Winter weddings can have lashings of atmosphere and, with lots of preparation, be presented as a truly magical event. We asked a host of wedding experts to share their tips for the perfect winter wedding day.
According to Nick Bolton, founder and director of The Christmas Decorators, between November and January venues should offer a ready-made festive atmosphere.
Winter may be a theme in itself, but Nick advises going a step further: "Over the years we’ve created everything from a winter wonderland to Christmas in New York. If you want a colour theme, silver and green are the festive colours for 2011 with coffee browns and creams also popular."
Nick suggests adding festive treats, such as candy canes, to table décor and says fairy lights look great over windows and arches. "Scented candles truly set the mood," he adds. "And festive decorations such as silver bells, mini Christmas trees, snowflakes and pine cones also set an evocative scene."
Stunning images by Rachel Luckhurst show how striking winter ceremonies can look on camera.
Rachel says you should aim for an early ceremony so there’s time to take photos before the light fades and advises brides to invest in a faux fur jacket or stole to keep warm between shots. "Don’t expect your guests to stand outside for too long," she adds.
It’s also sensible to choose a venue with an amazing well-lit space inside for photos, in case snow, rain or ice forces you indoors. A Christmas tree can make a lovely backdrop - but remember you’ll be looking at the photos all year round, so do pose in a more neutral, but equally beautiful, spot too.
If you need to get to the church on time, Graeme Fillmore of Morse Cars suggests checking that your car hire company has a contingency plan in place. "Classic cars aren’t always suitable if the roads are very icy, but a good firm will offer a replacement vehicle to cope with the climate," he says.
Graeme says a well-maintained wedding car should run well through the winter, but advises brides to carry a stole, jacket or blanket on very cold days as vintage cars don’t always have powerful heating systems.
He also advises against white cars: "A white wedding car splashed with mud loses its glamour. Silver and dark classic cars look particularly stunning in winter wedding photography as they are so reflective."
The perfect winter wedding dress is super-stylish with practical elements to keep you warm. If you wear a short dress, consider chic tights or stockings so you won’t be goose-pimply. Faux fur also gives you license to choose an elegant bandeau or spaghetti-strapped dress and still keep your shoulders under wraps when you’re outside.
Shoe-wise, Emmy Scarterfield from Emmy Shoes says winter weddings are synonymous with sparkle and decadence: "I’d suggest closed toe shoes with an embellishment such as a dramatic feather or crystal fan. Winter brides often choose our suede Elizabeth shoe with silver leather trim and ivory crystal detail."
Emmy advises brides to protect suede or leather shoes with a good quality spray and to buy a pair of white wellies to wear outside if the snow is heavy. "Hair decorations and sparkle bring out colour in the eyes," Emmy adds. "This works well in winter when the skies are grey. Try a velvet headband decorated with crystals, or a large feather and beaded comb."
Winter wedding guests
Unlike summer, when everyone can mingle on the lawn, keeping winter wedding guests happy requires a little extra planning.
"Think about their arrival," says wedding planner Bernadette Chapman from Dream Occasions. “Make sure that paths have been de-iced, and if it’s raining, make sure people have umbrellas. Check there are mats for people to wipe their feet on, otherwise they could slip in the church, and ask well in advance about heating facilities at your church and/or venue.
"Because it’s winter you can get creative with food and drinks to keep your guests smiling," Bernadette adds "To keep things elegant, create fabulous cocktails with seasonal fruits and spices, or serve hot drinks like mulled wine and hot toddies to warm everyone up"
Bernadette also reminds brides not to neglect their bridesmaids: "If you’re putting them in skimpy dresses, choose a warm and elegant shawl to keep them cosy – you don’t want any chattering teeth to spoil the ceremony!"