Winter in Ireland can be challenging, and it can be even more of a challenge to photograph weddings during these months! But with the right planning and a little luck on the day, conditions can turn out to be oh so perfect!
Like my rainy wet wedding photography guide, I’ve learned a thing or two about shooting weddings in the winter during my 13 years and 450 odd weddings! So if you are planning your wedding for the winter months, here’s a few tips to keep in mind!
Timing is everything for a winter wedding! It gets dark early, around 4pm, and when that sun sets (if you see it!) it isn’t coming back up until the day after! So to have any chance of getting photos outside, it’s pretty crucial to have your ceremony a little earlier than normal, 1pm at the latest, unless it’s a ceremony in the actual reception, when you can go a little later.
Another point related to the timing on the day is your venue locations. Sometimes with a summer wedding, you can have your ceremony venue and reception venue quite a bit away from each other, sometimes up to an hour away, but in winter, this can be a risky option. Risky in terms of light, but also depending on the weather, it can make a normal journey take forever! The shot above although beautiful and one of the few weddings I’ve shot where I’ve had full snow covered ground for a background, was taken during the very hard cold winter of 2010. The ceremony was in Ransboro Sligo and the reception was in Carrick-on-Shannon. That journey takes around 45 minutes normally. On this day because of the snow and ice everywhere, it took nearly 3 hours! So although snow is absolutely beautiful, it does make logistics very difficult!
Wrap up warm:
Throws and shawls are a brides (and bridesmaids) best friend on the wedding day during winter! Have them, use them…they look beautiful in photographs and help keep you warm! One thing I do not do on a wedding day in winter is wear a coat, and that means if I, in my shirt, am getting cold, then the bride and girls are getting cold, and that means time to get inside!
Don’t be afraid to wear a coat also if necessary. If we do some outside photographs and it’s cold, wrap up! We’ll get some indoor pictures later without the throws and coat.
Like a normal summer wedding, this is something I’ll go through beforehand with a bride and groom, and we’ll come up with some options, including of course back up locations in case of dodgy weather. Some days you’ll have to work all inside, while on dry mild day, we’ll be able to go wherever! In general though, if we can get outside, we’ll go outside for a short period, then go back inside to the warmth and get a few more relaxed portraits. It’s about mixing it up and keeping comfortable!
This is something more for us photographers! The good thing about winter weddings in Ireland is that because it gets dark early, the sun is always low in the sky, which gives the best light of the year when the sun comes out! And also because it gets dark early, the sunset is around 4pm and you can capture some of the best images of the year then! Chances are if its sunny on your winter wedding day, your photographer will have a big smile on his/her face all day long. And if they don’t get excited about that sunset light, there’s something wrong with them!
Take advantage of the early evening! In summer you might have to wait until 10pm or later to rock some sparklers! In winter, you can do this at around 4:30 and really get your guests excited with something different during the drinks reception!!
Carrying on with the same theme of darkness, candlelit ceremonies can be beautiful although a challenge to photograph!
No matter what the weather, we’ll get great photographs! Just go with it! If we get outside, great, but I do like to work even quicker outside in winter because it can be cold. If we have to work inside, again, we’ll get great images. Just keep smiling!
Trust your photographer!
Winter weddings are challenging and definitely where experience shows in terms of photography. Whether its shooting in the bright sun, shooting at sunset, or shooting in the snow and ice, having a good experienced photographer really pays off in winter. Leave all the timings to your photographer, they should know the best times to shoot and depending on your locations, they should know the best places to take advantage of the weather and light to give you the best winter wedding photographs!