Lighting & Weather on your wedding day

I’m confident shooting in dynamic weather conditions. Rain or shine, we will be as prepared as possible to have the best time. Some of my favorite images are created on the rainiest wedding days! As a Seattle wedding photographer, you can’t avoid rain, so I embrace it.  

When choosing your ceremony spot at your venue, it’s important to know where the sun will be at the time of day you are exchanging your vows, so you will have an idea of what to expect for your wedding ceremony photographs. Here are different types of lighting and how they look on camera, as well as some tips for lighting your reception. 

Open Shade

This creates soft even lighting all around. It’s easy to take photos of the processional to the recessional with a cohesive look for the duration of the ceremony. 

This couple chose to say their vows under a structure that provided shade. If didn't, they would have had direct sunlight on their faces, which is harsh bright light as you can see on the exposed steps.

Direct Sun

This is when the sun is shining directly on to you. Have you ever taken a picture while the sun is shining on your face? If you’re not wearing sunglasses it’s hard to see in front of you without squinting. Direct sun lighting is very harsh and high contrast. Your backdrop of your ceremony will be very clear. 

Under a structure that provides shade, there was softer light to photograph their ceremony. This is a great way to combat direct sun.

Indirect and Backlighting

Walking down the aisle the sun will be direct on you, but with the sun behind you during the ceremony and recessional, there can be sun flares and lighting glows from behind you. It’s really dreamy and romantic. This is my favorite for late afternoon and into sunset!

Direct sun walking down aisle for processional, but lighting for ceremony in the afternoon is bright and romantic with the sun behind the couple.

In an open area surrounded by trees, this ceremony took place an hour before sunset. The sun started to set behind them. This provided even lighting for the ceremony photos, and a beautiful sun light glow.


Even soft lighting, with moody skies. Overcast days make it easy to photography a ceremony in a open field, or anywhere that wouldn’t have even lighting on a clear sunny day. Clouds also create a really dynamic sky which can be really epic in the background. 

Overcast day meant this ceremony had even lighting capturing processional to recessional, guests, and the couple all are easily visible, no harsh squinting from a clear day.

Reception Lighting

Once the sun goes down, a well lit reception is going to really make a difference in your reception images. Cafe lights, curtain lights, string lights, candles etc will all create a beautiful glow, and allow you and your guests to still see each other! If your event is outdoors, and uncovered, you will want extra lighting. Indoors, lighting can bounce off of walls and the ceiling. Outdoors there is no where for the light to bounce, and so extra lighting will be extremely helpful! 

During your first dance, and other formal dances, it is best not to have colored or flashing lighting. So ask your DJ or coordinator to refrain from dimming the lights and turning on any lighting effects, until after these events. 

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Photography by Betty Elaine is a Seattle Adventure Wedding and Elopement Photographer in the Pacific Northwest. Servicing weddings throughout Washington and National Parks, including Snoqualmie Pass, Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic Peninsula, North Cascades, and San Juan Island. Betty's professional work features beautiful editorial wedding photography, elopements, and anniversary sessions. Travel is available to other locations outside of the Washington area for local, national, and international wedding photography. As a wedding photographer with a passion for adventure and travel photography, Betty has photographed across the United States, and Europe.