You glow, girl! When thinking of wedding photos you absolutely need to have at your wedding, we’ll always say golden hour wedding photography is a must (alongside sparkler send-off photos)! Those sunset couple portraits always wow us. Everything looks better with a golden glow and the sun really works its magic by lighting up details on your outfits and sparkly hair accessories. We like to think of this article as a gallery because there’s no doubt in our minds that these wedding photos belong in museums. In this article are photos and advice from many of our fabulous and talented Recommended Suppliers, which you can find in our Recommended Supplier directory!
24 golden-hour wedding photography ideas and inspiration with tips from real wedding photographers!
What are golden hour wedding photos?
Golden hour is that dreamy time of day when the sun is just setting or just rising. Obviously, for couple photos, we're talking about that evening glow! It begins an hour before the sun sets when the sun is pretty low in the sky and starts to cast that warm golden hue. The closer to the end of the golden hour, the stronger that golden glow. Sunset photos just add a touch of magic to your wedding gallery and it's also such a nice time in the evening for you to escape the madness of greeting and socialising for a short time and just spend some quality time together. It really brings a dreamy romantic look to your photos that is so different from the rest of the day.
Why should you have golden hour wedding photography?
If you’ve ever seen a wedding photographer's Instagram feed, you’ll see plenty of photos with a lovely orange glow behind the couple. From our photographers' experience, golden hour always creates their couple's favourite photos. So you should definitely consider posing in the glow because you'd seriously be missing out. It's also the first sunset you'll watch as a married couple and will give you a whole new appreciation for sunsets when you get your gallery back. The light at this time is way more flattering and beautiful (with no harsh shadows) than earlier on in the day. You're normally much more relaxed at golden hour than you were in your first couple portrait slot. Especially as sunset normally happens quite late in the day (depending on the season) after speeches, you’ve had great food and drink, and it’s time to properly let your hair down!
Tips & Tricks For Getting the best golden hour photos
Golden hour is all about where the sun sets in the sky and at what time. On the day, your photographer will scout the best golden hour location and keep an eye on the weather and timings. Some photographers tend to do this whilst you’re having your meal and might have an app that tells them where and when the sun will set, so they can plan the best time to take you out within the golden hour. The best light is usually 10 minutes before the sun has gone but this can be tricky to time right. You'll normally head out 20 minutes before the sun sets to ensure you get a good amount of light. When your photographer says it’s time, go! You don’t have time to get your makeup touched up or speak to Aunty Elaine! Try not to schedule speeches within an hour of sunset either!
Sometimes the dream golden hour lighting happens at exactly the time you planned it. But there are factors that can change this. For example, if you’re getting married at a venue with high trees or buildings around, then the sun may disappear much earlier than expected. Unless you are happy to jump in the car and find a new location, then your golden hour portraits will need to happen earlier. Your photographers want you to enjoy the time away from everyone else and be present! The photos will be great but the real magic is the memories of watching your first sunset as a married couple. You can choose to be all soft and romantic in the photos or you can go full-on party mode with the poses, getting hyped up and ready for the party, swinging each other around, and throwing your arms up.
Can you have golden hour wedding photography during winter?
The only challenge in the winter is it’s earlier! It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have a golden hour. It’s nice to have but if you have a good photographer they'll be able to get stunning portraits no matter the weather. Embrace whatever weather you get and have the best day regardless! Guests feed off your energy, if you're upset with the weather, your guests will feel it. If you don’t care and have the best time, so will your guests! The weather doesn’t mean you can’t get some beautiful photos! If it's raining you can get some romantic notebook-esque-style photos! Golden hours can be incredibly beautiful in winter! We all know how lovely it is when we experience a crisp sunny day in winter. Instead of golden hour portraits being your second couple portrait slot, they will likely be your first time having couple photos.
The average golden hour in winter is actually not quite an hour. So with this in mind, you need to trust your photographer and don’t plan speeches near sunset time! Their top tips are to have an early ceremony. It gets dark early in the UK during winter so if you have a ceremony at 11 am or 12 pm, it gives you the best chance possible to get that last bit of sun in the afternoon and create some magic together. You can also pop out in between courses if it suits you and your photographer to do so. If it rains your venue might have some beautiful rooms you can get photos in and if not, get some clear umbrellas, embrace the rain because a lot of rainy and cloudy days often provide an amazing golden hour!
What our photographers wish you knew about golden hour wedding photography
Carrie Lavers Photography: Try not to get too drunk before sunset! If having a summer wedding and you've been drinking for hours your photos can look messy! Tipsy or merry is totally fine, but stumbling over and having to be held up is not the best look!
Creek and Country Photo: Get excited about the photos you’ll receive but also try to manage your own expectations, as a photographer I am constantly looking for the best light possible for every scenario but we do live in the UK and sometimes the weather just doesn’t play ball. I’ve had a couple send over some Pinterest photos of a beautiful couple taken at golden hour in California. But they were getting married in the UK in December, there’s very little chance to recreate something like that!
Hollie Carlin Photography: Don't be surprised if your photographer suddenly gets very energetic and excited while shooting at golden hour! I know I do, ha!
Benjamin Stuart Photography: You don’t want to wait until the light is perfect as you will be rushing! The best time to leave is slightly earlier. If it’s raining, there won’t be any golden hour so I love to put a flash on my camera and have some fun inside. Try and create that after-awards party look!
Lucy Dracott Photography: Trust your photographer. They’ll know the time and the location to get you the best golden hour photos. Golden hour can disappear quickly so if they come up to you and say that now is the best time, do what you can to get out with them as quickly as possible. With location, you have to choose based on where the sun is setting but you can make pretty much any location work.
Honeydew Moments: I know it’s easier said than done but the weather is the only thing you can’t control on your wedding day. If you’ve hired a creative photographer, you’ll know they will have plenty of ideas to create some amazing photographs whatever the weather. This is why I’ve taught myself how to create my own golden hour using flash, I literally have the sunshine in my pocket whenever I need it!
Real Wedding Stories from photographers
Carrie Lavers Photography: Golden hour is the time when couples really appreciate getting away from their guests to be by themselves for a few minutes! I encourage my couples to take each other in, talk, cuddle, kiss and be with each other whilst the sun goes down on their wedding day!
Creek and Country Photo: So many dresses get covered in mud after an adventurous portrait session and even a few dress rips! Most of my couples are down for an adventure! One bride had a few too many glasses of wine and wanted to go out on the cobbled streets for photos. The bride told us she used to be a model, to which we asked her to show us a model walk and some poses. She made it 3 steps forward when she stood on her dress, fell over on the cobbles and started laughing on the floor. She got up, grabbed her red wine and stumbled back to her guests!
Hollie Carlin Photography: I remember one couple that really had their heart set on golden hour photos. They came to get me during their meal before I'd even had a chance to grab them first. They left halfway through their main meal too! That's dedication! Ha!
Benjamin Stuart Photography: The most important element in nailing these photos is making sure the bride and groom are still looking their best. Golden hours can be at the end of a very long day and you want to make sure that hair and makeup are looking on point, shirts are tucked in etc!
Lucy Dracott Photography: One of my favourite memories is when one of my brides was so excited for golden hour photos that she was dancing around in the field. I absolutely loved capturing that joy!
Honeydew Moments: I remember after the wedding breakfast, the couple were outside mingling and it was cloudy. But there was a break in the clouds and this incredible golden light streamed through! The couple and I caught each other's eye, ran towards each other and shouted ‘GOLDEN HOUR!’ We all ran towards the light as fast as we could! This light only lasted for a few minutes and then it was gone, so it was necessary to chase that sunset!
Alexa, play 'Golden' by Harry Styles...
Ready to bask in all that golden glow? Make sure you have the right photographer to capture it! Head to our Recommended Supplier directory to find your dream photographer!Find photographers near me
If you don't caption your golden hour wedding photos on Instagram with the iconic Harry Styles lyrics, 'You're so golden', then you'd be missing out. Head to our Golden Hour/Sunset Wedding Photos Pinterest board for more inspiration. What about other iconic wedding photos you need to have? We hear you ask and we're here to answer. Here are the 10 must-have wedding photos we think you need!
A Special Thank You
A huge thank you to the amazing Recommended photographers that contributed to this article! Your advice, talent and skills never fail to blow us away! Carrie Lavers Photography, Creek and Country Photo, Hollie Carlin Photography, Benjamin Stuart Photography, Lucy Dracott Photography, Abbie Sizer Photography, Manon Pauffin Photography, Lee Daniels Photography, Nicola Dawson Photography, and Patrick Partridge Photography!