6 Tips for Winter Weddings
Summer weddings may have peonies, but winter weddings hold a strong case for a stylish day in its own way. Snowy backdrops, ice castles, candlelight and hot cocoa are just some of the reasons why they are special.
Winter weddings can be absolutely gorgeous – and you don’t have to worry about sweating in your gown, or if a thunderstorm will open up the sky in the middle of your ceremony! But, you do have to consider what challenges may arise with the winter – and holiday – season. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you plan!
1. Use the Season for Winter Weddings
Many venues and locations are decorated for the holidays and have some beautiful arrangements and displays that will be a part of your event. Consider incorporating the colors or textures into your wedding – it will look intentional, be beautiful, and create a really cohesive theme! Also, for flowers – use what’s in season. This is a great rule of thumb for all seasons, but especially the winter when greenery is easy to get your hands on and fresh big blooms like hydrangea and peonies are harder to find, and consequently, much more expensive! Typically, winter wedding color palettes include richer and warmer colors, which are accented beautifully by greenery. It’s also long and very malleable and can be used for so many things! Bouquets, wreaths, garlands – you name it! Consider menu options that are richer and heavier and colors that correspond. You are able to take advantage of some different options that won’t work for the more popular wedding season, but will stand out, be memorable, and create a unique event. Embrace it!
2. Pick Warm Cocktail Hour Options
One of my favorite things for winter weddings is the incorporation of a hot chocolate or apple cider bar or warm mulled wine during cocktail hour! Guests love it, and it’s always a pleasant surprise when they’re expecting just a typical bar. Plus, many venues or caterers will include a hot chocolate or apple cider bar for a minimal fee – it’s an inexpensive way to make a big impact and lasting impression on your guests! And who doesn’t love any of those things? With specialty drinks becoming almost an expectation at weddings, this is a nice twist that pleases everyone!
3. Plan to do a First Look
Because winter weddings mean darker days and cooler weather, you’re looking at (depending on your exact location) a sunset and last light by 6 at the absolute latest (in many cases, much closer to 5!) which can make an evening wedding a lovely formal event, but can be a real challenge if you are dreaming of those beautiful, bright and airy portraits in the afternoon light with a shawl or coat around you and your soon-to-be-hubby. I’m always a fan of the first look, but for winter weddings, I strongly encourage couples to add in the first look – once you take your bride and groom photos, you can get all your family formals and bridal party portraits are done while it is still light (and consequently, warmer!), save time for after the ceremony (which means you can get that cup of hot cocoa, too!) and still leave time to capture those beautiful, darker, moodier shots in the dark that take a little bit more time to set-up. Your photographer will thank you! And, you will love the outcome!
4. Start Planning Early for Holiday Weekends
If you’re looking to do your wedding over a holiday weekend, maybe right before or after Christmas, on Thanksgiving weekend, or even Memorial Day weekend, you will absolutely want to send out save the dates very early – many people plan their holidays far further in advance than a “regular” weekend, and need more time to put any change in plans in motion. 6-8 months in advance is standard for saving the dates, so for holidays, I’d recommend closer to 8 months! And make sure to get those invitations out on the early side as well – 8-10 weeks is standard, but I actually recommend 8-12 weeks for holiday weddings to give guests a bit more time. Make sure you have thought of all the details for your guests for a holiday wedding – since they’re spending their vacation days with you, it’s a great idea to do welcome bags at the hotel when they check in so they know what’s in the local area, and make sure to include a map! Because of the extra time built into most holiday weekends, you do have the benefit of being a little non-traditional in maybe doing a Sunday wedding instead of a Saturday, since most people may have Mondays off, and you will likely get more out of town guests. However, keep in mind that in some cases (talk to your families!) it is considered expected for out of town guests to be included in the rehearsal dinner – which may be a big added expense if you’re not careful!
5. Don’t Assume Winter Weddings are Cheaper
You may be able to book a venue at an off-season rate (but it also might be equally hard to get, if you’re in December you might be competing with holiday parties), but catering companies are busy bees with clients hosting corporate events, employee parties, fundraising events, and large family gatherings. Start looking early but don’t expect discounts around the holidays. So, be prepared as you create your budget that even though winter is known to be “off-season” for weddings, the holiday season may not be part of it.
6. Make it Personal
Some people love the idea of a Christmas wedding and embrace the green and red everywhere, with Christmas ornaments as favors and their decor they already set-up Christmas trees in the entrance. However, just because you picked a date near the holidays doesn’t mean you have to focus so much on a holiday theme. You can add subtle nods to the season and spend time and energy personalizing your wedding through the details. Your wedding will never be mistaken for a holiday party – the bridesmaid dress colors and styles, the type of flower arrangements, the stationery, the menu choices, what your song choices will be, and how you’ll honor your loved ones are what your guests will remember and talk about for years to come.
Related article: Don’t Make These Mistakes Before Booking A Wedding Venue
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