"If I booked a summer wedding, I knew I'd spend the whole time hoping for sunshine and worrying about rain. If I booked and planned for a winter wedding, I would expect it to be cold and bad weather, and if the sun shone, it would be a bonus". Wise words from one of my recent winter brides. Summer weddings can be beautiful - long days, sunshine, balmy warm breezes; but we can't always rely on the British summertime to provide that.
Booking a winter wedding has other benefits - marrying off peak can mean access to venues that are sometimes fully booked years in advance for summer dates, some may also offer off-peak rates; if you're a fan of Christmas, snow or frost, then you can make this a feature of your wedding; and who doesn't love open fires, candles and mulled wine?
As I prepare for photographing two winter weddings over the next two weekends, I thought I'd share some of my tips for planning a winter wedding. Read on below...
Images from a styled winter wedding photo shoot - more details below.
It will definitely be cold; it will most likely be grey; there may be rain, frost, ice or snow. Plan for bad weather and you won't be disappointed. With this in mind you may wish to consider the following:
Light (or lack of it!)
Other than the temperature, the other key difference with winter weddings is the lack of light. In the depths of mid-winter the sun will be setting at 4pm. If you'd like any photos in sunlight, then you'll need to consider the timings of your ceremony - planning your ceremony for midday or earlier afternoon ceremonies will give you time for photos before it gets dark.
Choosing a photographer
Ask your photographer if they've photographed a winter wedding before; photography is all about light and the reduced natural sunlight means they will need to consider other means for lighting your wedding images. I've photographed several winter weddings and have also specifically trained in lighting for winter weddings. I am skilled working with natural light (including window and electric lighting indoors) as well as flash and have a number of on-camera and off-camera options that I can choose from to bring to your wedding, depending on the kinds of images we're trying to achieve.
An experienced photographer will also understand how their equipment responds to the cold (e.g. avoiding fogged lenses and handling reduced battery life).
To go outdoors or not?
Once you've decided on your winter wedding and your venue, you'll be considering whether you wish to go outdoors for any of your photographs. As you can see in the slideshow above, bare winter branches and frost can make for some dramatic images. Ask yourself whether you're hardy enough to brave freezing temperatures to get some beautiful outdoor images? Will you be happy walking across potentially muddy ground in your wedding dress (this one seems to split brides down the middle - some say you're only wearing the dress for one day so just go for it, others are keen to keep the dress and shoes as pristine as possible)? If you have a beautiful backdrop and warm open fires inside, then you may prefer to stay there for your photos.
In any case, you may need to have a contingency in case of heavy rain (whether that's to stay inside, or have wellies and umbrellas ready and waiting!). My professional equipment is all weatherproof, so I'm happy to photograph in all weathers, depending on what you'd like to do. I also bring sheets for you to stand on for images whilst we arrange your dress, to keep it as protected as possible whilst it's on the ground.
If you'd like group photos, your guests may prefer to stay indoors. Is there a space in your venue that can accomodate group photographs. It's worth discussing with your photographer how you will arrange your group photos, and what's the maximum group size achievable in your indoor space.
One of the opportunities that a winter wedding affords you is to go all out with your theming. The images above were inspired by Disney's Frozen, aiming for the appearance of the hardened ice queen. Pinterest is an excellent resource for ideas (you can start by checking here which is the board we used to plan the above photoshoot), whether it's ice blue, snowflakes, a warm hygge-style theme, or Christmas-reds you're bound to have fun planning your theme.
For styling options you can add a little sparkle and glitter or could opt for warm fabrics such as velvet and faux fur. What accessories will you choose to keep you warm - from shrugs and capes to stylish winter footwear?
If you've booked a winter wedding date and looking for a photographer, or considering a winter wedding and would like to discuss your photography options, then please get in touch.
The images above were created with the following creative team:
Photography: Photography by Abi Moore
Organisation and styling: Little Star Events Wedding Fayres
Venue: Royal Berkshire Hotel
Dresses: Sophie Grace Bridal
Hair and make-up: Wedding Hair and Make-up by Natasha Wiggins
Cakes and macarons: Gifted Heart Cakes
Flowers and room decor: Seventh Heaven
Bouquet: Bows and Bouquets
Toastmaster: Nigel Worsfold
Luna the owl: CSR Falconry
Model: Jemimah Scott