Whether you're a fan of all things frosty, Christmas trees and sleighbells or roaring fires and snow falling outside then you've probably thought about a winter wedding at some point. Before you run out to start shopping for fur stoles take a look at our top 15 tips for planning the perfect winter wedding!
1/ Consider When Does It Get Dark
If you're getting married in Ireland then keep in mind that it starts to get dark around 4 pm in the wintertime. This can have a huge impact on photography, the ceremony and the reception so it's a good idea to schedule your big day for what you would say is the optimal brightness (You might want the ceremony a sunset and the reception inside while it's dark).
2/ Keep General Safety In Mind
If you're planning on getting married in the winter then be mindful of things like snow and ice that could pose as a danger to you and your guests. Be it driving to the reception hall or walking across the carpark the potential for an accident is high. If you think there's a chance of this then be sure to let your guests and vendors know in advance so they can prepare accordingly e.g. sensible shoes or snow tires.
3/ Find Out How They Heat The Venue
Before booking the venue ask them how they plan to heat it in the winter months, most wedding venues will either have fireplaces or radiator heaters, however many churches and chapels will not. They may, however, have space heaters that they would be willing to provide to keep you and your guests warm. Also, keep in mind that you can't turn down the heat of a fireplace easily (since, you know, it's fire) so if you worry it may get too warm this should be discussed with the venue in advance.
4/ Always Have Bad Weather Backup Plans
It's almost inevitable that you're not going to have the perfect weather for your wedding day during an Irish winter. Ask your venue what they’ll do if there’s bad snow or torrential rain. What if one of your suppliers is unable to get there? Will they be able to provide a backup? Is there somewhere suitable for guests to park? Will there be somewhere the photographer can still take photos? For guests that smoke, is there somewhere alternative they can go? Details like this may seem unnecessary in the planning days, but come your wedding day you'll be glad to have had it all squared away in case disaster strikes.
5/ Keep Your Guests Warm
You've invited these people to your wedding so it's important to make sure they're comfortable. Advise guests in your invite that they may need to wrap up warm and be sure to seat older guests away from doorways that could have drafts. If you're really worried then why not buy a bunch of pashminas online and have them set out for each guest as the wedding favour. This way they can wrap up if they start to get cold. Another potential idea is to start the reception with warm drinks like mulled wine or a hot toddy for the guests (Tea or nonalcoholic versions for the guests that don't drink) to warm them up a little and start the night off on good footing!
6/ Is Your Dress Warm Enough?
While wedding dresses are beautiful and elegant, they're not exactly built for heat in the cold winter months. Why not add a bit of vintage flair with a faux fur stole, throw on a leather jacket to add an accent of punk to your gown or drift down the aisle wrapped in a soft white pashmina. An added way to retain as much heat as possible is to throw on a thick pair of tights under your wedding dress (If it's long) and your guests will be none the wiser to your toasty woollen secret!
7/ Don't Theme The Decor If You Don't Want To
You may feel the need to have an all-out Christmas wedding because you're getting married in December, and that's totally fine if it's what you want! But don't let yourself get pressured into having Santa Claus officiate because it's what your mother in law wants. Have fun with the decor and add Christmassy accents if you want (Gold stars, pine trees, angels etc.) but don't feel restricted in what you can do because of the proximity to a holiday.
8/ Don't Fall Into Cliches
Just because you're slightly limited in flowers and photograph opportunities because of the weather doesn't mean you have to do the cliche options! Red flowers don't have to be poinsettias and not every photo has to be next to the fireplace on in the middle of a snowdrift. A little creativity can go a long way in making your special day stand out and compliment the winter wonderland that Ireland can be.
9/ Consider Your Shoes
Lord all mighty please consider your shoes wisely before you drop a bomb on them! Walking through slush and mud will ruin a pair of white Giuseppe Zanotti's faster than you can say 'I Do', because of this it may be smart to have two different pairs of shoes for photography and for getting from the car to the chapel to the reception. Put a pair of boots in the bridal car just in case the heavens suddenly open on the drive over.
10/ Plan Your Photos Around The Climate
Depending on where you go there are certain climate conditions that can vastly impact your wedding photos. From the time the sun goes down to the amount of snow and ice you can expect, it's important to plan in advance with your photographer! It might mean that you have to take your photos before the ceremony to catch as much sunlight as possible, you might have to figure out creative light sources (Sparklers for example) or you have the opportunity for cool and unique photographs that set your wedding apart from the rest. A bit of forward-thinking and having a solid plan in advance can make all the difference.
11/ Hire An Experienced Wedding Photographer
Winter wedding photography is very challenging for any wedding photographer. You need to make sure that they have experience dealing with winter conditions and can cope with the lighting or more importantly, the lack of lighting. Ask to see their portfolio before booking and ask them about previous experiences shooting winter weddings.
12/ Don't Greet The Guests Outside
If it's a cold day outside then I would firmly suggest that you refrain from meeting and greeting all of your guests until you're inside the venue. Depending on how many guests you've invited you could be stuck outside shivering for thirty minutes to two hours! If you want to avoid confusion have the priest/officiant/civil registrar announce that the bride and groom will be greeting the guests at the reception venue.
13/ Keep The Important Dates In Mind
Getting married close to big holidays has its pros and cons. On the one hand, your guests will already have the time off of work for the holidays; however, they may already have things booked as this is the most reliable time of the year to book a holiday. You also run the risk of higher venue costs because they have to keep their staff on during the Christmas period. If you want to be safe then talk to your vendors and venue beforehand about dates that suit them within your budget and try and find a common denominator.
14/ Visit Your Venue At Night
As I said earlier, it gets darker far earlier in the wintertime so it's probably obvious to assume that it's going to be pretty dark outside by the time the speeches come around. Visit your venue at night time before the wedding to see how it looks without any natural light, some venues don't look as magical without the sunlight pouring through their windows; others, however, come into a life of its own when it's been lit up like a Christmas tree. Seeing in advance how it looks when it's dark outside gives you time to plan ways to get the experience you want throughout the whole wedding.
15/ Start Your Beauty Prep Well In Advance!
Winter weather takes a very rough toll on your skin, from cracked lips to dry and flakey skin. The last thing you want on your wedding day is to feel uncomfortable with how you look because of a factor you can't really control. To prevent this start your beauty prep far in advance (like three to four months), this gives you time to adjust to a higher moisture routine and gets the potential breakouts over with before the wedding is a month away! If you're not sure what to do then why not have a look at our winter skin survival guide!