As a Chicago wedding photographer, the experience of my clients is the highest priority! From the moment you book with me, and all the way through your full wedding album being delivered, my main concern is making sure you have THE best wedding day experience period. It’s for this reason that I put so much time into helping my clients create their perfect wedding day timeline, and one thing I constantly recommend to them is to set aside some portrait time at sunset! “What makes sunset portraits worth the extra planning though?” you might be asking. That’s what we’re here to dig into today! Let’s take a look at sunset portraits, why they’re so important, and why planning them into your timeline is worth it!
So why should you have time for sunset portraits built into your wedding day timeline? The obvious answer of course is the gorgeous atmosphere and lighting that comes with golden hour, and while yes that is definitely a factor, there are plenty of other reasons to do so! Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why as a Chicago wedding photographer I recommend my couples build sunset portraits into their timeline:
There are usually a few different times for portraits built into your wedding day. If you two opt for a first look we’ll likely take portraits after. Then following your ceremony there’s usually time for portraits to go along with family and wedding party portraits. This is awesome, and depending on your location(s) can already offer a fair bit of variety. Sunset portraits are completely unique though as it’s the only chance for you to get golden hour portraits together! Having this much variety in your wedding album is something that often gets overlooked prior to your wedding day, but once the album is in your hands it is incredible to see! As an added bonus as well, if either of you have an outfit change planned into your day you then have the opportunity for portraits in both outfits giving you even MORE variety for your album!
There is a LOT that happens on your wedding day! It’s pretty much the only day where everyone in attendance is there to celebrate you, and it can be a lot to take all that attention in. It’s a non stop celebration, and as exciting as it is it can get a little exhausting! Of course you’ll be riding the wave of excitement through your entire day, but having a moment to slow down and take a break from it all can be a real lifesaver. Sunset portraits let you do just that, giving you time towards the end of your day to relax a bit and catch your breath with the love of your life at your side. This also takes place during your reception which is the most overstimulating time of the day, and oftentimes the point where you need a break the most!
Going off of the idea of catching a break during your wedding day is something I’ve talked about on the blog previously, and that’s taking time to reflect on the day itself. Your wedding day is going to FLY by, it does for everyone! No matter what you make your timeline look like, or how many hours you plan into the day itself, it’s inescapable that time flies when you’re having fun. That’s why as a Chicago wedding photographer I feel that it’s so important to take time to slow down and reflect on your wedding day. Sunset portraits are the perfect opportunity for this.
With these portraits being at the end of your day there will be a lot for you two to look back on and talk about. The atmosphere of sunset is also incredibly romantic which can make the moment extra emotional as you two look back on all that’s gone into your incredible day!
This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but you won’t get to spend much time alone together on your wedding day. From the moment you start getting ready with your wedding parties, to the time the last song comes on for the dance floor, there aren’t many moments of a wedding day where it’s JUST the two of you! Without a first look this is even more so the case. With no first look you won’t see each other until the ceremony, and after that it’s right to group portraits, cocktail hour, and then your reception.
In this case, sunset portraits may be the only time you get to be alone together for the entire day! Even if you do have a first look and have a moment alone to start your wedding day, having more time in the afternoon for you two to be alone together is never a bad thing!
Now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons that sunset portraits are SO worth planning into your wedding day, I wanted to take a look at a reception timeline that includes sunset portraits in it. As a Chicago wedding photographer I find that sometimes couples have a hard time envisioning what the day will look like, and how they’ll be able to fit everything into their day. While this section only covers the reception timeline, I do have a blog covering how to plan out a full wedding day timeline which you can check out!
Keep in mind also that this timeline has sunset at 5:50pm which is March 9th in Chicago. This time will change throughout the year which you’ll need to take into account. Luckily, as your photographer I’ll be able to help guide you in creating your timeline and the order of events to fit in these sunset portraits no matter which time of year!
So what exactly is the best way to get this sunset portrait experience for your wedding in Chicago? The answer depends pretty heavily on your venue location as there are a few different ways to make it work! For starters, if you have a wedding venue that has its own designated outdoor space available this will be the simplest option. I have a blog covering 10 of my favorite indoor venues with an outdoor space that you can check out for some inspiration! The next option is to head out to the streets near your venue. Since Chicago is built on a grid each street gets to experience the sunset in full effect, so this option is all about timing!
Lastly, and the most difficult option, is to travel somewhere like North Avenue Beach for these sunset portraits. This takes a HEAVY toll on your timeline though, unless your location of choice is very close to your venue. For example if your ceremony and reception are at The Honeycomb in Lincoln Park you should be able to swing sunset portraits at North Ave Beach!
If all of this sounds right up your alley, but sunset portraits just won’t work with your timeline, there is an alternative! Late night flash photos offer a similar experience since they give you a completely different style compared to your other portraits, and they let you have a moment alone where you two can be present with one another! Jen and Alex’s wedding is the perfect example of this! During the winter months, the dinner or even the ceremony of your wedding can line up with sunset. That’s why late night flash photos are SO popular with winter weddings and why I’m all for them!
If you’re still on the fence about sunset portraits I have one final piece that may just change your mind! Let’s take a look at some of the couples I’ve photographed and blogged about as a Chicago wedding photographer who each made a point to plan sunset portraits into their wedding day timelines!
Now that we’ve covered why sunset portraits are so important on a wedding day, how to make them work, and looked at some examples of incredible sunset portraits, you’re probably ready to start planning them into your own wedding day timeline! If that’s the case and you’re still in need of a photographer for your Chicago wedding, be sure to send me an inquiry. I’d love to hear from you so we can plan your day together and get your timeline nailed down so that your day fits your vision perfectly!