Fall may officially be the most popular time to tie the knot in America, but the season does come with its challenges – especially when it comes to the photos. While you may have your heart set on clear skies and colorful leaves, Mother Nature may have other ideas.

“Fall weddings are totally unpredictable,” says photographer Becca Dilley. “That is okay! There are great photography opportunities throughout all of fall, so don't get your heart too set on how things should look.”

To guarantee your autumnal wedding photos are picture-perfect, here are a few expert tips to keep in mind (and share with your photographer).

1. Plan for shorter days

After the summer solstice in June, the sun starts setting increasingly earlier. So, by the time fall comes around, your window for natural light is short. Plan with your photographer to ensure you get all your outdoor shots done before the sun is completely gone. 

“The best part of fall weddings is that sunset is earlier in the evening and brings a perfect golden hue,” says Dilley. “Make sure to get out at dusk for a few photos in the ‘golden hour’ – the warm color of the light is the perfect touch for fall photos!”

2. Prepare for bad weather

With any big event, you should have contingency plans. Discuss and scout potential backup indoor locations in case the weather makes it impossible for an outdoor session. That way, you don’t have to scramble last minute for a dry place to take photos and end up with poor lighting or ugly backgrounds. 

3. No leaves, no problem

While brilliant leaves in shades of gold, orange and red may be ideal for a fall wedding, they aren’t guaranteed. Luckily, you can still get some beautiful natural shots later in the season when the trees are bare, according to Dilley.

“Even after the leaves fall, the tall grasses and summer plants keep looking perfectly autumnal!” she says. “And you often get better views of city skylines once all the leaves are down!”

4. Dress appropriately

As the temperatures drop, long outdoor photo sessions can become unbearable in a sleeveless gown or thin suit jacket. A few accessories, like a scarf, plaid blanket or faux fur muff, can help you stay warm and add a seasonal note to your wedding photos.

“Above all else, make sure you have solid shoes for trekking around in mud or leaf-covered ground – no one wants a twisted ankle for their fall wedding!” adds Dilley.

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