Winter wedding ideas that will turn your big day into a snowy wonderland
Many people think “wedding season” takes place from late spring to early autumn. But there’s nothing quite as magical as a wedding in the middle of winter. Who wouldn’t want a reason to get together and celebrate love during a time of year already known for its coziness, decorations, and romantic, soft lighting?
In addition to the wedding-ready ambiance of the season, winter weddings are often less expensive than nuptials held at almost any other time of the year. So, are you ready to start planning your winter wonderland wedding day? Read on for everything you need to know. (And when you’re ready to pick out your wedding invitations, we’ve got those, too.)
Are weddings cheaper in the winter?
If you’re a bride or groom on a budget (as most of us are, to some extent), having your wedding in the winter is an easy way to save money for both you and your guests. Unless you’re making your vows in a tropical climate, your venue will likely have discounted rates for dates that are during their “off-peak” season, i.e. their less busy time. In other words, you could save thousands of dollars on your venue just by picking a date in the winter. Check out your favorite venue’s seasonal rates on its website, or if they aren’t listed online, call to find out. You may also find that caterers and other vendors lower their rates during winter due to less competition from other couples getting married—just ask.
Depending on what time of the winter you hold your wedding, it can also be cheaper for guests who are already traveling from out of town for the holidays. Obviously, purchasing one plane or train ticket is more cost-effective than buying multiples—and those long-distance people will most certainly appreciate not having to make the extra trips.
“Verdure” by Paperless Post.
What are some venue ideas for a winter wedding?
While you probably won’t want to host your winter wedding on a beach in New England, there are very few limits to which venue you can choose. Essentially, anything indoors can be an excellent winter wedding venue (though with enough heat lamps, the possibilities are endless).
— Ski lodge: Whether you and your partner love hitting the slopes or do it only for the après ski, a mountainside ski lodge can provide the ultimate rustic winter wedding backdrop. Not only is it already set up to accommodate large groups, but depending on when in the season you hold your wedding, you may wind up saving money on decorations, too.
— Hotel banquet hall: A hotel banquet hall or ballroom is a classic, elegant place to hold your winter wedding. Depending on the time of year and location of the hotel, your guests may even be able to score discounted rooms to stay over. What’s better than having all your favorite people hunkered down under one roof for an endless night of festivities?
“Fructidor” by Putnam & Putnam for Paperless Post.
– Greenhouse: Going for a tropical-themed wedding without the travel? Many botanic gardens offer their larger greenhouses as event spaces. Not only are they heated and filled with beautiful, healthy plants (the perfect way to save money on a florist without skimping on style), but the glass buildings themselves offer a gorgeous view of the night sky after dark.
— Historic estate house: Preserved estate houses are a unique, history-filled place to host a winter wedding and pretend that you live in a mansion for a day. Like ski chalets and hotels, they are also often decorated for the season and have unique charm and characteristics to spare.
— Destination wedding: Who isn’t looking for an excuse to go somewhere warm during a freezing-cold winter? Hosting a destination wedding is the perfect way to get guests excited for both your vows and a vacation, rolled into one. It can also help you save money overall, since many destination weddings have a smaller guest list than those close to home. (Psst… Check out these destination wedding ideas and destination wedding invitations.)
Event Design by A Good Affair, Photo by Isaiah and Taylor, as featured on 100layercake.
What do you do at a winter wedding?
A winter wedding is like a wedding at any time of year, just cozier. If you enjoy the feeling of snuggling up close to people you love and find yourself dreaming about crackling fireplaces and warm mugs of hot chocolate, then a winter wedding may be perfect for you. Furthermore, if you like standing out from the crowd, a winter wedding is an excellent way to distinguish your wedding from the rest. Since so many weddings take place during the warmer months, holding your wedding in the winter will ensure that it gets full attention from your guests (who may experience wedding fatigue, otherwise).
There are some wedding activities and accouterments that are unique to winter weddings.
– Snowy first look: Every first look is special, but there’s something extra romantic about seeing your partner dressed up in their wedding finest with a beautiful snowy backdrop and having the photos to remember the moment forever.
– Hot drinks: Warm guests up for the reception by serving a selection of warm, wintery adult beverages during cocktail hour. From spicy mulled wine to hot buttered rum, these cozy drinks will melt away whatever reservations your guests may have had about getting dressed up and going out during the coldest time of the year.
– Comfort food: From soup to stew to pies both savory and sweet, fill your food menu with comforting seasonal fare that’ll have all your guests feeling right at home.
– Blankets: If your wedding has both indoor and outdoor elements (or if you’re just going for an especially snuggly vibe), your guests will appreciate having blankets draped on the backs of their chairs. You can even have personalized blankets made for them to take home.
– DIY Hot chocolate bar: In addition to your coffee bar at the end of the evening, give guests the option to sip on some cocoa topped with whatever they please—marshmallows, peppermint, colored sugar, and more. Serve the drinks in customized souvenir mugs for them to keep and remember your special day.
– S’mores: Whether you’re supplementing traditional wedding cake or just going for a different vibe, your guests won’t be able to resist eating sweet and crunchy s’mores for dessert. You can make (and enjoy) them at an outdoor firepit, or create DIY stations indoors for guests to gather ’round.
– A wintry exit: Depending on where you’re getting married, you may have the option to leave the party in a spectacularly seasonal fashion. Think hopping on a gondola or ski lift with your new life partner, or being whisked away by a horse-drawn sleigh after you’ve said your goodbyes to guests.
“Love Nest” by Paperless Post. Photo credit: @liliya_gorlanova.
How to decorate for your winter wedding
When it comes to decorating for your winter wedding, the more lush and inviting, the better.
– Twinkle lights and candles: Days get darker earlier in winter, so it’s important to get the lighting for your winter wedding just right. String up twinkling fairy lights for a warm, inviting glow, and light tables and dim corners with romantic candles—pillar, tapered, or floating in vases filled with water.
– Pine garlands and wreaths: Add a festive vibe to your nuptials with draped pine garlands and wreaths made from naturally evergreen tree branches. You can even add a dusting of faux snow for more winter wonderland magic. Turn up the Christmas-factor with pretty red bows and metallic bells.
– Dried flowers, branches, and berries: Who says dead things can’t be beautiful? Not only will incorporating dried flowers, branches, and berries into your arrangements give your wedding decor a wintery feel, but it’ll also guarantee they’ll last and last long after the night ends.
– Decorate the fireplace mantle: Fireplaces are often the focal point of a space—and that’s never truer than in winter. Make the fireplace at your venue stand out even more by decorating the mantle with a large floral installation, flickering candles, or sentimental pieces, like photographs of loved ones.
-Velvet: Make your wedding feel lush and cozy at the same time by adding velvet touches. From table runners to the ribbon tied around your bouquet, velvet always makes a luxurious, wintery statement.
What are some winter wedding themes?
– Christmas/holiday wedding: The holidays are a joyful and beautiful time of year, so it makes sense to plan a wedding around them. In addition to decorating in the manner described above, you might want to include a sweet visit from “Santa” during your reception, or add Christmas tree ornaments and mistletoe to your decor. If you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve-themed wedding, you can decorate with silver, sequins, and disco balls. Don’t forget the party headbands and noisemakers!
– Valentine’s Day wedding: You can’t go wrong with a wedding inspired by the most romantic day of the year. With a V-Day-themed wedding, you might want to go with a pink and red color scheme with plenty of red roses in the floral arrangements and heart-shaped everything. Leave little thank you notes for guests at their seats inspired by the Valentines you passed to classmates in elementary school.
– All-white wedding: Keep things clean and embrace the natural hues of the season with a monotone white-only color palette. Even if it’s not snowing outside, it’ll make your big day feel like an ice palace. You might even choose to wear a color other than white in order to stand out even more from the crowd and scene.
Photo by Rog Walker.
What to wear at your winter wedding
A winter wedding is the perfect occasion to let your personal style shine through.
– Cozy accessories: The best winter wedding dress is whatever you feel most comfortable and beautiful in—but you might want to keep the weather in mind, too. Accessorize your gown with a dramatic cape à la Solange Knowles, or add a faux fur muff, collar, or stole for extra warmth. Long sleeves are always a chic winter wedding option, and there’s something so romantic about wearing elbow-length gloves when you say “I do.”
– Unusual colors: A snow-white backdrop is the perfect setting to wear a non-white gown. Celebrating around New Year’s Eve? Try a metallic gown, or something with a ton of glitter. If your wedding’s near Valentine’s Day, why not go for something red or blush? You can even ask your guests to wear all white to make sure you stand out as the star of the show. Hey, this is your day.
– For the groom: Look for cold-weather fabrics like velvet and wool, in rich, wintery colors like burgundy, rust, plum, navy, and forest green. Add a tweed waistcoat for a vintagey layered look, and accessorize with a plaid or knit tie. For a boutonniere, choose a mini arrangement with pine and a sprig of berries, or more subtle dried flowers.
Wedding invitations that celebrate the season
– Rustic: If your wedding and style is more rustic, choose an invitation that paints that picture with beautiful flowers and wood grain elements.
– Calligraphy: Give your wedding a sophisticated, handmade touch with an invitation with calligraphic elements, like those by our design partner Bernard Maisner Studio.
– Evergreen: An invitation with evergreen trees hints at the season without skewing too holiday (unless that’s what you’re going for, of course!).
Now that you’ve decided on hosting a winter wedding, it’s time to start planning and picking out your perfect Paperless Post invitation!