5 Tips for Planning a Winter Wedding

By Terry Meadows

4 minute read

Traditionally, weddings are a spring, summer of fall celebration, but what if you want something different?  What if your timing is such that you don’t want to wait until next year? What if you don’t want to join the throngs of couples getting married at the same time? Well, do I have a solution for you! 

Consider a winter wedding. 

Whatever your decision for choosing the winter season for your wedding, there are several viable reasons why this is a perfect time to get married. We have had beautiful weddings at Zion Springs during this time, and want to share our best tips on venues, weather, logistics, and more, so you can make the best decisions when planning your dream winter wedding

1 - Use a winter wedding venue with heated facilities

Choosing the venue for your wedding is one of your earliest decisions. The images of a cozy snowy scene are enticing, but not if everybody is shivering and cold. Make sure the venue has indoor facilities to protect you from inclement weather. This means you want to check that the venue can handle cold weather while keeping you warm and comfortable. Look to see if they have adequate heating for the size of your wedding.

You also want to ensure they have facilities to keep your food hot, as the winter wedding menu is often geared toward heartier comfort food. 

Choosing a venue that already has beautiful holiday decor is a nifty way to save on your budget. Take advantage of their artistry and carefully designed seasonal decorations, and use the savings elsewhere in your wedding plans. 

Check if they have backup generators in case the electricity is cut off. Also, determine their snow or ice plans and whether they have snow plows. You will need to check their ability to reschedule if your wedding is postponed due to a snowstorm.


2 -  Be prepared for cold weather at your winter wedding

Despite the efforts of our trusty weatherman, you can never predict what you can expect on the day of your wedding, especially if you are making plans months in advance. 

Allow extra time for travel, as bad weather usually means bad traffic. If feasible, have your ceremony and reception in one venue to make transportation easier for you and your guests.

Keeping Warm

Choose a wedding dress that will keep you warm and comfortable. This is probably not the best time to whip out a strapless little number unless you have a warm wrap to cover your shoulders on a cold evening. 

Remember, your bridesmaids will appreciate that extra warmth, especially if you are taking outside photo shots. If it is particularly cold, you can hide a thick pair of hose under your dresses, for you and your bridesmaids. 

If your venue is a bit drafty, consider adding some heaters. Check with your venue if they have extras. And this is a perfect time for serving hot toddies and hot chocolate. Look to see if they have throw blankets for guest use, fire pits and heating stands.

Travel for out-of-town wedding guests

Inclement weather can also impact travel plans for out-of-town guests. Planes can be delayed, and road travel can be treacherous due to ice and snow. You don’t have control over these problems, but you do have control of your plans. 

Consider having traveling guests arrive at least a day earlier. This provides an excellent opportunity for cozy evening get-togethers by the fire. 

If possible, provide a safe shuttle service for your guests so they don’t have to worry about driving. They will also appreciate being dropped off at the door and not walking from the parking lot.  Better yet, find a venue where they can stay with you on-site and eliminate the possibility of ice or snow preventing them from making it to your wedding.

Keeping the guests comfortable

Remind guests that they will need to dress for the weather and suggest they bring coats or wraps and umbrellas. You might want to have some items on hand for those who are not prepared, such as an extra blanket or jacket. 
Importantly, ensure your venue has somewhere for people to store their winter wear, such as a coat rack, umbrella stand, or cloakroom.

3 -  Getting the best out of your wedding photographer and videographer

With evenings drawing in earlier, you can take advantage of the soft lighting in the late afternoon, as well as the romantic lighting of the evening. You will want to visit the venue during both the day and night to get a solid idea of how it will look with natural lighting and evening illumination. 

Plan an earlier start time for your photographer and videographer, as you want to take advantage of the daylight and sunset shots. Verify that your photographer knows how to frame and shoot snowy scenes. You can always ask to see their portfolio and carefully review their winter wedding shots. 

Scout the venue for unique and romantic places for indoor photo shots if it is too cold outside. There might be a cozy fireplace, an intimate seating area, or a tinkling array of fairy lights strung across the rafters that would add a sense of the season to your pictures.

Hint - take an extra pair of shoes to take photos if you are walking through snow. You don’t want to ruin your wedding slippers.

4 -  Plan your wedding around the holidays

Why not take advantage of the joyous feelings that are already part of the holiday season?  People often travel and save their vacation days for the time between Thanksgiving and New Year, so it might make sense to you to schedule your wedding when you know most of your guests will be available. Send out your Save-the-Dates early so they can plan appropriately. 

If you are not having your wedding close to a holiday, you can take advantage of the lower prices for both travel and accommodation. Many venues offer off-season pricing for their facilities, and this goes for airline ticket prices too. It sounds like a winner all around for those looking to save on their wedding budget.

Try to avoid certain dates as some people may have their own plans. Keep in mind the most common ones are

  • Hanukkah – December (movable date)
  • Kwanzaa – December 26 and January 1
  • Christmas – December 25
  • New Year's Eve – December 31
  • New Year's Day – January 1
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day – the third Monday of January
  • Super Bowl Sunday – typically the first weekend in February (oh, you know that this is a non-negotiable day for some!)

5 -   All-inclusive services have everything on-site

Using a truly all-inclusive wedding venue can eliminate the stress and scramble if the weather causes delays.  All their staff work as a team and have past experience with, and onsite resources for weather issues that cause a change of plans.  If you plan an à la carte wedding, you will need to discuss contingency plans with each of your vendors.   If you and your guests struggle to get to your wedding venue, so will the vendors. 

Plan the winter wedding of your dreams

Only 11% of weddings are held between December and February, according to The Knot, and you might have wondered if a winter wedding is for you. If the smell of pine needles and the warmth of a crackling fireplace sound like the perfect setting, look for a venue that is familiar with seasonal weddings and has previously offered winter weddings. Review their website galleries for images of what your wedding would look like there. 

If you are ready to plan your budget create an itemized list of wedding expenses.  It is a great way to determine what are your priorities, and how you can distribute your budget to cover the most important things first.

Further reading:

What is our wedding going to cost?

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