Choose the right venue
The venue you viewed during the summer will look and feel a lot different come wintertime. Any in-bloom gardens could be leaf-strewn and muddy, while that romantic castle you liked will be far chillier and harder to warm up. As such, visit your venue during winter to make sure it’s still the right fit. You should also pick somewhere with an indoor area for the reception. Even if your hearts are set on an outdoor ceremony, spending too long out in the cold will chip away at your guest’s enthusiasm, while the heightened possibility of extreme weather makes a backup plan essential. It’s also advisable to choose a venue that will let you host both the ceremony and reception, as this saves people from having to travel between locations in potentially hazardous conditions.
Here at Sandon Hall, there’s ample space for a winter wedding, both indoors and outdoors. Our mansion house having 10 separate rooms for events—including a library, conservatory, and dining room—all surrounded by over 400 acres of gardens and countryside. This gives you more than enough room for both your ceremony and reception, regardless of your preference for the great outdoors, or celebrating inside with a cosy, wintry view, and large rooms overlooking Sandon Hall’s glorious landscape.
Keep your guests warm
Asides from keeping any time spent outdoors to a minimum, there are a few other things you can do to keep guests warm. One is to provide blankets for any extended periods of time when your guests will be exposed to the elements, while you could also rent outdoor heaters for any part of the day that’s not spent indoors. A more wholesome idea is to have an outside fire pit, giving you the chance to toasting marshmallows with your guests—you could consider this feature for the smoking area as well.
For inside your venue, give everyone a tea or coffee when they come in from the cold, and consider swapping the traditional champagne for a more seasonal mulled wine. You could serve the children warm blackcurrant squash, and even set up a hot chocolate station for guests of all ages to enjoy. When it comes to the food, offer up warm, comforting dishes like winter soup, a roast dinner, or puddings such as hot fudge chocolate cake. Another good idea is to adorn everybody’s chairs with faux-fur covers, and adorn your tables with candles to create a cosy atmosphere, even if the candles will provide very little heat themselves.
Create a winter theme
To really embrace the time of year and create an authentic winter feel for your wedding, you need a winter theme. While your choice of venue and food can help with this, there are many other factors to consider.
The most important is the decorations, which set the feel and atmosphere for the day, and accentuate the aesthetics of the venue. Aside from candles, other wintery decorations you could incorporate include warm fairy lights, icicle ornaments, and artificial white trees. Your choice of flower arrangements is also essential to this. Avoid tropical flowers for wintery arrangements such as red roses and greenery, white roses and holly, or magnolia leaves and winter berries.
Dress for the weather
Your guests won’t be the only ones up against the elements, so be sure to choose wedding-wear that is appropriate for cold and unpredictable weather conditions. Look for bridal dresses made of heavier fabrics like silk, brocade or faille with long sleeves, and consider wearing a scarf and wedding cape too. You may want to layer up with an underskirt or two, as well as some tights, while a pair of wellies should keep you safe from muddier conditions—don’t worry, you can change back into your wedding shoes once back inside. Finally, adding a few sequins gives your dress some extra sparkle, and really adds to the winter theme.
For the groom, swap the wool or cotton suits for tweed. This will not only keep you warm but give off a rustic vibe like no other material. Accessorise with a waistcoat and scarf for extra warmth, and bring your own wellies to help you tackle the mud. From a purely stylistic point of view, a pinecone or holly boutonnière can round off your winter look perfectly.
Carefully plan the photography
Wedding photography is an entirely different beast in the wintertime, with lower levels of light and poor weather conditions potentially throwing a spanner in the works. As a result, you should be realistic about how your wedding photos will look. While you could find yourself blessed with a bright, beautiful and clear winter’s day, you should also accept that this is much less likely during winter.
If your photographer is inexperienced at shooting during adverse circumstances, the photos could come out badly, so it’s crucial that you thoroughly vet anyone you’re considering hiring. Get them to show you examples of their work in nasty weather, and at nighttime, in order to fully gauge their capabilities, and directly ask them what they’d do to overcome these hurdles. If you’ve become enamoured with a particular photographer who takes bright and airy images, remember that they may not be able to pull this off on a dark winter’s day. Discuss the type of photos you’d like, and trust your photographer’s skill and expertise when it comes to taking the best possible pictures.