Dealing with Inclement Weather at Your Session or Elopement

July 14, 2021

Is the forecast not looking so great for your session or elopement? Thanks, PNW. Or maybe you’re not sure what the forecast looks like quite yet, but you’re stressed about weather possibilities. I get it! I’ve had a couple of my own plans go awry this year thanks to inclement weather (hello, Rainier summits), and let me tell you, it’s NOT fun if you’re not prepared for it. 

I get asked a lot by my clients about “what we’ll do if the weather is bad.” Because let’s face it, we don’t exactly live in the sunniest, most tropical area – the PNW is filled with unpredictable weather and, well, lots of cloudy skies. Alllll the time, all year-round.

inclement weather in the PNW

Whether you’ve been dreaming of golden hour or you didn’t really care what the lighting looked like, bad weather can always be disappointing if you weren’t prepared for it. This is why today, I wanted to talk to you about why bad weather isn’t necessarily bad, and give you tips on how to prepare for different kinds of weather!

These will obviously differ for sessions versus elopements, as sessions can usually be rescheduled, whereas elopements/weddings really can’t be. So keep that in mind as I go through my top tips on how to plan + prepare for inclement weather!

Why “bad” weather isn’t always bad

Before we get into how to plan for certain weather scenarios, I want to reassure you first that what you may think is “bad” weather – rain, snow, wind, etc. – really ISN’T always bad!

I get it – you might have been dreaming of a session at golden hour, or saying your vows in front of the setting sun. The *worst* thing that can happen is that you go in with your mind set on that specific scenario, only for it to be cloudy, and then allow that to ruin your day. Nahhh – no ruining days because of weather over here!

Couple piggy back ride iWashington state wedding

If you know me or anything about my business, you probably know that I’m an adventure lover. I know that sounds cheesy as heck and super cliche, but I am – I love the spontaneity that adventure sessions + elopements offer. I’m great at being flexible and adapting to different scenarios, so I want you to be, too!

couple on hillside

In my opinion, part of the adventure is adapting to whatever comes at you: in this case, it might be bad weather. If you allow yourselves to embrace it and make the absolute best out of it, it’ll only make your day more memorable. It’ll only be “bad” weather if you let it!

Preparing + planning ahead

Let’s go over a few of the biggest ways you can be prepared for any kind of weather, in case the forecast is looking pretty variable or unpredictable.

Go in flexible

The biggest one: go into it flexibly. Go into your session or elopement day not with your mindset in stone on what you want, but rather open-minded to whatever may happen. Be ready to go with the flow, whether that be a road closure, a rainstorm, things running behind, etc. 

couple standing on beach

If you go into your session/elopement ready to adapt and let the day go how it may, you’ll be ready to embrace anything that comes at ya!

Weather Underground app

From a practical standpoint, you can be prepared by downloading + looking at the Weather Underground app! This is the app I use before any of my sessions, elopements, hikes, or climbs to check an accurate weather forecast + radar map. 

couple standing in the snow

At Kristi & Kyle’s rainy mountain elopement at Mount Rainier, I had to use the app to find a few minutes without rain so they could say their vows + grab some photos by the river!

It’s a super useful app to track the current weather around you. And you can use it to check the forecast a few days before your session/elopement to plan as accurately as possible!

Prep different outfits

The last of my general tips is to prepare different outfits (for sessions, not necessarily elopements)! I always tell my couples to bring a couple of different outfits that we can play around with – check out My Top 3 Tips for Your PNW Adventure Photoshoot Outfits

couple walking

And this is great not only for variety in your photos + different outfit vibes, but also for different weather scenarios. Bring a few layers if it might be cold – jackets, scarves, different shoes, socks, etc. And bring a couple options for pants – shorts, capris, pants, etc. This will be super helpful if the weather gets colder as your session goes on, or if it ends up being a little different weather than you planned!

How to plan for different types of inclement weather

Now, let’s go through some more specific types on how to plan for different weather scenarios we may come across! 

Rain

This is the most common one couples are concerned about, clearly, since we’re in the PNW (and I’m specifically near Seattle). If the forecast is lookin’ rainy on the day of your session or elopement, don’t fret! I’ve shot a TON of times in the rain, again, since I live in a rainy AF area, so I’m super experienced with rainy sessions. And rain can be awesome for a unique session, as long as you have a great mindset about it!

couple walking in rain

If the weather is looking unpredictable, only possibly rainy, or off-and-on rain, using the Weather Underground app will be super useful to us. We can monitor the forecast for breaks in the rain and use those times to take photos, and take cover in our cars when the rain comes down. 

couple kissing in rain

Rain also allows you to add a cute prop to your session: clear umbrellas! Holding clear umbrellas above you during your session can 1) protect you from the rain (duh), 2) add a fun accessory to your photos, and 3) help demonstrate the rainy vibe of your session in your photos. You can get some for pretty cheap here on Amazon. Bring them along to your session and we’ll use them for some super moody photos & make super fun use of the rain coming down!

Finally, if the rain is pouring at one location but not another nearby, we can always switch locations for a session! Obviously for elopements this may be harder, but still isn’t out of the question if it’s planned enough in advance (or super early on the day-of).

We can find a new location in a nearby area if the sky is clearer somewhere else, or switch locations ahead of time if the forecast is calling for rain pretty far in advance of your session date! Having a backup plan is key so that we’re coming into the session/elopement prepared for whatever we might need to do.

Snow

If you’re having a winter session, you might end up with some snow at your session or elopement! Or even if it’s the spring or fall, but you’re going into the mountains, you might find snow there too.

couple walking in the snow

This might be obvious, but it’s super important to dress warmly if it’s going to be snowy (or cold enough to snow). We don’t want you to be freezing your butt off during your session/elopement because you didn’t wear enough layers! Trust me, you won’t be able to fully enjoy the time with your partner, or fully be yourselves, if you’re cold AF because you thought your short skirt would be cuter than long pants. Staying warm is a priority when picking outfits for a snowy session!

couple embracing in the snow

Waterproof footwear is a key part of staying warm on a snowy day. If you show up to a snowy area with thin shoes, or footwear that isn’t great when it’s wet, the freezing snow is going to get into your shoes and make your feet cold in no time. Wear a pair of waterproof boots that might not be the cutest, but that will protect your skin while you walk through the snow and won’t leave you miserable!

couple standing in the snow

Hand + foot warmers are a fave item of mine to pack on cold days. Bring along some hand and/or foot warmers to use while we’re walking to your location, in between photos, etc.

couple being playful in the snow

And finally, layer up with scarfs, hats, & jackets! Staying warm is much easier when you bring along accessories like gloves, scarfs, & hats as well as jackets that you can layer up, and wear while we’re not shooting. And cute jackets can help add lots of variety to your photos in a simple way! 

Never be afraid to ask me for a break, too. If we have our cars nearby, we can take breaks to heat up and get out of the cold. None of us will have fun if we’re too cold to smile or walk around!

Clouds/overcast sky

This is obviously another one we get suuuper often in the PNW. So it’s just not smart for us to plan only for a golden hour session, without preparing for the possibility of clouds/an overcast sky for your session or elopement.

couple walking on beach

I actually love me some overcast, gray skies because they created the softest, most beautiful light! Golden hour is awesome for that magical golden light, and sunlight is great for a blue sky, but bright sun can often create unflattering shadows. With overcast skies, the lighting is super even & soft everywhere, so we won’t need to worry about the sun blinding you or making weird shadows from the trees on your faces!

couple embracing on beach

For overcast days, I always suggest shooting earlier in the day. This is simply because since the sun isn’t out, the sky will get darker faster & earlier than if there were a nice sunset that happened over time. Instead of shooting around golden hour and sunset time, I’ll suggest we shoot earlier in the afternoon – and plus, we won’t have to worry about harsh shadows from the midday sun because it’ll be cloudy all day, everywhere!

Wind

Finally, let’s talk real quick about wind! Wind can definitely feel stressful to some folks, especially if you spent time doing your hair up all nice for your session or elopement. But trust me: wind can be so dang stunning in photos!

couple embracing on beach

Instead of having flat air without any movement happening naturally around you, wind creates cool movement that adds so much to photos. It’ll create natural movement in your hair, dresses, loose shirts, etc. that adds extra beauty + variety to what could otherwise be a more flat image.

couple embracing on hillside

I also overshoot all the time (meaning I take way more photos than needed) to make sure we get the perfect images!

I honestly really love the way wind moves hair around in photos – it creates a whimsical, adventurous vibe and adds another way you can embrace the weather around you + go with the flow. Never be scared of wind – it’ll only add to your images!

Rescheduling options

Whew! Now that I’ve gone through my top tips for dealing with, planning for, & making the best out of inclement weather, let’s talk about more severe weather.

couple kissing in rain

If the weather situation is too dangerous for us to be outside (etc. a huge windstorm/rainstorm that would be unsafe to be in), we’ll reschedule. Or maybe we’re shooting at the beach and the tides are super high due to a storm, and aren’t safe for us to truly explore in.

My rescheduling policy is lenient, especially for weather-related situations, so we’ll always figure out a way to reschedule if needed!

woman hair being blown by the wind

Want some real-life inspiration from sessions/elopements in different weather scenarios? Check out these galleries below!

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