Winter Wedding Tips by Elena Bazini Photography.
If you are on my blog, you know that wedding photography is definitely my thing. And winter weddings could accurately be described as my thang. I love a winter wedding! I love pretty much everything about them. Since I live and work largely in the Chicago area, I’ve been lucky enough to photograph my fair share of winter nuptials. There is something extra romantic and magical about a winter wedding. And we love capturing these days in our own unique and creative way. Since I received a little press for one of my favorite winter wedding shoots, I thought it was well overdue that I write my first ever wedding photography advice post with our winter wedding tips. I’ve looked back on my experiences with what made successful events, and gorgeous pictures. And I’ve reached out to Jaci Weber, a top Chicago wedding planner, to add her two cents to the winter wedding tips below.
If you’re planning your own winter wedding, you’re in luck! This post is designed to make your life easier, and make your winter wedding even more magical. As always, questions or further tips are welcome in the comments. Let’s get down to business!
Winter Wedding Tip #1- Consider A “First Look.”
This is an aspect of wedding planning that I usually try to stay out of. I know there are photographers out there who get more involved with their clients to persuade them to do “first looks.” And I’ve even heard of photographers who turn down weddings where the couple won’t see each other before the wedding. For me, I am happy when my clients are happy. And I can make any schedule work for beautiful photography.
That said, I do think it’s necessary to at least consider a first look at a winter wedding. Why? We seem to forget it every year, but the sun sets pretty early in Chicago in the winter (Try 4:30pm in mid-December!). If you wait to see your spouse-to-be on the aisle, it is likely that most (if not all) of your pictures together will take place after that sun goes down.
We love capturing the first look! It can oftentimes be an emotional event, not only for you and your future spouse, but for friends and family who may watch it as well. We always provide two photographers, and love telling your story from multiple angles.
Let’s say you’ve considered the first look, and you still want to keep it traditional and see each other for the first time at your ceremony. Skip ahead to tip #2, we’ve got your back.
Winter Wedding Tip #2- Find A Photographer Capable of Creating Light and Mood.
As you begin your search for your wedding photographer, you may come across many sites with pretty pictures. Our recommendation (no matter the season) is always to find a photographer who’s work speaks to you, and whom you get along well with. But for winter brides we have another tip related to your photographer search. Find a photographer who can show you work inside of dark reception spaces, or outside after sunset. The sun goes down early on these winter weddings, and depending on your day-of schedule, you will likely find yourself in situations where a “natural light wedding photographer” might not be the best decision.
Don’t be afraid to ask to see a full winter wedding as a sample, and ask photographers their level of comfort with creating light and mood with their own equipment. Can your photographer create a mood with lighting? Are you confident that they can make you look fabulous with flash? For our studio, we look forward to moments where we can create light that adds depth and emotion to a scene. Check out just a handful of our favorite photo examples of this below.
Winter Wedding Tip #3- Go With The SNOW!
Yes! It’s your wedding day, and it’s snowing! This is like the holy grail of winter wedding photography. What should you do? Jaci Weber of Clementine Custom Events says, “Embrace it!” And we whole-heartedly agree. The most common concern brides seem to have about trudging out in a snow storm is ruining a meticulous hairdo, slush messing up a white gown, or sliding around in those expensive high heeled shoes. Ladies, I hear you! The dress, the shoes, the hair–it’s all supposed to be perfect. But we think it’s worth braving the outdoors for a romantic photo of you and your love that will last a lifetime. Want the best of both worlds? Pack some boots to hide under that ballgown, or even ask your hair and makeup gal to come back and touch you up before the ceremony or reception.
Check out some of our favorite snow brides, and we think you’ll see why we say throw caution to the winter wind.
Winter Wedding Tip #4- Scout Indoor Photo Locations That Are Equally Fabulous.
So you twirled and smooched in a winter wonderland with your new spouse. Check that off your wedding day to do list! Now take it from me, it is always nice to warm up somewhere when you’re out on the town for photos. Yes, you can “think warm thoughts” while you’re snuggling out in the snow with your boo. But nobody has ever turned me down when I’ve said, “Hey, there’s a really great spot for some indoor photos over this way!”
Below you’ll see photographs I’ve taken in museums, city halls, hotel lobbies, and even greenhouses! In my opinion, a great photographer should help you scout fabulous locations, indoor and out. Feel free to ask for their indoor recommendations! They will likely be familiar with photo friendly spots, which ones require permits, admission fees, etc.
Winter Wedding Tip #5- No Snow? Go Towards The Light!
If you’re planning a winter wedding in Chicago or elsewhere, you are very likely hoping for snow. Yes, the snow is magical! But there are plenty of other ways to bring the warmth and magic of the season into your photos without the fluffy stuff. In a dark winter landscape, added visual interest is key from a photographic perspective. Whether its twinkle lights in the foreground (or background!), or the bright lights of the downtown skyline–light is your friend for your wedding pictures. Even a simple street lamp can be as good as gold to a creative and knowledgable photographer. We love surprising our clients by creating a scene that makes them say ‘wow.’
Check with your venue (ceremony or reception) to see what kind of decor they might be putting up to celebrate the season, and see if your photographer is open to making a site visit in advance.
Winter Wedding Tip #6- Pad Your Timeline with Extra Travel Time.
I am a punctual person, ask anyone who knows me. To me, 15 minutes early is on time– and on time is late! It’s just how I’m wired. So more often than not I’m also playing time-keeper on a wedding day and padding a bride’s timeline with extra time for travel just in case. Winter can mean slower drives, icy conditions, or even (knock on wood!) transportation failure.
The best solution is to pad your timeline even more for a winter wedding. My personal recommendation is to hire a knowledgeable day-of coordinator who can communicate with and keep track of all your vendors, as well as provide solutions to unexpected hiccups. I absolutely love working with the ladies at Clementine Custom Events, and they are well versed in coordinating fabulous winter weddings in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.
Winter Wedding Tip #7- Bring the Warmth with Candlelight and Festive Reception Decor.
Your wedding reception is a wonderful opportunity to create an special atmosphere for your guests. You can reflect your personal style, the season, or even create a space that transports your guests when they enter. Jaci Weber, from Clementine Custom Events in Chicago says, “Chicago winters are filled with fluffy white snow, cozy scarves, warm candlelight, amazing comfort food and decadent hot beverages. Take the things you love about winter and bring them to life at your wedding.” Specifically, she suggests a signature hot beverage or serving a favorite comfort food. We love those ideas, and so will your guests.
We also love winter white centerpieces, pops of red in a bridal bouquet or boutonniere, and of course candles, candles candles.
Winter Wedding Tip #8- Winter Looks Good On You! Embrace Winter Accessories.
Sparkle, scarves, and stoles can add fun and flair to a wedding dress. We love a sparkly bridesmaids dress that catches the light and adds a little luxury to an ensemble. A vintage stole adds warmth and texture to any look! For the stylish groom and his groomsmen we appreciate a festive boutonnière as much as the next guy, and we’ve seen everything from succulents and branches, to cotton and cranberry. And who doesn’t love a smart wool suit!
Winter Wedding Tip #9- Burn up the Dance Floor with Great Music and Props.
Oftentimes with winter weddings, there’s a lot to celebrate. Maybe you’re ringing in the New Year on your wedding night, extending the holidays with family and friends, or even making Valentine’s Day your first day of wedded bliss. In any case, we find the combination of cold weather and a festive feeling in the air often translates into a packed dance floor. Your guests are probably more likely to stay inside to keep the party going. Keep your guests cozy inside your venue with great music, and of course cocktails! We also love a confetti drop, or a photo booth with fun props.
Winter Wedding Tip #10- Have Fun! Eat, Drink and be Married.
This is YOUR night! And baby, it’s cold outside! We say eat, drink, and be married. Every wedding photographer will tell you that the best clients are the ones that have fun and enjoy themselves. Yes, you might feel nerves, or pressure for things to turn out a certain way. This is understandable, and boy have I been there. But take time to remember that ultimately this day is a CELEBRATION of your love. Own it, enjoy it, and live the day to it’s fullest.
I hope you have enjoyed my winter wedding tips. If you have any winter wedding tips to add, please do so in the comment section below. And, thanks!
The venues pictured in this post include:
Germania Place, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Newberry Library, The Metropolitan Club, Byron Colby Barn, Manzo’s Banquets, Ovation Chicago, Hyatt Lodge Oak Brook, The Public Hotel, Morgan Manufacturing, The Blackstone Hotel, The Palmer House Hotel, The Langham Hotel, Garfield Park Conservatory, Union Station Chicago, Fisherman’s Inn, River Roast, and The Bridgeport Art Center.
Are you planning your own winter wedding? Reference this post, and receive a special winter wedding offer from Elena Bazini Photography. Reach out and say hello! We’d love to tell your story.