How to get the best sunset wedding photos & portraits at golden hour

How to get the best sunset wedding photos at golden hour

Do you know those dreamy, swoon-worthy wedding photos you see all over Pinterest & Instagram?

You know, the ones that were captured from the perfect angle with glowy lighting, and have the bride and groom seem like an out-of-this-world ultimate fairytale couple.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you can have photos just like that – or even better – on your wedding too. Even if you’re not planning a destination wedding, even if you’re not getting married in the summer months, and even if you’re not even planning an outdoor wedding at all.

After all, one of the beauties of true wedding photography is finding a way to notice the beauty in every moment. And actually take these stunning & romantic shots of the newly wed husband and wife (that’s you guys), capturing their most authentic moments in the most flattering way possible.

So, I’m here as your – hopefully – favourite wedding photographer from the Melbourne area to give you my top 4 tips on how you can get the best wedding photos ever by being in the right place at the right time to take some of your wedding portraits.

The best time for breathtaking wedding photos is golden hour

Photography is part planning, part skill – and part luck, too. But when it comes to taking some of your best wedding photos ever, timing is everything.

After all, golden hour is literally the best time of day to take some Instagram-worthy wedding shots of the two of you. Now, while it is true that there are two golden hours a day (at sunrise and sunset) I’m guessing that you don’t want to get up that early – which leaves us with just the sunset.

Golden hour starts about an hour before sunset – that’s around 7:30pm onwards in daylight savings time, and around 4:30pm in non-daylight savings time. That’s when the sun’s golden light floods the horizon with soft sunset colors, which are more “golden” in the summer, and more of a “red” in the winter.

This flood of softer, natural light is the best light to take some of the best shots of your entire wedding. Imagine all the long shadows, mysterious silhouettes, and deep colors. Just imagine all the incredibly flattering & infinitely romantic photographs of the two of you.

So if possible, talk to your wedding photographer (me?) and possibly your wedding planner to plan your wedding timeline in a way that allows you at least 10 minutes to 1 hour for the two of you to break away from the hustle & bustle of your wedding – and take full advantage of the setting sun.

Generally, this will usually be well after your ceremony, sometime during your reception, in-between formalities. Depending on your reception timeline (and the number of sunset photos & locations you’d like), taking your sunset portraits can take as little as 10 minutes, or as long as an hour.

No matter what though, we’ll plan around sunset to ensure everything aligns perfectly. And whether that’s timing the sunset right after your ceremony or sneaking away during reception – I’ll make sure you don’t miss those swoon worthy photos.

Our only real limit for your sunset shots is the actual time the sun goes over the horizon, so make sure we have enough time for every photo you want before that happens. After that, photos at dusk and during the night look incredible too…

Plan ahead with your location – even if it’s NOT a beach wedding

Once you’ve got the timing right, it’s important to nail the location too!

I mean, there’s really no point of having your “sunset photos” taken indoors, is there?

Now, the good news is that you can get amazing sunset wedding photos even if you’re not at some epic location – like on the beach, on the top of a mountain, or at the edge of a cliff – or even if you’re planning an indoor wedding.

All you need to do is go outside. Afterwards, I’ll help you find a backdrop or setting that feels beautiful, special, or significant to YOU.

Now, this can be anything, anywhere…

…it can be in front of a building – like your venue or your chapel.
…it can be out in nature – like in a forest, on a field, on a hilltop, or at the beach.
…or it can even be literally on the stairs of your venue or next to your decorated car.

The secret is to go outside, consider where the sun will set
– and find the perfect setting for your perfect sunset wedding shots.

Help your wedding photographer capture your candid moments

Loosen up and just have fun together throughout your sunset photoshoot. Don’t be afraid to get goofy, emotional, or weird – in the light of the setting sun, you’re going to look incredible no matter what you do!

After all, wedding photography is about documenting your authentic moments of pure joy, eternal love, and overwhelming emotions. And the more you embrace the moment, the more you live in the present, and the more you set yourselves free – the more candid moments I’ll have to immortalise for you.

So, try to create a romantic atmosphere (not a big ask on your wedding!) to enjoy a breath of fresh air together, away from your guests. Enjoy your time together like it really is just the two of you. Embrace in long hugs. Dance together as the sun sets far away. Or walk hand-in-hand, laughing, smiling, or glancing at each other with loving eyes along the way.

Strike a pose, laugh, or kiss – just be You, authentically & beautifully. And enjoy it to the fullest! After all, this is YOUR moment
– I’m just there to capture it for you.

Embrace whatever nature gives you during sunset

Nature has its funny ways sometimes…

You might get an amazing sunset with beautiful clear skies without a single cloud.
Or you might get some overcast and even rain on your wedding day.

But even then, I’ve had SO MANY overcast or rainy weddings that ended with a beautiful surprise sunset! So it’s best not to worry about things out of your control – especially on your wedding day – and focus on all the love & joy surrounding you on this magical day instead.

Besides, we can handle whatever nature throws at you. After all, it will be unique. And it will be truly yours.

So embrace it – own it. If you get your perfect sunset photos, then great! But if we end up getting some overcast, or even some rain at dusk, we’ll still make the most of it and create breathtaking shots of you on your wedding day. After all, overcast and/or rainy weddings are beautiful too (even without me working my “photography voodoo” and other superpowers).

If you see rain, snow, or clouds on the weather forecast, don’t worry. Just come prepared for almost any weather, and everything else is gonna be okay. Now, this might include making sure that your attire matches the weather, or that you have something to wear if the weather outside turns out to be anything other than ideal.

Maybe pack some spare shoes or boots, a warmer set of clothes, and a matching handkerchief. I’ll also come prepared with beautiful clear umbrellas and other cute (but practical) props for your sunset shots, just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.

So whether it’s cloudy, rainy, or clear skies – prepare to sneak away for at least 15-20 minutes to get some epic portraits no matter what…

…unless you genuinely don’t want to.

And there you have it, my top 4 tips to get the best sunset shots on your wedding or elopement. Now, in order to use my tips it’s crucial to actually schedule time for taking photos about an hour before sunset. I mean, you’d probably want to make sure you have your date booked in before going into how you’ll make the most of it.

So, if you don’t have “sunset photography” as part of your wedding day timeline just yet, make sure you add “sunset photos” to your shot list. Trust me, you’ll end up with some of your favourite photos from your whole wedding!

P.S.: Booking the right photographer for your wedding ahead of time will save you tons of headaches down the line. So, if you’re still looking for the perfect wedding photographer to take your perfect golden hour wedding shots (and all the other shots of your fairytale day, too), then feel free to reach out to see if I’m still available on your date!