Wedding Photography Finland
This awesome snowy winter wedding shoot set in gorgeous Lapland was a dream destination wedding. Much more than just boarding a plane and shooting a wedding in the snow, there were many, many hours of research, deliberation and planning undertaken to capture this wedding. (Take a look at my technical blog on preparing for an arctic wedding shoot. Great for insight to understand how this wedding shoot was amalgamated and also ‘good to know’ tips for other photographers shooting in extreme cold and snow-driven conditions).
Shooting in and around Levi, Lapland, there would be just 3 hours of daylight during Carlen and Nick’s wedding day. In the Arctic circle at this time of year, the sun never fully rises but sits just below the horizon line (December through to mid January). It is the darkest part of the year but it is so magical! And It would be very cold, around -30 to -45 degrees. It is however a time of year, on a clear, blue starry night when you might witness vivid sightings of the Northern lights.
On the day of the wedding we woke up into darkness. We met Carlen and Nick at their amazing open plan log cabin (first photo below). As we arrived, they were lounging around on big sofas in t-shirts and joggers, still eating their breakfast. There was a roaring log fire in the centre of the cabin and other wedding guests milling around, drinking a few cheeky beers. The couple were opening their wedding day cards and reading their greetings together. This wedding was an intimate gathering of friends and immediate family only and so everyone knew everyone.
At around 11 am the light was just perfect. It was a cold day at -35 degrees but with perfect blue – tinted light. A crisp day and clear blue sky with a band of orange sun on the horizon line. The sun never fully rose as predicted. We had just three hours of daylight before it would become dark again and so I had planned all the couple shots to be taken in the morning. Obviously this was not ideal given the couple would see each other fully dressed before the chapel. The only other option would be to photograph the couple shots the following day. We all agreed that after a night of wedding party and unlimited late night drinks, (the couple had provided a free bar!), there would be no next day shoot!
Outside I took all the couples carefully selected wedding accessories. I wanted to fill every image carefully with Nordic landscape, so that their photos would contain as much of their snowy winter Finnish wedding as possible. To visually ‘record’ detail that might otherwise be missed or forgotten. My usual ‘luxury’ of time was cut short by the cold. I spotted a tree I liked the position of, the light behind it and the backdrop and so I decided I would hang the groom’s suit from one of the branches. As I strode out, suit in one hand and camera in the other, I found myself knee deep in snow. This taught me to think about snow drifts and tree wells. I also made the mistake of taking my gloves off to hang the couples wedding rings on a snow covered branch, amazed at how quickly the pain of the cold rapidly spread through my fingers.more
The time was right for Nick and Carlen to join me outside. Carlen had a gorgeous white hooded cape to contrast a rich berry wedding dress and Nick’s tie. And I just loved Nick’s faux fur trapper. We had an crazy half hour spinning around and shooting the landscape. Nick and Carlen were very easy to shoot. They were just so excited and animated with each other and to be getting married in this incredible landscape. I observed that every moment together outside in the snow was just pure magic to them. It was intimate and perfect even with a photographer and assistant around. They overcame the cold and just had some fun running around in front of the camera and just feeling and experiencing the wonderful landscape.
Darkness fell as predicted and mini-buse taxi’s took us through the blackness and snow covered trees and lanes and to the snow village. I waited outside the snow chapel for Nick to arrive on a snow mobile at around – 42 degrees,. Nick was just beaming as he arrived and he posed again for me with his suit on the bike. Then Carlen arrived on her sleigh, covered with blankets and pulled by reindeers, with her daughter Chloe, both very cold and moved quickly inside.
The couple were married in the Snow Chapel at Laino. An intimate wedding ceremony surrounded by just a handful of family and friends. A wooden building flooded in warm yellow candlelight and a nice easy temperature of +18 degrees.
After a pit stop in the bar and warm vodka and Lingonberry juice we walked with the couple to the Ice Hotel and grabbed some shots around the ice sculptures and structures. It had an eerie and unreal feel given all the colours of flood lighting and the air was full of condensation as so many people were just walking around. Photos completed, surprise fireworks outside, organised by the bride and groom, we headed off to the summit for their wedding breakfast, some good food and wine and a great night wedding party!