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W is for Winter Weddings by Lucy Stendall
Winter is as good a time to get married as any. Maybe you live for Christmas and want to inject some seasonal spirit into your wedding. Maybe you’ve got a special deal on your venue or fancy a tropical honeymoon. Or maybe you’ve just found the ideal venue for winter weddings, perhaps because they have limited outside space but have fantastic indoor space which would get wasted in summer. And unlike summer weddings where you hope for a warm dry day with sunshine, winter brides can plan for the cold and any sunshine is a bonus. This can take a lot of pressure off couples fretting about the weather. Forewarned is forearmed and all that.
When it comes to photography, winter weddings require some extra special attention. But winter light can be some of the most beautiful and flattering in the entire wedding calendar. It’s low, it’s soft, it’s golden and I love it.
So I thought I’d put together this short guide about making the most of your winter wedding photography. Because everyone deserves beautiful, timeless photographs of their wedding day.
The basic thing that your photographer needs to take quality, natural images on your wedding day is good light. Good light means their camera can work to produce its best quality images. Crisp, clean and bright.
I use the best lenses and cameras available which means I’m able to deal with most lighting situations without resorting to a flash. Not all photographers invest in this kind of equipment (its extremely expensive) so may need more light to achieve similar results.
But even with this arsenal of equipment in my camera bag, if the light isn’t very good, low light reduces the quality of the finished image. There is a direct link between quality of the photograph and the amount of light and a camera needs more light than your eyes do to create a good quality picture. The most obvious sign of a low light image is visible pixels/grain on the images or subject blur. Sometimes these things are very beautiful and can be used to creative effect.
So, what’s first?
We should start by getting you to think about the photographs you love…
Do you want natural light photography or are you happy with your photographer using extra lighting? Discuss this with your photographer before you book. I use natural light where possible and flashguns where I need them.
Remember, flash isn’t the enemy!
Flash can be very good but it does give a different feel to the images than natural light images. Also, whilst flashguns are fairly low impact in terms of size, people are more likely to notice the photographer using them which can affect their ability to remain unobtrusive and get those candid moments for you.
Free standing lighting is bulkier and more obtrusive. It requires extra space and planning and I don’t currently use it for these reasons.
Be aware that extra lighting might not be permitted during your ceremony and even if it is, you might not want the distraction during that part of the day. If extra lighting isn’t allowed at any specific point in the day and it is very dark, this might limit how many photographs can be taken during that part of the day.
How to maximise the natural light element of your day
1. Consider an earlier ceremony. This is by far the easiest way around the difficulties that a winter wedding can pose. A wedding at 11am or midday will mean you enjoy the brightest, warmest part of the day with your guests and it will give you more time after the ceremony to have relaxed group shots and portraits of you two as newlyweds.
2. Think about doing a First Look, which is where the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. I have photographed a couple of these and it means that you make the most of the short daylight hours and there is no need for you to be parted from your guests after the ceremony. This not only helps the natural flow of the day, but couples also say it makes them feel less nervous about seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony.
3. Choose venues with as much natural light as possible. This goes for the place where you decide to get ready as well as for the ceremony and reception. Things to look out for are white walls and ceilings and large windows. Things to avoid include dark panelling, deep coloured walls or stone walls which will soak up most of the light and can add a strange colour cast on your photographs. If you are marrying in a church, ask them to keep the lights on rather than rely on candlelight alone.
4. Keep the formal photography aspects of the day to a minimum and be prepared to go outside to allow your photographer to find the best light for the group photographs. Your guests will thank you for not keeping them in the cold for long. You’ll thank me for the quality of the images you’ll get.
5. Enjoy a longer drinks reception before sunset to allow time for your newlyweds portraits and family group photos. By the time you sit down for your meal and speeches it is less important if it is dark outside.
6. If you are still concerned about a dark venue and the impact this will have on your photography, consider hiring extra lighting for your venue. Marquee companies and lighting specialists are out there to transform an otherwise dark venue whilst keeping the atmosphere that made you book it in the first place.
I hope that helps. As with all weddings, the best way of getting the most out of your photography is to discuss your ideas and order of the day with your photographer before the timings are set in stone. Remember your photographer is a fountain of information and ideas to give you the coverage you want. What’s more, its all there for the taking, for free!
Limited availability discounts and offers on winter weddings in 2013 for Any Other Woman readers! Just contact me through my website to tell me all about you and your wedding, quoting Any Other Woman to get up to £250 off your chosen package.