Capturing Magical Moments: Golden Hour and Sunset Wedding Photography

Golden hour portraits: Discover the wedding photos you never knew you needed!

You may not always know what you’re missing until you see it. Just like when my husband surprised me with a slanket—so cozy and warm! Similarly, golden hour is that perfect moment for stunning wedding photos. Click here for my top tips on achieving that golden glow in your portraits.

Recently, I ran an Instagram poll to find out what my couples cherish most about their wedding photos. The winner? No surprise—it’s the golden hour portraits!

Nearly a quarter of couples agree that their favorite wedding photos are taken during this magical time.

Golden hour is a photographer’s dream. Think ‘Days of Heaven’ or Tom Cruise on his motorbike in ‘Top Gun’. It’s incredible how it made it to my couples’ top 10 list! Curious to know more, I dug deeper.

Steph, one half of a couple I recently worked with, shares, “I wasn’t sold on golden hour portraits initially, but now I can’t imagine not having them on our wedding day.”

Steph, I couldn’t agree more! Golden hour photos truly capture romance and relaxation.

What Exactly is Golden Hour?

Not familiar with the term? You’ll definitely recognize the light…

Golden hour refers to the period just before sunset when the sun sits just above the horizon, casting a soft, warm glow—think honey-colored light—that enhances everything it touches.

It can also occur shortly after sunrise. But don’t worry—I won’t be knocking on your door at 5 am!

The Science Behind Golden Hour Light

Ever wondered why golden hour light feels so soft and dreamy?

As the sun lowers in the sky, its light must travel through more of Earth’s atmosphere. This longer path scatters shorter wavelengths of light (like blue), leaving behind the warm hues of reds and yellows that characterize golden hour.

Golden Hour vs. Midday Sun

The difference between golden hour and harsh midday sun is stark. While midday sun can be harsh and unflattering, golden hour bathes everything in a gentle, flattering light. Personally, I’d run towards the golden hour light any day—maybe even past the dessert table! (I’m not a runner, but I do love cake.)

Why Sunset Wedding Photos Are Extra Special

If I were planning my wedding today, golden hour portraits would be at the top of my list.

If the visual appeal alone isn’t convincing enough, consider this:

  • Signature Look: The warm, golden hues give photos a dreamy quality that can’t be replicated by Photoshop.
  • Natural Highlights: The sun’s positioning during golden hour creates a halo effect around subjects, making them stand out beautifully against the background. This time of day also offers opportunities to play with lens flares, long shadows, and stunning silhouettes naturally.

Golden hour wedding photos are superior to any Instagram filter—I’ve tried them all. They provide a natural warmth that enhances skin tones and softens imperfections.

Best Times for Golden Hour Photography at Weddings

Depending on the season, your golden hour may coincide with different parts of your wedding day:

  • Late fall or early spring weddings often catch golden hour during the drinks reception—perfect for capturing that magical light.
  • Early or late summer weddings might find golden hour during the wedding breakfast—ideal for outdoor photos.
  • Midsummer weddings might experience golden hour later in the evening, requiring extended coverage to capture these magical moments.

Choosing the Best Location for Golden Hour Wedding Photography

Selecting the right location can enhance your golden hour photos:

  • Look for settings with interesting features like hills, trees, or gardens that catch and reflect the golden light.
  • Most venues have spots that shine during golden hour. If not, nearby fields, beaches, or parks can provide stunning alternatives.

Tips for Perfect Golden Hour Wedding Photography

Preparation is key to capturing the best golden hour shots:

  • Plan Ahead: Ensure you’re ready well in advance so you don’t miss this fleeting light.
  • Include Golden Hour in Your Timeline: Allocate at least 15 minutes for golden hour portraits, allowing time for clouds to clear and for flexibility.
  • Inform Your Team: Let your wedding planner and caterers know you want to capture golden hour photos, so they can support your timeline.

Is Golden Hour Photography Right for Your Wedding?

Decide if golden hour photos align with your priorities. If so, incorporate them into your schedule to avoid interruptions during key moments like speeches or dinner courses. Flexibility is key to capturing the perfect golden hour shot.

Embrace the Moment

Remember, Mother Nature may have other plans—be prepared for changing conditions and unexpected moments. The beauty of golden hour lies in its unpredictability and the natural magic it brings to your wedding photos.


Golden hour and sunset wedding photography offers a unique opportunity to capture your special day in the most enchanting light possible. Whether you’re drawn to its dreamy aesthetic or its natural warmth, incorporating golden hour portraits into your wedding day ensures stunning, memorable photos that you’ll cherish forever.

Ready to capture your wedding day in golden hour magic? Contact Ra Weddings Photography today to discuss how we can make your wedding photos shine.

This post was written by a professional at Ra Weddings Photography. Ra Weddings Photography, nestled in the heart of Tampa Bay, captures timeless moments with artistry. Specializing in Wedding photography Clearwater FL, engagement pictures, and elopement photography, they bring a distinctive blend of creativity and professionalism to every shoot.

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