Hopefully it goes without saying that under any circumstance and in whichever season you choose to wed- truly wonderful wedding photographs can only be achieved by hiring an experienced and talented professional photographer. However in the dead of winter, there are many things that you might not think about while planning that can make even the best of the best wedding photographer's job a nightmare. Trust us, if your photog is so focused on keeping the bridal party happy and manipulating low light there will be little room for any artistic vision- especially in the crammed timeline that is a winter wedding. Here are some tips to be sure the day will go off without a hitch and you'll end up with the beautiful photographs that you envisioned when you thought up the magical (and possibly insane) idea of having a winter wedding!
1. HAVE AN EARLY CEREMONY --AND-- DO A FIRST LOOK
Photo: Two Bird Studio
It gets dark very early and you don't want to be stuck doing your only photos at 5:00 aka pitch dark. After daylight savings in McCall, sunset is around 5:15pm and sometimes even earlier. If you've never heard of the "golden hour" in the photography world, it's referred to as the 1-2 hours before sunset when you have beautiful soft filtered light. It's indirect, it's warm, it's romantic, it's.... ideal (for most photographers) compared to the high-noon direct, harsh sunlight. At a summer wedding, this happens late into the reception around 8-9pm. You'll want to plan for your creamy, intimate photo session at least 2 hours before sunset to be safe. If a storm or a big gray cloud rolls in, you can easily trim an hour off that sunset time- and be careful, don't test that sun! The second it starts going over that mountain peak you better believe it's going to start diving fast. We recommend having an early ceremony- around 3 or 4 o'clock so that you can get all of your photos done before and still have a little light coming in through the windows. Then party into the night when it's dark at your reception.
-Yes, this is a TWO-PART tip. To ensure the best photo outcome, be sure to do a first look-
A first look is the only way to make sure that you have enough time for all of the photos you want. It allows for your photographer to schedule time before the ceremony with the bride and groom alone as well as the bridal party. You can even go off-site and spend quality time getting those perfect artsy shots.
If you are insistent on keeping it traditional, you'd better push that ceremony time up a couple more hours. Go with a 2:00 ceremony so you can have time for photos afterward.
2. STAY WARM... PRETTY AND WARM!
Bundling up doesn't mean you have to look like poor little Randy in 3 winter coats, falling over while crying, "I can't put my arms down!" Winter fashion is one of the most fun to take advantage of. Such lush and beautiful textures and colors that you get to play with. Many brides opt for a faux-fur wrap or coat to keep her classy (and warm) while animal friendly! Others, go with a wholesome cardigan or even a print pashmina. Whatever it is, make sure your bridal party (and especially the bride) are warm enough to go outside for some photos.
3. DON'T FORGET THE PIGGIES!
Photo: Ampersand Studios
Don't get so caught up on shopping Amazon's fur coat collection that you dropped the [snow]ball on your little feeties! Every bride dreams of the perfect pair of Jimmy Choos for her wedding; perfectly arranged in a photo with her jewelry and family heirlooms. Just because you're having a winter wedding, doesn't mean you can't have them-- (seriously, we are advocates for any excuse you have to justify buying designer shoes) but save them for the reception or carry them with you to slip on for a quick photo. In the mean time, throw on some full-on wool-lined, waterproof Sorels! Don't have not shame, girl. And really, they made a comeback if you didn't know, and we're pretty sure it was a style savvy winter bride that we have to thank for this fashion trend. Just be careful not to wear tight socks- there's nothing worse that striped sock-skin-ankles (you know the look) being slipped into those Louboutins. It's pretty much a cardinal sin.
4. DON'T BANK ON THERE BEING SNOW
Photo: Tana Photography
When you think of winter weddings, you might imagine a beautiful bride in a white gown surrounded by white fluffy snow. You'll need to get more into the mountains and away from the hustle and bustle to find the pristine, untouched snow. Plan for a venue that has photo ops even if there is not snow present. Dead trees can make a great backdrop, but parking lots and houses in the horizon don't. Or plan for enough time to drive somewhere beautiful offsite with your photographer ahead of time. Otherwise, you might be stuck with pollution filled slush and a soaking wet (and black) dress.
5. PHOTOSHOP IS NOT FOR FIXING 'RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED BRIDE'
Hire a professional makeup artist (Again- check out our vendor guide!) Wear good concealer and a little extra blush. The color should be in your cheeks and lips- not your nose. Bring powder and lipstick to touch up throughout the day. There's only so much your photographer can do without making you look over-enhanced. We know that our professional wedding makeup artists know the right tricks. Check back later this week for specific makeup tips from one of our lovely Beauty enthusiasts, Jamie with Blush by Jamie Rose
6. PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES
Photo: Ampersand Studios Venue: Shore Lodge From the photographer, "While making this photograph, our poor groom Alex was battling a horrible flu and he was such a great sport! He trusted us and our crazy idea while they stood there very still and freezing so that we could get the shot that we had planned out."
Actually we're not going to tell you what panties to wear (or to wear panties at all for that matter), but when it comes time to suck it up and tough it out, you'd better be ready to hold your breath and think warm thoughts. We promise it'll be worth it! Actually, who are we kidding- 99% of the time the bride is totally fine and is willing to do anything for the shot and it's the groom who turns on the diva-dial full blast. Well boys, it's time to MAN-UP. If your photographer wants you to trek out onto a cliff in the middle of a snow storm in neg. 7 degrees, just close your eyes, imagine you're on the finale of the bachelor in some wonderfully tropical location and turn on that Channing Tatum charm and just give them something good so you can pack it up and go back inside. The longer you complain, the longer you'll have to stand out there. Then you'll get your photos back and you'll think, "I'm SO glad we toughed out the cold and got this shot." and it just might be your favorite photo for the rest of your lives.
Having a winter wedding can prove to have some challenges, but there is nothing more romantic than snuggling up together in the cold. Your guests will get the vibe that you're going for with the candle-light, winter scented candles, and hot meal- but make sure you think ahead for the things that the camera will pick up on too.
Photo: Ellie Asher Photography