In praise of winter weddings

Bride and groom sitting by a log fire at a winter wedding celebration

Let’s talk about winter weddings. I recently booked a wedding in Devon for December next year, and I absolutely can’t wait for it. I genuinely love photographing winter weddings, and chatting through all the details with my couple made me so excited. So I thought I would write a post and tell you a bit about why I think they are so special.

I also wanted to share a few tips to help you get the most from your photography. There are a few significant considerations at this time of year, and a bit of planning really will make all the difference.

A bride and groom cuddling in December sunlight at a winter wedding in Somerset
A winter wedding ceremony after dark, in the main entrance hall at Huntsham Court in Devon
A winter wedding ceremony at Lulworth Castle in Dorset

There is something so special about getting married in the winter. I love the cosy feel to it, the twinkling lights, the focus on the indoor spaces. I also love the colder temperature at this time of year, the frosty mornings, the crisp air. And then there are the winter wedding outfits: long sleeved dresses, beautiful accessories like faux fur stoles or stylish jumpers. If you are lucky and get dry weather, then the winter sunlight is soft and flattering, all day long. It’s a magical time of year.

As a photographer, it gives me a very different sort of celebration to my summer weddings. I really enjoy capturing the whole cosy feel to a winter wedding. I’ve photographed some really incredible winter celebrations over the years, and I wanted to show you a few images from some of these through this post.

Highlights have included Howard & Sam’s Christmas wedding at River Cottage, and Hannah-Marie & Matt’s stunning December wedding in Somerset. I loved Anna & Andrew’s November celebrations at Huntsham Court, which took place entirely after dark with a 6pm ceremony in the main hall. Similarly, Elizabeth and John had an intimate elopement at Burgh Island, with an after dark ceremony in November. And I’ll never forget Lauren and Christian’s wonderful December wedding at Lulworth Castle, with all the tables having a 12 days of Christmas ‘sing off’ during the reception.

A bride and groom kissing on the steps of Lulworth Castle
A winter wedding ceremony at Huntsham Court in Devon
A winter wedding ceremony in the Captain's Cabin at Burgh Island Devon
A winter wedding at Lulworth Castle, with a room full of wedding guests singing Christmas Carols at their tables

Winter wedding photography: top tips

When you are having a winter wedding, there are a few considerations that will make all the difference when it comes to your photography.

The single most important thing to think about is the daylight. Winter days are shorter days, and photography is all about the light. Unless you want portraits in the dark, you’ll need to plan your timings carefully. By the end of October, the sun will set at 4.30pm in the UK, so make sure you have enough time for any group photos and couple shots. It might even work well to have a first look and/or some photos before the ceremony to make the most of the daylight. Liz and John had portraits before their ceremony at Burgh Island in November, as everything else took place after dark.

A couple eloping at Burgh Island in Devon
A relaxed group photo during a winter wedding at Lulworth Castle. Bride and groom standing with the wedding party on the castle steps.

The most obvious consideration is the weather, but I’m sure you’ll already have thought about this. It’s one of the things that I particularly love about weddings in the colder months. There is no expectation for warm and sunny days, and there is always a rain plan!

If you’d like some portraits outside at some point, then make sure you have appropriate clothing. Have some spare footwear suitable for muddy ground, and something to keep you warm if it’s chilly. Then, if we are lucky with the weather, we can get outside and make the most of the gorgeous winter light.

Bride and groom cuddling near the Double Locks in Exeter, Devon

You can also really embrace the cosy, wintery feel, and bring this into your portraits and group photos if you prefer! With Hannah-Marie and Matt’s December wedding, we slipped outside for some couple photos in the incredible light. But it was too cold to stay out for long, and not appropriate to bring all the guests outside, so we created some fun group photos on the indoor staircase instead! And I loved creating some cosy portraits at Huntsham Court with Anna and Andrew, embracing the winter feel and the dark night outside.

A fun indoor group photo on a staircase at a winter wedding in Somerset
A bride and groom by a fireplace at a winter wedding at Orchardleigh in Somerset
A stylish bride and groom sitting together on a sofa at night, at Huntsham Court in Devon

Also hugely important: think carefully about lighting for the inside. Lighting is one of the things that makes winter weddings so special and helps to create that cosy feel. Try to create welcoming pockets of light and twinkling backgrounds. Candles are wonderful at this time of year, and can help create a really magical feel. The more, the better! If you have fairy lights as well, keep them warmer toned to tie in with your candles. If you have a wedding planner or venue co-ordinator, then discuss this all with them, and make sure that your venue has that wow factor winter wedding lighting.

Candles on tables and guests laughing at winter weddings

It should go without saying, but make sure your photographer has experience in winter weddings, and is comfortable shooting in low light conditions. You want to really capture the feel of your celebration, and you need a photographer who understand the light and knows how to deal with it. I’ve been faced with incredibly dark churches, wet and/or very cold weather, low light outside for group photos and all sorts of other potential photography problems. Being able to adapt quickly and deal with various technical challenges is so important at all times of year, but winter wedding photography can be particularly challenging.

Despite all of this, winter weddings are absolutely wonderful and I really do love them! If you plan things well, then I’m sure you’ll have the most incredible celebration. I certainly can’t wait for all the winter weddings I have booked in. I’m also keeping my fingers quietly crossed – in over a decade of photographing weddings, I am still patiently waiting for one where it actually snows! With any luck, it’ll be my next winter wedding – and that will be completely magical! Watch this space…

A bride and groom just married at a winter Lulworth Castle wedding in Dorset
A bride and groom just married, smiling with their marriage certificate at Huntsham Court
Bride and groom clinking glasses in the bar at Burgh Island Hotel in Devon
Lulworth Castle wedding with a bride and groom having their first dance with twinkling lights behind them

Want some more planning advice?

Here are a few links to other articles online that you might find helpful:

Vogue: the dos and don’ts of planning a winter wedding

One Fab Day: 20 simple tips for planning a winter wedding

Wedding Planner: things to consider when planning a winter wedding

Rock My Wedding: winter weddings – 15 reasons we love them

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HELEN LISK PHOTOGRAPHY

 

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Exeter, Devon

 

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