I have an excellent guest post for you today from a friend who was involved in planning a last-minute winter wedding in the UK. I have always envisioned getting married myself in one of the stately castles that dot the countryside, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy the tips offered!
Recently I was involved in the planning of perhaps the trickiest kind of wedding to pull off. Or at least, that was what I was dreading when we started. Not only did we have an extremely short amount of time to plan it, but it was also to be held right in the heart of winter. Quite the tall order. What I initially thought had the makings of a full-scale disaster turned into one of the most rewarding and exciting wedding experiences I’ve ever had. Planning a winter wedding requires you to get creative and innovative. Far from being a limiting influence, it opens up a whole range of incredibly magical themes and elements to explore. So I’ve decided to share our journey up the wintry aisle with all its joys and pitfalls.
Choosing a Venue
Unless you are very brave or very hardy an indoor venue is what you want to be booking. A popular choice for winter weddings is stately homes. These places come into their own during the colder months, especially if they come equipped with roaring log fires. The historic feeling feeds perfectly into wintry themes and as long as they have excellent heating will be your best bet. If the wedding is going to be around Christmas chances are the venue will already be festively decorated, saving you the cost of decorating yourself.
We did a mammoth hunt of wedding venues around the West Midlands, particularly wedding venues in Worcestershire, and came up trumps with Birtsmorton Court. This moated grange wedding venue ticked all the boxes. Stately, a historic building, check, huge fireplace, check, grand hall, check. They had incredible festive decorations, beautiful grounds, and their own chapel close by (especially nice so we didn’t have long to spend in the cold between ceremony and reception. A winter wonderland indeed.
So here’s one of the big upsides of having a last-minute winter wedding. You can get great deals on a late wedding, and even better deals because your wedding is out of the traditional season. Win-win! In fact, most wedding vendors will be likely to give you a better rate in the colder months, from your entertainment to your photographer. Our Worcestershire wedding venue’s late deals certainly made a difference. Another plus, being a venue specializing in winter weddings they had lots of details already taken care of, like elegant white umbrellas for the guests should the weather have turned, especially important if you want at least a hint of a garden wedding during your day.
There’s plenty to be excited about in a winter wedding, however, there are a few things we found were trickier to negotiate, number one being flowers. Choosing out-of-season flowers is going to make your florist bill skyrocket, as are choosing roses too near Valentine’s Day. My advice would be to go for seasonal alternatives, sprigs of fir, holly, and heather, get creative. The other potential pitfall is choosing a date. In the madness of Christmas and New Year, a wedding invitation might be greeted with alarm. Best to give everyone as much notice as you possibly can.
Winter Wedding Ideas and Advice
Make the most of winter fashion. Fur capes, hoods, wraps. The winter bridal look can be sheer elegance, embrace it. Also, spare a thought for your shivering bridesmaids. There might be some standing around outside for photos so when choosing their dresses, make sure they’ll be warm enough.
Blankets! We kept a few baskets of soft fleecy ones nearby. They were much appreciated, especially by worn-out young ones.
Get festive with your wedding favors. There are some great ideas out there. We went for gourmet hot chocolate kits. Although it was a close call between those and personalized Christmas ornaments or ornament keepers. As always, Pinterest became my best friend here.
Plan your ceremony early so you don’t run out of natural light for the photographer. It pays to be over-prepared when it comes to the wedding photos and to have some good backup options in the event of howling winds or driving rain.
Winter can be a very sensory time, so make the most of it. Mulled wine in front of the fire was one of my favorite moments during the day. Nothing beats that smell.
If you want a winter wedding, but are determined that at least part will be a garden wedding then make sure you have good plans in place for the worst-case weather scenarios. Plans your vendors are also aware of.
I’ve already mentioned going seasonal with your flowers, it’s also a good idea to opt for a seasonal menu. This is going to keep the price down as well. Think warming butternut squash soup and succulent venison. I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it. We choose a caterer local to the West Midlands wedding venue and were served an incredible winter feast.
Work with your venue on decorations. As I’ve mentioned you can save a bundle if the venue is already festively attired.
Most of all…
Enjoy the experience. It can be all too easy to become stressed by all the logistics. Focus on the good points of a last-minute winter wedding, and you’ll have a ball.