Reflections : Photographing a Wedding in the Rain

Being a wedding photographer in California has its perks, namely the weather. Heck, I'll just come out and say I'm spoiled with year-round sunny goodness...with the exception of this month. For some reason, fall hit Californians with unusual rain and everyone had to make last-minute changes to their weddings...except K+J. They decided--regardless of the weather--they were going to have their Pelican Hill wedding outdoors. In the rain.


K+J dreamed of marrying under the Rotunda at Pelican Hill, so their creative team made it work the best we could (special thanks to Katie+Meg of Intertwined Events!). Because we knew it was going to rain, we made proper accommodations in advance. So this is what this post is about: photographing a wedding in the rain. Sure, I've done this only once, but here's a few things I learned along the way for a Reflections Post...


1. Carry what you need (you will not have the luxury of keeping gear off to the side).
It was pouring during the wedding ceremony, but the Rotunda provided just enough protection...and I stood behind a pillar most of the time. I'm a great hider...but my camera? Needs some practice. (pee ess, this is a joke...of the many photos JD captured, this was the only where I'm showing...we've learned to shoot around each other after all these years together!)


2. Buy a collapsable umbrella with a latch/string that can tie easily to the camera bag you're carrying.
Like I mentioned before, I stood behind a pillar so guests couldn't see me, but JD shot from the side for a bit and made sure I was in the frame so I could complain about it later. Ellie (my assistant) stood off to the side in the rain with an extra large umbrella and when I was done in this position, we ran to the end of the aisle for the First Kiss and Recessional.


3. Bring an umbrella holder. Why, yes. Yes, this seems so P. Diddy wannabe, but I can't express how helpful it is to have an assistant. I hired Ellie M. to join me just for the wedding ceremony, but I wish I had her around during the bridal party photos earlier in the day because she provided the latitude I'm used to while shooting. There were times when I had to hold my umbrella, instruct a group during a photo, and photograph simultaneously. While difficult, it's not impossible...but it was SO nice to have someone over my shoulder allowing me to focus simply on shooting.
4. Have a plan of attack. I spoke with the officiant before the wedding ceremony and he told me the ceremony was condensed to six minutes. Yes, you read that right. Because we had a limited amount of time due to the pouring rain, I told JD where I'd stand and what photos, specifically, I needed from him before the First Kiss. We divided out the ceremony and established where we'd stand for the First Kiss and the Recessional. In six minutes, we photographed the wedding ceremony and I'm so proud of how hard JD worked...especially because he held his own umbrella! ;)
5. Be an educator. Most of time, clients will stress out in the rain. I speak with certainty because it rained on MY wedding day. Besides photographing memories, it's important to keep smiling and letting clients know what to expect, where they need to be, and when they need to be there. Bad weather throws a lot of curveballs, so be sure you're a pillar and not a pain.
6. Have a Plan B. And Plan C...and Plan D. Throughout the day, JD and I stayed in contact because things were changing every minute. To avoid stress and miscommunication, we texted every 10-20 minutes to ensure we kept our schedules in sync which in turn kept our clients happy. And happiness is more than I could ask for!

If you have other tips to add that'll help other photographers shoot on a rainy day, feel free to add them in the comment box. Or you can just say hi. I like making friends on the web. HOLLLLLLA!
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Jared Wanzer Photography - I've always thought they should have mini umbrellas that slide onto where the flash goes on the camera :)   01.04.12 - 8:29am
alexandra - HI!  12.07.11 - 8:10am
Tony Sale Photography - Great tips and lovely article, but I shoot in the UK I shoot in rain, wind and cloud most of the time!.   12.01.11 - 8:48am
denise folsom - Are you sure your a latino? You "sound" so "southern" in this article? LOL Really.. thanks for bringing us along...felt like I was sitting in the rain at the wedding with you! :) You are a "hot mess"... funny and fun! love ya!  11.30.11 - 2:12am
Stephanie Lindsay - It rained at every single wedding I photographed this year...  11.29.11 - 3:18pm
cassandra-m - GREAT info~! this light is gorgeous.  11.29.11 - 10:45am
tardy - love seeing the behind the scenes!  11.28.11 - 9:55am
Michelle Feeney - You are such a fantastic story teller. You brought us along for the ride and gave us awesome tips all at the same time. You rock sistah! :)  11.26.11 - 6:16pm
Jamie - Now try shooting in the snow! Rain and cold mix together with -15 temps, now there's the challenge!... Rain, that's nothing!  11.25.11 - 7:18am
Jalene Taylor - Ever shot in the snow?! Welcome to Utah. It's nuts.   11.24.11 - 9:36pm
Mariellen - Definitely hire that assistant... and maybe even a raincover for your camera...  11.24.11 - 9:30pm
Jamela Robledo - Thank you so much for this post! I was shooting a wedding that day too and I was STRESSED! (little did they see) Thanks again for being open!   11.24.11 - 10:48am
Roman - Hello, Jasmine. :)  11.24.11 - 7:04am
Sarah from Miller + Miller - When the drops stop, we always enjoy capturing a moody cloudy sky look, or our couples in front of the surprise amazing sunsets that come after a storm. This summer in Chicago has been incredibly rainy. Great tips Jasmine.  11.24.11 - 6:41am
Cindy Brown | Atlanta Wedding Photojournalism - These photos are awesome. I love the umbrellas. Great use of repetition in the images!  11.23.11 - 8:42pm
Melbourne Wedding Photography - Come to Melbourne - you sound well prepared! We're getting loads of rain on Saturdays at the moment!  11.23.11 - 7:38pm
Denise Prichett - I have yet to get a bride to go outside on purpose for photos in the rain. So I always plan for an inside option well in advance. I prefer cloudy days to sunny, no matter the situation I try to rock it out. This year we had a wedding during a hurricane. The couple were very realistic about things and the coordinator was on top of things if the coast was clear we would exit right if it was raining we exited left to a tiny holding area to wait for the guest to leave the church. I did get lucky and a bit wet on the walk from the church, great shots of the couple under the umbrella kissing and some shots of me in action in the rain without a care in the world from my second shooter. I love being a wedding photographer.  11.23.11 - 6:27pm
Alicia Candelora - Here in the Northeast we aren't quite as privileged as you SoCal peeps. This year, rain and I have become BFF's. Because I didn't want to get all P.Diddy at my first rainy wedding I, on a whim, stuck my umbrella down the back of my shirt, into my bra, and let the "hook" rest just below my belt. This accomplished two things: kept the rain off my camera and ensured that I had perfect posture all day. Now THAT'S what I call efficient!! Been doing it ever since.   11.23.11 - 6:13pm
Shannon Rosan - Photographing in the rain is a BIG challenge. My tip, is a bit...ghetto, but if you don't have someone to hold the umbrella at all times, take a plastic bag and cut a hole in it. It protects just about all of the camera while leaving an opening for the lens and the screen on the back. A bit ugly, but in an utter downpour is better than nothing. Great post, thanks for sharing!!  11.23.11 - 5:33pm
CassieK - Hi!!!!!!!!!  11.23.11 - 1:09pm
Marten Holmes - Living in England I know more about rain than sun (sun gives me problems!). 1) Take lots of umbrellas 2) Don't worry about getting wet. 3) Utilise guests to hold umbrellas. (white and off white) 4) Get towel/chamois to keep over and wipe down camera.  11.23.11 - 12:33pm
Katelyn James - I know it's strange... but I'm actually in favor of rainy wedding days (when the ceremony is indoors:)! The colors are SO much brighter!!! Loved this post! SO thankful it wasn't rainy on 10.10.10!!!  11.23.11 - 12:06pm
Yuliya M. - Hi Jasmine! You rock. I'm so thankful for you!  11.23.11 - 12:03pm
Shayna - You could get one of those sweet umbrella hats. Then your clients might like having you in a few photos just for the laughs!  11.23.11 - 11:30am
John Cruz - Great tips, Jasmine! Being a Vancouver wedding photographer, there is always a good chance you can get rain, and I agree. Assistants are a must, especially for wet weather!  11.23.11 - 10:27am
Lydia Chen Fotography - This reflection resonates with me even more especially because of the wedding I just shot last weekend. It was only my 2nd wedding and boy, a lot of things did NOT go according to plan, and my biggest lesson from this shoot is to just be prepared to roll with the punches. More importantly, I need to learn to NOT stress out. lol Thank you for the post!  11.23.11 - 10:19am
Rachel Marie Photography - I think you nailed it: the key to a successful day in a situation like this is constant communication and definitely having someone assist with an umbrella! Seems like something so simple but im sure it makes a world of difference  11.23.11 - 9:04am
Lisa - Thanks so much for this post! Coming from someone who lives in Seattle, this information is priceless! :)  11.23.11 - 8:57am
Melissa Knowles - Coming from BC, I know exactly how a rainy wedding goes. Thank you so much for the tips! I can't wait to see more images from this special wedding!  11.23.11 - 8:57am
May - It rained on my wedding day too! I wish my photographer had similar tips to appy back then!  11.23.11 - 8:36am
Michelle Lawlor - Hi Jasmine! I'm a big fan of your work! I too have learned that being proactive in bad weather is the best plan. Keep in close contact w/ your bride and stay as positive as you can. Your smile will be contagious to her and will help ease her fears about bad weather. Love the tips you provided and I'd like to add one more: I always keep a plastic grocery or trash bag balled up in the bottom of my camera case just in case we're caught in a downpour. I use a shootsac so everything that I need is at my hip, including the plastic bag! You never can be too prepared when bad weather is a possibility. I also keep rubber golashes in my trunk in case the bride needs to walk across a muddy area. Also, I always encourage completing whatever photos we can at the location they've chosen at the moment, but also offer to step outside for a few moments during the reception if the rain has passed. The light just after a rainstorm can sometimes be just right. Great great post! Looks like you got killer photos despite the rain. :)   11.23.11 - 8:34am
Haley Johnston - So helpful! I also found the shots that JD took with you in them to be cute! I do have a question, during the formal photos did you have the bridal party and the couple stay out of the rain? Did you try and find a structure that was artist and provided protection?  11.23.11 - 8:34am
Yasser - I like to use Kata Products when it comes down to rainy days, weddings you name it! They have a nice selection for element covers http://www.kata-bags.com/product_list/8374.85655.1003290.0.0/Element_Cover   11.23.11 - 8:34am
Martin Hambleton - Working in the UK, rain is possibly more usual than sunshine. But it offers some fabulous creative possibilities, as it reflects light. Puddles act like mirrors or reflectors, offering up all sorts of shots that wouldn't be otherwise available. But you have to work quickly. I think your final three points are very good ones. Keep moving, keep talking, let the couple know you're not phased. Your shots are great, despite the elements. Well done. Oh, one last thing. Absolute essential: keep the bride and groom dry!   11.23.11 - 8:34am
Erin Edmonson - Great post! Thank you so much for sharing.   11.23.11 - 8:31am
Gaby Fuentes { NJ Wedding Photographer } - You lucky California girl. In the East Coast, this was the wettest year ever, and shooting weddings while raining was the norm rather than the exception. I even shot in the middle of a hurricane and a snow storm in October. I will add: bring plastic bags to cover your camera in case of Forrest Gump rain, you know the type of rain that comes in all directions. Bring large plastic bags to cover your camera bag if you have multiple locations, have rain boots, and an extra pair of shoes, and don't forget to smile.   11.23.11 - 8:31am
Emma Gardiner - Now you're qualified to shoot weddings with us over here in Scotland :)  11.23.11 - 8:25am
Carol Kerfoot - Great tips Jasmine! I'm a Vancouver wedding photographer and can relate to shooting in the rain. Sad thing is there are very few outdoor nice covered spots in our area for shooting formals. ( you think there would be more considering the rain we get) I love the clear and red umbrellas GORGEOUS.   11.23.11 - 8:23am
ellie - As stressful as that was, you kept calm, cool and collected and I actually had alot of fun with you guys. Felt like a little girl running in the rain at some points. Love you, I threw out my back so I haven't even stepped into the gym and I feel so bleh. Happy Thanksgiving!!!  11.23.11 - 8:23am
nadya - god this wedding season rain was out to get me!! I had one wedding where it was like a hurricane and the ceremony was set to be outdoors but got moved inside and needless to say the place didnt have much going on inside for bride and groom photos, i had to do all their shots in the reception room @_@ that was so stressful but thank god they loved their photos WHEW! so always have a backup plan for the portraits as well!  11.23.11 - 8:22am
Becky Brown Photography - Interesting post! I've done a few sessions in the rain, but have been lucky so far with outdoor weddings. I'm in Indiana so I don't shoot near as many outdoor as you do. I did pick up a rainsleeve cover for my lens and camera body for like $5 - has saved my gear a couple times and I don't have the balancing skills you do to hold an umbrella and shoot at the same time!  11.23.11 - 8:21am
Abby Grace - Oh wow, it still looks like it was a gorgeous wedding!  11.23.11 - 8:19am
Kristina - living in upstate NY, I've had my share of rainy (and sometimes sleety, snowy) weddings. Two years ago it rained every single Saturday! I remember I only had two weddings the WHOLE season where it didn't rain! Yes there are so many adjustments that need to be made on rainy day weddings, but now you can say you've grown as a photographer and added rainy shooting to your repertoire of expertise. Can't wait to see more photos from this event, it looks fabulous with all the umbrellas!  11.23.11 - 8:17am
Casey Fatchett - Great advice. I always recommend having a disposable 'camera sleeve' - you can get them for $12 because sometimes you don't know when it is going to rain! Especially here in New York. I don't mind getting wet but you have to keep the gear dry. This is also helpful when you have a couple who spontaneously decides they want to run out into the rain for some awesome shots!  11.23.11 - 8:12am
Tony Whitmore - Useful tips thanks! Though six minutes sounds like forever. The wedding I shot in New York was over and done with in less than three! Blink and you missed it!  11.23.11 - 8:09am
Rachel Tatem - Wow! 6 min, I'm sure you did great but that is a tight squeeze.  11.23.11 - 7:33am
LEOLAK - HOLLLAAA!! LOL! I can't wait to see this wedding!!! Looks really cool w/ the guests and the umbrellas...and the rose petals on the ground...from the tease you've shown it looks like you guys rocked it out!!   11.23.11 - 7:31am
Adriana Morett - Great post, and your photos are just beautiful, rain or not. Here in Madrid we are not THAT lucky when it comes to weather... but I have to say I still haven't had a very rainy wedding. Thanks for the advice as always! xoxo  11.23.11 - 7:20am
Anda - Oh, this is SUCH a great post, Jasmine. Especially during May, June and October, we get a lot of rainy weddings in WI. I always feel discombobulated every time no matter what. I love the idea of bringing an assistant along just to hold your umbrella. Seriously brilliant.  11.23.11 - 6:54am
damara - Great thoughts Jasmine! You are lucky with the rain...I live in Vancouver and it rained for 4 of my weddings this year. What do I do...knowing that it is going to rain a lot...pray...for real! ha! I pray for 30 minutes of reprieve from the wetness. I also bring umbrellas and bags for the camera and gear. Laughing is the biggest thing too...I just laugh lots and try to make it fun. Thanks for this!  11.23.11 - 6:45am
Carlise - Great post!! Question: Because of those extreme circumstances with you being seen, especially in the wide pillar shot where you see the tip of your camera, would you keep that for the client and clone your camera out or would you give it to them as is? I know what I would do but would love to hear from a seasoned pro. Thanks so much! :)  11.23.11 - 6:38am
Lynn Demaray - Just wanted to say hi, love your magazine, read it in one night, such in inspiration!! Also love your work and your tips!! This was a great post!!! YOU ROCK!!!  11.23.11 - 6:18am
R. J. Kern - Some believe snow or rain on a wedding day brings good luck, representing cleansing and unity. Great post, J*!... after all, why worry about something you can’t control? Some favorite wedding and engagement images were shot in less-than-ideal-conditions, thanks to creative and photojournalistic opportunities and a "Make it work" philosophy. Snow, wind, rain, cold, just bring it! Here's the link my post inspired by inclement Colorado weather: http://www.kern-photo.com/index.php/2011/02/bad-weather-turned-perfect/  11.23.11 - 5:48am
Carrie K - A 6 minute ceremony!? These people mean bid'ness! I think your ability to communicate with JD is one of your guys' strongest suits as a wedding team. Great tips and pointers. Happy end-of-the-wedding-season! Now, do your happy dance and eat some tofurkey! :)  11.23.11 - 5:43am
Schaffer Photography - Good morning Jasmine :) You must be up really early in CA, it's only 8 am here on the east coast! Great advice!! I love to carry a towel with me too to wipe off any drips just in case anything gets on my camera or lens!  11.23.11 - 5:25am
Brad Halladay - Thanks for sharing Jasmine. Back in my early photography career when I was shooting a lot of sports, I carried rain gear for my camera and lens. Needed it too, because football still goes on in the rain. http://pics.halladayphotography.com/img/v7/p595884537-4.jpg Also wanted to say, when people come to me and ask how to shoot in bright sun, I tell them you need 'open shade' and you need to visit Jasmin Star's blog. Thanks for shooting and sharing!  11.23.11 - 5:13am
Darren - Hi, I think you and the work you do is awesome - Rain or Sunshine. Holllllaaa ;)  11.23.11 - 5:13am
Tara - I can't wait to see some images! I love your attitude and thoughts on shooting in the rain! :) great things to remember!   11.23.11 - 4:50am
corey - J this is a good post I had a session recently in the rain, but I managed to pull it off well when i had the family friend to actually hold the umbrella and follow me as i shot the high schoool senior btw, I love the black and white images in the rain especially when the light reflects off of the street its like magic! thanks again for the timing tips and the pre planning you guys are troopers gettin it in I must say!  11.23.11 - 4:09am
Jill Samter Photography - Great tips and gorgeous photos despite the rain. Have a blessed weekend with your family.  11.23.11 - 4:08am
Camilla Knudsen - Hi jasmine Yes, you are lucky with the california weather. here in denmark half my jobs happen on rainy/foggy days :) I've learned to work with it to create really moody images :) I'm fine with it. the biggest challenge is persuading my brides that the images will be worth more if they 'pretend' its not raining. just go with it. and it usually helps when i'm not minding the weather at all. so yes afterwards i have to home in front of the fireplace