I recently had a bride call me to discuss wedding pricing and information. We discussed my package and what all I offered. When I asked her what wedding date they were looking at to get married, she told me possibly January-March. My first thought was the lighting. About half of my couples that I book choose to do a “first look” and do their portraits before the wedding and the other half is traditional and wait till after the wedding. For spring and summer weddings it’s usually okay to be traditional because there’s plenty of daylight. I am never going to force a bride to do something she doesn’t want to do, BUT when it comes to winter weddings, doing a first look is almost always a MUST. I’ll explain below…
It’s the middle of November right now and the sun sets around 4:45pm. In January, the sun sets around 4:30pm. If it’s a super cloudy day (like most winter days) then it could be really dark around 3:30pm. If you’re planning on having a 3:00pm or 4:00pm ceremony, then you obviously don’t have any daylight left to do portraits afterwards, even the family formals. Some Catholic services are at 2:00pm which would seem like it would still be great timing for portraits afterwards, but you have to think about everything that takes place after the wedding. After the ceremony you have the receiving line and then signing of the marriage license, then family formals. Receiving lines can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes and family takes about the same amount of time. And don’t forget about the whole bridal party. For a 2:00pm ceremony that maybe takes 30 minutes, that puts starting your bride/groom portraits (if you don’t do a first look) at 4:00pm. That’s pushing it and the last thing a bride needs is to be stressed about time for her bride and groom portraits on one of the most important days of her life.
My goal in telling you all of this, is to give brides a heads up if she’s considering planning a winter wedding. Winter is probably my favorite light to shoot in. It fits my style and it’s so light and airy. I absolutely LOVE capturing winter weddings… but since I’m a natural light photographer, you’d have to see each other before your wedding if we work together. There are plenty of photographers who can do wonderful things with flash and shoot in the dark but that’s not my style. I always say that if a bride likes what she sees on my blog and social media, she needs to work within the timeline that I usually shoot in. She’s investing in her photos and it’s the one thing she’ll get to keep after her wedding. I want her to be happy with those images for years to come. So if by telling her no, we’re not a good fit, I’m okay with that. I’m learning that is completely okay to tell people “no” these days and I’m finding it’s not the end of the world LOL.