Picture Perfect Wedding Photos in Rain or Snow

The massive snow storms we’ve had recently got me to thinking about the challenges for wedding planning . . . particularly the weather. Outdoor weddings are a favorite with everyone but here on the East coast the weather can change in minutes. The question “What if?” preys heavily on many a couple’s minds. What if rain, what if wind, what if snow . . . you fill in the blank. You can have perfect wedding photos in rain or snow.

There’s nothing wrong with thinking through what you might do (tents, move indoors, etc.) but on the other hand, interesting weather can make for interesting memories. As a wedding photographer, I’m in the memories business so it’s something I pay attention to the weather. What’s cuter than a bevy of umbrellas? Whole families running to catch a blowing hat? A veil flying to the moon. Some of my couples’ favorite photographs were born from weather adversity.

A few examples but first, a caution about perfect weather. Perfect weather, sunny and bright, can be a photograph’s worst enemy. People squint, shadows are dark and brutal, the light colors become featureless. That’s why you’ll see photographers pulling out their flashes, moving their subjects into shade and doing all sorts of contortions to over come a brilliant, sunny day. Who would have thought?

On the other hand, here’s adversity providing opportunity:

On the opposite end, here’s Meredith and Ryan. They were married in the gorgeous Charleston, SC downtown . The weather there is always up for an air freshening cloud burst. Part of the enchantment of their day was watching Meredith and her dad trying to hide from Ryan and the rain. Remember my comment about umbrellas? Love them!

Matt & Paige’s plans came together at the last minute. An officer in the Army, she had just gotten deployment orders for Afghanistan. It was late in the season and their ‘window of opportunity’ was pretty limited. Of course, by the time the ceremony started , on top of a mountain, the rain started, too. I don’t recall anyone noticing other than the umbrellas were profuse. On the other hand, the rain became sort of the theme of their event, making the rest of the event warm and cozy.

Caitrin and Tim love all things Celtic. That includes the misty imagery that you often see representing Ireland and Scotland. You know the ones, mist resplendent with fairies. Sure enough, what started out as sunny day evolved into a perfect mist. By the time the ceremony started, you couldn’t see more than a hundred yards. Their vows included a number of Celtic traditions like the marriage bell and “handfasting”, the origin of “tying the knot”.

Art and Lynne knew they were going to be weather challenged. Mid-January in Maine has a pretty predictable weather pattern. However, when I arrived, they were headed out for a sleigh ride. They had mentioned it but my first thought had been a pack of kids on sleds. I forgot that grownups like to play too. While I wasn’t quite prepared for two foot deep snow, everyone else was so we got fun shots and cold feet. I remember both well and got great shots. Yes I know, full sun.

Heidi & Brian’s wedding was spread across multiple venues. As luck would have it, a huge rain storm hit just as Heidi had to cross an open field from the dressing “shed” to her tiny church. Since everyone was in the chapel, she made the dash and was received with a round of cheers. My first bride to get a standing ovation. I was surprised at how unfazed both she and Brian were then I remembered their engagement session. Rain’s not much of challenge when you know what it was like when we took those (below).

Some of the sweetest weddings I’ve ever done were where the weather put a completely different spin on everyone’s expectations. So here’s the point, sometimes the weather isn’t picture perfect but it doesn’t mean that your memories (and pictures) won’t be. The weather is what it is, changeable, but your memories will be wonderful no matter what. Be of good cheer . . . and don’t forget the umbrellas!


About the Author:

Dan Derby, Wedding Photographer

The spirit of a wedding day lives in fleeting events, unfolding without direction. Wedding photojournalism is how the story of a wedding day can be captured artfully. Trained as a designer (BA & MFA) and skilled in visual story telling, Dan Derby works quietly throughout your wedding day making sure this happens. He is based in New England but travels where ever he’s needed.

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