The Ultimate Guide on Having the Perfect Outdoor Winter Wedding
Summer time is usually synonymous for happiness, laid back vibes, parties, and romantic flings… but there are a few who beg to differ. In fact, there are millions of people all over the world who yearn for the colder winter months so that they can cuddle up on the sofa whilst binge watching their favourite Netflix series.
Big jumpers, extra blankets, hot cocoa, and perhaps a blaring fire? Can you get any more romantic than that?
So if you’re a winter enthusiast and crave nothing more than to marry the one you love during the colder months, here’s everything you need to know about having the perfect outdoor winter wedding ceremony.
- Can I Have an Outdoor Wedding in Winter?
- How to Have an Outdoor Winter Wedding
- 7 Tips on How to Have an Outdoor Winter Wedding
- Outdoor Winter Wedding Do’s and Don’ts
- Dress Code at an Outdoor Winter Wedding
- Outdoor Winter Wedding Dress Ideas
- Outdoor Winter Wedding Activities
- Outdoor Winter Wedding Photography Tips
Can I Have an Outdoor Wedding in Winter?
Of course you can! It will take a bit more planning and consideration than a summer wedding, but planning is half the fun.
There are several different ways to ensure that your outdoor winter wedding is an absolute success with added warmth and love.
How to Have an Outdoor Winter Wedding
When planning an outdoor winter wedding, the weather isn’t the only thing to consider. Many wedding venues are more experienced and prepared for summer time weddings, your guests may not have a clue as to what to wear, and you’ll have to make sure that there are added extras, such as blankets and heaters, to ensure everyone is comfortable.
7 Tips on How to Have an Outdoor Winter Wedding
1. All Winters are Not Created Equal
Winter in say St. Petersburg, Russia is in no way the same as a winter in Southern California or London. So if you’re hoping for a winter wonderland, you’ll need to think very carefully about your location.
If you’re pining for snow, it might be impossible in the U.K. given its climate patterns. But this isn’t actually a bad thing, as you could opt for a destination wedding somewhere in Europe.
Innsbruck in Austria, Stockholm in Sweden, or even Trondheim in Norway are three locations where the chances of snow are higher than that of the U.K. What’s also great about having a destination wedding in winter is the fact that flights may be cheaper, and you could find some great off-peak deals.
2. Make Sure Everyone Knows it’s an Outdoor Winter Wedding
Write it in bold, scream it from the rooftops, or even call each guests individually if you have to. How ever you choose to plan your outdoor winter wedding, you have to ensure that every single guest knows it’s going to be an outside ceremony.
They should also be aware of how long they’ll be outside. And if/when you choose to move the party inside, try to incorporate a coat check for guests. The last thing you want is your Aunt Gemma complaining about the bitter cold whilst wearing an outfit she chose for fashion rather than comfort.
Also, heels in the snow may not be a pretty picture.
With that, you’ll find a useful guide on suitable dress codes for an outdoor winter wedding below.
3. Warm the Hearts (and Bodies) of Your Bridesmaids
For some, getting their bridesmaids a gift as a thank you is an important part of planning a wedding. And for an outdoor winter wedding, a cosy faux fur shrug would be the perfect add-on while they stand by your side.
A faux fur shrug will not only keep them warm but will also be a chic accessory for the wedding photos. And let’s face it, they’re bound to wear it again.
You could also add in pretty-looking gloves for the bridesmaids, and a gag-gift hip flask for the groomsmen.
4. Warm it Up
Even your guests who share your love of winter may have the capacity to feel a bit chilly, so it’s extremely necessary to provide some form of heating for your outdoor winter wedding.
You could in bring heaters, but you’ll have to research the best kind according to your needs. Some heaters can be noisy, while others need to be positioned in close proximity to your guests.
Some other ideas to warm up your outdoor winter wedding would be to provide blankets, wraps or shrugs for your guests. And while wedding guests huddled in blankets doesn’t exactly scream elegant, you could do it in a tasteful way.
For example, get big and soft blankets that go within your colour scheme. Or you could create a cosy corner with a sofa or two, throw pillows and blankets, so that your guests can relax before and after the ceremony. You could even embellish your seats with something like Mongolian Lamb seat cushions.
Another great idea is to incorporate warm drinks into your big day. Mulled wine, spiked ciders, or Hot Toddies are excellent if you’re going the alcohol route, or you can serve warm cocoa and various tea blends. Another cute idea would be to have shots of soup and mini grilled cheese sandwiches.
5. Short and Sweet (Nothings)
To enjoy a winter wonderland is of course a dream, but in reality it’s just not feasible to spend an entire afternoon or evening outside in the cold. For that reason, try to allocate around 10 to 15 minutes for your outside time.
Keep your adoration and whispers of sweet nothings short and cosy, then move everyone inside where it’ll warmer for cocktail hour and a reception party.
6. Inside, Out
An outdoor winter wedding doesn’t actually have to equal freezing cold. You could dress up your outside area to mimic that of an inside venue using a tent.
A clear-span tent is an excellent route, and offers walls, flooring, and even heating. This kind of tent is supported vertically using columns around the perimeter.
In this way, you’re still hosting your dream outdoor winter wedding with the added perks of warmth and indoor-like structure. You could then dress up the space according to your theme, and perhaps use a few cute fairy lights to add the element of warmth.
7. Outdoor Winter Wedding Illusion
Another option in which to create the illusion of an outdoor winter wedding is to seek out a venue that offers floor-to-ceiling windows and perhaps panoramic views. In this way, you’ve still got the amazing snowy view, but can keep all of the perks of being indoors.
And who knows, you may just feel like an impromptu snow ball fight with all of your friends and family, which will most certainly make for an excellent photo opportunity and a playful activity to freely enjoy.
Outdoor Winter Wedding Do’s and Don’ts
As you may have already realised, planning an outdoor winter wedding can sometimes be a little bit trickier than a summer wedding. But whether you’re planning your big day in autumn, spring, on the moon, or on an isolated beach somewhere in Croatia, there will always be a few do’s and don’ts to adhere to.
Use colour: Just because you’re having your wedding ceremony outside doesn’t mean that you need to stick to natural and plain colours. And despite the fact that winter is often associated with the festive season and darker colours, you need not follow this trend for your big day.
Why not experiment with bold colours that’ll compliment the natural surrounding tones? Orange, yellow, mango, key lime green, or pineapple yellow, for example, would be an unexpected twist, and will bring a bit of warmth to your winter wedding.
Opt for trendy outfits for your bridesmaids: Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean that your bridesmaids need to wear over-sized coats and unflattering outfits. If you’re in love with a strapless dress, go for it! Remember, accessories are just as important, and as mentioned - a faux fur coat and some elegant gloves can be used to compliment your choice.
Not only that, but when the party moves indoors, your bridesmaids will be able to dance the night away comfortably without frumpy or layered dresses getting in the way.
Gift your guests with winter-inspired treats: Wedding favours are a great way to say thank you to those who attend your big day. So why not double-up by gifting them with a winter-inspired wedding favour? This could include Christmas decorations or something that they could use for their New Years Eve party.
Additionally, you could choose to have a "midnight snack" table filled with shortbread cookies, ginger snaps, and hot drinks.
Make your guests wait in the cold: Seeing and experiencing the wonderful sights of winter is great… for a short period of time. That is why keeping your outside time to a minimum is an important thing to remember.
For that reason, you should think about the logistics of your wedding. Will you be having a receiving line? If the entrance to your reception party is narrow, it may mean that some guests will have to stand in the cold for a bit before entering. Try to find a spot that has a lot of space for guests to stay warm.
Alternatively, you could do your receiving line indoors, as not to cause any freezing guests.
Let the space get too hot: You may be so worried about the cold that you’ve chosen to surround the venue with heaters, extra blankets, and other items that’ll prevent anyone from getting frostbite. But remember that there is such a thing as being too warm. Bear in mind that your wedding need not reflect a summer’s day of 30 degrees, but rather a comfortable warmness.
And when you move inside, you can ask your venue if they have different temperature controls for various spots within the room. Perhaps a lower temperature near the dance floor would be a good idea.
Pick an inaccessible venue: During the winter months, especially when it’s snowing, there tends to be more traffic and slower drivers. If you choose to have your outdoor winter wedding atop a mountain peak that prompts your guests to drive up a windy road, it may either hinder their attendance or cause them to be late and frustrated.
Either way, you should probably allocate extra time for the guests to arrive, just to be on the safe side.
Dress Code at an Outdoor Winter Wedding
It’s definitely not impossible for your guests to find a great outfit for a winter wedding. In fact, they have the ability to dress up their look with various bits and pieces to add warmth and a bit of chic.
But first things first, make sure to specify your dress code beforehand, whether it is a white-tie, black-tie, formal, semi-formal, dressy casual, or simply casual. By making the dress code known, your guests can plan accordingly.
In terms of colours, dark and rich tones are trendy for the season, so black, navy, bronze and rose gold are all great colours.
Then, texture-wise, textured and heavier fabrics will be the best choice, as it will add that extra bit of warmth. Fabrics such as velvet and cashmere are not only great for winter, but also super trendy.
For women: A longer skirt or dress, like a mid-calf dress, may be the best option as not to expose bare naked legs in the middle of winter. Or, wearing tights underneath a long dress or skirt is a great idea. Additionally, adding a blazer to an outfit is the perfect way to stay sophisticated and warm.
For men: Wool suits are the way forward for an outdoor winter wedding as they’re a classic, and warmer than a cotton suit. Or, a cashmere suit is just as fantastic to fight the cold while looking dapper. What’s also great for men is that they can wear layers under their suit.
Outdoor Winter Wedding Dress Ideas
And now, the fun part - choosing your outdoor winter wedding dress! Have you seen the episode of Friends where Phoebe marries Mike outside Central Perk in the snow? If so, then you may remember when Chandler says to Phoebe, after she exposes her beautiful wedding gown, "Wow! Aren’t you going to be cold?", to which she responds, "I don’t care. I’ll be my something blue".
Well, some brides may not care, but for those who want to look magical whilst keeping warm, here are some great outdoor winter wedding dress and styling ideas.
Lace: this fabric is extremely elegant, and if you choose to wear it around the neckline, it’ll give you light coverage from the cold. You could also choose lace flutter sleeves that’ll be a soft yet beautiful addition to a wedding dress.
Faux fur: Match your bridesmaids and choose a faux fur accessory to keep you toasty.
Tights or stockings: If you’re wearing a long wedding dress you could choose to wear footless tights, stockings, or even a pair of leggings underneath.
Velvet or wool: If you fancy, why not choose to wear a velvet or wool wedding dress? While it does fight the conventions, having a winter wedding alone proves that you’re bold, different, and adventurous.
Ball gowns: A wedding dress that has layers is bound to keep you warmer. And an endless flow of organza, lace, or tulle will be the perfect way to say your "I do’s".
Hair: By choosing to have your hair down, you’ll be able to create a bit of warmth around your face and neck.
Outdoor Winter Wedding Activities
There are tons of outdoor winter wedding activities you can enjoy with your guests that are not only fun, but that will definitely warm up the place a bit.
Spa day: If you’ve chosen a wedding venue that has a spa, why not treat yourself and your bridesmaids to an afternoon in the sauna, Jacuzzi, or in the hot springs before the big event?
Bourbon tasting: Bourbon is the perfect after dinner drink to warm up, so you could incorporate a tasting station for guests to enjoy. Or, if you’d like to make the tasting less noticeable as not to steal all the attention, you could set it up in a smaller corner of the venue, creating a "secret bar".
Start a fire: If the venue allows, a roaring fire inside or out may be the perfect little spot for guests to huddle, share a drink, and enjoy a chat. You could also offer s’mores for them to roast.
Mistletoe: It may not be Christmas, but if the season calls for it… Add a fun touch of mistletoe somewhere in your venue to encourage a sneaky smooch or two.
Outdoor Winter Wedding Photography Tips
If you’ve hired a professional wedding photographer, they should know these tips and tricks already. But for the amateur photographer, here are some things to note:
Lighting: Natural light is harder to catch during winter, so having a morning photo shoot is a great idea. Use a reflector and a tripod with an off-camera flash. Also, the winter sun may affect your wedding photos, so be sure to stand away from the sun as not to create long shadows.
Bright colours: Because you’ve chosen to have a winter wedding, you can bring your photos to life by adding bold colours that’ll really pop against the natural background. This could be a colourful bouquet of flowers, or brightly-coloured props.
Have a plan B: If the weather decides to turn, make sure that you’ve prepared a plan B. Scan the wedding venue beforehand to find a suitable spot that you’d like to have your photos taken if your outside area becomes compromised.
Snow shots: If you’re able to get a few photos in the snow, be sure to overexpose. You can do this by setting your exposure to around +2 which will avoid grey or blue tints.
And so concludes our ultimate guide to enjoying a fairy tale outdoor winter wedding. Embrace the gorgeous winter landscape, and your good energy and adrenaline will too keep you warm!