Five ways to make sure the rain doesn’t spoil your wedding photography
It would seem that a boat and wet suit are the new must-have pieces of equipment for wedding photographers in the UK this year. In the last four years we’ve photographed just 7 weddings where the rain was a big part of the day and we had to put plan B into action. 2012 alone has topped that total. It’s been exceptionally wet.
I’ve given up looking at the weather forecast before weddings now. Umbrellas and wellies are always in the car whatever. I’ve actually love it when it rains. Yes, the rain brings challenges but it also brings opportunities. You get reflections and rainbows. Your guests will laugh as they try to dodge the puddles. And skies will be more dramatic. All that adds an extra layer of interest to wedding photos.
The weather will be, what it will be. There’s no point worrying about it because there’s nothing that can be done to change it. But to make the best of it you need to be realistic and plan for it. Please don’t just hope for the best. If it does rain, you’ll be glad you were prepared. Here’s what to think about…
Five ways to make sure the rain doesn’t spoil your wedding photography
1. When choosing your venue ask what spaces will be available for family photos and your couple portraits if it’s wet
Unless you have a venue with exclusive use, there may be restrictions on where you can go. Ideally you’ll want a bright and airy, sizeable space, that’s separate but close to where your drinks reception is. Separate that so you have space to work in, with nice backgrounds for your photos and so that everyone can hear your photographer; close by so that you don’t spend precious time moving guests around.
Not every inside spot will lend itself to strong wedding photography. Space and light have a big impact. For example, dim and unevenly lit spaces are unlikely to be conducive to great group photos. You need bright, even light to get a good exposure across the whole group. Some guests could be standing in the perfect light and others in the dark. There’s no way to easily balance the two. The most important thing is to be realistic about what’s possible in the space you have. Your photographer will be able to give you more specific advice.
If you’re having a marquee reception, you’ll need a sheltered location close-by for your photos. A hay barn or the church perhaps. If your marquee is at home that can be easier if the house is big enough but some marquee sites don’t have any covered areas. Also, consider a marquee with a good sized bar area so the space isn’t cramped with everyone inside. That way you can also keep your eating area clear and looking amazing until it’s time to sit down for dinner.
2. When choosing your wedding photographer, ask what will happen if it rains
One of the questions I get asked most often as a wedding photographer is “what will happen if it rains”. It’s a really good question.
Ask how your photographer works in the rain. Ask how they’ll manage things like group photos and portraits of the two of you. Is there anything that they will need from you, your ushers or your venue?
Ask to see some of their wet wedding photography; a complete wedding rather than just one or two rainy pictures. Is the whole set of photos consistently good? Ask them how they handled the rain on that particular day. Did they work around it to still get everything the couple wanted. Look to see whether they’ve got stuck in and photographed outside when guests have been outside. Do you think they’ve seen the rain as an inconvenience or have they exploited it and used it to tell the story of the wedding in a creative way?
The umbrellas make this picture. It wouldn’t have been nearly as eye-catching without them.
Ryan and Laura really wanted a portrait at dusk. It was raining but they weren’t worried about getting wet by that time. So we turned lemons into lemonade by lighting the rain with a flash.
The short answer from us is, we carry on. All the essential outside parts of your day will be captured as normal and some bits will just have to be done inside. But with the right venue, being inside is no second place to being outside.
For your portraits, if it’s just a little drizzle we can take umbrellas with us and either use them creatively or have an Usher on hand to take them out at the last minute. There might be some sheltered spots outside we can use. Doorways and sheltered walls often work well. We’ll look around ahead of time to see what the options are.
We’ll find a sheltered spot outdoors or a spacious area inside for your family photos. Sometimes this is the best way to show off the architecture or interior of a venue – a blessing in disguise!
The best spot for Adam and Wendy’s group photos was the church doorway. With the help of Adam’s Best Man, to hold umbrellas over everyone as they took their places and then over me as I took the photos, we whizzed through them. There’s nothing like a bit of rain to get guests moving quickly for group photos!
Mark and Emily are outdoors people and didn’t want their group photos to be inside. So we used this covered patio area at the side of Pipewell Hall to keep everyone dry. I, on the other hand, was outside getting soaked!
3. Buy, beg, borrow or steal some pretty umbrellas
The bigger the better for staying dry. Make a statement with colours. Just google ‘umbrellas’ and you’ll find soooo many colours and styles. I’m currently lusting after a Lulu Guinness birdcage brolly.
4. Keep an open-mind and be flexible on the day
It’s rare for it to pour all day. If you’re flexible about when your ‘formal’ photos are done you might still be able to do them outside. (Assuming you have a wedding photographer who will be with you all day.) You could do your group photos at the church instead of your reception if rain is forecast later in the day. Or you could wait (perhaps even until after dinner) and see if there’s a break in the rain before doing everything inside.
You might need to forgo larger group photos if there isn’t space inside. Physically fitting people in a room is very different to arranging them so that you can see everyone and your photographer then being able to get far enough back to fit everyone in the photo. Think how you could split larger groups into smaller ones if you need to.
A photo of everyone is often very difficult to do well inside on a wet day. A staircase might seem like a good option but if the lighting isn’t evenly balanced across it, you’ll have some of your guests exposed correctly and other guests looking too dark. You might have to miss that one.
Finding good spots for couple portraits is usually much easier but ask your wedding photographer for advice on where will work best. It’s important that the lighting is right as well as the location. And ideally, it will be away from your guests and private.
Mark & Emily had torrential rain all through their drinks reception but it stopped when they went in for dinner! They were really keen to get everyone outside after the speeches to do a photo with all their guests in. So we used the croquet lawn where the grass was really short and not too wet.
5. Get your Ushers working!
Ask your Ushers to be on hand to escort guests under umbrellas as they arrive.
Make sure they’re ready with umbrellas to keep you dry as well.
Give one of them a spare pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting wet that they can bring you for any photos outside. Wellies are perfect!
And really, does a girl need any better excuse to buy some really fabulous wedding shoes? You know, just in case!