19 Dos and Don’ts from the Pros for a Dreamy Winter Wedding
These expert-approved winter wedding ideas will help you avoid any seasonal snafus.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: Having a winter wedding is definitely a magical and memorable experience, as seasonal dress styles and festive weather (hello, snow!) can provide you with gorgeous wedding photos you’ll remember forever and ever. Planning the perfect winter wedding—even with the help of a wedding checklist—can definitely come with some hang-ups, though, as the weather, transportation, and the venue can all have season-specific challenges you’ll definitely want to keep in mind while you’re filling that wedding binder.
To help you get past those frustrating wedding planning roadblocks, we talked to a handful of expert planners about all of the dos, don’ts, and winter wedding ideas worth paying attention to. Below are 20 helpful tips any winter bride will want to keep within reach.
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“Winter weather is pretty unpredictable,” says Camille McLamb, founder of Camille Victoria Weddings LLC in Chicago. When planning transportation times for getting to your venues or taking photos around town, she recommends factoring in some buffer time in case traffic is slower because of snow or ice.
“There may be snow on the ground outside, but you can bring warmth inside by incorporating colors to create a bright and vibrant atmosphere, just as you would at other times of the year,” McLamb says. She suggests creating a color scheme that contrasts with the weather outside to make your guests feel like they have escaped the winter.
“The sunset happens pretty early in winter, which means that in some areas of the country it could be dark by 4:30 p.m.,” says Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide. Be sure to check with your photographer about the infamous golden hour, she advises. This is usually the prime time to take outdoor wedding photos, and it’s definitely worth planning your ceremony around.
“Ideally, we strongly advise against having your wedding in a remote location where inclement weather such as snow, ice, or wind is possible,” says Lauren Grech, CEO and founder of LLG Events.
“It’s always wise to remember that there isn't a huge selection of in-season flowers in winter,” says Liz Mally, owner of LPF Blooms, a Detroit-based wedding floral design company. You can save on what is available because it's the off-season, but your choices may be limited, she says.
“Rain and umbrellas can add visual interest to your day and definitely add to your photos,” says wedding planner and stylist Catherine Bachelier. “For any winter wedding that I am planning, I add umbrellas to the decor budget.”
“Do keep Valentine’s Day in mind when you are selecting a date,” Mally says. Flowers, especially roses, can skyrocket in cost in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
“Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and spring break are some of the priciest times of year to travel,” says wedding planner Katherine Frost. If you have friends and family who have to fly, she suggests trying to schedule your winter wedding outside of the last two weeks of December, the first week of January, and the last two weeks of February.
“A good planner will negotiate snow dates and indicate the snow date on your save-the-dates, invitations, and wedding websites,” says Teal Nicholson, creative director of LLG Events. This snow date is an alternate date for your wedding in case there are extreme weather conditions, she says, and a planner will be able to negotiate this date with your vendors and set up the contingency plan in your contracts.
“Make sure that the road and parking lot will be plowed and the sidewalks shoveled in the event of snowfall,” Frost says. Every building has different protocols for snow, so be sure you know how your venues handle snow.
“Be advised that the power can go out, which can lead to issues preparing and cooking food, and guest flights can also get canceled,” Grech says. With a winter wedding, there is so much that you cannot control, she says; do everything possible to have back-up (and back-up-back-up) plans.
“It’s always helpful to make sure your guests have travel insurance and arrive in the town of your nuptials three days prior to the start of your event activities—especially if it's a destination wedding,” Nicholson says.
“Daylight is precious, so talk with your photographer about ways to take advantage of the natural light while the sun is still up,” says Kate Lerman, owner and lead planner at Chicago Vintage Weddings. Doing a first look and portraits before the ceremony can help you get the images you’ve been dreaming of, she says.
“Guest experience is everything, and it’s important not to forget about that,” Grech says. She suggests having blankets and shawls so your guests are comfortable.
“Winter makes skin dry,” says Karen Bussen, entertaining expert and exclusive wedding designer for Palladium Weddings. In the month leading up to the wedding, get a facial and moisturize daily (including your arms, elbows, and lips!) so your skin will be in great condition for the celebration.
“If the ceremony will be outside, be sure to note that on invitations and wedding websites so your guests can dress according to the potential weather,” Nicholson says.
“Custom ice designs make eye-catching statement pieces and are a lovely way of incorporating the winter elements without looking too tacky,” says Andrea Freeman of Andrea Freeman Events.
“Make sure you bring appropriate footwear with you,” Lerman says. Even though it doesn’t look glamorous, you should have boots in case of snow or ice, she says.
“Note that as the room begins to fill with guests, the room will get warmer,” says Shayla Kelly, Marketing Director for Complete Weddings + Events. Plus, if it's too warm inside, guests may not be able to last on the dance floor as long, she says, so it’s important to keep a comfortable to cool temperature and use a coffee or hot cocoa bar to help keep people warm.