How to handle bad weather on your wedding day

April 30, 2019

One of the questions I get most often from my couples is how to handle bad weather at their wedding or elopement. And it’s a fair question to ask when you’re getting married in Colorado! Our weather is unpredictable at the best of times. The day I started writing this post at the end of April, I was sitting on my patio wearing shorts, and when I finished the post two days later I’m tucked under a blanket while it’s snowing outside. (At least it never gets boring.) But here are my best tips for how to handle bad weather on your wedding day!

Bad weather wedding, snowy wedding day, winter elopement in Colorado

What happens if it snows at our wedding?

Snow is a real possibility between the end of September and all the way through May in Colorado. Yep, that’s crazy, but also accurate. The first snow of the year usually falls early in October, and by the middle of October most of our mountain passes are closed because of the snow. This year we had over 500 avalanches over a two-week period in March, which closed down many of the main roads, so traffic and travel are also important to consider.

Luckily snow is also the easiest to deal with of the bad weather scenarios! Snow makes for incredible photos, does not damage cameras the way rain can, and it’s also just straight up fun to play in 😉 But here are a few important things to plan for when there’s a chance it could snow on your wedding day.

  • Wear warm boots/shoes, and make sure your shoes have traction so that you’re not slipping on the snow.
  • Have a thick coat to put on between photos.
  • Stock up on hand and toe warmers, and bring gloves or mittens. Consider wearing nude-colored leggings or high wool socks under your dress.
  • Make sure that all the most important guests and vendors are in the area the day before, if there’s a chance of road closures.

I personally love shooting weddings in the snow, so you won’t hear me complaining. I was raised in Norway on the saying “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” – and I still live by those words!

Lodge at Breckenridge Wedding Photographer, Colorado mountain wedding photographer, bride and groom portraits in rain with clear umbrella

What happens if it rains at our wedding?

While Colorado brags about having over 300 days of sunshine a year, there’s always a chance that you’ll get some bad weather on your wedding day. Spring in Colorado can be very wet, and we get a lot of afternoon rain showers during summer.

Luckily the rain never lasts for long in summer, so chances are you’ll only have to worry about a 15-30 minute rain shower at the most. And there are a couple of things you can do to in advance to make sure you’re not stressed out when it starts raining!

  • Have a flexible timeline. It’s really nice when you’re able to push back the ceremony by half an hour for a rain storm to pass, without worrying about the entire timeline of the wedding day getting messed up.
  • Buy a couple clear or white umbrellas. Get at least two, but preferably enough for your whole wedding party. Dark umbrellas keep the light from your face, so they’re not ideal. 
  • Be okay with getting your shoes and clothes a bit wet and muddy. If you’re really worried about staying clean in the rain, let’s plan on doing all your portraits after the ceremony when you can better relax.
  • Make sure your photographer can handle it. I shoot on weather-sealed Fuji cameras, so I don’t have to worry about rain killing my cameras in the middle of a wedding. When I used to shoot Canon, even the smallest bit of rain could cause condensation in the lenses, and take forever to dry out after.

At this wedding in Aspen, the couple had planned an outdoor dinner reception at the groom’s family’s ranch, with big farm tables and no party tent. Then after three weeks of draught and forest fires, it rained almost the whole day for their wedding. Their wedding planner had to decorate the tables multiple times to avoid everything getting drenched, and luckily it stopped raining in time for everyone to still eat outside. But if that sounds like a nightmare for you, make sure that you have a party tent or indoor venue option, even if it’s just as a backup option.

Red Feather Lakes elopement photographer, Colorado intimate cabin wedding, bride and groom portraits in mountain meadow, hazy light wedding portraits

What happens if it’s too hot on our wedding day?

I know most people wouldn’t consider “too hot” to be “bad weather,” but I’m adding this one in here anyway. I’ve photographed a couple of weddings in 100F/38C and hotter weather, and they’re honestly harder than any of the cold or rainy ones. 

If you’re getting married in Colorado in July or August, temperatures are often uncomfortably high. This is especially true if you’re down in the Denver metro area, where it’s hotter than at higher altitudes. So here are a couple of ways you can handle the heat!

  • Have lots of water available, both for yourselves and your guests. Staying hydrated is key!
  • Schedule most of your portraits for late in the day when the temperatures start dropping, even if it means taking time away from dinner or dancing.
  • Stay out of the sun from 11am-2pm if it’s possible. The Colorado sun is really bright at this time, and you’ll be sweaty before you can get any photos done.
  • Think about the potential heat when you’re shopping for outfits. No guys like wearing a black suit and vest when it’s 110 outside, and I can’t think of a worse torture device than wearing a corset in summer.
  • Plan for shade. Is there anywhere that guests can escape into the shade during cocktail hour? Are there big trees around where you can do photos in the shade?

How to handle bad weather at your wedding

While you never know what kind of weather you’ll get in Colorado, you should now be prepared to handle bad weather on your wedding day! Always remember that you can’t change the weather, but you can change your attitude about the weather. And that’s the best way to have an incredible wedding or elopement, even when it starts raining in the middle of your ceremony. Look your partner in the eyes, and laugh at how there’s nothing like rain or snow to make you feel alive! If you can handle bad weather at your wedding, you can handle anything life throws your way!