Wedding Planning 101- What Will My Ceremony Look Like?

I see a lot of Pinterest boards and other wedding inspiration from brides and often times the actual logistics are looked over. If you are pinning a bunch of outdoor sunset ceremonies with multi colored fall leaves, but your ceremony is in the springtime at 4 pm, you are obviously not going to get the look you are envisioning in your mind. Or if you are getting married in a dark church but your inspiration is coming from chapel ceremonies that have a ton of window light. 

I want to show a few examples of what real weddings look like, and I'll also include the time of day, type of location, and season. You might be surprised. :)

This ceremony was in January at 7 pm inside a semi-dark church. The front of the church was well lit, which was very helpful to me. :) Window light had no factor in this ceremony as the sun had gone down at this point. 

This ceremony was in January at 7 pm inside a semi-dark church. The front of the church was well lit, which was very helpful to me. :) Window light had no factor in this ceremony as the sun had gone down at this point. 

This wedding was the first weekend of March. The grass had sort of started to turn green but the trees were still wintery looking. This ceremony was about 1.5 hours before sunset and there was quite a bit of cloud cover. This would look much different in the summer/fall.

This wedding was the first weekend of March. The grass had sort of started to turn green but the trees were still wintery looking. This ceremony was about 1.5 hours before sunset and there was quite a bit of cloud cover. This would look much different in the summer/fall.

This ceremony was about 2 hours prior to sunset at the end of March. Spring had sprung at this point and there were leaves on the trees and the grass was green. The light was VERY harsh but we lucked out and the couple were under the shadow of the pillars in this beautiful ceremony space. 

This ceremony was about 2 hours prior to sunset at the end of March. Spring had sprung at this point and there were leaves on the trees and the grass was green. The light was VERY harsh but we lucked out and the couple were under the shadow of the pillars in this beautiful ceremony space. 

This ceremony was QUITE the challenge in terms of lighting. It was in May and was initially supposed to be outside, but it started pouring rain 13 minutes before the ceremony started. I believe this was the only ceremony last year where I used off camera flash. It was a last second decision and I think it turned out beautifully. If I hadn't used flash, it likely would have been a little more pink toned and not quite as crisp. 

This ceremony was QUITE the challenge in terms of lighting. It was in May and was initially supposed to be outside, but it started pouring rain 13 minutes before the ceremony started. I believe this was the only ceremony last year where I used off camera flash. It was a last second decision and I think it turned out beautifully. If I hadn't used flash, it likely would have been a little more pink toned and not quite as crisp. 

This ceremony was at 2 pm during the summer in a chapel with floor to ceiling windows. I think the light is beautiful but the background behind the couple is completely blown out because it was so bright. If I had exposed so that the leaves had more detail, the couple would have been a silhouette. The early ceremony was a good choice in this situation. 

This ceremony was at 2 pm during the summer in a chapel with floor to ceiling windows. I think the light is beautiful but the background behind the couple is completely blown out because it was so bright. If I had exposed so that the leaves had more detail, the couple would have been a silhouette. The early ceremony was a good choice in this situation. 

This summer ceremony was very challenging. We really lucked out with the large archway in the ceremony space because it provided a perfect shadow for my bride and groom. The ceremony was about 4 hours prior to sunset and light was almost directly overhead. Without the arch, there would have been strong light all over their skin, much like what you see on the groom's back. 

This summer ceremony was very challenging. We really lucked out with the large archway in the ceremony space because it provided a perfect shadow for my bride and groom. The ceremony was about 4 hours prior to sunset and light was almost directly overhead. Without the arch, there would have been strong light all over their skin, much like what you see on the groom's back. 

Oh man, this was some trickery. This wedding was during the day inside a DARK chapel. I used a little bit of flash for most of the ceremony photos because it was like a cave in there. There were two windows in the front but the walls were very dark. 

Oh man, this was some trickery. This wedding was during the day inside a DARK chapel. I used a little bit of flash for most of the ceremony photos because it was like a cave in there. There were two windows in the front but the walls were very dark. 

This wedding was on a dark and rainy summer day in a dark church.. There was essentially zero window light so my camera was cranked pretty high. 

This wedding was on a dark and rainy summer day in a dark church.. There was essentially zero window light so my camera was cranked pretty high. 

This indoor fall wedding was right about sunset. Light was coming in from both sides and tons of harsh light behind the couple but the space itself was pretty dark. 

This indoor fall wedding was right about sunset. Light was coming in from both sides and tons of harsh light behind the couple but the space itself was pretty dark. 

This fall wedding was in a chapel with white walls, but was still sort of dark inside. We were about 2-3 hours prior to sunset at this point. The light coming through the right side window can be seen with the highlight on the groom's hip. 

This fall wedding was in a chapel with white walls, but was still sort of dark inside. We were about 2-3 hours prior to sunset at this point. The light coming through the right side window can be seen with the highlight on the groom's hip. 

This was by far the most challenging ceremony of my career. This fall ceremony started before the sun set, and by the time this photo was taken, it was DARK outside. Like, super dark. Normally my settings stay pretty much the same from ceremony start to finish, but I had to make major adjustments constantly for this one.  If you know anything about photography, this image was taken at 12,800 ISO, which is kind of insane. Definitely wouldn't have been possible a couple of years ago without the image totally falling apart but camera sensors are pretty good these days. I definitely knew the limits of my camera in this situation and pushed as hard as I could without going overboard. Is there some grain? Yeah, absolutely, but that's better than an underexposed image. 

This was by far the most challenging ceremony of my career. This fall ceremony started before the sun set, and by the time this photo was taken, it was DARK outside. Like, super dark. Normally my settings stay pretty much the same from ceremony start to finish, but I had to make major adjustments constantly for this one.  If you know anything about photography, this image was taken at 12,800 ISO, which is kind of insane. Definitely wouldn't have been possible a couple of years ago without the image totally falling apart but camera sensors are pretty good these days. I definitely knew the limits of my camera in this situation and pushed as hard as I could without going overboard. Is there some grain? Yeah, absolutely, but that's better than an underexposed image. 

Another outdoor fall wedding. This ceremony was earlier...a couple of hours before sunset. The light was gorgeous, although some of the highlights were a little strong. 

Another outdoor fall wedding. This ceremony was earlier...a couple of hours before sunset. The light was gorgeous, although some of the highlights were a little strong. 

This fall ceremony was indoor after sun had set. All light was coming from directly overhead with the stage lights, which created heavy shadows but also an intimate feel. 

This fall ceremony was indoor after sun had set. All light was coming from directly overhead with the stage lights, which created heavy shadows but also an intimate feel. 

As you can see, each wedding is different and even the season itself can make a huge difference.  If you have shadows and blown out highlights and color casts, you just have them. It's part of your wedding and part of your story. 

Each one of these weddings were so different but they all had one common factor. Love. Lot of it. If it rains on your wedding day and your dream ceremony has to be moved inside, at the end of the day, you're just as married. 

As you plan your wedding, it's important to have realistic expectations about what your ceremony will look like. If you are having an indoor church ceremony, ask your photographer to see other indoor church ceremonies. If your wedding is outside with no chance of shade, ask for daytime outdoor ceremonies.

I hope this sheds some light (and some darkness) on your wedding day plans!