By timing your day carefully, you can still take advantage of this stunning backdrop.

By Sara Dickinson
January 17, 2019

Winter has some of the dreamiest sunsets, and those pretty skies make for incredible wedding photos. But how do you plan your big day around an early winter sunset? Three top wedding planners shared their tips on how to deal with the sun setting early during the winter, and why the wedding photos you'll get with careful planning are worth the extra effort.

If posing for wedding photos in the natural sunlight is a must, Dawson Haynes of Easton Events recommends planning a first look and starting portraits two hours before sunset. "An early winter sunset can also be a helpful negotiating tactic with your venue," he advises. "Be sure they are onboard to be flexible with your start time, and if not, they should be willing to be flexible with pricing." To better inform the time you print on your invitations, consult a solar calculator like this one offered by the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

RELATED: 36 WINTER WEDDING IDEAS FOR A COZY, FESTIVE FÊTE

If you're envisioning an outdoor ceremony with natural light, pro planner Beth Helmstetter suggests starting the ceremony an hour to an hour and a half before the sun sets. "In the wintertime, this can mean an invitation time as early as 4 p.m.," she says, "This may not seem necessary or ideal, but keep in mind that many weddings run late, so the wedding scheduled for 4 p.m. may not start until 4:15 to 4:30 p.m. If you have a 30 to 45-minute ceremony, you're now ending your ceremony right before sunset."

"If you want to push the start time later, make sure your venue is prepared with artificial lighting, whether it's lots of candle lights, market lights, or simply washing the area with enough light for guests to see you as you share your first kiss," Helmstetter advises. Once you've thought about timing and lighting, make sure you think about keeping guests warm during an outdoor ceremony. The cool temperatures can be great inspiration, though, for a cozy winter look in your photos with a scarf, hat, or faux fur jacket.

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