The Magic of Winter Weddings with Photographer Maryanne Scott

Marianne Stenger
20th December 2016

There’s something quite magical about winter weddings, and the combination of twinkling lights set against a frosty wintery backdrop work together to make winter weddings exceptionally beautiful.

Of course, aside from the aesthetic appeal of winter weddings, there are a few practical benefits to getting married during the colder months, including reduced vendor fees, first pick of wedding venues and a wider range of options when it comes to the colour scheme and dress code.

Yorkshire-based wedding photographer Maryanne Scott, says winter weddings also provide an opportunity to capture more atmospheric images. We asked her to give us an insight into what makes winter wedding photography unique, as well as some of the things to keep in mind when photographing a wedding in wintertime.

As a photographer, what are some of your favourite things about winter weddings?

Personally I find that it's a chance to get more atmospheric images since it's often darker and you'll find rooms lit with candles and fairy lights.

Couples tend to choose richer colour schemes, and if the wedding is around Christmastime, the venue is usually decorated for Christmas and will already look beautiful. The colder weather is easy to incorporate into the photos, as rain, snow, wind and fog can all make for very interesting images.

People often also choose to have fireworks, and from a timing perspective, this means it's much easier than a summer wedding where you have to wait until the sun sets much later on.

Are there any important differences photographers and couples should know about when planning the photography for a winter wedding?

The weather influences the day more than it would a summer wedding and you should be prepared for rain. There are also fewer hours of daylight so it’s important to plan the best use of the daylight hours and discuss this with everyone who will be involved.

You may also need to allow extra time for travel, especially if snow or a hard frost is expected.

Photographers should feel comfortable using flash, and this can even lead them to be a little more inventive, perhaps by using off-camera flash.

Don't be afraid to use a high ISO if the conditions are very dark, even if it’s higher than you feel comfortable with. Most professional cameras have a high potential for bumping up the ISO without losing too much of the sharpness, and anyway, grainy photos can look fantastic too.

When it comes to the photography, what sorts of venues would you say are ideal for winter weddings and make for beautiful wedding photo books?

In wintertime you have to consider the weather and your guests’ comfort, so most people go for hotels. However it is possible to have something a little different, such as a tipi in a field with beautiful roaring fires and fairy lights. You could also embrace the darkness and choose somewhere atmospheric where your guests will be surrounded by candlelight.

In summertime, couples often want outdoor venues with beautiful gardens, but in winter this doesn't matter as much, since the gardens aren't usually as pretty and the weather might not be as good. 

With this in mind, it’s usually better to choose hotels or stately homes where the venue itself is the feature. One of the most important things when choosing a venue is to keep the guests in mind and look for something that will be easily accessible to all.

Obviously, the natural lighting is quite different during wintertime, so do you have any advice on how to capture well-lit photos or the best time of day for shooting?

It’s important to know when the sun is going to set if you plan on doing any photos outdoors, as you’ll need to ensure you have enough time to get outside. 

The sun is lower in the sky during the winter so if you manage to get a beautiful sunny day the results can be very pretty. Direct sunshine can be very harsh, though, so it's often worth keeping a deflector with you for softening the shadows. Alternatively, you could simply choose open shade.

Always have a backup plan of where you can take photos if you can't go outside due to bad weather.

If the sun will already have set by the time the ceremony has finished but you still want a few outdoor shots, it might be worth photographing the wedding party before the ceremony or even doing a ‘first look’ with the bride and groom.

Is there anything photographers should know about keeping their gear safe and staying warm while shooting a winter wedding?

Remember to bring lots of white umbrellas. You may lose or forget some, but they're very important if the bridal party hasn't thought about it. Also remember to bring some wipes to keep your lenses free of condensation, as you'll likely be moving between warm and cold places which can affect the lens.

Carry extra batteries and bring your charger too, as batteries tend to lose charge quicker when it’s cold.

Layers are important to keep warm, as are good waterproofs that are smart enough. I always take a change of clothes, as on a wet day it's easy to get wet while you're out and there is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable.

I also find that it helps get a hot meal inside you, so talk to the bride and groom before the day.  Most will include one, but if they're not planning to, speak with the venue, as when all the guests are sitting down to eat a hot meal, it can be pretty demoralising to realise you have to sit down to your cold packed lunch.

Do you have a winter wedding coming up? Make sure you’ll have plenty of gorgeous images to include in your wedding photo book with our tips for photographing a winter wedding. If you already have wedding images that you'd like to do something creative with, we've also got advice on designing a wedding photobook, as well as fun ideas for displaying your wedding photos. 

Images in this article have been provided by Maryanne Scott - see more of Maryanne's work by visiting her website