Wedding Tip Wednesday: What is the Golden Hour?

If you’ve been looking into wedding photography (or any photography), you may have come across the term “golden hour.” But what is it and what does it mean for your wedding day timeline?

What: 1-2 hours just before sunset. (It also happens for 1-2 hours after sunrise, if you happen to be awake.)
At this time of day, the sun’s rays are traveling through more of the atmosphere, which makes the light less intense and warmer in color – think oranges, reds, and of course, gold tones.

Why: The golden hour is the prettiest time of day to take pictures. Because the light is less intense, there are no harsh shadows or haze (a foggy effect that makes images look flat and grey). When utilized, your pictures turn dreamy, gold, and glowy, with super beautiful skin. Who wouldn’t want that?

When: The name “hour” is not entirely accurate. The time and duration of the golden hour depends on your location and the time of year. In New England, the golden hour usually lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Here’s a general guide to get you started. There are also many apps & websites to find out the exact timing of the golden hour on a certain day, but I recommend asking your photographer.How can I utilize this dreamy lighting?

We can’t always predict the weather (which may block the sun’s rays), but we can do our best to schedule engagement shoots during this special time of day.

For weddings, consider how the golden hour fits into your timeline. In an ideal timeline, the golden hour will happen shortly after your ceremony, during your romantic “just married” couple portraits. These tend to be the pictures you will hang on your walls, put on the cover of your wedding album, and show your children one day, so we really want to give them a “wow” factor.

For a summer evening wedding, consider popping outside with your photographer for 10-15 minutes during the reception for a quiet moment together to capture a few glowy sunset portraits.

For a winter wedding, remember that after sunset, all of your pictures will require some form of artificial light, so it’s not a great idea to schedule important portraits after this time. A “first look” can come in very handy to make sure you fit in all of your portraits before the sun goes down.

For a day time wedding, consider whether a post-wedding portrait session fits into your budget. Some couples love going to a bar or a beach, still dressed in their fancy wedding duds. Consider bringing your photographer along to capture a unique and beautiful memory.


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