So the venue is booked and the date is set for your winter wedding in Ireland. I photograph weddings all over the country in all seasons and each time of the year can bring its own unique challenges. Winter weddings though bring some additional issues. All couples need to be aware of these as they will have a direct impact on photography especially if you want any of your photos to be taken during daylight. Hence, I hope it’s useful to have a read through this article for anybody planning a winter wedding in Ireland. I’ve based my advice below on my direct experience of shooting hundreds of Irish weddings.

Winter Wedding in Ireland

Without exception, I want to produce the very best photos possible for all my wedding clients. I will document your day and work according to your schedule and the locations, environment and whatever is thrown at me. If you want, in advance of your wedding I will also offer as much help and advice where possible to you so that you can plan your wedding schedule allowing you to maximise your enjoyment of the day.

Available Light

The most important issue for any Winter Wedding in Ireland is light. Especially for those popular Irish Christmas weddings. This is the darkest time of the year and the reality being is that light levels will most likely be low and it will be dark early. And, I totally get it that if you are planning your wedding in the middle of summer it can be difficult to imagine the darkness and particularly the cold around Christmas time. Ultimately though (aside from the subject matter), photography is all about light, the quality of that light and the direction of the light. Let’s forget the latter and just deal with the availability of light and the quality of it. In a nutshell, around Christmas time it will be dark by 4pm. Sometimes much earlier if it is an overcast day.

As I write this in late November it is 2pm and looking outside right now, it is dry but overcast and too dark for photos as the quality of the light is terrible. This is a typical Irish winter day and it has been like this for most of the past week..! So depending on what your expectations are regarding your photography for a winter wedding, you need to consider doing some or all of the following if you want your bride and groom photos to be taken in daylight:

  • Do a ‘First Look’ before the ceremony. I’ve a separate blog on this – click here.
  • Have a much earlier ceremony – for example most couples aim for 12.30 for mid-winter weddings.
  • If it’s a church ceremony, just have a ‘church wedding ceremony’ as opposed to a ‘wedding mass’. This actually leads to a more intimate ceremony as the focus is on the couple as opposed to the mass.  Priests don’t mind (most actually prefer it) and it can save up to 30 minutes)
  • Skip the receiving line after the ceremony. It will be cold anyway and do you really want to be standing there shaking hands with people at the church door for 30 minutes or more. (Generally it works out at about 20 minutes per 100 people). Most of my couples will skip the receiving line and get the priest or celebrant to inform guests that they will greet everybody at the reception venue instead.

Get your ceremony time right if you are not doing a first look. This is the most important thing you can do.

To explain, it’s best to work with an example. So let’s say you have decided on a 2pm ceremony for your Christmas Winter Wedding in Ireland. Even if the bride shows up at the church on time, the reality is that it will be 2.15pm at the very earliest before the ceremony starts. Assuming it is a full Catholic ceremony with a mass, it will be at least 1 hour before you are married and ready to walk down the aisle as a newly wedded couple. That brings us to 3.15pm. Even if you have already decided to skip the receiving line and it’s possible that your photos can be done on the church grounds or a park right beside the church, if its an overcast day – it’s already most likely too dark for photos…. The only way you will get away with it is if we are lucky enough to have clear skies on the day. However, the reality is that the chances of that in Ireland in winter time are remote. Is this something that you wish to gamble with for your wedding photos? In the middle of winter, the reality is that you need an earlier ceremony. 2pm is generally way too late particularly if there is a church ceremony involved. You need to be looking at least at a 1pm ceremony for a church wedding.

If you are having a civil ceremony you should be ok for a 2pm ceremony as these ceremonies only tend to be 20 or 30 minutes long and held in the reception venue. So no travel involved meaning that straight after the ceremony we generally just need to step outside and immediately start on your photos before we loose the light.

It will be cold..!

It’s winter so one thing is guaranteed, it will be cold outside. I never need a long time for your photos anyway, but for winter weddings our time outside is limited as there is only so much cold that a bride is going to tolerate. And rightly so..! Have wraps, shawls etc on standby to help keep you warm. Have sneakers handy in the wedding car as an option for putting on under the dress to help you walk faster (and keep those wedding shoes clean). Have a bridesmaid with you for your photoshoot so she can help with the dress, bouquet, shawls etc… Having that extra pair of hands means that we can work faster and get you back inside…!

Those Sunsets…!

On the upside to all the above, sometimes we can get amazing light during the winter months and this is why I love winter weddings.
Just spend as little as 30 seconds scrolling through my portfolio and you will see that I love my sunset shots. We can get spectacular sunsets in December and surrounding winter months and this is the one thing that I love about winter weddings in Ireland. If we are lucky enough to be in a location that works and everything lines up on the day, I will always try and aim for some sunset shots. It only takes a few minutes and everything happens very quickly as the sun sets quite fast. Therefore, it’s just a few minutes outside in the cold to achieve some amazing photos. Happy days..!

Every Winter Wedding in Ireland is different though and a schedule that will not work for one wedding may easily work for another. It’s always best to discuss with your photographer your planned schedule for your day before you set everything in stone. Particularly your ceremony time.

An experienced photographer will know what will work and what won’t and will be able to advise accordingly.