The one thing you may not consider while replanning your wedding | Wedding Planning

Photographed while working for Brett Denfeld.

Wedding Wednesday is back, y’all! I SO wish I was sharing something a little more upbeat today, but this may be one of the smallest details that you may or may not realize will have a HUGE impact on your wedding day. So… while it may not be the most fun topic, it is REALLY important. If you or someone you may know have been dealing with rescheduling and replanning your wedding due to COVID-19, it is so important that you give this post a read.

First… before we get any of this started, if you’ve rescheduled your wedding, I want you to know that I am sending you all of the hugs and more. I know this is the opposite of fun and the opposite of what you want to be doing right now, and I’m really sorry that this has impacted something you’ve been planning and dreaming of for a while. Anxiety, disappointment, and grief are totally normal right now… but so is hope, excitement, and anticipation. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that your dream day will be here in no time and that you’ll be able to safely celebrate with all of your favorite people. I know you’ve got a lot going on right now. You’re dealing with contacting vendors and guests and family members while replanning your day, managing invoices, and shuffling your personal lives. It is a lot, it is normal for emotions to be running a little wild, and truly, nothing I say now can make this any better. That said, with everything that is going on, there is also a huge part of wedding re-planning that I would hate for you to overlook… if you are in the process of replanning your wedding day, you absolutely must:

Double-check your new date’s sunset time & adjust your timeline as needed.

Unless you’ve rescheduled to a 2021 date that nearly mirrors your original date, you’ll most likely need to readjust some or all of your wedding day timeline. Why’s that? Simply put, the sun sets at a different time during each season!

For the most part, every season has an “average” sunset time with the sun setting later in the late spring and summer months and earlier in the fall/winter months. Within each of these seasonal time blocks, there is a pretty big swing between what exact time the sun will set. For example, the sun sets between 7:30 and 8:00PM in the month of April in DC. In October? The sun typically sets between 6:50 and 6:10PM in DC. If you’re wondering why that range is written backward, it’s because we “lose light” as we work our way through fall.

I love to use this site to track future sunset times, but you can typically do a quick Google search with the location, date, and keyword “sunrise sunset” to find the answer you need.

What are some of the biggest factors that dictate sunset times? (There are quite a few and it gets a bit sciency, so to keep it simple, we’ll stick with these top three!)

  • Geographical location
    • This one requires a little geography and science, but simply put, your longitude and latitude have a huge impact on the time the sun will set! I’m not going to get too far into that here, but know that if you are planning a wedding that will be in a different location from where you currently are, it is very important that you are looking at the sunset time in the location where you’ll be getting married because chances are, there will be slight variance.
  • Altitude or surrounding altitude
    • Give me all the gorgeous mountains, lovely cityscapes, and gorgeous backdrops! That said, know that your general altitude and the altitude of your surrounding area will impact your sunset time. Generally speaking, we lose light a little earlier in valleys and in cities with tall buildings. We’ll have light for a little longer on hilltops or completely flat land.
  • Daylight savings time
    • At a certain point in the summer, days will begin to slowly get shorter… fast forward to the fall, and there is a pretty rapid dropoff in what time the sun will set. To make things even more fun, at the beginning of November, Daylight Savings Time ends… this means that that overnight, we “lose” an hour of evening sunlight. If you’ve had a spring or summer day rescheduled to the fall or winter, I highly recommend taking a close look at sunset times while re-coordinating your ceremony and reception start times.

Personally, I’ve had a number of late spring/summer dates rescheduled to the fall which means that many of my spring and summer wedding dates are now being faced with earlier sunset times like we briefly chatted about above. Why is this so important? If we don’t alter the timeline, there’s a chance we could all be stuck in the dark during indoor or outdoor ceremonies. This obviously isn’t something that anyone would want as a surprise… but, I can only imagine how heartbroken I would be if I had been anticipating and replanning my wedding day through a pandemic, only to have sunset happen before my ceremony! This could also happen in the other direction… if a fall wedding has been rescheduled for the spring or summer and you’ve been dreaming of a glowy sunset ceremony, double-check your sunset time! The difference in timing can be pretty significant, so do take the extra beat to check and see what time the sun will set on your new wedding date.

As you start to look into re-planning your day, it is so important that you are doing this with your venue and other vendors by your side. (A NOTE HERE: PLEASE GET IN TOUCH WITH ALL OF YOUR VENDORS BEFORE FORMALIZING YOUR NEW WEDDING DATE.) I’m more than happy to help my couples replan their timelines, offering suggestions for event start times based on their new sunset times, so when in doubt, just ask! Your vendors are on your team, and they want to help! That said, if you are going for a DIY timeline approach, these are not the only things but the biggest things you’ll want to look into as you consider adjusting your day-0f timeline:

  • Do your ceremony start and end times need to change?
    • This especially applies to outdoor ceremonies that were originally scheduled to occur around sunset!
    • I also recommend having your indoor ceremony during daylight hours for a bit of natural lighting, especially if your venue has lots of gorgeous windows.
    • If you are NOT opting to do a first look and now have a date with an earlier sunset time, you most likely will need to adjust the timing of your ceremony or opt to do a first look. I may be a little biased, but it is SO worth it to have gorgeous photos of you and your new spouse on your wedding day. Don’t let an earlier sunset time ruin that for you!
  • If you changed the timing of your ceremony how will cocktail hour timing be impacted?
  • If you changed the timing of cocktail hour, how will this impact your reception start time?
  • Most venues allocate a certain amount of event time/time you’re allowed to be at their venue. How will these changes impact the rest of your timeline? From the time you’re able to be on the property to the time you’ll need to leave, make sure you are checking through everything.
  • With changes in your ceremony start time, chances are good, the timing of pretty much everything else will need to change as well (Hair and makeup, getting ready start and end time, wedding party and family portraits, couple’s portraits, etc.). This is not a big deal, especially if you get a start on making the adjustments early!

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