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How to Plan a Sunset Wedding

By Rebecca Padgett Frett 

Couples travel from throughout the United States to marry during an iconic Emerald Coast sunset. Whether you choose the sand and surf or rooftop skyline, the backdrop and golden hour lighting will surely make for a romantic ceremony. Pulling off the perfect sunset nuptials requires a bit of research and planning that are well worth the end result. 

Consider the City and Time 

Check the date of your wedding and see what time the sun sets. Even mere minutes can make all the difference. Remember that the sunset takes place earlier in the fall and winter. Depending on the location and time of year, the sun can set as early as 4 p.m. in the winter and as late as 10 p.m. in the summer. Knowing this time will determine the overall schedule of the day including when to get ready, when pictures should begin and the ceremony start time. 

Ceremony Length

Once you know the time the sun sets, you’ll need to think about how long your ceremony will last. On average, services last 20 to 30 minutes. For example, if the sun sets at 6:31 p.m., you’ll want to begin your ceremony an hour before. The average sunset length is 33 minutes, beginning 30 minutes before, allows for the most stunning photos during and a few portraits after you’ve said your vows. 

Jessica Winkler Photography


If you’re considering a sunset wedding, it’s likely you’ve already secured a venue with a beautiful view. Beaches, lakes, mountains and outdoor venues are the most popular settings for sunsets. Talk with your venue to determine the best location on property to exchange vows. You’ll want to consider the venue’s orientation in relation to the sunset. You’ll want to be facing the sunset to get the best photos and to shield your guests from staring directly into the sun. If your ceremony is inside, you’ll want to be situated near a window that allows in the best view. Talk with your vendor about backup plans for a location that’s still stunning, should weather prevent a sunset option. 

Guest Experience

Consider placing sunglasses on the seats or in a basket by the ceremony space. Not only are these a cute keepsake, but they also help shield the sun. Temperatures can rise right before and at sunset and then drop after. Keep in mind ways to keep guests cool or warm such as fans or blankets. 

Charlotte Fristoe


A major reason why couples desire a sunset wedding is the stunning photos. Since the photos are highly important, it’s key to research your photographer. Take note of how well composed their sunset photos are and if they align with the style you like. Once you’ve found the one, meet with your photographer to discuss the timeline so they will know when to start shooting and conclude in order to have access to the best light. This is also a great time to direct them to the sunset photos they’ve taken that you like most, so they can apply the same methods to your wedding. It’s wise to have a plan in place with your photographer should the weather be bad or it be cloudy, so you can still get some great photos. 

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