How to Get Jaw-dropping Wedding Photos, Whatever the Weather


What bride dreams of a rainy day wedding? If they do, it’s usually only in their nightmares. That’s why many brides will cautiously schedule their wedding for sunny, summertime days—which can be especially sweltering here in Northern California. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: you can capture stunning wedding photos no matter the weather, no matter the time of year.

1. Schedule your wedding day around your newlywed photo session

Your newlywed portraits will be your most intimate, romantic, and creative photos of the day. In other words, these are destined to be some of your faves. Picking the right time to take them is key to making these photos wonderful in any weather…and then you can schedule the rest of your wedding day accordingly. Yes, you read that right! Build your wedding schedule around your newlywed photo session.

First, check out the sunset time at your venue location to see when the sun will set on your preferred wedding date. It could be mid-afternoon in the winter, or late at night in the summer…or never during an Icelandic summer. Shooting near sunset time will give you the nicest and most flattering lighting of the day. Once you know the time to schedule your newlywed portraits, work backward from there to schedule your ceremony.

Overcast or snowy skies in the forecast? Schedule newlywed photos 2-3 hours before sunset to keep some soft, natural light in the mix.

Wedding photos from winter wedding in San Francisco

Expecting cloudy or rainy skies? Schedule newlywed photos 1-1.5 hours before sunset to give the clouds and skies a boost of color.

Wedding photos from a rainy day wedding at Forest House Lodge.

Anticipating sunny and clear skies? Schedule newlywed photos for an hour before sunset (or even a little after) for the most vivid colors. This will also get you temperatures that won’t make you sweat.

Wedding photos from a wedding at the Fitz Place in San Martin, CA.

Just make sure to keep your dress clean and pristine for the ceremony by scheduling your newlywed photos after the ceremony.  And if you want plenty of time for newlywed photos, schedule your family portraits for the hour before the ceremony, which frees up time after the ceremony for your newlywed photos.

Has all this talk of scheduling got your head spinning? Take a deep breath! Then download your free wedding timeline planner tool to help you plan out each segment of your wedding day.

2. Bring the right accessories

Snowflakes or raindrops don’t mean you have to hide indoors on your wedding day. In fact, they can add stunning texture and mood to your wedding photos. Just make sure to pack these items in that wedding day bag so you’re ready for anything:

A warm coat. While you don’t need to wear a coat in your photos, at least you can wear it while you make your way to the best spots for your outdoor photos and then take it off.

A wedding shawl or wedding fur. These offer a way to keep warm even in wedding dresses, which are often sleeveless, strapless, or feature open backs (i.e., drafty). The more comfortable you feel, the more comfortable you’ll look in your photos.

A large umbrella. Fitting both of you underneath makes you huddle in close, and gets you all sorts of cozy for your photos. A simple white or clear umbrella will give more creative options to your photographer.

Heel stoppers for your shoes. Sure your heels are beautiful, but they’re also great for aerating lawns when you sink into the grass outdoors. These stoppers will keep you from tripping, sinking or getting your shoes dirty while you’re outside.

Bustle that dress! Make sure your wedding dress is equipped with a tie, hook, or buttons to bustle the train so you don’t sweep up dirt and critters while walking outdoors.

Wedding photos at an intimate wedding in South Lake Tahoe

3. Plan Accordingly With Your Venue Staff

The fine folks working your venue know how to make it shine in winter, spring, summer or fall…and your photographer will capture all the decor, detail and vibes for you to remember forever. Many wedding venues will offer both outdoor and indoor wedding options precisely for the sake of adapting to weather. They may provide an open air patio for sunny weather while also allowing alternative barrel room or ballroom configurations to host a ceremony if it’s windy or wet. So when you take your venue tour, ask your host to see photos of their different ceremony and reception configurations.

Or if you want a thoroughly outdoor wedding at a private estate or country club, consider renting a wedding tent to shield you and your guests from the elements. First off, scrap that picture in your mind of the Coleman camping tent. Today’s wedding tents provide options for drapery, soaring ceilings, portable dance floors, heating/cooling and creative lighting that rival any indoor venue. Just keep in mind that they won’t prove as effective at dealing with wind.

Wrapping up

Here’s a little secret: as a wedding photographer, I prefer cloudy or partly cloudy days for making great wedding photos. Sunshine is nice and all, but I especially love a sunset with clouds in the horizon, or the tender reflection of a bride and groom in the puddles you see in a rainy day wedding. At the end of your day, a little weather can’t stop you from beginning your marriage in style..

Hopefully you’ve now got the confidence to set your wedding date whatever time of the year you’d like. Come rain or come shine, you can trust that your wedding photos will be spectacular with just a bit of planning, and the right team crafting your wedding photography.

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