Although winter weddings bear more weather-related risks, they also offer a parade of décor ideas that can generate a magical atmosphere. Ward off cold-weather catastrophes with these premeditated planning tips, and embrace the seasonal amenities that make winter weddings so captivating.
Rain is an inherent risk when it comes to the season, but there are several things you can do in advance to ensure that a shower (or snowstorm) won’t dampen your day:
• Place a tent on hold at a rental company early in the planning process so you’ll be covered in case of an unexpected downpour. Don’t wait until the local supply of rental tents is low -- you can typically cancel ten days in advance without incurring fees, or three days in advance with restocking fees.
• Invest in a coat check so guests won’t be holding wet, dripping coats throughout your ceremony. Extra umbrellas are useful to have on hand as well.
• Be sure your valet area will be covered and heated so guests will have a dry place to wait for their cars. The final impression of the evening is just as important as the first, so this detail should not be overlooked.
If chilly (or icy) temperatures are a distinct possibility, a comprehensive strategy for warming things up is a must:
• Add several portable heaters to your rental order to ward off the cold. Heaters can typically be cancelled two days prior to installation without incurring additional fees, and the effort is worth the peace of mind. Note: Check with the fire marshal on which heaters are appropriate for your tent structure or venue.
• Offer a cappuccino bar with specialty liqueurs and warm appetizers for guests as they arrive. Roasted butternut squash soup served in shot glasses or espresso cups, goat cheese fondue with toast points and apples, and tray-passed mini s’mores are some of my favorites.
• Opt for favors that assist with thawing out guests, such as scarves, pashminas, or personalized thermoses filled with hot cider.
• Send guests off with gifts of hot-chocolate kits to warm up with at home. You can have them delivered to loved ones’ hotel rooms, or have valet attendants place them in passenger seats.
Deflect the effects of unforeseen problems that most couples don’t consider until it’s too late:
• Explore your options for installing sub-flooring -- you don’t want Aunt Sally getting her heel stuck in wet grass on her way to the dance floor.
• Get pricing on generators in case of a power outage. They’ve saved the day more than once, and can often be provided through your lighting vendor.
• Do a walk-through of the venue about a month before your wedding date. Sunset changes from summer to winter, and you want to make sure you’ve addressed all your lighting needs.
• Keep a running log of flight information for guests, and entrust it to your coordinator or a reliable attendant. If the weather goes south and travel plans are affected, your designated person will be ready to coordinate without having to distract you with any of the details.
• Consider lodging your out-of-town vendors the night before your wedding. An extra night at a hotel is worth the expense to ensure wedding professionals arrive 24-hours early.
• Don’t let potential showers wreck wedding photos or your hair and makeup. Compose a list of favorite photo-op locations with weatherfriendly backups you can utilize if needed.
Now that you have a tight reign on the planning process, take advantage of décor and fashion elements associated with the season to thread a winter motif throughout your event:
• Select a wintry color palette that will set a specific mood. From vivid reds and striking blues, to silver-and-gold metallics and frosty winter whites, the options for creating your desired atmosphere are endless.
• Accent your lounges and cocktail areas with fire pits. Your guests will love the coziness, and the firelight will add to the romantic ambiance. (Get approval from your venue before you rent.)
• If the snow won’t come to you, rent it! Snow machines are readily available and will turn your local venue into a private winter wonderland.
• Play with ice! Sculptures, centerpieces, martini luges, and shot glasses made of ice are beautiful as well as seasonal.
• Have fun with texture. Winter is a great season to experiment with fur, velvet, and brocade linens. With the right planning tools, a winter wedding can be an enormous success, so let go of worrying about the weather and enjoy your beautiful day.
Opening photograph by Joanna B. Pinneo