hour reception, I would probably just stick to doing like 5-10 minutes at sunset in one spot close by. If you are having a 4-5 hour reception and can afford to take 20-30 minutes away while your guests make their way through the buffet line, you should totally use all that time! Basically, your photographer will take as much time as you allow them to have here, but you’ll want to chat with your DJ to make sure you’re not gone too long during a critical time of your reception!
  3. Can the videographer join us? OMG OF COURSE! I actually encourage this! This is a great time to break out the drone they’ve been wanting to use all day as well. I am always flexible while working with videographers and find that the 3 benefits I’ve listed above stand true for video just as much as they do for photo!
  4. Does it kill the reception party? We will work with your coordinator or your DJ to ensure that it doesn’t! If we can time it out to be that we are doing these while your guests are eating, that is most ideal. During summer weddings, however, sometimes the sunset is so late that the timing just doesn’t work. In which case, I would recommend doing these right after you cut the cake. No one is on the dance floor because they all want cake, and we can normally escape for a few minutes without anyone even noticing!

There you have it, folks. Sunset photos in all their glory, and why you should absolutely do them no questions asked! If we end up not having a golden sunset because of clouds or whatever, we will still go back out for the reasons I listed in #2 and #3. Now, a final golden hour to send you on your way because I just can’t resist!

Why you need sunset photos by Knoxville Wedding Photographer, Amanda May Photos.

I’m a Knoxville Wedding Photographer that loves to travel…I shoot anywhere! Click here to contact me with any questions you have about pricing or booking! If you liked what you saw above, go ahead and follow me on Facebook or Instagram to see my daily updates of the latest sessions!

See more from Amanda May Photos:

Marblegate Farm Wedding

The Standard Wedding

Wedding Planning 101: Reception Exit Ideas

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Knoxville, TN wedding photographer

I'm Amanda May and I'm pretty stoked that you're here. I'm a three on the enneagram, a smiler when things get awkward, and I would love for you to get to know me more over on my about page.

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