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golden hour husband wife bride groom portraits jm prosperity farm

If you ask any natural light photographer what their favorite time of day to shoot is, 97.5% of them will say “golden hour” without hesitation! Golden hour is the 1 hour after sunrise and before sunset where the lighting is MAGICAL! The sunlight is softer and warmer than any other time of day, especially the harsh midday sun, so it gives everything a gentle glow. It also can create some amazing muted shadows without the severe color separation you get at other times of the day!

golden hour husband wife bride groom portraits olana jm prosperity farm
Left: gorgeous bride at midday! Harsh shadows in background, limited on venue locations
Right: adorable couple at golden hour! Soft, even lighting and silky skin tones!

So why does this matter for your wedding day? Simple! You and I both want you to look your absolute best on the most important day of your life so far! When you’re looking through your heirloom wedding album with your grandkids (or granddogs or neighbors or strangers – it’ll look so good, you’ll want to show it to everyone!), I want you to be remembering how special your first look was, not focusing on your (invisible) laugh wrinkles! Golden hour has a way of lightening all the cracks and creases in people’s faces and softening out your skin, so everyone’s skin looks smooth and dreamy!

golden hour husband wife bride groom portraits olana jm prosperity farm
Left: Beautiful couple at golden hour! Fabulous skin, gorgeous backlighting, dreamy glow
Right: Beautiful bride at midday! But, the shadows and bright background can be distracting

One of my absolute favorite moments on a wedding day is the husband and wife portraits that I always try to time for golden hour! The stress of actually getting married is over so everyone is a little more relaxed; the 2 most important people of the day get to spend 20-30 minutes together by themselves (plus me!); and the pictures always look incredible because of the creamy skin, the ethereal glow, and the fabulous backlighting! I’m swooning just thinking about it!

golden hour husband wife bride groom portraits d'vine grace vineyard
The magic of open shade! Soft, even light everywhere!

Plus, if you time it right, you can also get a few silhouette pictures if you love how those look!

So how can you make sure you get a chance to have your perfect husband and wife golden hour portraits? Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

  1. Tell your photographer how important golden hour portraits are for you! If they’re anything like me, they won’t need any convincing!
  2. Work with her/him/me! to coordinate a basic timeline for the day BEFORE you plan your ceremony time.
  3. Set your ceremony time at 1-2 hours before sunset. This may vary depending on time of year, if you’re doing a first look, and how many family pictures you want to take!
  4. Set your husband and wife portraits time for 20-30 minutes before sunset! HELPFUL HINT: Think about your venue’s layout – if there’s a lot of tree cover, you may need to do them earlier! If the venue is on a hill, you have extended sunset time!
  5. Take incredible pictures, hang them on your walls, put them in your heirloom album, and love them forever!
golden hour husband wife bride groom portraits d'vine grace vineyard
Soft, dreamy light in the open shade, no harsh shadows, delicate and silky smooth skin!

If this hasn’t convinced you of the merits of golden hour portraits, I don’t know what will! Want the TLDR version? Talk to your photographer first; make time for pictures 20-30 minutes before sunset; they will be your favorites from the whole day!

golden hour husband wife bride groom portraits olana
Midday sun: hard, distracting shadows, under eye shadows, even some squinting
golden hour husband wife bride groom portraits
Afternoon sun with cloud cover: nice alternative to golden hour, even lighting everywhere
golden hour husband wife bride groom portraits robert carr chapel
Golden hour magic:
gorgeous, dreamy light, fantastic skin tones, soft glow, gentle backlighting!