I’m sat looking out of my office window, it’s raining and the road is strewn with leaves. Autumn is definitely upon us. Once of a day this would signal the end of the traditional season for weddings and wedding photographers across the country would be downing tools and resting their weary limbs. This isn’t necessarily the case anymore as winter weddings are fast becoming as popular as a summer affair.
There are some distinct advantage of winter weddings. The price being the obvious one. A lot of venues and many wedding suppliers will offer a significant discount for winter dates, which you know, is always tempting. Then there’s the weather. You sort of expect it to be rubbish so it’s no big deal if it rains and if you’re lucky enough to get a nice day well then that’s just an added bonus.
I love photographing winter wedding but they can be a little trickier to plan for so here are my top tips for getting the absolute best from your winter wedding.
It sounds obvious – but choose your venue carefully. It’s no good going for a venue visit on a gorgeous summer day and falling in love with the beautiful floral grounds because they may well not look so great on a soggy afternoon in November. Ideally you should visit your venue at around the same time of year as you will be getting married. Make sure you look around the whole venue, are there indoor places for photographs if the weather prevents you getting outside? A beautiful window could be a lovely spot for a couple’s portraits but not necessarily suitable for family group shots. A gazebo in the garden could be perfect for outdoor portraits even if the weather isn’t great. Talk to the wedding organiser at the venue and ask what can be done for photographs in bad weather.
Please dont be that bride shivering in a strapless dress in the middle of winter. Embrace the season! Having a winter wedding opens up a whole new world of jackets, boleros, shrugs and shrawls. Of course you can always take this off later when you’re busting your dancefloor moves but make sure you’re prepared for the elements during the day. Honestly – blue skin doesn’t work on anybody.
And umberellas are an essential addition. Get a couple of pretty ones and they make a great addition to your photographs too!
Winter weddings are a completely different beast to photograph than a summer event. Less light, bad weather, dark venues can all be tricky situations to deal with. To get the best out of your winter wedding you need to book someone who knows how to handle these situations. Before you book your wedding photographer, ask to see examples of winter weddings that they have shot. Ask them about what they do in the case of bad weather or low light. Don’t just assume that they will be able to handle the situation. But I actually think you should take it further. Of course you need someone who is competant enough to photographer in all lighting situations but I also think you deserve a photographer who is creative enough to create you those WOW images too.
This brings us on quite neatly to the photographs. Ok, you might get lucky and have a glorious winters day with crisp clear skies and not a hint of rain. Perfect. Or it might tip it down all day. You have to have some realistic expectations of what images you can achieve. If you’ve got your heart set on a massive group shot of all the guests but your venue doesn’t have anywhere to accomodate this indoors, you’ll have to accept that this might not happen if the weather is against you. If you’ve fallen in love with a photographer whose signature style is light, bright and airy images, you should be aware that it’s not necessarily possible to achieve this look on a dark winters day when the light is failing. Speak to your photographer and discuss the images you would like but if you’ve taken your time and chosen someone with lots of experience of winter weddings then trust their skill and judgement to get you the best possible images. That means, if they come running towards you with a demented look on their face in the middle of your wedding day shouting “It’s stopped raining – everybody out!” just go with it.
I know I keep banging on about light but it’s pretty fundamental to photography and this is why your timeline is quite important. In summer, when it’s staying light well into the evening you dont have to worry about the light running out. No such luxury in those winter months when the sun can be setting before 4 p.m. Work with your venue and photographer to create a timeline which gives you enough time for photographs before the light starts to fade. This might mean holding your ceremony slightly earlier than you had planned.
And Finally….just go with it
You’ve chosen a winter wedding – so own it baby! Dont be that bride who refuses to take a step outside in case her hair gets a little ruffled in the wind or the underside of her dress gets a little dirty and damp. Honestly, by the end of the night no-one will care how clean or otherwise your dress is but I promise, when you get your images back you’ll be so pleased you trusted your photographer and braved the elements.
Here’s a selection of some of my favourite winter weddings. For more weddings across the North West please visit the blog.