Planning an outdoor wedding can provide the beautiful, natural setting you want for your special day, but betting on the weather to comply can be stressful and potentially disastrous. And when it comes to your wedding photos, shooting outdoors is definitely reliant on the cooperation of nature to some extent. That said, there are definitely steps you can take to get the lighting right and account for weather snafus. Here are a few guidelines to consider.
1. Time it right. When you’re working with natural light, you photos can end up being kind of hit or miss. But with careful planning you can arrange to avoid the worst lighting situations and take advantage of the best opportunities for beautifully illuminated photos. For example, you don’t want to find yourself standing under the direct, noon sunlight – everyone will be squinting in the glare and you’ll all have unattractive shadows on your faces. Early morning and late afternoon tend to be the best times where natural lighting is concerned, so try to arrange it so that your photos fall during this time. Of course, if you have an evening wedding, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of artificial illumination on hand to capture the event.
2. Ignore superstitions. In the course of any given day, you only have so many chances to utilize good lighting. So if it happens that your wedding will take place at sunset, for goodness sake, set aside silly superstitions and do set-ups with the bride, the groom, and the wedding party earlier in the day so you can take advantage of the light (and the fact that no one has yet ruined their makeup with crying. You only get one shot at your special day, so it’s natural to want to pay heed to tradition. But you have to live with the photos for the rest of your life and you don’t want to regret your decision to miss out on the best outdoor lighting simply for the sake of following convention.
3. Have a contingency plan for weather. You never know what the weather will bring, be it sweltering heat, summer storms, or gale force winds. And you need to have a backup plan in place if you want to ensure you still get the wedding snapshots that will last a lifetime. Tents can be a useful commodity when dealing with heat or rain, supposing you have properly weatherproofed options. But what about a windy day? Your best bet here is to find a venue that offers some kind of windbreak, such as a building, a large boulder, or a copse of trees. So long as you consider likely weather issues beforehand, you should be able to compensate and still get great photos.
4. Scout the location. Whether you’re hosting a wedding at the beach, your country club, or a botanical garden, there are likely several potential spots where you could take wedding photos, and it’s a good idea to roam the area before your big day to select a few settings for group photos, pics of the couple, and so on. In addition to beautiful backdrops, you’ll want to look for good lighting, easy access, and areas where wedding guests and the general public won’t be in the background. You might even want to select a location that can accommodate the entire guest list for one massive group shot of everyone attending the event.
5. Hire the right photographer. You should obviously hire someone who has experience with outdoor photography and can offer you appropriate wedding photo ideas that take full advantage of the natural setting. But if you want a day of bliss that is fun and trouble-free, you should probably consult with several professionals beforehand to find one that will make the process easy and relaxed. You’re going to have enough stress on your big day; the last thing you want is some dictatorial photographer treating you like a model at a commercial photo shoot.