Weather, Daylight Savings And The Golden Hour: How To Plan Your Wedding Timeline To Match The Season

March 24, 2024

Zara Staples

Wedding Planning

Love is in the air – but which season is the best time to celebrate it? I love the natural beauty and dreamy landscapes we have year-round here in New Zealand – but the dramatic change from short winter days to endless summer nights can definitely make it tricky to plan your wedding timeline in New Zealand. 

When you’re creating your wedding timeline, it helps to take the season into account. I’ve put together a handy guide for how to plan your wedding timeline to match the season, considering factors like the weather, daylight savings and the magical golden hour. Of course, the seasons can inspire your wedding vibe and styling too, so I’ve included a few colour suggestions that can help you match your day to the environment. 

Before we get started, though, I’ll let you in on a secret: every season is a real winner here in New Zealand! You can’t go wrong, no matter when you decide to tie the knot. 

Find my timeline examples at the bottom of this post.


There’s nothing like a summer wedding. The long days and pleasant nights of December, January and February are so gorgeous for weddings. Most summer evenings are balmy, and beautiful, so this is an ideal time for a low-key outdoor reception. It’s worth noting that due to the humidity we experience during this season, skies are often overcast (particularly in December, although there are a few clear days as well). I personally love the drama this creates in photographs, particularly if we’re located somewhere near cliffs or the sea!

The days can be seriously hot, though, so if you’re planning a summer wedding, take care to keep your guests cool. Plenty of ice water, shade and a well ventilated venue, if possible, will help everyone feel much more comfortable. If you’re planning to have a marquee – keep the sides open as long as you can!

So, what time should a summer wedding start? I suggest you plan your ceremony to start around 4–5pm. If it’s earlier in the afternoon, keep in mind that sunset isn’t until much later in the day. From a photography perspective, this means I would need to stay longer to take your sunset photos; but if the ceremony is later in the day, we can fit more into a shorter amount of time.

Summer colour palettes: Since the grass is usually quite dry in the hot summer months, you can go pretty wild with your colour palette as they will really pop against this neutral background. Alternatively, you can decorate using a minimalist colour scheme of whites and creams for an elegant and stark contrast against the brown.


The lovely autumn months of March, April and May are my faves for weddings and photos. It’s not too hot; we usually have clear, pleasant days; and the sunsets are just perfect for photography – the hour or so before sunset, referred to by photographers as the ‘golden hour’, gives us soft, even lighting that’s ideal for weddings.

So which are the golden hours in autumn? Depending on your location, sunset will be around 6–7 pm, so we can head out a little earlier than that for your stunning golden hour photos. Keeping this in mind, I would suggest your ceremony be placed around 2:30-3:30pm.

Autumn colour palettes: There are so many fun colours to play with this season! Choose from classics like creams, orange or experiment with bright yellows, muted pinks and red or even deep jewel tones. 

Flowers by Field Of Roses


The winter months of June through August can be a surprisingly great time for weddings! It doesn’t always rain – there are plenty of bright blue days, without the mugginess and overcast skies we often see in summer. Plus, winter weddings are less popular, so it’s less likely that all of the popular venues will be booked out every weekend. Score!

What time should a winter wedding start? Think about having your ceremony mid-afternoon, around 2pm. And how long after the ceremony is sunset in winter? One great thing about winter weddings is the shorter days, which means the ceremony can finish in the late afternoon and we’ll cruise straight into golden hour photos. Once it gets dark, it’ll be perfect timing for the reception to begin. 

Light tip: Mid-autumn through winter, the light is ideal from around 3pm onwards (compared to 7pm in the summer months).

But wait – does golden hour happen in the winter, still? Absolutely! I’m happy to report that some of the best lighting all year occurs in winter, since the sun is lower in the sky. Winter can bring some dramatic and vibrant sunsets too, giving us a pop of awesome lighting right when we want it.

Winter colour palettes: In winter, think about deep greens and icy blues. Alternatively, brighten things up with subtle shades of complementary cool colours. You can find native flowers in winter too – a local florist can give you plenty of fun options. 


Many couples love the idea of a spring wedding – the September–December months are really popular for saying ‘I do’. Because daylight savings kicks in during spring, Google your sunset time on your preferred date to ensure you time things correctly – I’m happy to help with this!

The North Island is a great choice for a spring wedding, especially in areas like Gisborne and Hawkes Bay. It tends to be warm in the spring, with temps hovering in the high teens and low 20s.

Spring colour palettes: Spring brings so many options! You’ll have an array of colourful flowers, vibrant green grass, and lots of fun hues. November is when we see a rose ‘flush’, so you’ll have plenty of stunning colours to choose from. Your options really are endless for flowers in spring!

How do I know what season is best for my wedding?

Seasonal wedding planning in New Zealand is easy, since we have such spectacular seasons throughout the year. It all comes down to your preference, but I personally love the beauty of April/May and October/November. 

If you’re struggling to decide, think about which time of year you love the most as a couple. If you and your loved ones have strong ties to a certain date, location or season, use this to guide your wedding planning. 

I know wedding logistics can be confusing – as New Zealand is so far from the equator, it means we live with very long summer days and very short winter ones! However, your wedding timeline is such an important part of your day for all of your guests and your suppliers. If there’s anything I can do to help with planning your timeline or deciding what times are best for your ceremony or reception, all you have to do is reach out! 

I love nothing more than a good challenge, and I’m here to help you plan the best wedding ever, no matter what the season. Can’t wait to hear from you

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