2020 – the year so many of us looked forward to for so many reasons. I bought a diary that had “2020 BEST YEAR EVER” on the cover. Ahem. Was I tempting fait perhaps? The year was so full of promise for so many. Until the news starting reporting of a deadly virus that was reaping havoc in China. I, like many, thought it was media hype. It wouldn’t come the UK, it surely wasn’t going to kill fit and healthy people, it was just like a bad strain on the flu, ah we’ll be fine. How wrong we were.
During March things seemed to start getting serious. I had to think seriously about shoots I had booked and whether or not I would be able to safely carry them out. I started to contact wedding couples whose weddings were booked for April to check if they were still going ahead. Everything was so up in the air and all we seemed to be certain of was, well, uncertainty.
As March turned towards April it was clear we were heading for the UK’s version of lockdown. No social gatherings; people to work from home; pubs and restaurants to close; life as we knew it and everything we took for granted was about to change.
The first wedding that was postponed was due to take place in April at The Ferry House Inn in Kent. This is one of my favourite venues and the couple due to get married were so lovely and we had already built a good relationship. I was so devastated for them as their wedding was effectively postponed not once, but twice. They worked with The Ferry House Inn weddings team to secure a new date for the whole day. The Ferry House Inn team are amazing and worked so hard to re-book and accommodate so many weddings. No mean feat when they are booked so far in advance. The couple were re-booked for December 2020 and I just know that they will have a beautiful, fairy-tale winter wedding. They decided to still get married in May as the bride’s son was already over in the UK from Canada and it was so important to her that he was there. So, a ceremony only was booked – and then sadly cancelled. We were having a taste of things to come.
As April’s go, we were pretty lucky to be in lockdown when the weather was so hot. So, was this a good thing or another kick in the teeth as sunny Saturday’s passed with no weddings to be held? Listen I’ll be honest, I love the sun as much as the next person and will sit in it all day. But its no fun working in the heat. Wedding dress and grooms’ suits are generally not designed to keep you cool. Photography in harsh sun light is a complete nightmare to get right! Guests will all want to seek shade and people will usually be incredibly British and say things like “well you want it to be hot, but this is too hot” whilst they go to the bar for another thirst quencher. So – all those of you who sat in the garden on what would have been your wedding day thinking how unfair it was that the weather was “perfect” I can promise you it would have caused you problems on your wedding day. Small mercies?
Charlotte was due to get married in May. I first met her when she was a bridesmaid at a wedding in Horsham, Sussex I photographed in 2018. When she started planning her wedding she asked me to be her photographer too, which was a real honour. Charlotte emailed me in March to say she was getting more and more concerned about her wedding day. She was speaking to her venue and I naively replied saying “surely we will be fine by May. I can’t see that you will have to cancel when we still have two months to get over this”…….. oh, how wrong can one person be?! Her venue is a family run barn wedding venue in Pyecombe, Sussex and when she contacted them to discuss changing her date she said she had “mixed emotions”. Let’s not trivialise this – Charlotte and her partner had been planning this day for a year and a half. The whole wedding was designed around the month of May and the only other options open to her for 2020 were October or December. We discussed the December option and my biggest concern was timings. You simply cannot keep to the same timings for a December wedding as you can a May one. The light will fade so fast and it is important that things are adjusted accordingly. We worked back from photos outside to ceremony so we can ensure that they would have enough time for bridal portraits and family photos before we totally lost the light.
As with all my brides, I have moved their dates to the new wedding date without question. Any fees paid have just moved across and payment dates for the new day have been adjusted accordingly. Charlotte did consider moving to 2021 as the warm May bank holiday wedding she had planned was what she really wanted. The venue were doing everything they could to help, but as a small, family run business if everything moved to 2021 and beyond there is a chance they just simply would survive. A real factor for so many businesses at this crazy time. So, Charlotte’s wedding will now take place this December, God willing. She has had to send out new invites, re-book the band at a higher cost, and ensure all suppliers were able to accommodate the new date.
She says “I had a roller coaster of emotions but I would say I am not the only one going through this and at least my family are well. I have now accepted a winter wedding and I am sure it will be beautiful”. Charlotte, I promise you it will…….
So, let’s talk about winter weddings. Personally, I love them. Winter weddings are beautiful. Crisp, cold days with the most beautiful light for your photos. Think late, low sunshine for stunning golden hour photos. Think faux fur ruffs to wear to walk in to the venue. Think crackling fires and the warmth of all your friends and family in one place.
Here is my check list for changing from a summer wedding to a winter one –
⦁ Check your ceremony time. A late ceremony in Summer is no issue, but if you have chosen your venue for its stunning location and want photos outside, try to move your ceremony time earlier.
⦁ Look at the venue again and think about where your photos could be taken inside if needed. Check the venue’s social media pages and see ideas from previous winter weddings
⦁ Think about the venue itself – does it have heating? If it is a marquee or you are going total DIY, contact Machine Mart or similar to ask about hiring heaters if your venue doesn’t supply them.
⦁ Request a zoom or skype meeting with your wedding co-ordinator as soon as your new date is discussed. Ask for examples of things they change for a winter wedding if anything
⦁ Make sure you ask about the grounds – if you have chosen the venue for the opportunities to use the grounds, make sure you know if any areas are closed off for winter or if you have specific photos in mind in specific places check you can still access that area
⦁ Think about your dress or suit – does that need to be modified in any way for winter? A faux fur stole, velvet cape or embellished shrug can add a touch of glamour.
⦁ This might sound silly but please go with me on this – ask someone to take a pair of wellies to the venue for you. If you have to cross areas that are not dry, you’ll be glad of them, I promise you.
⦁ Assign a member of your bridal party to come with you for your bridal portraits and carry a coat for you. It’s is a must to have a warm coat to put on between shots while your photographer is setting up the next shot, or you are walking between locations
⦁ Flowers – speak to your florist as soon as you can. The flowers you planned may not be able to be sourced in winter, so thing about what you may need to change. Again, a zoom or skype call can be a really good way to put your mind at rest and have some real fun choosing new flowers for your bouquet and venue decoration.
⦁ Light – aside from the light available for photos, which we have already discussed, how about adding environmentally friendly, safe lighting options around the venue. Pathways with lanterns to light the way, candles (where allowed, always check with your venue) add a real atmospheric element to venue design both inside and outside.
⦁ Umbrellas – and not just for winter weddings either! I have always got three or four wedding umbrellas in the car on wedding days and it is always worth having some in reserve, just in case.
⦁ Welcome drinks…..ok, so lets be honest, who doesn’t love a Pimms or a prosecco at any time of year? But its worth thinking about switching it up to keep your guests warm, how about an option of mulled wine or mulled cider?
⦁ Beauty tip for boys and girls – make sure that first kiss is remembered for all the right reasons….invest in a good lip balm and use it regularly in the run up to the wedding
⦁ Don’t forget your bridesmaids. Have a look at adding a wrap or pashmina to their outfit to ensure they not only look amazing but are warm too!
⦁ Hand warmers. Such a simple thing but your hands will feature in your photos a lot, and blue hands don’t make a frame worthy photo. Get someone to put a bag of these together and take them directly to the venue for you.
⦁ Lastly – coats! Everyone will be wearing them. Where will they be kept? Check with the venue that there is a cloakroom or a place to hang them and a system for people to check them and collect them so the venue isn’t adorned with everyone’s big winter coats.
Above all else – remember this is your day. Do it your way – embrace the winter wedding you are now having. It will be beautiful and a day to remember for ever more.