It’s not uncommon for me to get asked by potential clients and photographers about shooting winter weddings. I find most often people are concerned with the “low light” situation. Yet, I’ve found that low light isn’t really the key problem when it comes to winter weddings. British wedding venues can be dark no matter what time of year, and with modern day professional cameras and lenses, low light isn’t much of a problem as it used to be. It’s about the quality of the light, not as much about quantity. Things like candlelight, twinkle lights or Chinese lanterns, although dim, are actually excellent sources of very beautiful and flattering light. If there’s enough light to see someone’s face when you’re speaking to them, there’s more then enough light for me to shoot.
That being said, I’ve found there are three big elements that affect winter weddings more than anything:
2) The Venue
1) The Weather:
Without a doubt the weather in the winter in the UK is most likely to be at it’s worse. It can easily be cold, rainy, and generally quite unpleasant to be outside. It’s also the thing that you have absolutely no control over.
From a photography standpoint, I have no problem going outside. However, the final call up should always be up you. I don’t mind getting me or my cameras wet, but you as a client may feel definitely on your wedding day all dressed up in your finery. And that is totally OK! It’s the photographers job to make the photos work, no matter what you decide. Some clients opt to not go outside at all, while some clients don’t mind getting a little wet and cold. You want your wedding day to feel comfortable and enjoyable, so do whatever feels right by you to ensure you have the best memories of your wedding.
Occasionally, it can be really warm and beautiful outside in the winter. However, it’s best to expect to assume that you’ll most likely spending most of your wedding day inside. If you think you’re definitely going to be braving the elements, be sure to plan to have a warm cover up or a spare pair of shoes that you like with your wedding clothes.
2) The Venue:
When it comes to winter weddings, your venue selection makes a huge difference. You’ll want a venue that gives your guests plenty of room to move around inside, ideally where they can all be in one large room comfortably. Smaller rooms can be more claustrophobic, and guests then get cut off from the party if they are stuck in another room, or they may have trouble moving about. So you’ll want to keep this in mind when you’re planning out your wedding.
Look out for things like big windows. Large windows can go a long way to helping bring the sunlight indoors despite the cold.
Unless we have a break of really lovely warm weather, it’s best to plan to do your family pictures inside. Although the sun may be shinning, if it’s cold outside, people will look cold in the photos in their family pictures. Opting to do the photos inside is the most comfortable option for ensuring your family is smiling nicely in photos. A good venue will have a great space to use as a background in your family pictures. Architectural detail can go a long way to giving these photos a bit more extra drama despite being indoors.
You may end up doing your wedding portraits inside as well, so you’ll want to pick a venue that gives you lots of options. Things to keep an eye out for are “architectural statements” such as a beautiful staircase, lovely windows, or really lovely rooms with great finishing that fits your style. Here’s some examples of couples portraits done inside:
3) The Schedule:
The final thing that can have the biggest affect on winter weddings is the schedule. It can be a lot harder to get any natural sunlight in your wedding photos when you combine a preference for later ceremonies in winter with the earlier sunsets. If you’re not sure what time the sunsets on your wedding you can check a sunset schedule here.
Here’s an example of a wedding that did a winter wedding schedule right: Jacqueline and Marcus got married on the 28th of December. One of the darkest days of the year. However, you would never guess from their wedding photos that their wedding was in the middle of winter. When we spoke about their wedding on Skype, we discussed the sunset times. Jacqueline and Marcus decided to move their ceremony time forward to have more daylight to work with in their photos.
Moving their ceremony forward was one of the best decisions they could of made. During their ceremony we were treated to the most amazing natural light coming through the windows that made the photos look spectacular.
Considering your daylight hours too will help ensure you can have the option of having family photos and bridal party shots outside if the weather is warm enough,
After the sun sets, then the schedule can be a lot more liberal. Sunlight is no longer a factor in the photos. At this point, we can opt to pop outside for night shots or do pictures at any point. We could potentially even wait to see if the stars appear. Keeping the sunlight in mind when scheduling your wedding can help get that “daylight” look even when it’s quite cold or cloudy outside.
Want to see more? Below is a selection of weddings where either the weather or winter elements played a big factor into the day: