Planning Tips for a Winter Wedding
Rob Dodsworth Photography
Autumn time! The nights are drawing in. It’s getting colder and being in the UK, wetter too. Winter is right around the corner. But as much as my wedding season certainly starts to slow down, I photograph weddings through until the end of the year. My last wedding this year is on the 22nd December! Once upon a time, winter weddings were a blue moon kind of a thing but as with most things in the world of weddings, things keep changing and winter weddings are, at least according to the enquiries I’m getting, becoming more and more popular.
If you’re planning a winter wedding, here’s three top tips you might like to keep in mind, especially if your wedding photos are important to you. I love photographing winter weddings but they are more challenging than a Summer wedding. The following tips will help you and me to get the most from your day so that you’ll have a set of wedding photos you will treasure!
- All about the light
There is no getting around it. Winter days are shorter and darker. From November onwards the sun sets at a time of day when most Summer wedding ceremonies are just starting! As an experienced wedding photographer, I can happily take photographs in most any weather but as much as I can use artificial light at a wedding, nothing beats the warmth of a real sunset! So, if you are looking at a wedding photographers portfolio and you fall in love with portraits taken in the golden hour, as the sun is beginning to set. Then a Winter Wedding might not be your best bet! But all is not lost, if you are happy to throw tradition out of the window and meet each other ahead of your nuptials, you might like to consider a First Look – an intimate moment where bride and groom see each other before the wedding ceremony. Doing this allows you to pick a location and a time, before the sun has set to meet and to set eyes on each other for the first time that day, much like you would at the top of the aisle. Doing this also enables me, as your wedding photographer, to capture some candid photos of the moment and get you a few sunset portraits in the bag as well! If the tradition of seeing each other for the first time at the top of the aisle is really important to you, then you will want to consider an early ceremony say at latest 1pm – 1.30pm. This should give you enough time to have your wedding ceremony but also leave some time to get outside before the sun has gone down.
- Dress for the weather
This one is obvious I know but it is worth emphasising the point. A strapless dress with no shawl or wrap means red skin and goose bumps – not a good look in your photos. Think carefully about what the weather might do on your big day and dress yourself and the bridesmaids and groomsmen accordingly. Welly boots and umbrellas on standby are also a good idea! If it’s minus something outside, I’m unlikely to take your family and friends for group shots in the venues gardens but if the light is good and the wind isn’t blowing a gale then it can be nice to make some photos in the grounds. If people are dressed for this and ready to go, it makes taking photos, like your group shots, a whole lot quicker and easier for everyone!
- Choosing the right winter wedding venue
The wedding venue you looked at in the Summer months is going to look entirely different come the winter. The gardens in full bloom, in June, will likely be leaf strewn and possibly a little muddy by the end of October. As such, you are well advised to try and see your venue at a similar time of year to when you are planning to get married. Other things to bear in mind, from a photographers point of view, are where I am likely to be able to take portraits for you indoors. Think grand staircases with good window light or large fireplaces! I also consider if there will be enough space indoors to take the family group shots that you might like, in case it is too cold or wet to go outside. From your point of view, you will want to know that the venue has enough space for everyone to be accommodated indoors comfortably. Winter weddings mostly take place indoors so, this is really important. Depending on the type of venue, be it for your ceremony, reception or, both, you will want to know that it is going to be warm enough. Some winter wedding venues might seem idyllic winter venues but a romantic castle in the Scottish Highlands is going to take some time to warm up to a temperature that doesn’t make you want to keep a coat on all day! Have a chat with your wedding venue ahead of the big day about this sort of thing and also about candles and lighting. If they don’t have it, hire it in! If you spot a gorgeous fireplace, check if it’s a working fire and get that them to light it in plenty of time to warm your venue right up! No one wants to be shivering as they say their I do’s!
I hope these tips have helped you and got you thinking about planning a winter wedding. The UK weather can be a funny beast at the best of times and some of these tips might equally apply to a Summer wedding (think boots and brollies!). But if you have chosen to have a winter wedding, expect that the weather is likely to be far from perfect but don’t let it spoil the day. If you focus on each other, on your friends and family having a good time, then everything else usually falls into place. Yes, your hair might get windswept, your clothes a little muddy or you might drop your bouquet in a puddle but it’s all part of the day, laugh it off, enjoy it for what it is. Grab a mince pie, some mulled wine and cosy up with your guests around the Christmas tree!