There’s something magical about winter weddings. Whether it’s the prospect of open fires and cosying up with your guests, piping hot comfort food, or perhaps the fact that it’s already a festive time of year, there’s no denying the charm of an “out of season” wedding.
One of the major differences between planning a winter wedding and a summer one is that come the end of the year your wedding day timeline will be dictated by the shorter daylight hours.
You’ll need to consider sunset time and how much useable daylight you’ll have, so that you have plenty of time for photographs before it gets too dark. Whilst it might seem a little daunting there are lots of resources available to help you plan the day of your dreams.
The wedding venue should be able to give some good advice regarding general timings, but as a rule, if you are having a civil ceremony with the celebrations all taking place in one location, you should schedule your ceremony to begin no later than two hours prior to sunset. This will give you 30 minutes for your ceremony and an additional one and a half hours for couples’ photos, group and family photographs, plus any little extras such as confetti shots. (Quick tip: an amazing alternative to confetti for winter weddings is artificial snow!)
For religious weddings add on at least another half hour, depending on your type of ceremony, and if your reception / breakfast / party is in another location you’ll need to factor in travel time too.
One thing that can never be guaranteed, regardless of the season is the weather; if you do happen to have a bit of rain (or snow!) that extra time will ensure that you still have ample opportunity to get all of the photos you’d like.
Something else to think about is that it will probably be cold outside. I know it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many couples seem to forget this and don’t consider how it can impact upon their day. For example some brides opt for strapless or sleeveless dresses, but don’t have anything to keep them warm when they are having their photos taken outside. If you know you’d like outdoor photos it’s worth investing in something to keep you warm or you may end up being your very own “something blue”. Don’t forget the bridesmaids and flower girls too – you don’t want them freezing whilst you’re toasty and warm. If you don’t want to be wearing anything other than your dress in most shots, then take a shawl that can be easily pulled on or off between pictures.
It’s also a good idea to have your own “wet weather” plan. If you’ve hired a professional photographer they will of course, take care of everything, but it’s always wise to decide in advance whether you might still be interested in nipping outside for a few quick photos in the event of bad weather. Discuss this with your photographer, ask what your options are and what you’d like to do if it’s a bit wet outside on the day. They’ll be able to give you some suggestions and perhaps show you some examples of their work in challenging conditions. When your day comes around, if it’s not the glorious sunshine you’d hoped for, having talked about it in advance will make you all feel a lot more relaxed, knowing what your options are and what you’re going to do about it.
If you plan to venture outdoors for a few photos then make sure you bring an umbrella. This will allow you to stay outside for a little longer and can also be used as a prop. Most venues will have their own supply of brollies- but if you’d like something a bit more personal you can pick up a whole host of funky “wedding” umbrellas these days. Heart shaped ones in particular work great – but try to get a white or pale coloured brolly, otherwise you could end up with an unnatural coloured glow reflecting on your faces or dress.
Having an earlier ceremony also gives you more flexibility later in the day. Many couples find that they have a small gap between finishing their meal and the start of the evening celebrations. If this is the case it may be an ideal opportunity to squeeze in a few more photos! There’s nothing like gorgeous after-dark, outdoor pictures to really give your photos a crisp wintery feel. Sparklers can enhance your photos too, and grab some other guests for a true party feel.
So, in summary, if you’re planning a winter wedding and want to make sure you have picture perfect photos make sure you have:
- Allowed plenty of time within daylight hours for your ceremony and you must have photos.
- Considered the weather and have something to keep you (and your wedding party) warm if you’re planning to have outdoor photos.
- Made a wet weather plan and discussed what you’re comfortable with. You can always change your mind on the day, but it’s good to have a plan!
- Considered props such as umbrellas, artificial snow and sparklers, to really give your photos a wintery feel.
This is a guest post. Louise is a professional photographer based in Essex, specialising in wedding photography. She works together with her partner Sam, at Sam & Louise Photography