While winter is technically considered the wedding “off-season” in many parts of the country (only 15 percent of weddings occur between December and March), there are many benefits to hosting a winter wedding. From the cozy and intimate feel to the price benefits to the incredible snowy photo ops, you’ll find that winter weddings can be quite magical. However, cold-weather weddings have their own quirks, so it’s important to read up on winter wedding advice to ensure your event is successful.
We asked some of our favorite wedding professionals and recent brides for their best winter wedding tips.
Celebrate the season…
There’s so much love about winter weddings, so feel free to embrace the season. Of course, your décor, particularly florals, can be a great way to channel the wintry beauty. “During the winter months I love to use evergreens like boxwood, magnolia, cedar, and even arborvitae,” says Holly Heider Chapple of Holly Heider Chapple Flowers in Leesburg, Virginia. Another lesser-known benefit to a winter wedding? “Flowers look fresh, crisp, and clean during the winter months because they have not struggled on hot tarmacs or over heated delivery vans.”
But don’t limit the winter theme to just the décor. Turns out that your guests will want to experience the season with all of their senses! “For me, the holiday season is as much about visual holiday decor as it is about those distinctly holiday aromas,” says Rebecca Shenkman of Pink Bowtie Events in New York City. “Pepper in a few scented candles with regular candles so that the scent is subtle and not overwhelming. Alternatively, add a bit of eucalyptus or other fragrant greenery to your floral arrangements. Guests will remember how wonderful the room smelled when they walked in!”
Food is another way to celebrate all that wintry goodness. “Focus on a menu that’s seasonally available,” says Chef Nick Lacasse of Pure Kitchen Catering in Chicago. “Cranberries, squashes and root vegetables for example are all available through the winter months. Incorporated in appetizers, they’re a nod to classic holiday dishes without serving your guests a full-fledged Thanksgiving feast. And remember there are lots of ‘winter foods’ other than the first that come to mind – citrus and other tropical fruits are in their prime, and will provide your guests a break from the winter weather.”
…but don’t go overboard.
While it’s nice to celebrate winter on your special day, remember that you’re hosting a wedding, not Santa’s Wonderland. “Everyone thinks of a white-winter wedding - and usually gold/silver/red go hand-in-hand,” says Christine Viola of Exquisite Affairs Productions in New York. “Thinking of interesting ‘winter-esque’ color schemes outside of that - navy and purple go beautifully for a winter color scheme, especially with a silver accent. Our favorite color scheme for winter-weddings is a classic black and white (or ivory/champagne) with accents of gold!”
This is also important winter wedding advice when it comes to your musical selections. “Don’t play holiday music during the reception – instead you can pick modern songs that have a wintry vibe. ‘Winter Rose’ by the Bees makes a nice first dance song, and ‘White Winter Hymnal’ by Fleet Foxes is great to play during dinner,” says Gary Hoffmann of 74 Events in Brooklyn, New York.
Amp up the glitz and glam.
If you’re all about hosting a glam event that’s full of sparkle, a winter wedding is right for you. Sparkly details beautifully complement the snowy, icy weather, so going full-out on the glitz is totally acceptable (and encouraged!) in the wintertime. Of course you can include lots of sparkle in your décor, but brides can also include shimmery touches to their wedding-day look, says makeup artist Ryan Krasney of Blend Make-up Artistry in Washington, DC.
“Using holiday glitz and glam as your style guide, there’s nothing more eye catching than little extra shimmer this winter! The key is making it wearable and wedding appropriate. To keep glitter or shimmer products in place (and off of guests or your groom), use a primer lotion. Pick one feature (we recommend a neutral color on the eye lid, a highlight on the cheek bone, or a pop of color in the center of your lip), and work it,” she says.
Not only can you go bold when it comes to your wedding’s look, you can also amp up flavors in your winter wedding menu and cake. “Winter is all about big flavors,” says Juliana Starzyk of Juliana’s Bakery and Cakery in Lafayette, Colorado. “Go for the seasonal favorites your guests have been anxiously waiting for! Try blood orange filling and cinnamon buttercream or fig preserve and pistachios.”
Take advantage of “off-season” discounts where applicable.
For couples on a budget, hosting a winter wedding can be a great money-saver. Some wedding vendors offer off-season discounts and special packages, since fewer couples are marrying in the colder months. And if you’re marrying in January or February, you may find deals in unexpected places. “I took advantage of sales after Christmas for generic decor items like candles and ribbons from craft stores,” says Monica, a winter bride from Rockland, Maine. “I would always suggest looking in the holiday sections for items that can be repurposed.”
Prepare for winter’s inconveniences…
While hosting a winter wedding has many advantages, there are certain issues unique to wintertime events that you’ll want to be aware of. While taking portraits in the snow can be so romantic, your photographer will need to prepare accordingly. “Snow can cause quite a glare, but don’t let that stop you from heading outside and taking advantage of it,” says Kat McOwen of The Pros Weddings. “Simply head out when the sun has passed its peak - after 3pm is best. Slightly overcast skies make for the best photos, but sunset is the best. The beautiful soft colors playing against a pure white canvas make for some absolutely stunning portraits.”
Logistically, bad weather can cause delays, so be sure to factor in extra time when it comes to transportation. “You'd rather be early and relax in the limo than late and upset,” says Daniel Baxter of Absolute Dream Limousines in Oak Forest, Illinois. “Also, remember that the larger the limousine, the slower that it moves. A 15-minute trip in a car may take 30 minutes in a Limo Bus.”
…but don’t totally freak out about the weather.
If you’re hosting a winter wedding, it’s of course important to be prepared for bad weather (and yes, in some cases, couples have had to postpone their big days due to massive blizzards—but those cases are rare). However, there’s a difference between being prepared (working with your vendors to come up with backup plans should the situation require them), and totally freaking out. “If you make the decision to have a winter wedding you have to be good with two main factors,” advises Molly, a winter bride from Boston. “One, you can’t control the weather so don’t even begin to worry about it. Two, if you are going to make your bridesmaids stand out in a field for photos, buy them cute Hunter Boots to make it worth it!”
Another important advantage to hosting a winter wedding is that honeymoon will feel even sweeter. “Especially in the wintertime, it’s wonderful to jet off to a warm beach to enjoy your new spouse and get away from the cold and snowy weather,” says Megan, a winter bride from Indiana.