Ever wanted to get married at night? The ultimate guide to a twilight wedding ceremony or sunset wedding

When you hear the words ‘twilight wedding ceremony’, you might think of vampires, werewolves, and glittery skin. But it’s not quite that! Another name for the same idea is a sunset wedding ceremony, but whichever and whenever you choose, the premise is the same: the fact that you’ll get married at night.

Weddings in the UK traditionally follow a timeline where the ceremony takes place between 11am and 3pm. However, there’s no set rule that this has to be the case, and especially now that wedding restrictions have been totally lifted, why not take advantage and get married at night instead?

Who is a twilight wedding ceremony for?

It’s not just the exact same format, transposed a few hours later. Rather, a twilight wedding ceremony, or sunset wedding (depending on what you want to call it and when in the year it is) is perfect for couples who don’t want the formalities of a full day wedding.

Candles at twilight on table at wedding reception

You still get the full ceremony, but you skip the wedding breakfast and go straight into the reception. This makes it a great option if you want to remove the pressure of entertaining your guests for the full day. It also means there’s no need for table plans, speeches, or coordinating menu choices from your guests. You just get married and party! Though having said this, it can course include some of the traditional elements if you want it to: your wedding, your way.

Another great reason why you might want to get married at night is because it’s totally unique, and something your guests have likely never experienced before, nor may ever experience again.

What’s the difference between a twilight wedding ceremony and a sunset wedding?

Largely, a twilight wedding ceremony and a sunset wedding are the same thing: essentially, at their simplest, they’re a ceremony which takes place in the evening. Whether you’ll get married in the dark, or when the sun is setting, depends on where and when you’re getting married!

Sunset wedding couple portrait

What’s a typical twilight wedding timeline?

A typical timeline for a twilight wedding could look like this:

  • 17:00 Arrival drinks and canapés for guests
  • 17:45 Guests seated
  • 18:00 Your twilight wedding ceremony begins
  • 18:20 Drinks reception and group photos
  • 19:00 Evening reception party with food served/party time!

If you’re wondering what the light would be like at different times, an excellent resource to check is timeanddate.com. There, you can see what time the sunset is on your chosen date at your chosen location, and work with that in mind!

Wedding couple with sparklers at dusk

What do you need to consider with a twilight wedding ceremony and party?

Is your venue suited to a twilight wedding?

Not every wedding venue is perfectly suited to getting married in the evening. What might look bright and aesthetically pleasing in the day may seem rather lacklustre without natural light! To avoid this make sure you visit each venue in the evening, so you can properly envision how it will look during a twilight wedding.

Can you find someone to perform the service?

Finding someone who’ll perform the service might be slightly more tricky than normal, but not impossible! If you’re looking for a ceremony with a Humanist or independent celebrant, they’re likely to be much more flexible with their timings, as they work for themselves. By contrast, registrars and religious figures are more likely to be beholden to stricter working hours. This isn’t to say it can’t be done, and many will work with you to make it work; it’s just something to be aware of before you embark.

Is your photographer comfortable with taking photos at nighttime?

Finding the right photographer for your wedding plans is always crucial, but especially so when you’re getting married in the dark! Make sure your photographer is comfortable with taking photos at nighttime: don’t be afraid to ask them for examples if you can’t immediately see many in their portfolio. You can see mine peppered through this post, and if you’re planning to get married at night, I’d love to chat!

What will the weather be like?

Even in the great British summer, the evening temperatures can drop to quite chilly, so if you’re having an outdoor celebration make sure you have blankets on hand for your guests. Places like Brolly Bucket have an excellent range for hire.

Leeds Castle dusk couple shot

Some of my top twilight wedding ceremony tips

Timing is very important

Researching the sunset for your chosen wedding day is a great idea, especially if you want a sunset ceremony. Alternatively, if you want the sun to set during your photos rather than the ceremony, begin your ceremony at least 40 minutes before the timed sunset.

And so is lighting

There are loads of brilliant lighting options available, such as lanterns, fairyvlights, candles, accent lights, showlights, and more. But remember, as a majority of your wedding will be in darkness, you want to choose lights which are not only visually appealing but actually provide sufficient lighting for guests too!

Pick entertainment that suits a twilight wedding ceremony vibe

When thinking about the entertainment for your twilight wedding or sunset wedding, why not choose an entertainer to match? You could choose experiences like fire breathing, tea light dancing, a DJ set with club lights, glow in the dark dancing…there’s a whole world of brilliant, experiential performers out there who would be only too thrilled to put on a show for your big day.

NIghttime silhouette of wedding couple

Take your group photos before it gets too dark

And as a wedding photographer, I have to round off with a tip relating to photography, don’t I?! Whenever your ceremony, I recommend having your group photos before it gets too dark. There’s so many moving parts with group photos that it’s a good idea to make it as easy as possible; and doing it in the (relative) light helps massively.

Are you wanting to get married at night? Considering a twilight wedding ceremony, or maybe a sunset wedding is looking appealing right now? Whatever your plans are, I’d love to chat to you about being behind the camera for you. Feel free to drop me a line!