New York Wedding Photographer | Winter Wedding Photographer | Winter Engagement Photos
Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for the Most Beautiful Winter Engagement Photos
Looking for that dreamy, snow-filled look in your engagement session? Winter engagement photos might be perfect for you—if you’re willing to put up with all the surprises that winter brings.
Winter engagement photos are perfect for couples who love snuggling up by the fireplace, seeing the world blanketed in white, throwing snowballs at each other, and the element of surprise. 4-wheel drive vehicles help, too! Whether you’re planning engagement photos, a snowy proposal, a winter wedding, or anything else in unpredictable weather, you need to be prepared for…well, anything. And if you ARE prepared, you’re about to have a cold, but darn fun time.
As a New York wedding photographer, I often get asked, “Do we have to have our engagement photos done in the same season as our wedding? HECK no! That would mean always planning your engagement photos for exactly one year before, and ain’t nobody got time for dat! People take engagement photos anywhere from 2 years to the day OF their wedding (I’ve done it for elopements), so the answer is that you can do engagement photos whenever you want to. That’s right—there are no rules to follow.
For example: Kellie and Christian are eloping in the Utah desert, so they wanted a completely different look for their engagement photos.
Kellie specifically wanted winter engagement photos on a ski lift or cool frozen attraction, so we decided on the beautiful Minnewaska State Park in New York’s Hudson Valley (where I live for a good chunk of the year when I’m not traveling as a destination wedding photographer).
Sometimes couples are visiting NYC for the holidays, and want to take winter engagement photos while on vacation. That’s what we did for these two Canadians who flew in from Saskatchewan!
Winter Engagement Photos Don’t Always Equal Snowy Engagement Photos!
Something to remember, first and foremost, is that of all the seasons, winter engagement photos are the least predictable. So much depends on what country you’re in, what province/state you’re in, and even where in that state you are at that very moment. Even a “small” state like New York can vary widely just 10 miles away from another location. So, winter engagement photos often don’t mean snowy engagement photos. I typically have snow at my house, while a 15-minute drive away, there’s not a snowflake to be seen. And oftentimes, Denver can be snow-less while the Rockies are covered in feet of the white stuff. Or take Washington, where even in January and February, there’s rain in many parts instead of snow. Even Texas can occasionally get snow, and California…well, there are ALWAYS spots in California where people are swimming under palm trees, and others are snowboarding just a couple hours away.
For Engagement Photos in the Wintertime, Flexibility is Key
So when planning for your snowless, icy, or snowy engagement photos in winter, the most important thing to keep in mind is flexibility. I’ve had to postpone many a winter engagement session due to hazardous driving conditions, and the good thing about engagement sessions (also called e-sessions) is that dates can be changed. Not true with winter weddings, which is why I tend to avoid taking them on. Putting my life or the lives of guests at risk is not a responsibility I want to have, and while most weddings never have to deal with this, I choose not to take winter weddings on.
Now that the un-fun details are out of the way, let’s talk about what’s special and amazing when it comes to snowy engagement photos!
- You can go sledding
- You can be kids again and get into a snowball fight
- You can take photos at winter exhibits, such as the ice castles in Lake George, Canada, etc.
- You can rent an AirBnB and take intimate, cozy photos with hot cocoa by the fireplace
- You can go snowshoeing!
- You can go to places that would normally be swamped with tourists, but come the off season, you have the place to yourself (tourist attractions, national parks, landmarks, etc.)
And then there are some more unique winter engagement photo ideas:
- Ice fishing
- A winter vacation to somewhere the snow isn’t falling!
- Renting a treehouse
- Spending time with snow monkeys in Japan
- Heading into a warm botanical garden
- Rock climbing
- Ice skating in Bryant Park or Pyeto Lake
- Exploring the Katla ice caves in Iceland
- Winter picnic
- Relaxing in a hot tub
- Go to a beach, where no one will be
- Ice climbing
- Seeing the northern lights
There are plenty of fun activities that can only be done during winter, so if the chilly weather is your thing, there are tons of places to go with very few crowds. Most of the National Parks and state parks are still open, but will have a fraction of the visitors.
When planning for your winter engagement photos, there are a few things to keep in mind. Winter looks different everywhere, but if you’re in cold weather, here are winter weather tips!
- Wear more vibrant colors. The landscape will likely be white, grey, or brown, so wearing earth tones, white, or neutral colors isn’t the best option here. Go for bold jewel tones such as emerald, royal purple, red, rust, canary yellow, royal blue, fun flannel, colorful blankets, etc.
- Check the weather to make sure you have the necessary snow tires, emergency tools, shovel, window scraper, salt, etc.
- Bring a change of everything, including shoes. My snow boots ALWAYS seem to have cracks in them, and that cold, wet feeling is not fun. If you’re planning on wearing nice shoes, hike/walk to your photo spot in one pair of shoes, and then change into your dry, clean ones
- Bring accessories such as scarves, hats, jackets, sleds, mittens, and more. A change of clothes (including socks!) is necessary, and you can really have fun with different colored clothing against the snow
- Have FUN! You don’t want to look back on your engagement photos and see you were pouting or having a day full of RBF, do you? No, didn’t think so. Enjoy yourself!
When it comes to snow engagement photos in winter, I advise planning at least 2 different locations and activities, with a little time in between to warm up fingers. Whether client or photographer, you’re probably going to get cold! For my past winter photos, I’ve always used down time (outfit changes or location changes) to warm up in a car or building. And that’s another reason why warm drinks in front of a fire are a great way to end the evening.
Most of my winter engagement photos are done in Northern California, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. But anywhere there’s snow or something of wintery interest, do ‘em! Canada. Patagonia. Japan. Mongolia. Germany. Ireland. Iceland. New Zealand. Norway. Almost anywhere!
No matter what time of year it is, it’s always better to book your engagement session early rather than late. Many photographers head to warmer grounds for the winter (what are we, butterflies?!), so inquire sooner rather than in November.
So there you have it: Tips, tricks, and ideas for winter engagement photos. No matter what or where you end up doing your session, I hope you have a great time, stay warm, and maybe even get lucky with some beautiful falling snow~
Kathryn Cooper Weddings: Winter Weddings | Winter Engagements | New York Wedding Photographer