Tips for Choosing an Outdoor Wedding Location

Over the past few years I have photographed several outdoor weddings and although they have all been beautiful weddings, there have been some situations the bride and groom may have wanted to consider. These considerations are not only meant to make everyone more comfortable, but also to provide the bride and groom with beautifully lit images.

1) Keep Cool

Lets face it. California can get pretty hot at the end of spring and throughout the summer. If you plan to have an outdoor wedding ceremony at high noon in the middle of July be kind to your guests. Look for a wedding venue that provides lots of shade. Also avoid sitting your guests over a concrete surface. A concrete surface being hit with direct sunlight will reflect and create a hotter experience for your guests. This applies to the bride and groom. I know it may seem romantic having your ceremony on a stage for everyone to see, but maybe not with the sun directly above. No need for the bride and groom to start sweating heavily at the beginning of the day. Especially if you plan to have your formal photos directly after the ceremony. No need to have sweaty face in your wedding portraits. If you are dead set on having your ceremony in open sunlight, in the middle of the day, ask your photographer if he/she will retouch the photos. If retouching is not included in the wedding package you have chosen make sure to ask how much the additional charge would be.


2) Direct Sun vs. Shade

Unless you plan to have your wedding ceremony at the end of the day, consider how your photos will look if you plan to stand in direct sunlight versus standing in the shade. We have already discussed using shady areas to keep cool, but shade will also be your friend in providing visually pleasing photos. When the sun is located straight above (noon) it will simultaneously create harsh shadows and highlights on the subjects. However, placing the subject in the shade will help create beautiful, even lighting. Take a look at the difference between these to photos below.

Wedding ceremony in direct sunlight
Formal wedding photo in the shade

Although the first image has been edited, you can still see that parts of the face are highlighted while other parts are covered in shade. The second image was taken in the shade and required less editing due to the even lighting. Having constant, even lighting throughout your wedding not only helps in creating consistent imagery, but it also helps in reducing the amount of editing required for each image so that your photographer can deliver your photos faster.


3) Best Time

Best time for any ceremony and to take photos are the last two hours before sunset. This is what photographers call the “Golden Hour”. Not only will the weather be cooler, but it will not matter if the ceremony and guests are placed in direct sunlight or the shade. The weather will feel comfortable and all the photos will have an even golden light. Also, if timed correctly, sunset/formal photos can be taken immediately after the ceremony. If planning to have sunset photos, this will help with the wedding timeline. Instead of taking formal photos after the ceremony and then leaving the reception for sunset photos, all photos can be done at once. Take a look at the below photos that were taken one to two hours before sunset.

Tannenbaum Event Center – Reno, NV
Alta Sierra Country Club – Grass Valley, Calif.

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