Planning a Winter Wedding? Here Are 8 Tips From A Photographer

Golden hour wedding portrait at sunset in a park with couple holding hands

There are a few things to consider when planning a winter wedding. Especially if you still want to get the most amazing photos! So I’ve put together a blog post full of helpful tips for planning the perfect winter wedding!

Winter Weddings: The Pros and Cons

Why have a winter wedding? Many couples opt for a wedding in the winter months as it’s generally more budget-friendly. Wedding venues typically cost less off-peak between November and March.

It’s also a great time of year if you want a big wedding party atmosphere.

The main con when it comes to a winter wedding is that you have less daylight in the afternoon, so any time for photos outside in natural light is usually quite limited.

There’s also the weather which can be unpredictable and could potentially cause issues for you, your travelling guests and your suppliers.

8 Tips for Planning Your Winter Wedding

Choose the Perfect Winter Wedding Venue

When you’re booking your winter wedding venue, make sure to consider the available space inside.

It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s probably raining and so your venue choice is even more important for a winter wedding because you’ll likely be spending the majority of the day indoors.

Grooms entrance to wedding with guests clapping

If your room needs turning around between the ceremony and wedding breakfast or the wedding breakfast and the evening reception, is there enough space for your guests to be comfortable standing in the bar area? Is there a backup plan or another room you can hire during this time?

Having plenty of space means your guests won’t be sardined together and there will be enough room for your photographer to move around and create more interesting photos where people aren’t squashed together.

Create a Cosy Atmosphere with Winter Wedding Decorations

Embrace the festive season if you’re getting married in the colder months. Think about the lighting in your reception space and how you can make it feel warm and inviting to your guests.

Fairy lights or hired lighting canopies are a great way to transform your wedding reception into a winter wonderland and your guests will love the cosy vibes!

It’s a simple idea that makes all the difference when it comes to the look and feel of your winter wedding. Without any external lighting such as fairy lights, photos can look quite flat and dull at this time of year.

Top table with fairy light curtain arbour behind

If you’re looking for other ways of incorporating lighting into your winter wedding, why not hire a neon sign or two? There are plenty of eye-catching options available that look great as a ceremony or top table backdrop.

Candles are also a nice easy option to use as part of your wedding decor on tables. If your venue doesn’t allow lit candles, LED options are available that look just as good and give a realistic flickering glow.

My top tip would be to hire a wedding planner or stylist who can make all your winter wonderland wedding dreams come true!

The Engine Shed wedding breakfast decor with pink flowers and candles

The Ultimate Winter Wedding Timeline for Photos

In winter, an early afternoon wedding ceremony is your friend. To make the most of the daylight for your wedding photos, figure out what time the sun sets on your wedding day and work backwards from there to create a timeline.

Check this link for sunset times on your wedding date.

November/January Wedding Timeline

Here’s an example timeline that would work well for a November or January wedding as the sun sets at around 4-4.30 pm:

1.30 pm – Civil ceremony followed by confetti
2 pm – Drinks reception with canapes
3 pm – Group photos and portraits outside if possible
4 pm – Seated for Speeches
4.30 pm – Meal
6.30 pm – Room turnaround for evening reception if required (this is the best time for creative portraits or sparkler photos)
7.30 pm – Evening guests arrive
8 pm – First dance
9 pm – Evening food

December Winter Wedding Timeline

If you’re having a December wedding, I’d recommend pushing your timeline back slightly further as the sun sets before 4 pm:

1 pm – Civil wedding ceremony followed by confetti
1.30 pm – Drinks reception with canapes
2.30 pm – Group photos and portraits outside if possible
3.30 pm – Seated for Speeches
4 pm – Meal
6 pm – Room turnaround for evening reception if required (this is the best time for creative portraits or sparkler photos)
7 pm – Evening guests arrive
7.30 pm – First dance
8.30 pm – Evening food

If you’re planning a twilight wedding ceremony, I’d recommend arriving early and taking care of your group photos and portraits before the wedding.

Embrace Golden Hour Portraits at Your Winter Wonderland

Winter weddings get great golden hour light so make sure there is space in your timeline for photos outside during this time, if the weather allows.

As the sun is lower in the sky over winter, photos in the hour or so before sunset on a crisp sunny day are super flattering and well worth braving the cold weather for.

Here’s an example of the light during a November wedding portrait session. This photo was taken at 3.30 pm. The sunset on this day was approximately 4.19 pm.

Golden hour wedding portrait at sunset in a park with couple holding hands

Make the Most of Winter Accessories

Don’t underestimate the cold weather during the winter season!

A winter wedding is the perfect excuse to buy more accessories that serve a dual purpose. They will look good and keep you warm too. If you’re wearing a wedding dress and you can get away with thermal tights underneath I’d consider it, especially if there’s snow!

Here are a few great ideas for winter accessories:

  • A personalised faux leather/denim jacket
  • A faux fur shawl or wrap to keep warm
  • Thick socks and sturdy boots – either to change into for photos outside or to wear all day! Dr Martens are a firm favourite amongst my couples!
  • A blanket or scarf to wear if you’re outside.
  • Hand warmers to put in pockets and keep your hands warm!
Couple portraits outside winter wedding at The Priests House

Be Prepared for the Winter Weather

There are a few things you can do to be prepared for whatever happens weatherwise at your wedding.

I would always recommend having a stash of clear umbrellas on hand for you and your guests if it’s raining. Some venues do have umbrellas already but clear ones are better for portraits as they don’t block the light from your faces.

A stash of blankets is a great idea to keep guests comfortable if there is an outdoor area that will be in use.

Keep guests warm by having hot drinks available on a cold day! Not many wedding venues have hot drinks available all day, so having a DIY hot cocoa or hot chocolate station will go down a treat with your guests.

Mulled wine or mulled cider is also a great idea if your wedding venue has this option.

winter wedding at the old swan hotel with couple walking

Plan Some Indoor Entertainment

With your wedding guests cooped up indoors, they’re a captive audience meaning you have the perfect opportunity to provide some fun entertainment for them!

For example, singing waiters always get the party going and guests will love standing on their chairs and waving napkins around. You’ll also get lots of fun photos during this time.

Bride singing with arm around groom during wedding entertainment

Check out my post for lots more Fun Wedding Entertainment Ideas to make sure your guests stay warm and have a wonderful time on your wedding day.

Set Time Aside for Creative Indoor Portraits

If the weather isn’t playing ball on your big day, or you’d just rather stay warm inside, you can still get awesome portraits!

Creative silhouette winter wedding photography at The Priests House

I love using natural light and flash in a creative way to make the most of your venue’s features. Here’s an example of two photos taken in the same spot at the same wedding. The latter was taken later in the night at the evening reception. It only took a few minutes to set up and shoot.

Bride and groom stood under edison hanging lights
Creative silhouette portrait of bride and groom with pink spotlight and hanging edison bulbs

Want to See More Winter Wedding Photos?

I hope these tips for planning a winter wedding have been helpful.

If you’re looking for more winter wedding inspiration, check out this rustic winter wedding at The Venue in Halifax on the blog where you’ll be able to see lots of these tips in action! The Venue is a perfect winter wedding venue as it’s spacious inside and super cosy when decorated! Find out more about weddings at The Venue Bowers Mill here.

I love photographing winter weddings, so if you’re looking for a photographer I’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch via my contact form.