I shot this one with my Nikon D5000 at sunrise on Gulf Shores

I realize that brides like a “sunset” wedding, and they are beautiful and have a certain romantic appeal, but there are some things to consider if you are wondering about the pros and cons of choosing to start your beach wedding in the morning, afternoon, or evening…

SUNRISE: A sunrise or an early morning wedding is awesome. It is peaceful, beautiful, and very intimate. I’m a guy, so I like mornings. However, planning a sunrise or morning wedding will have more to do with your family and personal schedules.

Photography for a sunrise wedding can as cool as for a sunset, but also as unpredictable. I took the photo to the left at a sunrise wedding I did in Gulf Shores, Alabama, snapping it after I pronounced the couple husband and wife and they broke into a romantic dance they had planned with their own boom box present, too. I actually snapped 12 frames on that pose, but this one – was the one!

MORNING: The 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM start time is always a good time frame to start, because people don’t usually start trickling out on the beach until about 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM.

Another good reason for having a morning wedding is you do not have to go through your day stressed. Photography at the beach is dependent on sunlight, and that is where a morning wedding or day time ceremony does have an upper hand over an evening wedding.

If you are planning a surprise vow renewal ceremony for your parents or a couple within your family, having a sunrise or morning ceremony is actually ideal and for this reason…it is easy to make a sunrise ceremony a surprise when you plan an early morning family photo shoot! This is very popular and it always works well for the surprise. The anniversary couple are refreshed in the morning and they never expect it when everyone is planning on getting the family together for beach photos.

AFTERNOON: Afternoon weddings offer you the benefit of sunlight and the mid-day stress relief to be able to plan your evening better. The sun can be hot in the afternoon summers, but if you are interested in a simple ceremony, you’re done in 12 minutes anyway.

EVENING: Sunset ceremonies are the first to book for me, and generally chosen because they have a certain romantic appeal, and they are, but you also have to remember that you can lose the sunset to a tall condo or a distant cloud. The sun sets about even with the shore line in April and October, but is mostly behind the condos over the summer months, and out over the water during the winter months. Sometimes the tricky thing for a sunset wedding is your photos, because color shades certain times of the year and because of distant weather. On the other hand, if it turns out that clouds or weather disturb things you can always catch photos either before or after on the sunlight of day.

The bottom line is that you simply have to look at your schedule and preferences and make a decision and then just go for that. Marriage is like that too – you make the decision and then you just make it work.


Popular Questions…

Q: What do you personally think is the best time of the day for a simple beach ceremony?

A: I use to not answer this question because I didn’t want to overtly influence a bride’s decision nor be blamed for any unexpected weather issues. However, since I am now being more selective in accepting wedding officiating, my personal favorite and best time is 10:00-10:30 AM. Why? Because the sun offers it’s best lighting at a point when it is not the hottest and the beach is not yet crowded, and the bride and groom do not have to go through the entire day stressed, but instead now have the entire day to enjoy!

Q: Do you do sunrise weddings?

I enjoy the peace and tranquility of the sunrise early morning on the beach and in the past I have officiated for hundreds of sunrise ceremonies, but because of my schedule now I rarely accept wedding ceremonies earlier than 9:00 AM for beach locations.


Sunrise/Sunset Times…

Here are the links to a sunrise/sunset site to help with your planning: