I have often seen Winter weddings and been so in love with them. No-one looks hot and flustered. The lighting is incredible. The bridal attire usually includes a fur stoll or a lovely jacket. The flowers are always unusual and unique. They're just gorgeous!
And being in the industry for nearly 10 years, I know ALL of the hidden beauty and cost-cutting that comes from having a Winter wedding . . . and I wanted to share them with you. So I taped a half hour video with my BEST secrets, so that you will know how to plan a perfectly beautiful Winter wedding. I have also shared my notes after the video if you would like to have a printed copy.
Here are some notes of the video, which you may find of use . . .
Availability - with less competition with other couples, you will find more venues are available on your chosen date.
Discounts - many venues will offer a Winter discount, up to as much as 50% or bonuses on accommodation, etc. If they don't advertise a 'special' it pays to actually ask them.
Accommodation - rates for accommodation for you and your guests will be substantially less expensive during the Winter months. Many accommodation locations will also offer Group Bookings - don't forget to ask.
I cannot stress this point enough - ask the venue and physically view the spaces that you are hiring, to see how many people fit into the space, especially for the ceremony. If you had hoped for an outdoor Ceremony but (intelligently) organise a 'back-up' space (indoor or undercover) in case the weather turns, make sure that the space is big enough for all your guests. It also pays to make sure that it actually has decent ventilation, as sweaty/nervous bodies and wet clothes/footwear can overwhelm a cloistered space very quickly and become extremely unpleasant.
If you do plan an outdoor ceremony, keep an eye on the weather forecast in the week leading up to your wedding and if possible, keep in touch with the venue regarding changing the location. It will work best for you if you keep in contact with the venue staff about last minute changes you want to implement.
Choosing a venue where you can hold your ceremony and reception is not only easier for you, but is also more comfortable for your guests. While you are having your formal photos elsewhere, they can stay warm and dry and will be in the best of spirits when you enter the reception.
If you are definitely having your ceremony and reception in different locations, then allow for extra travel time. Rain, other drivers and road conditions will definitely add to your travel time.
Ask your wedding venue what photographic locations they have on site . . . this may save you substantial time and stress. Consider some of the inside vignettes that will make your photographs unique . . . against a roaring open fire, under a verandah with the rain pouring behind you, at a large window with the storm blowing over the lake in the background.
Find wedding suppliers that are happy to be flexible with the changes that will undoubtedly occur due to the weather . . . moving ceremony decorations, kaiboshing the outdoor bunting because of wind, adding extra lights inside due to severe (and darkening) storm clouds.
The best part of winter is the availability of suppliers - they're not busy in the 'off season'. Although, it is important to note that a lot of wedding suppliers use the down time to actually have a holday. Contact them early to make sure that you can ustilise their services!
Talk to your wedding suppliers about the need for flexibility on the day. You want to be on the same page when it comes to the weather and how it affects your decor, and you want to be confident that your suppliers will want to work with you on the day.
The most important advice I can give every bride is . . . . read your Terms & Conditions!!! Oncce you have paid a deposit, under normal T&C you will lose a small sum which is normally equivalent to the initial deposit. Bad weather will not alter these T&C!
Having a Winter wedding definitely does not mean you have to choose a Winter theme.
All your fresh flowers and greenery will be vibrant right through the day and evening.
You will get far more use out of any lighting that you have . . . on tables, in trees, along walkways.
You have access to styling pieces that are unavailable at every other time of the year . . . items such as grapevines. They are just gorgeous intertwined with fairylights and floral blooms. I'm sure you stylist and florist will jump at the chance of using something unusual and seasonal.
Winter gives you so many wonderful opportunities to try something unique and that includes the cuisine. Imagine serving 24-hour roasted lamb shanks on a bed of mash with red wine jus. OMG - my mouth is salivating!
Talk to your caterer or venue chef, to see what amazing seasonal produce is in season and serve something truly warming and memorable to your guests.
Timing Of The Day
Days are vastly shorter in Winter. For instance a Summer wedding normal starts between 3-4pm. However in Winter, daylight is completely gone by 5pm which will be exacerbated by any cloud cover, and it is truly dark by 6pm.
The best person to talk to about the timing of your wedding, is your wedding photographer. He or she may suggest that some photos are taken before the ceremony, to provide the ultimate light source.
What provisions have you made for your guests, whule they wait for you at the ceremomy? Are they out in the open or snuggled in a warm room? Don't make them wait for the bride out in the cold!
The sunlight during Winter is vastly different to Summer light. The sun is lower, the days are shorter and we are further away from the sun so the light is actually less intense.
Your photos will have far less squinting guests and bridal party, due to the gentler sunlight.
If you can get some outdoor photos, you will be blessed with the green-ness of the Southwest. Everything breaths out a sigh after the tough, dry Summer and starts shooting out deep greens, new growth and sparkling surfaces thanks to the rain.
Keep an eye on that weather app on your smart phone, and if any major weather changes are forecast, then keep in contact with your suppliers.
If your supplier has not been contracted to move decor due to a weather change, then make sure that you have some strong and creative friends on standby to help out last minute.
Quite often venue staff all pitch in to help when weather turns sour . . . just talk to them.
If the weather forces you to shift locations at the very last minute, make sure that one of the contingencies that you have in place is an SMS Group on your phone, so that you can text all of your guests the new location . . . or just to keep them up-to-date.
Marquees in Winter
Believe it or not, marquees in Winter are actually still a wonderful option. The marquees of today are incredibly structurally sturdy and something like a glass marquee (clear) would be incredible in a storm.
The dance floor in your marquee also makes the perfect spot for your ceremony - it's dry underfoot and large enough for all your guests.
In my opinion, one of the greatest benefits to a Winter wedding is the opportunity to wear something 'extra' that you just can't at a Summer wedding . . . faux-fur stolls, a coutured coat, a fitted jacket, pashminas or wraps. The men are also much more comfortable in their suits!
Be aware of the need for this extra layer of comfort, you don't want bare-shouldered bridesmaids hunching over in the cold and straining to even smile for the photographer.
And on a delicate topic - headlights. If your bridal party (blokes included) are cold, then your gorgeous photos may be ruined by glaring 'headlights'. Keep your attendants warm!
You are much more likely to be able to encourage a 'Black Tie' reception, as everyone will feel comfortable wearing layers and more formal clothing styles. Even the blokes.
Hair & makeup will also need careful consideration . . . makeup will last a lot longer, however hairstyles will be quickly decimated. Talk carefully with your hair and makeup stylists to get their opinion and advice.
Many guests may already have a wedding or two to attend in the Summer, and with BBQ's, long weekends and general Summer time, it can get quite exhausting traveling to all the events. But . . . . if you offer them a Winter wedding, they will be far more likely to have not only the time to attend but also the desire. It will be like a Winter Getaway for many of them.
Having your wedding in the Winter will also make your wedding far more memorable to your guests.
Having your wedding on a Friday or Saturday, means that guests can make a whole weekend of your wedding. It will give them time to visit wineries, go for hikes in the amazing forests or even walk along our storm-swept beaches.
Cancelling Due To Weather
What if a severe weather event is scheduled in the days before your wedding and you decide you want to cancel or reschedule? My advice to all couples is, book a venue that can handle severe weath as cancelling a wedding will cost you thousands of dollars. Obviously we don't recommend this if people's safety is at risk, but if you have done your research, your venue will provide undercover parking for the couple's entrance, safe inside seating and dancing areas, adequate drainage for heavy rainfall, and so on.
Most venues and wedding suppliers will NOT refund due to bad weather. In the end it costs them money even if you cancel, because they haven't been able to schedule other customers due to their committment to you.
Cancelling or rescheduling due to the weather is not something I would advise.
I hope that you found these tips helpful and that you might even change your plans from a Summer/Spring wedding to a Winter wedding instead. In my opinion, it's the most beautiful season of the year.