valley & co. tips :: planning golden hour wedding photos

Golden hour photos can be some of the most romantic and beautiful keepsake portraits for couples from their wedding day. It’s that window of time just before dusk when their photographer will steal them away from the buzz of their friends and family, and it’s a magic moment not only for the two of them to reflect, but to really take in the party in their honor (we’ve peeked at so many of our couples standing across a vast lawn or from a boat looking back at land admiring their tent or watching the guests enjoying the night). We love recommending golden hour photos – and a good 15-20 minutes should yield a gorgeous gallery of mementos – of course the longer the framework of time the more images you’ll receive.

With summertime evenings as the perfect few hours for dinner and dancing al fresco, we work really closely with our photography team and our couples to stage the right time to steal away so they don’t miss much and their guests won’t notice them gone for too long. Often the sun is setting during toasts, dessert, or the beginning of dancing, so our know-how to maneuver and finesse these moments plays a role in achieving that perfect golden moment without rush.

What to keep in mind when planning golden hour photos:

Keep in mind golden hour is not sunset itself – it’s the good 30-60 minutes before sunset happens when the sky is pastel or washed in that romantic gold. Getting outside when the sky is just starting to change tones is perfect, no matter the season.

Scout it out – no matter if you’re marrying at an idyllic Maine property with views of the Atlantic, a downtown Boston rooftop with views of the harbor or city, or an island farm wedding tucked outside of Seattle, check out great backdrops that will really show off your portraits. Natural settings look, well, naturally beautiful, and trees and gardens can just enhance these photos. Ask your photographer their favorite spots and follow their lead.

Work with your photographer and planning team to plan toasts to end well before this happens – or have a signal to break before they happen if dinner runs late. One thought is, if you run into it, cutting the cake before you head out for these photos, enabling guests to enjoy while you’re out. Always leave yourselves and your creative team room to play with the timeline a touch if needed (like if your dinner runs long or Uncle Thomas gives a 20 minute toast!).

Put a cap on the time and make sure you allot enough time for these photos – if you are able to sneak away while guests are enjoying dessert, that should give you sufficient time. Just try to not make your guests wait too long if you haven’t kicked off dancing – there might be a lull while they excitedly await your return. That means your wonderful photography team should set an alarm and pull you back inside to kick off the next chapter of the day.

Do freshen up – you’ve likely been hugged and kissed all day, so take a few moments for you both to freshen up and touch up before these portraits are taken.

Photos by O’Malley Photographers for Valley & Company Events

So tell us: will you be planning golden hour photos?