Close up of the feet of the bride and groom while standing on a pier at The Contemporary Austin, Laguna Gloria, outside of Austin, Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

The Pros and Cons of an Outdoor Sunset Ceremony

No one can deny the beauty of a sunset. Tangerine and pink swirls together to create a stunning display of light and color. It’s nature’s way of saying, “Pause, take a breath, cherish this moment. And people do cherish watching the sun dip below the horizon. So why not incorporate that beautiful moment into your wedding?

An outdoor sunset ceremony adds an element of romance to your wedding that a traditional timeline can’t offer, but it doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone. Like most things, there are pros and cons to having a wedding ceremony that takes place while the sky turns from rose-gold to violet to ink.

Whether you’re thinking about having an outdoor sunset ceremony or didn’t even know it was a thing, I encourage you to keep reading to get the good and the bad (but never the ugly) details on this unique wedding idea.

Pros of Having an Outdoor Sunset Ceremony

  • A sunset ceremony gives you the opportunity to have a first look photo session. Since it’s likely that you’ll see your partner before the ceremony (due to things like group photos), you might as well use the time to capture some special moments alone.
  • A sunset ceremony will give you out of this world photos. The color changing sky is the perfect backdrop for a wedding and will provide your photographer with dreamy lighting.
  • A wedding that takes place in the later hours provides your guests with a unique and romantic experience. How many other sunset weddings will they attend in the lifetimes?
  • If your wedding date is during the warmer months, having a sunset ceremony means cooler weather. You won’t have to worry about turning your programs into fans and providing sunscreen and shades.
  • After the ceremony, it’s straight into party mode. Guests won’t have to wait around (which means you won’t have to come up with cocktail entertainment) and you’ll be able to spend more time with them since you won’t be whisked away for photos.

Close up of bride and groom holding hands while at the alter with their officiant during the ceremony. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Cons of Having an Outdoor Sunset Ceremony

  • You’ll be on nature’s schedule. There’s no room for error if you want to get those dreamy photos, so check when the sun will set on your wedding day as soon as possible. You’ll want to create a solid timeline and share it with your key players (wedding planner, officiant, photographer, etc.)
  • The rest of your wedding will take place at night. Visit your venue in the evening to see what it looks like in the later hours, and consider your lighting options.
  • You’ll have less reception venue options. Some couples choose to transport guests to another venue for the reception, but if you’re having a sunset ceremony, you’ll want the reception area to be as close as possible to the ceremony site (since it will be dark). It’s safer and more convenient that way.
  • A pro of having a sunset wedding ceremony is the cooler weather, but this is also a con. More so for those getting married in the cold months. If you still love the idea of an outdoor winter sunset ceremony, you’ll need to consider heating options.

Bride and groom at the altar with the officiant of their outdoor wedding in Austin, Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Sunset Ceremony Tips:

  • Time the start of your ceremony 15-20 minutes before the sun sets. That way you’ll get that soft glowing light during your vow exchange.
  • Consider the key players: officiant, musicians, readers, etc. and what kind of lighting they will need, if any.
  • Have a plan B in case of inclement weather.

Still wondering if you should have an outdoor sunset wedding ceremony? I’d love to share some more pros and cons I’ve learned from brides through the years!

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