wedding photography in the rain umbrella and back light

Wedding Photography in the Rain (Challenges and Solutions)

Here’s the deal with wedding photography in the rain. No one is an expert at it because no one would choose to do it all the time. While it can be fun to get creative with some inclement weather shots and fun lighting, some complications come with shooting a wedding in the rain so let’s talk through some of the problems and solutions.

Most of the time, if you’re shooting wedding photos in the rain it’s because it was supposed to be an outdoor wedding. No one plans on a rainy wedding day but rainy wedding days happen even when the forecast calls for sun. The key is turning the challenges into opportunities with the skills, techniques, and mindset we’re about to discuss.

If you’re new to wedding photography, check out our post on how to start a wedding photography business or these wedding photography tips for beginners. In the meantime, let’s talk about how a wedding photographer can prepare for wedding day rain.

*Updated post!

Outline for Wedding Photography in the Rain

  1. Having a plan and coming up with solutions
  2. Keeping a positive attitude around shooting in the rain
  3. Making the best of the situation by having the necessary skills
  4. How to be prepared
  5. Incorporating the rain into the story of the day in your images

when it was supposed to be an outdoor wedding and now you’re taking wedding photos in the rain

This I know from experience. It rained on our wedding day and getting married outside by the river with the wildflowers had been our dream. But let’s get real, we weren’t going to make our guests eat dinner outside cold and wet and in the dark. However, if we didn’t have an outdoor wedding rain plan we would have had soggy guests, and yes we’ve seen that happen as photographers.

However, we still wanted our photos to capture the landscape and location we chose for our wedding. While we had an indoor back-up plan, it wasn’t at all what we imagined or wanted. I wish our photographer would have recognized that.

When it was supposed to be an outdoor wedding, the couple likely wants some outdoor pictures. That means you should probably encourage and support making that happen. There are a lot of ways to get creative and use the rain to your advantage in your images.

Outdoor Wedding Rain Plan Ideas and Solutions

Below is a list of outdoor wedding rain plan ideas and solutions that you can use to see how prepared you are as a wedding photographer.

  • Does the venue have a backup rain plan location for the big day? Is it flexible in case of things changing all day long?
  • Does your couple or the planner have clear umbrellas? We keep two clear umbrellas in our car for portraits of the couple but guests might need them too.
  • How much room in your timeline do you have to move things around a bit? Can you shift the cocktail hour or pre-ceremony buffer time?
  • Are all the vendors on the same page?
  • Are you experienced with shooting weddings in the rain? You might need more tools in your toolbelt than relying on natural light portraits.
  • Is the bride and her bridal party worried about getting her dress dirty?
  • Did you pack your storm jacket in your car?
  • Can you keep a positive attitude?
  • Can you pose a couple with an umbrella or quick poses to be efficient?

attitude is everything so be excited for photos in the rain

If as a photographer you keep a positive attitude and remain optimistic about the rain it will help your couples keep things in perspective. Then the rain becomes part of the story and part of the adventure instead of being the thing that ruined the day. Your attitude is contagious so even if you’re freaking out in the back room.

Show your couple that you’re going to make the best of their wedding photos in rain.

The best way to be in the position to convince your couple of this is to have some tools available to make the best of things. Have umbrellas and rain jackets or alternative location ideas. Download a weather app.

Watch the sky and be ready for a weather window. But don’t stop shooting. You don’t know what the weather is going to do so shoot in the rain, shoot when the sun comes out, focus on staying present and telling the story no matter what that story turns out to be.

making the best of wedding photography rain with your photography skills

While rain can mean cold, wet, and uncomfortable it can also mean fun and adventure. You just have to have some ideas and a plan to deal with the challenges of rain. Look online for inspiration or practice on a rainy day alone.

The main thing is to have a plan for how you’re going to capture great portraits if it’s raining.

photography skills for shooting in the rain

Here are some of the ways you can make the best of wedding photography rain.

  • Backlight the raindrops with a flash – makes for a cool effect
  • Use an umbrella – keeps the couple dry and makes for a fun prop
  • Explore reflections – get creative
  • Play with shutter speed and depth of field – can you make the raindrops streak? can you shoot through glass with drops? play!
  • Enjoy the colors and soft light – a rainy day does have some advantages, use them

Check out this love is in the air umbrella! So fun!

be prepared for photos in the rain

To be in the position to make the best of things, it helps to be prepared. Choose a plan over stress. This might mean making sure you have an umbrella in the car and a doppler downloaded on your phone. It also means getting flexible with the schedule.

In Colorado, and many other places, rain can pass quickly so it’s worth keeping your hopes up for a weather window. Having enough breathing room and flexibility in the timeline allows you to adjust as needed.

We’ve had a handful of weddings where waiting ten minutes allows us to stick with the plan for an outdoor ceremony. Other times, it’s dumping rain and you have to use an indoor or covered backup plan.

As for gear, don’t let worrying about your gear get in your way or add stress to your life. We’ve shot in all kinds of conditions. It helps to have gear that you can trust and rely on.

We love the Shimoda backpacks because they’re waterproof and we’re not worried about setting them down anywhere. It never hurts to own a solid rain jacket, my most expensive clothing that is the best investment ever. This is a time to use your lens hoods and have a lens cloths handy.

great wedding photography in the rain tells the story

Wedding days are not about perfection. They aren’t about pretending. They are about celebrating love, true love.

Love matters rain or shine. Rain is just part of the adventure and the story of the day. So tell that story.

Show the couple running through the rain, show the crowd with their umbrellas, and reap the rewards. Rewards? More about that in a minute.

We photograph a lot of outdoor and mountain weddings which means we’ve dealt with cold, wind, rain, snow, and more. The elements add an extra challenge for the couple and us. And at the same time, the crazier the day the more memorable it is.

Most of the brides we work with aren’t afraid to get their dress dirty or their hair wet. They are just overjoyed to be celebrating their wedding day and the adventure makes it that much better. They will never forget running through the rain laughing and smiling.

reap the rewards of photos in the rain

What do I mean by rewards?

Well, after the rain comes the rainbow or the epic sunset. There’s nothing better than the adventure of rain followed by rainbows and sunsets and the joy that such things can inspire. I’ve never had everyone be more supportive of stopping the events in the middle to run out and get a picture with a rainbow.

Rainbows and sunsets make everyone happy. They feel lucky and they bring joy. They also make for epic photos to help show the ups and downs of the crazy adventure that is a wedding.

There are rewards to making the best of the rain. It’s best to never give up and it’s important to celebrate when you are treated for your patience. As photographers, we love the excitement that comes with interesting weather. An epic photo never happens on a boring day! You do have to convince your couple that there can be benefits to going with the flow and being flexible.

summary: wedding photography in the rain

Let’s review some of the skills we learned in this article for how to deal with rain at an outdoor wedding. Photography in the rain can be a challenge, but it can also be an opportunity. The more you practice taking photos in the rain the more you’ll be prepared ahead of time for that exact moment.

Then, the images are captured forever! Raindrops and all! Check the weather in the morning and then deal with it if it rains at the moment, not only wonderful portraits but the details of the craziness can be seen through your lens!

skills you need for photographing a wedding in the rain

  1. Be excited (attitude is everything
  2. Make the best of things
  3. Backlight the raindrops with a flash (use a light stand)
  4. Use an umbrella
  5. Explore reflections
  6. Play with shutter speed and depth of field
  7. Enjoy the colors and soft light
  8. Be prepared
  9. Be flexible with the schedule
  10. Use a doppler and wait for it to pass
  11. Tell the story
  12. Reap the rewards

One last thing, have fun (and cover your camera gear if it’s really pouring!)

Hope you enjoyed these tips for shooting wedding photography in the rain. Yes, there are challenges but as we discussed there are also solutions and there are absolutely rewards. Be prepared to reap those rewards with a few skills in your toolbelt and reliable gear.

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We are Marc and Brenda Bergreen, a husband and wife photography team specializing in outdoor weddings and other adventures. Capturing people in nature and the mountain lifestyle is a passion that became a dream that became a life.

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Based in Evergreen, CO we travel throughout the state to Breck, Vail, and Rocky Mountain as Colorado adventure wedding photographers and videographers. We also frequently travel to California and other wedding destinations to document love and adventure in a variety of memorable settings. Don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know how we can help! Be sure to follow us (weddings instagram & adventures instagram) and/or like us (facebook) to stay tuned.

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