Winter weddings bring magic and romance, but they can also bring a few extra challenges – not least because of the colder weather and busy diaries. We called on some of the country’s top event planners for their advice if you’re planning to tie the knot at this time of year…
Consider The Budget
Not only is winter a romantic time of year to get married, but it is often financially beneficial too, with many venues offering reduced ‘off-season’ rates, says wedding planner Samantha Birch. Bernadette Chapman, director of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, reckons winter nuptials can feel more indulgent and opulent – plus, there’s less concern about weather because most couples plan the entire day inside.
Keep The Event In One Place
Wedding co-ordinator Clara Earp recommends finding a venue where you can hold the ceremony and reception in one place to avoid having to travel when the weather is at its worst. Fellow wedding co-ordinator Ruth Mundy agrees, adding that couples might need to forgo the idea of a separate church venue to keep things simple. It’ll also help minimise travel delays for guests, too. Note, it might be a minor point, but it might be worth checking to see what Christmas or festive decorations the venue has of its own to see where you could save on the budget.
Have A Contingency Plan
Remember poor weather could disrupt any potential suppliers, so work with the venue staff to understand what their contingency plan is. Try to understand how much of the work is done in-house, and how much is outsourced to third parties. The more responsibility the venue is willing to take when it comes to food, drink and decorations, the less likely something is to go wrong.
In older, more historic venues, archaic heating has the potential to ruin the big day,
Don't Scrimp On The Heating
With guests decked out in partywear, regardless of the season, there’s bound to be plenty of skin on show. In older, more historic venues, archaic heating has the potential to ruin the big day, warns Charlotte Ricard-Quesada from event planning firm La Fête. It might eat up a fair chunk of the budget, but adding some extra heaters could be the answer. Lavinia Stewart-Brown, founder of luxury event planning company Stewart Brown Events, recommends pyramid heaters as an alternative to mushroom heaters for any outdoor venues or photo locations. “They give off more heat and look much more appealing to the eye,” she says.
Embrace Winter Accessories
There’s no need to go for a classically ‘winter’ dress if, but a wedding held during the colder months calls for a range of fun accessories summer brides just don’t get the chance to embrace. From fur capes to a beautifully tailored coat, an embellished cardigan to a chic wrap – there are several ways to strike the right seasonal note without it feeling like a cliché. Try to avoid shoes made from delicate silks or satins which can easily be ruined by rain or snow.
Think Festive Florals
Traditional florals such as ivy, holly and mistletoe instantly evoke the spirit of the festive season, says Sarah Weller, an event planner at Hampton Court Palace. Coupling these with seasonal blooms from pine boughs to the rich velvet red of poinsettias is a truly elegant way of theming your florals. Meanwhile, Stewart-Brown recommends brides explore pampas grass instead – “with plenty of candlelight it gives off a soft, warm and romantic feel.” Finally, Ronny de Koning from Petersham Nurseries recommends basing flowers on organically shaped branches of hazel, pussy willow and magnolia. “This should be softened with flowering eucalyptus, white winter broom and the early scented blossom of viburnum, along with anemone and hellebores.”
Plan For Shorter Days
Shorter days mean careful consideration when it comes to the photography. While inclement winter weather often forces people inside, Mundy says snow and fog could actually lend images a dramatic twist. Shorter days also increase the likelihood of night-time photography, which can look magical if lit correctly. If outdoor photographs are simply out of the question, ensure indoor lighting isn’t too harsh. Ruth suggests softening the room with candlelight and fairy lights, which can then be laid on the tables at the reception for added ambience later on.
Make The Reception Cosy
Bernadette Chapman recommends fabrics that add more warmth than typical white, linen table cloths. Ronny De Koning suggests tablecloths and napkins in pale grey, with white bone china, vintage silver cutlery and crystal glasses for an undeniably chic look. As for chairs, which are usually dressed with satin or cotton, try giving velvet a go. You might even pop a small, fluffy cushion onto each chair for guests to sit back and sink into.
Create a long-lasting memory in your guests’ minds by including scented candles around the wedding reception.
Think About Scent
Don’t underestimate the power of scent at a wedding. Create a long-lasting memory in your guests’ minds by including scented candles around the wedding reception and/or ceremony venue. Spiced apple, orange, cinnamon, eucalyptus and warm amber are all good choices at this time of year.
Warm Your Guests Up
Blenheim Palace in-house wedding planner Emma Rogers says offering guests a glass of mulled wine or apple cider instead of the usual champagne helps convey the conviviality of the season, while heartier, warming fare should be incorporated into the wedding menu. Think about warm canapés, or work with caterers – many of whom are likely to come as part of the package at the venue – who are well versed in delivering bespoke menus for that added personal touch.
Finally, Keep Your Own Diary Low Key
If your wedding takes place in the busy run-up to Christmas, it’s worth keeping other commitments to a minimum. Set a limit on how long you plan stay at the Christmas office party; put off the annual girlie catch-up until January; and make sure there’s enough time to relax and prepare for your big day. No one wants to burn out ahead of time.