HOW TO ARRANGE A WINTER WEDDING
While wedding photography in winter requires a different mind to summer weddings, it’s still a wonderful and unique time to arrange a wedding celebration. Bride’s naturally want the best photography available whatever the season, but realise that winter weddings have their challenges. The most obvious is that light will be a premium. That’s crucial, as photography means “drawing with light”. So if there’s very little light around, how can your photographer create stunning images for you? What things should you look out for, or avoid that wouldn’t be relevant for a summer wedding?
Here’s my top 5 tips to make your winter wedding photography a success:
- Choose the right venue
- Choose the right dress and footwear
- Choose the right time
- Choose the right photographer
- Choose the right mindset
Why Choose a Winter Wedding Celebration?
Despite the perceived negatives, shooting in the winter can be a wonderful time to get unique memorable images. Do you love the warm, cosy feel of being indoors in winter, and want that reflected in your photos? Choosing the right photographer can help you make the most of what light there is to create images you’ll cherish.
Plus many venues are quieter giving you more dates to choose from and they’ll often offer a discount for booking an out-of-peak-season date. Finding accommodation for your guests too will be easier as many local hotels or guest houses have competitive winter prices.
Some couples have no alternative but to get married away from spring or summer months. One bride, whose winter wedding I photographed, suffered very badly with hay fever and couldn’t get married in any other season. Who wants puffy, watery eyes, with constant sneezing and feeling drained as the lasting memories for their wedding?
I personally love shooting wedding photography in the winter for all the above reasons, as it pushes me as a documentary wedding photographer to experiment, looking for small pockets of light while always focusing on the human interactions of every wedding.
Whatever your reason for booking your celebrations and wedding photography in winter, these winter wedding photography tips and ideas will help make your day a memorable one for all the right reasons.
Winter Wedding Photography Tips and Ideas
1) Choose the Right Venue
When visiting different venues, imagine the worst weather possible and all your guests huddled inside. Look for rooms that can easily accommodate the number of guests you’re inviting, without it being too cramped. The venues may have lovely gardens and woodland walkways, but that’s of no use if it’s pouring with rain.
If possible, visit in the evening or at night to get a real feel for the atmosphere you can expect.
Don’t forget to check out the heating. Although many venues may be experienced with keeping their venue warm. if you choose a barn or marquee venue, that can be more challenging. If some guests want to go outdoors for fresh air, are there any outdoor heaters, where they can huddle together?
To make the most of the fading light, why not decorate your venue with fairy lights and candles to recreate a cosy winter wonderland look indoors? Check what your venue allows, as some will not allow naked flames for obvious reasons.
Here’s my list of the Best Wedding Venues in the West Midlands.
2) Choose the Right Dress and Footwear
If you’re planning to splash out on some Jimmy Choo shoes, I suggest you also buy an alternative pair for the times when you need to go outside. Winter is notorious for bad weather and if there’s mud and rain around, the second pair will keep your nerves intact, knowing you don’t have to worry about ruining your expensive shoes.
Some choose flat heels for comfortable walking, or even boots in case you have no choice but to go through mud or puddles.
Make sure your dress is suitable for the winter weather. Don’t be that bride who ends up shivering in the cold while wearing that beautiful, bespoke, off-the-shoulder, low-back, summer wedding dress because you couldn’t resist it in the shop!
If you can’t resist THAT dress, plan for the weather and add a suitably matching stole, wrap, pashmina, jacket, bolero, or shawl to keep you warm when needed, but which can be removed when required.
Another dress suggestion is to choose a heavy fabric such as brocade, taffeta or satin. A gown with layers of tulle will keep you nice and snug too.
Plus don’t forget the obvious design feature to add warmth – sleeves! While strapless dresses are most popular, why go with convention? Make your own statement and go with the unconventional!
Need help deciding? You’ll find some help here: Choosing the Right Wedding Dress
3) Choose the Right Time
By choosing an early ceremony time, your photographer will not only be able to make the most of the available natural lighting but, you’ll also have more time to enjoy the company of your guests.
Here in the Midlands, I’m finding I can shoot winter weddings outdoors, with the natural light up until about 3:30pm, after which the light starts to fade and it becomes trickier. That’s when I start using artificial light creatively for dramatic or back-lit images.
So if you absolutely must have outdoor photos, eg groups, make sure they can start around an hour before sunset.
If you need to travel between venues, allow for extra time in case of bad weather.
Having sparklers or fireworks are an excellent way to entertain your guests during the evening and suit winter weddings perfectly. Weddings during the summer months don’t get dark enough to use sparklers effectively until late in the evening. This may mean paying extra for your photographer to stay to capture them. But winter allows you to have them much earlier.
The other advantage of having sparklers at a winter wedding, is the earlier sunset. In the summer, your guests will have to wait quite a while before it’s dark enough to use them. The later it gets, the more likely some of your guests will have drunk a little too much. The thought of having those guests handling white-hot sparklers doesn’t bear thinking about!
Either way, check with your wedding venue if sparklers or fireworks are allowed, and under what conditions.
4) Choose the Right Photographer
I know some who refuse to shoot winter weddings, preferring the generally more predictable weather and lighting circumstances outside of winter. Even those who do shoot all year round, may tend to use flash to light everything, and if not used properly can result in an overly dark background.
So before choosing your wedding photographer, ask to see photos from a full winter wedding day celebration, and if possible during bad weather, to give you an idea of how they handle those situations.
I personally adore taking photographs during the winter season. If you’re relaxed and just want memorable, storytelling images documenting your family and friends together enjoying themselves, the weather is irrelevant. Whether it shines and everyone is outside or raining and everyone is inside, the main thing is me telling the story of your guests enjoying themselves.
There’s no need either for me to use flash during this time. Not only does it ruin the story-telling moments by announcing my presence, flash can also alter and thus ruin the whole atmosphere of the room you’ve no doubt chosen for its natural appeal.
Examples of winter weddings I’ve covered.
- Winter Sun WeddingWinter weddings aren’t all about shooting in freezing weather and snow. Here’s a wedding shot in the glorious winter sun and how I made the best use of this dramatic lighting.
- Cheshire Winter Wedding | Rebecca and RyanYou’d expect a winter wedding to be cold and damp, with poor lighting. But not this Mottram Hall wedding celebration. On one of the warmest winter’s day Rebecca and Ryan tied the knot at Mottram Hall.
- Winter Wedding | Jade and DavidAs a Pendrell Hall wedding photographer recommended by the venue, winter weddings with the fading light didn’t worry me. Read how I tackled another wedding in my usual documentary manner with minimum fuss for everyone.
- Winter Barn Wedding | Elizabeth and LloydWinter weddings have their challenges. See how documentary wedding photographer documents a Wishaw Country Sports barn wedding reception held in December.
- Birmingham Wedding | Marverine and AustenWhat a great, lively wedding Marverine and Austen had! What a privilege to be there to see and record it all for them too!! I’ve know Marverine for a few years, having taken quite a few photos for her professional career. So to able to also photograph another chapter tin her life was another honour….
When there is an opportunity to go outdoors, yes there’s the challenge of quickly fading light, but there’s also the chance to capture the dramatic lighting when the sun is low on the horizon, and casting long shadows. This is my favourite lighting, especially when it backlights the couple during their golden-hour walkabout photo session.
Even as a documentary photographer, I like to naturally document the weather as a memory.
5) Choose the Right Mindset
Remember weddings are about enjoying a celebration with all those you love and who love you back too. The right photographer will capture all of that, regardless of the weather, which venue you’ve chosen, or if things don’t go exactly according to plan.
Don’t expect perfection. Just enjoy your family and friends’ company.
It’s a bonus if the weather is bad and it even snows. Expect to have a few very brief photos in the cold, especially if there’s snow outside.
Keeping that mindset will help you enjoy your special day. Things can and will go wrong, but will they be remembered, or matter in the days, weeks and years to follow?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Relax! Stay happy! You’re getting married!