Inspiration for your Winter Wedding

Winter Engagement Photos- The Couple + Photographer Perspectives

December 15, 2015

Are you tossing around the idea of taking your engagement photos this winter? Not sure if the beautiful snow covered pine trees are worth the cold? We have spoken with Kyle and Kori, a couple who took advantage of our beautiful winters, and their photographer Jen Jensen of PS 139 Photography. Below you will find both perspectives to a winter engagement shoot- the couple and their photographer.

ashland wi photographer bessemer mi-4802Photographer: PS 139 Photography

The Couple – Kyle + Kori

Tell us a little about yourselves and your engagement photo session.
Kyle is originally from the UP and I am from Wisconsin. Since I have come to love winter activities because of all he has introduced me to, we decided that winter engagement photos were the right thing for us. We gave Jen, of PS 139 Photography, the instruction that we wanted a rustic, woodsy shoot and she choose the perfect location for us in Ashland.

What were some of the advantages of taking your engagement photos in the winter?
Advantages of a winter photo shoot are that crisp white snow makes a beautiful background. In addition to photos of us, Jen captured a couple of pictures of my engagement ring in the snow and the way it sparkled was amazing! Additionally, since we knew that we would be getting married in the fall it is a nice way to have contrast between your engagement photo and wedding photo environments. Lastly, we knew what clothing we wanted to wear for our engagement photos, including boots and Kromers, so they were best for a winter shoot!

What were some of the disadvantages of winter engagement photos?
The disadvantage to a winter shoot is it can be VERY cold! Our photos were taken when it was only 11 degrees outside and since I did not want us to wear coats we had to take breaks during the shoot to get in our vehicle to warm up. This also meant that in some of our shots we had red noses, thank goodness for Photoshop!

What would you recommend to future couples looking to get their engagement photos taken in the winter?
If couples are thinking of doing their photos in the winter I would suggest that they find clothes that they can layer and also be able to wear long underwear underneath. Kyle learned quickly that my suggestion of putting long underwear under his jeans would have been a good idea, since he decided not to take my suggestion he was definitely colder than I was. When taking all engagement photos have a plan with your photographer of what type of photos you would like them to capture. If you want any specific props included, locations or poses let them know in advance. This is especially important when you are working quickly in cold weather, you won’t want to spend too much time outside discussing what you wanted to capture. And most importantly have fun with it! The more relaxed you are and the more willing you are to interact with each other like you aren’t being photographed the better your photos will be.

ashland wi photographer bessemer mi-4781Photographer: PS 139 Photography

The Photographer – Jen Jensen of PS 139 Photography

What are some of your favorite settings/props for winter engagement shoots?
I look for locations first with great light! Then with untouched snow—I want it to look like my couple was the first and only people in that setting after it snowed. Beautiful backdrops would include birch trees mixed in with pines, pines with lots of snow on the branches, dark branches of any kind of tree or foliage to contrast the snow. I especially love the look of an open unending road meeting the sky with trees or forest on both sides! One location I have permission to use and use often (including Kori and Kyle’s engagement session) has a mix of everything including pathways, cut logs and usually some round hay bales. I also love the opening of any kind of structure too, like a barn, shed, porch or even a grove of trees! I’m not too big into props but I like to use the natural props in our surroundings. Sometimes though I’ll bring my wood box or in this case a quilt because it was SO cold that day!

 ashland wi photographer bessemer mi-4941
Photographer: PS 139 Photography

How long are you typically outside for? Anything special you have to do with your equipment in the cold?
We stay out as long as we can stand it! Oftentimes I’m in snowpants (because I always end up kneeling in the snow) and have layers on and handwarmers in my gloves and boots. I suggest and encourage my clients to do layers and use handwarmers to their advantage but often they don’t realize how cold it’s going to be and just want to look cute without the bulk. If the couple finds themselves getting very cold, we spend just little moments outside and get back into vehicles to warm up. One winter engagement session I brought along a thermos of hot chocolate with mugs that say “Love” on them, layered blankets on the snow and shot pictures of the groom-to-be pouring hot chocolate for his bride-to-be and the couple sharing the warmth of those mugs together. The steam was fun to have in the shots as well as the fun of the marshmallows!

My equipment can handle the cold quite well but I do have to keep my extra camera battery in my front jeans pocket or near a hand warmer so that it can be switched out when the camera starts to slow down from the battery being too cold.

Is it more difficult to shoot in the winter such as glares from ice and snow?
I actually find the snow fun to shoot in and a great natural reflector. The snow bounces light up into the clients’ faces so there’s no need for me to bring an artificial reflector or even bump my exposure as high as I would in the warmer months with green grass, leaf covered or dirt roads. Some photographers will fear shooting in snow because they find it hard to not have the snow come out with a blue color cast or looking too gray but if you set your white balance correctly there’s no need to worry!

What are a few advantages to winter engagement shoots for you and your clients?
Some advantages of winter engagements would be: shooting a totally different season than their wedding. I do quite a few destination weddings for couples that travel to Madeline Island or Bayfield for their summer or fall weddings. This gives them a good opportunity to check out their venue or meet with other vendors while they are here for the engagement session. Also, it’s a much slower time for me and for my clients so it’s a little easier to schedule a date and have fun getting to know each other before the wedding day!


The Bayfield area is absolutely beautiful all year long, especially in the winter. There are plenty of hidden places your photographer would be able to take you! If the ice caves are open you have endless opportunities for stunning and unique engagement photos. To see local engagements and engagement photo inspirations take a look at our Pinterest boards. You can see more of PS 139 Photography‘s work on their website or Facebook page.

A Bayfield Ice Road Wedding

October 30, 2015

Married on a frozen Lake Superior – now that is a winter wedding!

Every year the channel separating Bayfield and Madeline Island freezes over, becoming thick enough to drive back and forth on. Locals plow and sand the route, creating a way to get back and forth. Ryan, who grew up in Bayfield, and Shui, his bride, have a love for Lake Superior and decided to take full advantage of the Ice Road in a completely unique way! Read about their wedding and how they went about getting married in the middle of winter out on the beautiful ice in Bayfield.

IMG_7027-LImage by Riverstone Photography

Ryan and Shui had an outdoor winter ceremony on February 28, 2015 on the Lake Superior Ice Road between Bayfield and Madeline Island. A small, intimate ceremony is exactly what this couple had in mind. With 12 in-person guests and family Facetiming from China, they had their unique ceremony on Lake Superior. Ryan has family in Bayfield and always loved Lake Superior. Shui’s name actually translates to water – so it was no surprise that they wanted to incorporate Lake Superior into their ceremony.

Around two weeks before their wedding date, Ryan’s mother made the suggestion of getting married on the Ice Road. Since they were planning on having a small, quick ceremony they knew this could work! They found a spot on the Ice Road where they could be out of the way of traffic and set up an arch. Everything fell together perfectly and they had the unique wedding they were hoping for. Following their ceremony they quickly bundled up and had a small reception at Ryan’s parents’ house. Then this past August they had a large reception at the Bayfield Lakeside Pavilion.


Image by Riverstone Photography

To prepare for an outdoor winter wedding, the couple made sure to dress in many layers. February 28 ended up being quite a cold day, but that didn’t stop any of their guests from celebrating with them. Their plan B if it was too cold or if the Ice Road wasn’t open was to either go to one of the Bayfield marinas or Ryan’s parents’ property. Either option would still keep them outside and near the water – like they wanted. For any couple looking to get married outside in the winter, they would recommend to dress very warm and to stress to your guests that it can get very, very cold out on the ice. Ryan and Shui also agree that an outdoor winter wedding is easiest when the ceremony is quick and the guest list is short, in case plans need to be changed last minute.

Ryan and Shui are very happy with how their wedding turned out. They said their guests were excited to attend the unique ceremony and everyone had a really fun time. Not many people can say they were married on the ice of Lake Superior or even attended a wedding out on the ice! If their story has inspired you to take advantage of the Ice Road for your own wedding, please visit here to learn more about the Ice Road.