Winter is coming… the days are getting darker, the air is getting colder, the heating is coming on every day now… However, this doesn’t stop lots of engaged couples from planning a winter wedding. In recent years, I’ve seen a lot of changes when it comes to weddings. There are a lot more weekday weddings, a lot more relaxed and low key weddings, and more winter weddings.
A winter wedding to us photographers takes place between November and March in the UK. As with all things, there are pros and cons for having one. Pros are things like price, as some wedding suppliers such as venues offer a cheaper rate compared to the peak of summer. If you love Christmas and want to have that Christmassy feel for your big day, then a lot of venues will already be decked out with decorations. You won’t need to do anything there! Cons can be the weather. But if you are planning a winter wedding, then you most likely expect it to rain or be a bit crap. You could get lucky and have a nice day with a gorgeous sunset, boom! Winner!
So what do you need to consider when planning a winter wedding? Here are some tips and advice I’d love to share with you.
Some wedding venues may offer a cheaper rate compared to what you could be paying in the summer months. Consider the location and whether it is easy to get to in case the weather is really really awful. It may also be easier to have your wedding all in one place. This means there is less travelling involved for you and your guests. Choosing a light and spacious venue will also be great so that you have space to do group shots inside in case it’s hammering outside. Just be aware that if you want to have a group shot of everybody, it may be impossible to do depending on things like location, lighting and space.
When visiting your venue as well, be aware that if you visit it on a bright, sunny day, it may have a totally different feel and look when it comes to winter. So maybe consider visiting your venue during the winter months so that you can get a good sense of what to expect on your wedding day.
So obviously it’s going to be cold. If it’s nice, a wedding photographer (or at least I) would try to do portraits and group shots outside if possible. So it would be a great idea to consider this when choosing your outfits. For the girls, have a shrawl, shrug, jacket or even a cape to keep warm. Consider having long sleeves and tights as well. Guys, look for something that has a thick fabric, such as velvet, wool or tweed. Consider having extra layers like a waistcoat. A good pair of boots will also be ideal to not only keep your feet warm, but also keep you prepared for all kinds of weather. And don’t forget about your bridal party! Don’t let your bridesmaids freeze! Why not have blankets on hand for guests at your wedding venue to wrap up in if they have to wait outside, so they don’t get too cold either.
The earlier you have your wedding ceremony, the better. With the sun setting earlier, it gives you less time during the day to get those formal photographs done. Golden hour tends to start around 3pm, so ideally you will want to be getting your group shots down at about 1:30pm for example. So aiming for a 12pm/1pm ceremony would be ideal. Have a chat with your photographer and your venue to work out what is best to be able to make the most of the natural light. I love making the most of golden hour for portraits (if the weather is nice) so this would be perfect. But you will also have to take into consideration the weather, as let’s face it, we are in the UK. You never know what the weather is going to do here!
However, if you want a dark, romantic wedding ceremony full of candles/fairy lights and that’s totally your jam, awesome. Go for it. But you will need to make your photographer aware of this, so they can be realistic and let you know whether they can work with that. If you’re having a late wedding (late being from 4pm onwards), then do expect your ceremony photos to be on the darker side and everything may be taken with flash from this point onwards.
If you choose to do this, why not have a first look like Roberta and Nik did in the photo above? They decided to have a late ceremony but wanted to have their portraits and group photos done before the ceremony so that they could make the most of the natural light.
Your Wedding Photographer
When searching for your winter wedding photographer, there are a few things you should consider. Some wedding photographers prefer not to shoot weddings in the winter months as shooting a winter wedding is vastly different to shooting a summer wedding. There are a lot of things that we have to take into consideration. Things like the lighting. What time is the ceremony? What time does the sun set? How long will we have natural light for? What is the venue like? Is it dark or light? Have big windows? High ceilings? Coloured walls?
So when you are looking, make sure you look for examples of winter weddings in the photographer’s portfolio. If you can’t see any, ask them. Ask them how they would deal with it being in winter, what will happen if the weather is really terrible or the lighting is really bad. Don’t be afraid to ask them these kind of questions as you want to make sure they know how to handle these different situations.
Your Wedding Photography
What I love the most about winter weddings is the opportunity it brings to do more photos in the dark. Obviously for things like formal group shots, it’s better for natural light during the day. But when it gets dark, I love to bring some creative flair to some of your portraits to get something different. Just be aware, that you will need to wrap up warm for these kind of photos!
It will also be great for fireworks and sparklers! As it gets dark earlier, you won’t have to worry (too much) about drunk guests holding sparklers. Doesn’t always end well!
The best thing to do for your wedding day is to just embrace it. Embrace the weather and the cold. Trust your photographer and work together so that you can get awesome photographs!
Here are examples of winter weddings that I have shot to see the different ways to photograph them.