Winter Wedding Photography Advice
There has been a growing trend in the wedding industry in recent years towards winter weddings, and it’s easy to see why. Not only can couples benefit from cheaper off-peak pricing for venues and other wedding suppliers, but also enjoy a wedding that has a completely different feel to it. Weddings that take place near Christmas, for example, have a real ‘warmth’ and seasonality to them that is hard to match. However, if you do decide to book your wedding during the winter months there are a few things that you really should consider first in order to get the best out of not only your photographs but also the day in general.
1. Timing of your ceremony/service
This is a biggie! If you really want your portraits and group photos to be outside, and you’re planning on a winter wedding we would suggest that your service/ceremony start no later than 2pm. Ideally, we’d suggest the ceremony starts even earlier if your wedding date is on or near the 20th December, where the light fails really early. At that time of year you often only have usable light until 3.30pm. Lets say your ceremony finishes at 3pm, then you’ll only have thirty minutes of light left for your group shots and portraits! If you are happy to have all your group shots and portraits inside, and you have booked the kind of venue that has some nice interior locations and plenty of room, then this isn’t such an issue. Either way though, please do pay close attention to the impact light (or the lack of it) can have on your wedding photos. It can often get overlooked.
2. Avoid death by group shots
Most people will think I’m mad saying this, but group shots CAN be fun; that’s if you have a sensible number of groups (up to seven or eight). We’ve been known to get some really fun and creative group shots, but if you give your photographer a list of twenty five formal group shots then it will almost certainly be a painful process for both you and your guests. You should typically allow three to five minutes per group shot. So if want fifteen group shots, plan on setting aside forty-five minutes to an hour for them. If you are planning to do that in the middle of winter then you are going to have some pretty disgruntled guests. Our advice would be to limit your group shots to no more than seven or eight. In addition, if you have a venue that has a reasonable amount of space, then you could ask your photographers to split the groups so that some are shot outside and some inside. Just make sure that your photographer has access to off-camera flash equipment for this purpose. For winter weddings we often suggest shooting two or three large group shots outside before completing the remaining smaller group shots inside, which works well.
3. Embrace the conditions to make the most of your photos
Understandably a lot of couples in the UK worry about the weather on their wedding day, be that a concern about the temperature on a winter’s day or the possibility of rain. But the thing is, we live in the whacky weather world of the UK, with all its unpredictability and quirkiness. AND it is all completely out of your control. As hard as it is, the best thing to do is surrender to the weather, decide to accept whatever the weather gods deal you and make a feature of it. It rained all day on our own wedding day- we still had an amazing day and fantastic wedding photos. In fact one of my favourite photos is a shot of Brenda walking towards the ceremony room in her wellington boots with an umbrella held above her. If you hire good, competent photographers they’ll be able to handle the weather conditions and lighting that you get on your wedding day. Just concentrate on having fun!
4. Keep yourself warm
Ok I may be stating the obvious here but please do give some thought in advance of your wedding day to keeping yourself warm, especially if you want some outside photographs. For guys this is rarely an issue as three piece suits are normally sufficient to keep you toasty enough, but brides may want to consider wearing a shawl/wrap at times. If you don’t want the shawl featured in the photographs themselves then you could just keep it on between photographs. We would also suggest thinking about building a five minute break into your timings for you to warm yourself up, if it’s a particularly cold day. You could consider doing this between the end of your group shots and the start of your portraits- just make sure this is discussed in advance with your wedding photographer and built into your timings. Also, if you do start to feel really cold during your group shots or portraits on the day itself please do tell your photographers. If need be, photographs can be continued inside or alternative arrangements made.
5. Hire a photographer that knows how to shoot winter weddings
Yes of course we would say this wouldn’t we!? But actually if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Winter weddings can be a challenge to photograph. Photographers have less available light to with. They also have to consider the comfort of wedding guests who may be feeling cold. You should definitely check that the photographers you are looking to book have shot winter weddings before and ask them to show you photographs from a real winter wedding that they have shot. Also check that they have access to fast lenses (so lenses that are f2.8 or lower) and supplementary lighting.
We hope you find the advice in this article useful. Winter weddings are absolutely amazing, and we LOVE shooting them. If you give some advance thought to the timings and logistics of your big day, and run through these with your photographers, then you should be able to eliminate any potential problems AND have amazing photographs as well!