Would you like to know the simplest way to bring your engagement and wedding photos to a whole new level? My Golden Hour Photography for Weddings and Engagements Guide provides extensive information on the benefits of including a Golden Hour session in your day-of-wedding timeline. I also offer additional tips and tricks to help you prepare for your Golden Hour photography session, so let’s get started!
What Is “Golden Hour” & Why You Should Take Advantage Of It
A must-have for any romantic wedding or engagement photography session, “Golden Hour” refers to the last hour before the sunset or sunrise. Due to the sun’s angle at this time of day, it creates the most romantic and flattering light. My clients always remark on how beautiful the Golden Hour photos turned out and that they are so happy that they took the time to capture these types of pictures on their wedding day!
Soft, warm, and dazzling, this is the magical time of day that the sunlight graces us with its glow; It is a once-in-a-day (and lifetime!) moment, also a time to take a quick pause and take a moment with each other before heading into the post-ceremony celebrations.
Here are some examples of Golden Hour Photography images from my portfolio to give you a visual understanding of why so many couples love these photos!
Planning Ahead With Your Photographer
To get that golden glow in your photos, plan ahead with your photographer and schedule this special photo session at your desired location, about one to two hours before sunset or sunrise.
When I work with couples who want to experience this type of engagement or wedding photography, I take some time before the shoot to scope out the right places to get the most stunning shots. If you have ideas you want to share with your photographer, be sure to share the spots you like the most and ask if they will work well at Golden Hour.
Besides the location of your Golden Hour photography, here are other factors to consider when you are planning your session:
1. Have precious heirloom items and various accessories/props included in your couples’ portraits.
Golden Hour sessions are the perfect time to capture images of your beautiful ring and other unique items. I also carry a few props with me (e.g., an elegant ring box) to enhance your jewelry’s beauty.
2. Get your rings polished and cleaned.
I highly recommend that you take time to clean your rings and other jewelry before your engagement or wedding photography session. As one of my clients’ thank-you gifts, I provide a gemstone cleaner by THE MINE CO to help keep your jewelry sparkling clean and photo-ready. Professional photography will pick up tiny details, so have your rings (and shoes! if necessary) polished.
3. Bring extra shoes and other outfits/dresses you would like to wear.
If you have a wedding dress just for the ceremony and want to switch out into a reception dress or a photo-only dress, make sure you have that on hand before your Golden Hour shoot.
For engagement sessions, I recommend packing two outfits, shoes, and accessories (e.g., earrings, necklaces, neckties) you want to include in your photos. You can also bring makeup and hairstyling tools for on-the-go touch-ups. I also encourage you to spoil yourself a little and hire a professional makeup and hairstylist before the session; this would be a great day to schedule your wedding hair and makeup trial!
It is also essential to have proper footwear, which all depends on your location and photo spots. I often work with couples who love the Rocky Mountains and have their wedding photos or engagement photos taken there. High heels look beautiful but ensure you have a backup pair to wear en route to our location. I also advise purchasing non-slip shoe grips (something I also provide my clients) to place on the bottom of your shoes to help keep you safe on more uneven or rough landscapes.
4. Include your pets.
If you’d like to include your beloved animal companions in your photos, have someone else at the location help care for them after their shots with you to ensure that the photoshoot runs smoothly. You can also take this time to dress up your fur child(ren) for the special occasion (e.g. a custom-made collar/leash, a bandana or floral neckpiece).
5. Keep your guests entertained during the Golden Hour photography.
I always conduct an in-depth day-of-wedding consultation with my couples so that we not only remember to include Golden Hour photos but also so that it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the reception and the wedding guests are occupied during the session.
One excellent example of this would be to sneak away for your session during cocktail hour while your guests are occupied and entertained. A second photographer would be handy as they could stay and take photos of your guests.
Note: If the sunset in your wedding venue area at that time of year occurs later at night (example: 9:30 pm), you can wait until after the reception is over to take your wedding photos or while your guests are busy on the dance floor.
For engagement pictures, you simply need to show up at the location 10-15 minutes before the scheduled time so that you can connect better with your photographer and discuss the various spots you’ll be using for your photos.
I highly recommend having a weather app or sunset/sunrise tracker app ready to go on the day of your photoshoot. You’ll be more prepared and are more likely to catch that Golden Hour. But rest assured! It is our job as wedding photographers to pay extra close attention to the weather and sunset hour. We’ll keep you updated regularly.
6. Arrange plans for any sudden weather changes.
Rain on your wedding day does not have to be the end-all for your wedding photography. For sudden downpours, I carry a clear umbrella to give my clients to use, and if it is just gently raining, some couples may opt to just get slightly wet to get these beautiful shots.
If you are not planning your wedding or engagement session in summer (especially in Canada and the mountains!), purchase some formal outerwear that will look nice over your wedding attire. Some suggestions are a faux fur bridal coat or cape, a wool wedding coat, and some nice gloves. It is possible to keep yourself warm without sacrificing your signature wedding look!
7. Consider hair and makeup touch-ups.
Ask your hair and makeup artist to create a touch-up kit for you so that you have the exact shade of lipstick, extra hairpins, etc., for touch-ups later in the day.
Extend Your Golden Hour Photography Session With Blue Hour
For that “something blue” in your wedding, why not take a chance on Blue Hour Photography? After your Golden Hour photoshoot ends, spend some time in the “Blue Hour” natural lighting that happens after the sun sets for about 30-45 minutes.
The enchanting blend of the deep blue hue of the almost-night sky and the subtle sunlight that sticks around after the sun sets is positively breathtaking! The blue hour lighting creates depth and a mesmerizing contrast of lighting and colours, making it worth the extra 30 minutes to take more vibrant and exquisite engagement or wedding photos.
The Most Important Wedding Photography Tip Of All
My number one piece of advice is to truly savour this time with your partner and go into your Golden Hour photography session with a relaxed and fun mindset. I guide my couples through a series of naturally posed moments, so all you have to do is follow my lead and enjoy the process. (I promise I will make you look GREAT!)
There are so many things to consider and organize when you are planning your wedding, and photography is one of the most important aspects; your engagement and wedding photos will become some of your most valued possessions as they embody those moments and feelings frozen in time.