What to know about saying "I do" after dark.
Credit: Pablo Béglez

While afternoon ceremonies are most common, you may be one of those couples who prefers a nontraditional nuptial approach-starting with the time of day. One of our favorite ways hosting a wedding that feels fresh and unexpected? By playing with your timeline and hosting an evening ceremony. Your day may start later than usual, but that doesn't mean it has to feel like a race to the end. Here are some suggestions to ensuring your evening wedding is your guests' favorite of the year.

Pick a suitable day.

The ideal day to host an evening wedding ceremony can vary from couple to couple, especially if there are certain traditions and customs that are specific to the type of wedding you're planning, says Jill Perez, senior designer at Kate & Company. "Saturday evening would be best for an evening ceremony," she says. "This allows traveling guests time to make their way without the rush and to avoid taking time off of work."

Avoid any breaks in the evening.

"If you're hosting an evening ceremony, the reception should be immediately following to allow for a continuous flow of events," Perez says. Achieving flow is much easier without a three-hour break in between the ceremony and cocktail hour because guests won't be sitting around or trying to pass the time. It's more of an "experience from beginning to end," she says. "A certain momentum comes from moving from one event to another." Added bonus! Shifting all activities to the evening will provide a leisurely day of preparation.

Establish an after-party.

Perez poses the question, "Very seldom are you surrounded with all your loved ones-why not make it last?" Switch gears to a more relaxed, informal feel, or even keep the party going with a DJ, she suggests. "Noise constraints at your venue location? Consider trying our new favorite option and upcoming wedding trend: a silent disco."

Pick an awesome venue.

"If you are able to choose an outdoor location, you are immediately surrounding yourself with a beautiful landscape. Consider sunset and planning the ceremony around this time of day," Perez says. "If indoors, I would recommend choosing a venue with a great view of the city. Keep in mind, this may be the first visit for many out-of-town guests."

Communicate with your guests.

This is key to enable your loved ones to plan ahead. "Set expectations up front by providing an itinerary with directions, location specifics, and any provided transportation," she says. "Extend your wedding room block rate a day early to allow guests some time to settle in. Also, consider requesting early check in options for your arriving guests to ensure a warm welcome."

Keep photography at top of mind.

This is important, because if it's dim or dark outside, it will affect the lighting of the event. "When selecting a photographer, ensure that you choose a professional who is able to photograph without the natural light," Perez says. "In the evening, take into account that it will be darker, which will, in turn, affect the nature of your photography. If natural light photos are important to you as a couple, consider a 'first look' in which you are able to see each other prior to the ceremony, and therefore, be able to take pictures ahead of time."


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