One of the first things you do when planning a wedding is set the date and book your venue. Almost every other planning decision will come off the back of the time of year you’re getting married, from your colour scheme and décor to your favours. What do you do, then, when suddenly you’re faced with postponing your wedding to a completely different time of year?
For lots of couples whose weddings have been affected by Coronavirus, they’ve made the decision to push their wedding date back from spring or summer 2020 to autumn or winter; others will be keeping the same season but in 2021. That doesn’t mean you need to rethink your entire wedding plans. There are plenty of ways you can honour the wedding you originally planned, and easily and cheaply transform everything from centrepieces to bridesmaids dresses to reflect your new date.
We spoke to talented wedding planner Ashleigh Li of Pink Palms Events for the top tips she’s using to help her couples still get their dream day, and added some of our own ideas. Don’t let your postponement throw you; keep up the positive vibes and embrace the opportunities of your new season.
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1. Worried about your colour palette? “It may be that you can keep your main colours and just change an aspect colour to suit a new season,” says Ashleigh. Spring pastels might seem a difficult one to adapt to autumn colours, but you can add warmth with richer versions of one of your chosen shades. For example, mix lilacs with a rich plum or muted violet; or add a complementary colour like a mustard yellow. Emerald green or navy pairs really well with ivory, gold and blush pink.
2. “Unless you want it to feel Christmassy, avoid red for December weddings,” Ashleigh recommends. Choose cool silvers and platinum or warm gold and bronzes to make subtle hints towards the Christmas season while staying elegant. Jewel tones that aren’t too bright do the same thing.
3. “Little touches such as the material of your tablecloths or table runners and napkins can go a long way into transforming a tablescape from summer to winter. The colours don’t have to change, but swapping textures such as linen for velvet to give a little more cosiness will go a long way. There’s nothing I love more than velvet ribbons wrapped around bouquets!”
Try using velvet ribbon on your stationery too. If you’re sending second invitations with your new date, wrap the invite with ribbon to set the tone for your new seasonal theme.
4. If you’ve chosen really summery favours, like fans or sunglasses, there isn’t much you can do about that. Unless you can sell them on eBay or return them, you’re best to make a joke out of the situation. Put them out for guests to take with a sign saying, ‘At least we’ve got you covered for next May!’
5. Fruit immediately roots a centrepiece or tablescape in the season. Choose seasonal produce such as figs, plums, pears and shiny apples that are inexpensive and use in a central table display. Guest names written in calligraphy on a ruby red pomegranate will forever feel perfect for the season as place settings.
6. Feathers are one of our favourite autumnal looks. From pheasant to peacock to ostrich, the textures and colours scream autumn so add to bouquets, include in centrepieces, and attach in place of buttonholes.
7. Rustic décor works for every season, with very little changes required. Log slices topped with candles and flowers are great centrepieces, while wooden pallets make gorgeous shabby-chic signs. The only things that might need to be altered are the colours of flowers and fabrics you use with them.
8. Almost all wedding venues offer year-round ceremonies so they’ll be prepared for weddings later in the year. Barns and marquees will have heating, castles have atmospheric fire places, stately homes have multiple rooms you can host reception drinks in instead of the lawns – don’t fret about your venue.
If you planned an outdoor summer wedding, you venue will almost always have a Plan B indoor space in case of a change in weather. You’ll want to look around these; as you can’t do it in person, ask the venue to send you photos or even a 360-degree virtual tour.
9. Welcome your guests with a warm drink to replace the Pimm’s you planned for the summer. Think mulled wine, hot toddies, spiced warm cider, and hot chocolate or coffee for the kids and non-drinkers.
10. “Think about the lighting in your venue – were you relying on lots of natural light? If your wedding will now be in a different season, have a chat with your photographer about daylight hours, they’ll make suggestions on a new ceremony time and sunset shots,” explains Ashleigh. Ask to see portfolios of weddings they’ve shot in that season to work out what styles you do and don’t like.
11. “You might also want to think about ambience lighting. Some venues take really well to being filled with candles or creative festoon/fairylight installations,” she says. You’ll need something to balance out the lack of natural light that you might have been relying on for the evening. Lanterns, fire pits, candles, a starlit ceiling, a fairylight backdrop to the top table – all are great ways of creating atmosphere.
12. Venue got a fire pit? What about setting some marshmallows out nearby for guests to roast. A seriously cheap and easy way to nod to the fun of autumnal bonfires.
13. “You can still make the most of outdoor areas in colder months, using lots of heaters and blankets and a canopy,” Ashleigh says. Have blankets in the ceremony space for older guests who might feel the chill, and then take these through to your outdoor area so guests can wrap-up while stepping out for some air.
14. A fireworks display might be out your budget, but it certainly is a dramatic end to the night if you can afford it. Fireworks look incredible against inky black skies so winter is the ideal time to have them. For something cheaper, a sparkler send-off will look great in your photos.
15. Ashleigh says couples face not just a change of season, but sometimes venues haven’t been able to go ahead with planned refurbishments or finished building work.
The first thing you need to do is speak to your venue about whether there’ll be any changes to the space and if you can expect any decorations to already be there – for example, in December, they may have up a Christmas tree and decorations. How will this affect where you can decorate?
16. “Have a really good chat with your planner and your florist about your concept and whether it will work in a different season. If you’ve moved to a different season, your florist may not be able to get specific flowers but should be able to stick to the colour palette and design aesthetic,” says Ashleigh. It could be a case of keeping your flowers almost exactly the same looking but swapping summery peonies for ranunculus and gardenias – this could save you money in the end while being almost identical to your summer look.
17. Punchy, vibrant shades like fuscia, orange and sunshine yellow can look amazing weaved into autumn and winter bouquets. “Autumn/winter weddings do not have to mean dull! You can still go for bright colours! And chat to your florist about dried florals too, they can be a great way to inject strong colour,” recommends Ashleigh.
18. However, don’t plough on ahead with your original flower scheme if it no longer feels right. Wintry anemones and calla lilies look incredible for modern, contemporary-styled weddings; amaryllis and poinsettia are dramatic and eye-catching paired with simple greenery; you can even make hypericum berries, rose hips, ivy, holly, mistletoe and hawthorn berries the focus of your bouquet instead of flowers. Embrace the flowers and foliage of the season for a more natural, harmonious look.
19. If you were planning on hiring a floral arch or artificial blossom trees, you don’t have to cancel. Ask if they have fairylit trees instead that can line the aisle or light up outdoor areas. Often faux flower arches use white flowers which work as a great base colour to mix autumn/winter colours with. Perhaps they would be willing to weave in some burnt orange flowers and golden maple leaves, or wintry burgundy flowers and dark foliage?
20. Think outside the box with buttonholes. Acorns, berries, thistles, fir and mini pine cones are ideal.
21. Had your heart set on a flower crown? Dried flowers make a fabulous autumn alternative, while frosted foliage and berries are wonderful in winter.
22. “You won’t need to change your dress – wedding dresses work all year round! But think about how warm you’ll be outside, get yourself a cool bridal jacket,” says Ashleigh. We love hand-painted leather jackets to add a bit of edge, a cool denim number, or bundle yourself up for your couple’s photoshoot in a shearling jacket.
23. Capes are having a serious moment and might be just what you need to zhuzh up a fairly summery dress. That could be anything from a full-length sequinned Needle & Thread number to a warm Liberty in Love fur or feather stole. Check out our 29 favourite bridal capes.
24. If the groom and groomsmen are hiring their suits, you should be able to change your order quite easily. Consider different fabrics, like tweed and velvet, as well as bolder patterns like houndstooth, paisley and Tattersall check. Most suit jackets and trousers are actually quite versatile (especially if you’ve gone for black, grey or navy blue) and you might just need to change the colour of the shirt, tie, bow tie, or pocket square.
25. “If you’re having bridesmaids, they may also need cover-ups,” Ashleigh says. Have a chat with your bridesmaids and see what they might prefer; for example, would they like something with full length sleeves, or a bolero style just to cover the shoulders? It can look seriously cool in photos to have you all in a matching or complementary look, like the bridesmaids all in black leather jackets and the bride in white. Inside, they might be OK with just wearing a pashmina or shrug.
26. Don’t forget about shoes too. Could you realistically be in snow or crossing a muddy path? Even if you walk down the aisle in your original heels, you might want to consider a cool pair of white or sparkly boots or something that can easily be cleaned after the day. Water and suede or mud and satin will mean a pair of ruined shoes.
Cake and Catering
27. You might want to consider changing your cake flavours to something more seasonal. A light lemon and elderflower cake is great spring; for winter, berries and cherries, spices like ginger and cinnamon, plum, pear, blood orange, apples and nuts all complement classics like chocolate and red velvet cakes. Don’t be afraid to go rich and bold.
28. Your caterers should be happy to change your wedding menu. Opt for heartier dishes, like root veg soups or feasting charcuterie boards for starters; beef or duck with buttery mash potatoes and rich jus for mains; and crumble for dessert.
29. Don’t just think about your food, your drinks will need to change too. Guests often gravitate towards red wine over white in winter, so you might want to adjust the number of bottles you’ve ordered. A Christmas or New Year’s wedding will have an even more extravagant celebration feel, so don’t skimp on bubbles.
Image: Ross & Ross Events
30. If you’re having signature cocktails, think of long drinks to sip rather than summery spritzers and G&Ts. Whiskey Sours, Winter Pimm’s, Rosemary Gimlets, cinnamon-spiced Moscow Mules and anything with cranberry are great for reception drinks. Have White Russians and Espresso Martinis for later in the evening.
31. Do consider the decoration on your cake too. Naked or semi-naked cakes translate easily from summer to cooler months with a few changes to the flowers and fruits they’re decorated with. Something as simple as a caramel drip or gold leaf has the same effect of elevating them from rustic to rustic-chic.
Having a 2021 Wedding?
Kept the same month, but carried it over to 2021? Luckily, everything you’ve planned (that doesn’t mention a specific date) will work without any adjustments! Store your decorations and dresses up safely away from anywhere that could get damp or is in bright sunlight and hold tight until next year. However, it’s still nice to acknowledge the new date with a few ideas that will reinvigorate your décor.
- Emphasise the new date with personalised items. Paper napkins with the canapés at cocktail hour that bear your new 2021 date will help guests forget there ever was a previous date. You can do the same with personalised favours and a big acrylic welcome sign. It won’t matter what décor you’ve been storing for 12 months when paired with a few things that are clearly new and bring you right into the present moment.
- Make sure there’s lots of freshness to bring to life anything that may be a bit tired after a year in storage. Your table cloths and napkins might not be as crisp as straight out the packet, so get them dry-cleaned and then top place settings with hand-tied bundles of fresh herbs, like rosemary. The scent and bright green colour energises older décor.
- Incorporate a small but significant new trend to show you’re bang up-to-date. This could be a simple as the bridesmaids’ hairstyles.
Can’t imagine what to do with something you’ve bought? List it on eBay and see if it’s exactly what someone else is looking for. You can recoup some of your costs and invest in more seasonally-appropriate