How to Plan a Twilight Wedding Ceremony

Picture this: you and your partner are gathered beneath the emerging stars as flickering candlelight casts dancing shadows on your outfits as you walk down the aisle. Slowly, the sun sets on the horizon as you exchange vows in front of your closest family and friends, then you pose for some of the most incredible wedding photographs you’ll ever see.

Sounds magical, right? Twilight weddings are fast growing in popularity as couples seek increasingly more unique, romantic and affordable ways to spend their big day.

When it comes to planning a twilight wedding ceremony it’s not all that different from a traditional daytime wedding, but you’ll make several big decisions that are critical towards its success. These include what time to hold the ceremony, choosing the perfect venue and the potential hiccups you may need to overcome. In this post, we’ll take a look at everything you need to think about when it comes to planning the perfect twilight wedding.

What is a twilight wedding?

A twilight wedding is a wedding that is held during the latter half of the day – specifically any time after 3.30pm – though is usually timed to coincide with sunset. Whereas traditionally weddings take place over an entire day, twilight weddings start much later to take advantage of the enchanting and romantic atmosphere that builds as the sun goes down.

To take advantage of the setting sun, twilight weddings are often held outside, in locations that accentuate the natural beauty that comes with that time of day, for example on the beach or in a landscaped garden. But, we’re all too painfully aware of the unpredictability of the weather here in the UK, so venues that are covered but allow for a creative use of lighting also make for a great choice.

How popular are twilight weddings?

Twilight weddings are becoming more and more popular, thanks in part to outdoor weddings having now been legalised. Today’s couples now have more freedom than ever over where they can get married. More and more venues are starting to offer couples the option of a twilight wedding package, which is enough evidence to prove that interest continues to grow. But twilight weddings are still not quite in the mainstream, which ensures that if you do plan a twilight wedding, your ceremony will be a unique and memorable one.

Photo © Crowne Hill Plaza Solihull | See their Bridebook profile

Here’s what some of our venues have to say about the popularity of twilight weddings:

  • “Relaxed and romantic, our Twilight Wedding Package is becoming more popular, with couples looking to move away from the formalities of a traditional wedding breakfast followed by a reception. It removes the pressure of entertaining their guests for an entire day as well as reducing the costs.” (Nicola Corfield, expert sales and marketing manager at Crowne Plaza Solihull)
  • Our Twilight Wedding Package has been extremely popular with our couples. Moving forwards, couples are often looking for that ‘non-traditional’ day where they can have all of their nearest and dearest there from the beginning – skipping the traditional sit down meal and heading straight for the party. This does tie in nicely with our outside wedding ceremonies as the vibe turns into a garden party feel. Twilight weddings are definitely here to stay.” (Pippa Attwood, experienced wedding co-ordinator at Slater’s Country Hotel and Inn)

What time is a twilight wedding?

Twilight weddings take place in the evening, usually around the time the sun begins to set. This means the time the ceremony takes place can vary depending on the season, but will always be some time after 3.30pm.

For example, during late December sunset starts around 3.35pm, while in June it starts around 9.30pm. That’s not to say that summer twilight wedding ceremonies have to start that late – after all, not many guests will want to wait until midnight to have a slice of cake – and the time your ceremony starts is purely down to your own personal preferences.

If you’re planning a twilight wedding for the spring, you may expect your order of service to look a little something like this:

  • 4pm – 5pm – guests arrive and enjoy some pre-ceremony canapés
  • 5pm – 5.30pm – guests are seated
  • 5.30pm – 6.30pm – the ceremony takes place
  • 6.30pm – 7.30pm – photographs and drinks
  • 7.30pm – 1am – evening reception including drinks, dancing and food

During the ceremony and later into the night as it starts to get much darker, additional lighting will help to keep the magical atmosphere alive, especially if it’s taking place outside. Torches, candles, fairy lights and even bonfires ensure warmth and beauty if the temperature starts to drop.

Photo © Slater’s Country Hotel and Inn | See their Bridebook profile

Here’s what some of our venues have to say about the timing of twilight weddings:

  • “Couples may need to be flexible with the day of week, as availability for evening-only weddings may not be available at venues during high demand wedding months and days of the week. Twilight weddings are perfect for a Friday afternoon, especially when wedding guests may have flexible working allowing them to finish early to attend the nuptials.” (Nicola Corfield, expert sales and marketing manager at Crowne Plaza Solihull)
  • “Twilight wedding ceremonies usually take place at 4pm followed by a relaxed drinks reception and canapés and on to the evening party with a BBQ or buffet. Brides and grooms have reported that they enjoy having the whole day to get ready with no pressure or time constraints and this makes a more relaxing experience on the whole.” (Pippa Attwood, experienced wedding co-ordinator at Slater’s Country Hotel and Inn)

What’s the best venue for a twilight wedding?

To make the most of the fabulous light and colours brought by the setting sun, twilight weddings are usually held outside at venues that accentuate the natural beauty. However, outdoor weddings aren’t for everyone, and many indoor venues can work just as well. Below are just a few options for you to consider:

  • Outdoor venues – beaches, gardens, parks, fields or vineyards are already beautiful outdoor venues, with that beauty accentuated further as the sun sets.
  • Rustic venues – barns, cottages, halls, courtyards and farms make for stunning rustic venues, especially when well lit using fairy lights and candles.
  • Rooftops and terraces – what better way to make the most of the twilight than by being up high so you can see for miles and miles?
  • Historical sites – wonderful historical sites, such as castles or the grounds of a manor house, make for jaw dropping backdrops, especially into the evening.

Crowne Plaza Solihull would also recommend considering hotels that are licensed for civil ceremonies specifically: “These work well for twilight weddings, as they can host the entire celebration, including hosting guests overnight, seamlessly and all under one roof.”

What are the benefits of having a twilight wedding?

We’ve already covered how magical a twilight wedding can be, but there are plenty of other benefits that might make it a better choice for you than a traditional wedding.

  • Cost because the ceremony and reception only take place during the evening, the costs involved can be much less.
  • Unique while growing in popularity, twilight weddings are still not as common as daytime weddings.
  • Romantic and intimate – sunset is already an enchanting time of day, add a stunning wedding into the mix and you have a recipe for a magical wedding.
  • Flexibility it can be difficult for all of your loved ones to attend a daytime wedding, especially if it takes place during the week, and a twilight wedding helps more guests be with you on the day. You may also find it’s easy to secure your preferred vendors if they’re not committing to a whole day.
  • Fewer formalities – if you’re keen on having a wedding but not looking forward to the formality of an all-day event, a twilight wedding condenses it, which relieves some of the pressure.

Should you consider a twilight wedding?

Whether or not a twilight wedding is right for you depends on your preferences and the time of year you’re looking to get married.

If you’re set on getting married during the winter, then you may want to think long and hard about an outdoor wedding – after all, your guests won’t be dancing at the reception if they’re still frozen to their seats. However, an indoor venue that allows for great views, or a covered venue where heaters can be used, also make for a great choice.

Certain aspects might have to be cut or trimmed down, such as the wedding breakfast and some of the speeches, so if you’re big into all the traditional parts of a wedding, then consider that there might not be time for everything. Remember, it will be difficult to squeeze every part of an all-day wedding into just five or six hours.

That being said, nothing can match the ambience of a twilight wedding, nor the photographs you’ll have thanks to the incredible lighting. As it gets dark and the candles, torches, and fairy lights begin to shine, it will transform an already beautiful venue into one that is truly breathtaking.

What are the risks involved with a twilight wedding?

If your twilight wedding takes place at an indoor venue then there are no more risks involved than there are with any other wedding – so you get all of the benefits with none of the stress.

However, if the ceremony is due to take place outside, then you’ll be checking the weather forecast obsessively for days and even weeks ahead of the day. So, in the event the dreaded rain cloud appears beside the date of your wedding, it’s best to have a backup plan to avoid heartache and disappointment. This could be something as simple as a marquee or other indoor space that you could switch to should the heavens threaten to open.

How much does a twilight wedding cost?

Because you’re using the venue for a shorter amount of time and paying vendors for fewer hours, twilight weddings should be cheaper, right? Well, generally they are, yes. For example, Slater’s Country Hotel and Inn twilight wedding package costs significantly less than their traditional package. However, depending on your chosen venue, it might not be as significantly cheaper as you might hope. It’s important to remember that even though your wedding isn’t using the venue throughout the entire day, it’s stopping other weddings from taking place that may have done. That being said, you’ll still make savings elsewhere, which makes a twilight wedding an enticing option for couples conscious of their budget.

Do all venues offer twilight wedding packages?

Not all venues currently offer a twilight wedding package, but as they grow in popularity they’re becoming increasingly more common. Below is a selection of just a few venues that offer twilight weddings and how much they cost:

Tips for the planning the perfect twilight wedding

Excited to start planning your twilight wedding? Here are five tips to help you create a beautiful and unique day.

  1. Choose the venue carefully – the most stunning venue on paper may not be the most practical, especially if it’s outdoors. Make sure there’s a back up option available if the weather takes a turn for the worst, and the sun isn’t blinding your guests as it sets.
  2. The timing is everything – if sunset is at 6pm, then don’t start the ceremony at that time. To get the most out of the fading light, make sure the ceremony starts around 20-40 minutes before.
  3. Dress for the occasion – even if it’s not raining, the weather will still play a big part, so dress appropriately and consider whether you want goosebumps on show in your photos. You may also want to consider offering guests blankets for their laps, which can double up as unique wedding favours.
  4. Have the right light – your ceremony may start while it’s still light, but it will soon darken, and having the right lighting, such as candles and fairy lights, will add further delicate beauty.
  5. Use the darkness to your advantage – as it gets darker it’ll help you to introduce new and exciting ways to entertain your guests. You could consider glow-in-the-dark decorations, give guests colourful glow sticks to use for photographs, or have a bonfire burning so guests can make their own s’mores.

Start planning your twilight wedding today

Now that you know what to think about when planning a twilight wedding, why not start planning your own wedding with Bridebook today?

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Happy Planning!