Want to know how to plan a winter wedding? Have a look at some of our hints and tips to help make it easier.
There’s something beautifully cosy about the early winter sunsets. With an abundance of fairy lights, candles and decor, pre-Christmas weddings can be that bit more magical. On the flipside, winter weddings in most parts of the the UK and Ireland are a gamble when it comes to weather. If you’re thinking of planning a winter wedding, have a look through some of our hints and tips to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible.
Is a winter wedding for you?
This is the big question. It’s a good idea to consider the pros and cons of a winter wedding before deciding if it’s actually what you want. If you imagine your guests sitting outside drinking beer as they watch a gorgeous sunset; or your favourite wedding photos have golden sunsets, you might be better off having a summer wedding. Ditto if you don’t like the cold and the thought of a rainy wedding makes you have palpitations.
Elderly guests will be much more reluctant to venture out to winter weddings. And if you have large numbers of guests flying in, be wary that winter storms can cause delays and cancellations.
Timing is Everything
In the UK during winter months, the sun doesn’t rise as high in the sky and sets as early as 4pm towards the end of December. If you happen to get a rainy or overcast day, it can feel like the sun has set by 3pm. So, if you have a ceremony that starts at 2 or 3pm, you’re giving your photographer very little daylight to work with and your photos may suffer. This next line is our single most important bit of advice for your winter wedding: ***For weddings in November - February, we’d recommend having your ceremony as close to midday as possible.***
In the UK and Ireland, the weather is as unpredictable in winter as it is in summer, but your chances of bad weather are certainly increased during winter. In October 2016 we had some unseasonably warm weather and gorgeous Autumn sunsets, in October 2017 we had two devastating storms in quick succession. February 2018 seen the UK covered in snow, while February 2019 recorded temperatures as high as 20C!
It’s a good idea to hope for the best weather but to be prepared for the worst. Buy some nice umbrellas that your bridal party can use if it rains - even if they end up unused, we guarantee that in the UK and Ireland you’ll have need for them someday in the future! If snow is forecast pack some boots or wellies.
Due to the increased likelihood of bad weather, it’s a good idea to have as little travel as possible involved. We guarantee that this will make things less stressful for you and your guests. In the summer, an hour of travel from the ceremony to the reception causes little hassle, but winter driving conditions can make it slow and unsafe. You want all your guests to arrive as quickly and safely as possible.
If hiring cars, while classic cars are undoubtedly gorgeous they don’t have the heating systems that modern cars have and may not be as safe or reliable in adverse conditions.
If you’re having a city wedding in late November and December, you should factor in Christmas Traffic. Car journeys that might ordinarily take around 15mins suddenly become an hour long as you battle with black-friday bargain hunters.
With the previous two points in mind, consider having just one venue for your wedding. Plenty of venues offer a full package that includes prep, ceremony and reception all under one roof. It takes the stress off travelling on icy roads and limits the effect the weather can have on your day. If this isn’t possible, it’s a good idea to choose prep, ceremony and reception venues that are quite near each other.
In terms of photographs, it’s good to consider a wedding venue that is photogenic inside as well as outside as most of your photographs could end up being taken indoors. If possible, visit your venue around the time of year that your wedding will happen, before you book. When the trees shed their leaves it can take on a completely different character.
If it’s not possible to have an early ceremony, it’s a good idea to plan a first look. This is where the couple get to see each other before the ceremony. The great advantage of a first look is that it can take a bit of the trepidation and stress off the ceremony. It’s also an opportunity to grab some portraits while there’s still some quality daylight.
What to Wear (for her)
When you go dress shopping, remind yourself over, and over again that, in all likelihood, your winter wedding will be COLD. I’d imagine that getting hypothermia isn’t a good start to married life. Long sleeves are a good start, but when the temperature is close to or below freezing you’ll need a little more help. It’s a good idea to bring along a faux-fur jacket or stole.
Cardigans and shawls are also a good idea. Shorter dresses are ideal in winter, allowing you to move about more freely without mopping up 3 tonnes of rainwater and dead leaves - a long train can quickly get destroyed no matter how careful you are.
Choose a pair of closed-toe shoes, or consider swapping them for a pair of stylish boots to keep your feet warm - Jimmy Choo makes boots too! And finally, don’t forget about your bridesmaids - give them thick woollen shawls and they’ll be thanking you forever.
What to Wear (for him)
As usual, when it comes to weddings, guys get it easy no matter what the time of year is. In winter you simply swap your light summer suit for a heavy 3-piece winter suit. Simple. Don’t buy or hire anything without first trying on a Donegal tweed suit. It’s warm and stylish with the added bonus that you can pretend you’re in Peaky Blinders.
Thermal socks and some good leather shoes should see you through most kinds of weather - but remember to scuff up the soles a bit to avoid them becoming ice skates.
Sunny winter days tend also to be the frostiest winter days. Every fibre of your being will tell you to stay indoors, but your photographer will be imploring you to go outside. Be brave and venture outdoors, your reward will be gorgeous photos.
The sun sits lower in the sky during winter. This can make for some gorgeous soft light, giving your wedding photographs a warm golden tone. Your photographer will love shooting in that light.
Embrace the season.
The summer bride might get warmer weather, but they’ve no chance of a crisp frosty day or gorgeous blanket of snow outside. With winter comes all kinds of different opportunities that you should embrace. Incorporate candles into your decor and get the fires roaring.
Swap sparkling champagne for delicious mulled wine and cider, hang mistletoe and holly, and bring along plenty of cosy blankets. And an early sunset just means more time to light up the dark with sparklers and fairy lights.
Finally, if you really want to take the stress out of your winter wedding (or any wedding) take out a wedding insurance plan. These start from as little as £50 and can cover you in the event of bad weather or accident/illness causing a cancellation of the wedding.