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Timing your Puerto Vallarta Sunset Wedding Ceremony

July 2, 2019

Many couples choose to schedule their Puerto Vallarta destination wedding ceremony so the photographer can capture the couple in the best (fading) light of sunset, when most couples take their wedding photos. (Photos: Diana Flores)

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - One of the main reasons couples love to get married in Puerto Vallarta is the destination's incredible sunsets. To capture all the color and spectacle, many couples choose to hold their ceremonies right at the magic hour. But it can be a bit more complicated than just looking up the time of sunset on your wedding day in an almanac. Here are some pro tips to help you take the best advantage of the dreamy and romantic Vallarta sunsets!

Please keep in mind that Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit are at the extreme western edge of the Central Time Zone. In fact, the rest of Nayarit state is in the Mountain time zone. This means that our sunset is going to be later than you think it ought to be, no matter what time of year. Even in the months closest to the winter solstice, when the days are as short as they get, sunset here takes place between 6:00 and 6:30 pm.

In the spring and summer - before and after the summer solstice - it doesn't get seriously dark here until 9:00 pm! So, if you're planning your wedding here in May, one of Vallarta's prime wedding months, and you're wanting the sun to set during your ceremony, it means you may have a very brief reception if your venue restricts noise outside after 11:00 pm. This can be a very important detail to take into consideration if you're planning your wedding here at that time of year.

Many couples choose to schedule their actual ceremony so the photographer can capture the couple in the best (fading) light after the ceremony, when most couples take their wedding photos. As wedding planners working with couples, we always defer our wedding scheduling to the wedding photographer's needs.

However, if you schedule your ceremony well before sunset to make sure that there's plenty of time afterwards for lots of photos, beware that it will be really hot for your guests sitting in the sun waiting for you to do the deed! You can mitigate that unpleasantness either by scheduling your ceremony to be mercifully short, timing everything with the utmost precision and squeezing the ceremony and photo session into as short a time as possible, and/or providing umbrellas, fans, water bottles, and even shade screens to protect your guests during the ceremony.

Another factor to take into consideration is the "first look" between the couple - whether they choose to see each other dressed up before the actual ceremony. If this factor isn't so important, it's then possible to schedule a photo session already dressed but before the ceremony, thus making a ceremony right at sunset a less-complicated proposition.

We encourage our couples to plan to have the exact sunset time fall halfway in the middle of their photo session, and to schedule their ceremony immediately beforehand. During the photos, the guests who aren't involved in the session could be served drinks and perhaps passed appetizers to keep them contented, with the sunset views to keep them entertained, and then serve your banquet dinner right after the photo session. Of course, there are a million different variations on a theme, but we've found that this sequence and timing tends to work well.

Robert Schley is founder and head planner at Mexico Event Design, a full-service destination wedding agency focusing primarily on the international LGBT Community for weddings in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. For questions and/or more information, send an email to info(at), or visit

Click HERE to learn more about Mexico Event Design.