Choosing Your Wedding Date–Part I

Our wedding… When will it be?

This is the time of year for rings! Congrats to Kansas City for just puting some crazy bling on your finger. If our increase in wedding inquiries is any evidence, engagement ring season was in full effect. Lots of new sparklers landed on ring fingers over the holidays, and the winter months are the perfect time for wedding planning. I thought my first bits of wedding advice should focus on choosing a date. I will give some things to consider in 4 parts, so make sure to check back again or subscribe to get part 2, 3, and 4 in your in box. But first, as you read this 4 part series, it is important to keep two things in mind. First, we are photographers and will always right from that perspective. Second, it is important to note that we are Connecticut based photographers. While much of the info I have provided applies to weddings all over, the specific dates referenced are skewed to help our local couples navigate their weddings.

I know what you are thinking. You already have strong feelings on a season. If so, then don’t hold back and go with what you love! The whole reason for my writing is to help you determine what makes jump up and down on the inside, so you are already one step ahead. However I encourage you to keep reading because even if you have the date or the season all figured out, you may find some info helpful for the timeline of your day.

JKoteenPhotography_InfoPost_0678.jpgPlanning any big event is a lot of work, but planning an event that will only happen once can be crazy stressful and overwhelming. The options are endless and the decisions are constant. I want to relieve some stress by letting you know now what questions might come up later, so you can get out and front and make informed choices. What better place to start with the advice than with selecting a wedding date. You can’t plan a wedding without picking one after all!

From my perspective, here are the four important things to consider…

1. There are never enough hours in the day! But, really, how many daylight hours are there in my day?

2. Timeline— Yes we need to talk about a first look now!

3. Inspirational Colors—What makes your heart swoon? When I picture my day what surrounds me and makes me smile.

4. Budget—For some, it’s a dirty word you would rather not mention, but it is also your guiding force.

So let’s get to it!

Part 1… “Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me”

If you are anything like me, you like to be in control of a situation. I hate surprises. I envy people who get joy out of the unexpected. That movie in which the girl is whisked away on a surprise vacation to destination unknown, which should be oh so romantic, is actually my nightmare. How do you decide on shoes? Do I bring my coat? This is not due to my girlish ways. This is because I am a pragmatist. But Mother Nature could careless that you or I are control freaks. She reminds us daily that she will always call the shots. Mother Nature can’t be forgotten when deciding on your date.

Now you probably think I am going to talk about rain. Nope! Not going to do that. I like control, remember? Rain CANNOT be controlled. But the sun, she kindly lets you plan ahead. She rises and sets on a schedule and you get to know that schedule ahead of time! What is more important to consider than the light on your wedding day? The rest of it can be figured out. It can be tweaked and changed up until the end, but you can’t fight sunset. June weddings are almost entirely filled with sunlight whereas weddings held after the first week of November are entirely under the stars. Sounds simple, right?! Intellectually everyone knows that the sun goes up and the sun goes down at different times depending on the month. However time and again couples mention that they never thought about the actual sunset time when they planned their date. Sometimes there are truly never enough hours in the day depending on how you envision your wedding feel, photos, and timeline. I am also including the chart I use when I plan for our sessions.

Here is a helpful chart that I reference for all weddings and photo shoots
https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/usa/hartford

Right now you might be thinking, “Jess, there is nothing new about this concept.” You are right. Absolutely nothing. However it gets overlooked time and again. Remember we are photographers, so our advice is always photography based. It is our job to deliver photos you love. The entire key to a good photo is light and how you use it. Light, not instagrammers, is life’s original influencer. I am going to use 3 specific dates for reference. I will also preface it with this: When it comes to selecting a date, I am completely unbiased. I was not kidding when I say I love all things wedding. I love a sun-drenched, long day in June filled with pink peonies, lawn games, and rosé. And I equally love a short winter day full of candlelight, dancing by the fire, bourbon cocktails, and moody colors to warm the heart. Every wedding is special and beautiful.

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October 17th:

This is a coveted date in New England. It is often the peak of foliage, and a truly amazing day for a wedding in Connecticut. The sun will set at 6:05PM, Completely reasonable, right? But there are some things to consider. Sunset means sun gone at 6PM. The light just prior, golden hour in photog speak, is the perfect time to take your wedding portraits. But will you use this time just for portraits or for all your photos? If you are planning on waiting until after your ceremony to take all of your wedding photos, this is a very important time to keep in mind. What time are you planning on having your ceremony? Will your ceremony be in a difference location than where you plan on taking your photos? How much time do you need for your ceremony? Do you think you can start on time? Can you avoid mingling with guests after your ceremony? I am sure when I said 6PM you thought there was all the time in the world, but when you add in a few more questions and a bit more of a timeline, 6PM comes quickly!

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June 20th:
Welcome to the longest sunlight day of the year! It is filled with full, warm, unrelenting sun that will keep you waiting for your dancing under stars. This is a wedding day full of light and airy photos. Every day has a golden hour glow, but on this day you will be experiencing it at 8PM! For some couples, it is a welcome breather during the day. Depending on when your reception begins, it can be the perfect time to get out for some together and some beautiful photos. However for others, it can come right at the heart of your party or at the very end. Also if you are looking for some time outside by the fire, you will need make sure that you have accommodated for the long day of sun. However the amazing the best news about June weddings is that you will never race the sun. First look, waiting until the ceremony, a reception in a separate location, you will always have plenty of bright, ethereal light to use during the day. Although the summer months may be hot, they are perfect months to get everything you want out of your timeline. I highly recommend these months if you want to wait to until your ceremony to see each, have all your photos in full light, and be able to have your ceremony and reception in separate places.

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November 28th:
This can be such a fun and romantic time for a wedding. It is a long weekend, so family is likely in town. AND the holiday lights are up. To me, tall the white lights that venues and streets put up for the holiday season create such magic. Although the temps outside are frigid, inside always has a warm energy like a big hug. Your day will be full of candlelight and romance. However it is important to remember that an evening wedding in November will offer very little time for light in your photos. Regardless of whether you take your photos indoors or outdoors, you will lose all natural light at 4:20. This is where timeline planning is important. Does a November wedding mean you can’t have the best of both worlds?? Of course not! It just means that you have to know how you want your day to look and feel. If you have a 3 o’clock church ceremony with full Catholic mass then you may want to ask yourself if dark and dramatic photos make your heart skip a beat. However if you plan your first look after 2PM, you will have some of the most tremendous light you could ever dream to have.

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As photographers, we love capture you in whatever light is presented. Throughout the years we have met every condition you can imagine and found the beauty in it all. Rain has brought moody fog and beautiful rainbows. Winter light has looked exquisite or created dramatic indoor photos. Fall in New England provides colorful backdrop that needs nothing else to enhance the photos. Spring is full of blooming trees. And summer just has a happy glow. We are excited for every wedding and the anticipation of what the day will bring. But we love this opportunity to share with you beforehand how to capture your vision. By knowing sunset for your day, you have the ability to maximize your photography by choosing a timeline that works for best for your specific light. If you love the idea of s’mores by the fire there is nothing like a night sky to going along with it. The sun on your wedding day will be the biggest driving force behind your photos and the look of the end product. As they say, knowledge is power, so I hope you can use some of what I discussed to curate your perfect day.

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I am going to end Part I of this series and leave you with some homework. Here are a few questions to answer as I prepare Part II. Good news…there is no wrong answer! It is simply an exercise to get you thinking.

1. Do you find it romantic to be dancing the night away or would you prefer your day to be filled with sunshine?

2. Are you planning on having your ceremony in a place or worship or would you like your ceremony and wedding at the same location?

3. Do you imagine your ceremony outside?

4. When you envision your day, what colors surround you?

5. Most importantly, have you decided if you want to do a first look or wait until your ceremony to see each other?

Phew. You made it. We hit the end of Part I, so make sure to check back as we continue on the journey of choosing a date. I am going to discuss how to create a timeline that will help you get the most out of your day. I am also here to answer any questions. Please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me through our website. I am always happy to help!

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