Winter Weddings – Pros and Cons explained by a Banff Wedding Photographer

Couples come from all over the world to get married in Banff and the majority come in the summer months. It’s not a secret that winter in Canada transforms landscapes but in terms of photography the top wedding photographers in Banff know that the landscape is completely different. For starters, the blues and green hues of the lakes and rivers are gone, frozen and buried in snow. Banff Photographers have to embrace a different colour palate and endure some trying weather conditions. The reward can be pretty amazing though!

Most couples looking to hire one of the top wedding photographers in Banff will expect the photographer to have a good understanding of where the best locations are. Winter Wedding Couples will want snow and ice and expect the scene to look like a Christmas movie. The reality though is quite often weeks will go by without new snow in or around the Town of Banff. The ground can be bare exposing mainly brown grass, and it can be a pretty depressing monotone of mainly browns and grays. Experienced Banff Photographers will know where to go to find snow and how to make the most out of the not ideal conditions.

Banff Wedding Photographer

One of my earliest experiences as a Banff Wedding Photographer taught me a really important lesson about winter wedding photography, namely, have really low expectations for your bride and groom’s ability to “tough it out”. They will be very enthusiastic months ahead when dreaming about their winter wedding. On the actually wedding day though, when it is – 10 degrees Celsius with a strong wind, they will soon decide that 15 minutes of photography is enough. The lure of a warm room and drinks with their guests will be a tough force to fight!

As a Banff Wedding Photographer with years of experience photographing winter weddings I have learned that location planning is the key to success. Another key is explaining ahead of time to the couple how the schedule during winter shoots works. There has to be time allotted to warming up. I try to use locations where I can get the shot set up while the couple stays warm in a vehicle, then get them out at the last minute and only have them out for as long as necessary.

Banff Wedding Photographer

While the landscape changes a lot between summer and winter the biggest overall difference for a Banff Wedding Photographer to keep in mind is the sunset time and sun angles are really different. Depending on where you are in the valley sunset could be as early as 2:30pm! As all Banff Photographers know, your favorite place to shoot in the summer might not be an option in the winter simply because the sun never hits it.

Banff Wedding Photographer

As one of the top wedding photographers in Banff, Alan loves the challenges of a winter weddings and draws from his years of experience to make the process as enjoyable as possible for the couples. Email Alan at email@alanmaudie.com

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Is Banff a Top Destination for Weddings?

While killing some time the other day I searched “Top 10 Wedding Destinations” and as expected a bunch of top 10, 50, 100 type articles popped up.  What surprised me though was that Banff, Alberta wasn’t on any of them.  While I do understand why beach destinations tend to dominate these lists, there were quite a few other non-beach locations listed and no mention of one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations. As a Banff Photographer I thought I would write a short article to outline why I think Banff should make most “top” lists for destination weddings.  For those unfamiliar with the area, the Town of Banff is in Banff National Park in the southwest part of Alberta.

Banff wedding photographer

First off, as all the best Wedding Photographers in Banff know, it is an epic location for photographing weddings.  Waterfalls, mountain tops, meadows, lakes etc.  I have been photographing weddings in Banff for over a decade and on the wedding day I always run out of time before I run out of options.  The hardest thing Banff Photographers deal with is making sure you don’t keep the wedding couple out too long on the portrait session!!

Banff wedding photographer

Banff Photographers never get tired of photographing wedding in the Canadian Rockies because the seasons are so different.  While this is a nice perk for those lucky few who get to work in Banff through all seasons, it is also great for prospective couples because it gives them a few more options.  Winter weddings in the Rockies are completely different than summer weddings, so much so its almost like they are two separate locations.  The summer months bring long days with sunsets at 9-10pm while durning winter months the sun can dip behind the mountains as early as 4:30pm.  Wildflowers in July are beautiful and amazing fall colors arrive by September.

Banff wedding photographer

Guests coming from non-mountain locations always appreciate visiting the area because its so different from what they are used to.  Those American guest visiting from the south get to escape the heat.  Most guests have been to a few beach destinations, so when you plan a beach destination wedding it can be hard to impress guests.

Banff wedding photographer

If you want to impress guests look no farther than the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  Nicknamed “The Castle” it is no wonder so many brides have dreamed of being married there ever since their first visit as a little girl.  The best Wedding Photographers in Banff will be able to incorporate both the exterior and interior of the hotel into your wedding days photos.

The Castle

Banff offers so many options to couples both in terms of landscape and venues and if that isn’t enough you don’t have to look too far for more stunning natural beauty. Banff photographers will have many options for couples within Banff National Park such as Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and even Peyto Lake, which can be reached on the wedding day with some planning.  All of this is an ease one hour drive from Calgary’s International Airport, making it an a simple location to fly into for most North America guests.

Wedding Photo
Alan Maudie is a Banff Wedding Photographer based out of Calgary, Alberta.  He was born and raised in the Canadian Rockies and has a passion for documenting mountain weddings.

When should we do our engagement session? – Calgary Wedding Photographer Alan Maudie answers a common question

I have been a Calgary Wedding Photographer for the past 10+ years and on average shoot around 20 weddings a year.  Most Calgary Wedding Photographers offer an engagement session to couples either as an add-on or part of their coverage.  I try to keep these sessions informal and fun.  Actually, I try to keep all my photography that way, but even more so with engagement sessions where I am often trying to convince the skeptical groom that being photographed can be a good time.  There are some key pointers/suggestions that I make to couples who are planning a session.  For now I’ll talk a bit about the various different seasons of the year and how they work for engagement sessions or any portrait session for that matter.  I realise not all readers are in Calgary or even Alberta, so please keep in mind that this advice is specific this part of the world.

winter engagement session Calgary

I won’t sugar coat it, planning a winter engagement session in Calgary is usually and exercise in patience. There are very few days during the winter where there is fresh snow on the ground but it’s not -20 or snowing sideways.  Some of the best wedding photographers in Calgary know “winter” shoots usually work better in the mountains where snowpack is more consistent and the weather is sometimes a bit more moderate. I spend a lot of time in the mountains and calling me a Banff Wedding Photographer wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.  Some years I do more weddings in the mountains than I do in the city.  I have photographed quite a few winter weddings at Lake Louise and it is usually pretty reliable for snow.  Banff photographers also struggle with a lack of snow at times too, so best to check out the webcams first and make sure there is actually some snow on the ground before driving out.  Having said all that, if you do time a winter session right it can be really amazing, so worth the hassle.

Banff winter engagement session

My favourite two times of the year for engagement session in Calgary are early summer and early fall.  Calgary photographers know that June typically starts off great and ends up wet, so you might not want to plan anything too late into June.  Fall is in my opinion the best time of the year for an engagement session or Family Photography session in Calgary.  As we move into September the light gets better and the fall colour starts to appear.  The season typically peaks around the end of September, when the leaves come down, but October can be really nice too some years.

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My least favourite time of the year in Calgary is April, it is basically really ugly.  The unsung hero though for me is November.  Not every November works out, but more often that not there is a week of weather where the temps are warm and there isn’t much wind.  If you can plan on getting out to do your shoot in the late afternoon there are some perfect sunsets.  It has an amazing California look to it.  Have fun!

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