It’s easy to fight off winter blues when you’re counting down the days to your wedding! But those shorter daylight hours can be a challenge if you love natural light photography. For bright, light and airy winter wedding photos, you need one thing: DAYLIGHT! So how can you make sure to plan optimize the few hours natural light your wedding has? It all comes down to one timeline-saving secret. A First Look!
This might surprise you. What does a First Look have to do with bright winter wedding photos? Well, everything really. The sun can set as early as 4pm in the afternoon in the winter. But if you plan to have your ceremony is at 5pm, we will be taking all your portraits in the dark!
By having a First Look, you reap so many benefits. You get more of just about everything, including more:
If the above rationale was not enough to convince you, I totally get it. I started out as a very traditional bride, wanting my future husband to see me for the first time when I entered the ceremony. My mom also was against us having a First Look, so I understand family pressure too. (Though if that’s you’re only reason, remember it’s your only wedding day! Be sure you have no regrets). Ultimately, I want my couples to have the day that they are envisioning. So if a First Look goes against that vision, don’t do one!
However, if you’re having a winter wedding, be prepared that we need to make concessions elsewhere to give you bright, glowy photos. Here are some options to consider.
By pushing your entire timeline up to earlier in the day, we can get those daylight hours that we need for all your photos. Consider doing a brunch or early afternoon ceremony. In the darkest days of winter, I recommend no later than 2-3pm, as long as your ceremony is short (20-30 mins max). We’ll be rushing around for photos still, but I can make magic happen in the 1-1.5 hours of daylight we’ll have left after you say “I do.”
Some brides cringe at early ceremonies because of when that would put the reception time. I usually hear two reasons for not wanting an early wedding day. One: I want to feed my guests, and that creates an awkward time for dinner. Or two: I don’t want to end my wedding day early, I want to dance the night away with my family and friends!
If that’s you, I’ve seen split wedding days that work out really well. Depending on your venue, consider inviting guests for your ceremony earlier in the day, then dismissing them to grab lunch or freshen up before inviting them back for your big reception! This gives ample, uninterrupted time with to accomplish all your winter wedding photos. Plus, guests might actually love the chance to change shoes for dancing or pre-game somewhere with old mutual friends they haven’t seen in forever. It gives everyone flexibility. Just be sure to consult with your wedding planner on how to best communicate this to your guests.
If none of the above options fit your vision either, there’s one more to try. Night portraits! I’ve actually started falling in love with epic night portraits. I use flash to try to recreate dimensional light to make you pop off the background. It’s a far cry from my usual bright and airy style, but it can be a really unique look.
If we go this route, however, keep in mind I’ll need a little extra time for all your portraits. It takes time to set up and move flashes around in between poses. So bear with me, be patient, and know that it’s all intentional. You may have to hold poses a bit longer as I test different light settings to give you the variety I give all my couples. For examples of an ENP Couple that embraced night portraits, check out John and Sarah’s Winter Wedding Photos from 2021!
Were these tips helpful? You can read more wedding planning tips from me in the posts below:
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Wedding days can be stressful, but they don't have to be. One of the number one causes of wedding day stress is a disorganized, tight timeline. In this guide, I'm sharing a sample wedding day timeline I use to craft all my brides' wedding day timelines, as well as diving into some pro tips only a photographer might know.