Top 5 Tips for Successful Winter Weddings

When you chose your winter wedding date, I can only imagine the wealth of reasons behind your decision to go against the grain. Opting for hopes of freshly fallen snow over sun and warm breezes is a unique and romantic choice! You are the brave bride, the rebellious groom, the practical pair of winter lovebirds. You're embarking on a unique wedding planning experience, and perhaps you have a few reservations to go along with your excitement, too?
Winter months certainly present their fair share of challenges. Have no fear, however, for there are ways to ensure your day goes off without a hitch no matter what the temperature is outside! The better prepared my couples are for all the what-ifs, the less stressful the wedding day is. Less stress on your wedding day = more time for genuine happiness and sappy lovey-dovey-ness = AWESOME PHOTOS. So you see, it's to my benefit as well to help you make great decisions and consider all the different obstacles that winter weddings might present. And so, here are five of my favorite tips!

Tips for Winter Wedding Planning


#1: Plan Your Time for Photographs Accordingly

  The sun goes down much earlier in the winter months, so you won't have as much time to take advantage of the daylight for photographs come 4 or 5 o'clock. I highly recommend beginning your day with a First Look (find my helpful articles about first looks HERE and HERE) and completing at least a large portion of your portraits before the ceremony, if not all. Check out to find out approximately when the sunset will be on your day. To take advantage of some winter sunset portraits you'll want to set aside the 15 minutes before that sunset mark. If you won't be able to plan pictures during the lighter hours, make sure your trusted wedding photographer is comfortable shooting portraits indoors or in low evening light, and scope out any spots that might have pretty twinkly lights for a gorgeous background. Advanced knowledge of flash and other lighting techniques is a major bonus for low-light portraits and something you may want to scope out in their portfolio if you are still deciding on your photographer.
Winter sunset wedding photos

Sarah & Ryan stepped out of their New Year's Eve wedding celebration for this sunset shot around 5:30pm.

Winter wedding bride and groom portrait Wisconsin

Heather & Nate brought one of their brand new wedding gifts, a custom quilt, along on a little post-brunch session around 4pm in February.


#2: Be Prepared to Stay Warm & Toasty

Red, runny noses and blue fingers don't add to your portraits, and too much time in the bitter cold will not make your wedding party's experience as enjoyable as it could be. Here are a few ideas on keeping yourselves and your VIP's from catching a cold:

  • Find yourself a pretty, festive coat or cape that will compliment your dress and allow you to enjoy your time outdoors. There are all kinds of vendors on Etsy who will create a custom piece just for you. On a tighter budget? This can be an awesome "something borrowed" if you know anyone who has a vintage option- maybe even that heirloom fur you've always eyed in Gramma's old photos! Don't feel like it needs to be white, either- feature a color in your wedding scheme or opt for your favorite snuggly blanket instead!
  • Consider a pair of winter boots (like sparkly, fur-lined Uggs!) to keep your feet warm and your fancy heels sleet-free for those romantic outdoor photos. You'll also want a protective shoe bag for your pretty shoes so you can throw them into your wedding day essentials tote bag between changes. Slip a few paper towels into the shoe bag so you can wipe off any dirt or salt before tucking them away.
  • Gift your bridesmaids with pretty, yet functional shawls, scarves, or cardigans that will compliment their dresses.
  • Choose photo locations that have heated indoor areas in addition to pretty outdoor scenes, or hire a heated limo or bus to make sure your VIP's have a warm spot to wait for you and warm up between shots.
  • Treat your guests to warm winter drinks during cocktail hour. Consider featured cocktails that feature coffee, tea, or hot apple cider. And of course, hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows for your younger guests!
Hot chocolate at a winter wedding

Holly and Kevin served their guests delicious hot chocolate after their brief ceremony in the snow.

Winter wedding at the Madison Capitol WI photographers

Lisa chose a stylish fur to protect her from the chill as we walked the Madison Capitol area for outdoor winter wedding portraits!

boots for winter weddings

Sarah swapped her gorgeous glittery heels for matching fur-lined boots when it was time to head into the cold.


#3: Pad Your Schedule to Allow for Winter Travel

If possible, you may also want to minimize the distance between venues and hotels as much as possible. Venues that will accommodate both your ceremony AND your reception will come in handy if you end up with more than a few romantic flurries! Snow, sleet, and ice can slow down the roads considerably, so add some extra time between your events or schedule a longer cocktail hour to accommodate any potential delays without making your guests or your limo driver feel the need to rush. Even if you don't end up needing the buffer time, you will enjoy having a lower-stress day with a leisurely schedule! Who wouldn't love more time to hug their favorites or sneak away for ten minutes alone, just because you can?


#4: Consider a Live Broadcast of Your Ceremony

Some guests may be more hesitant to plan a trip during the winter, or they might have many commitments around the holidays and be unable to get away. Then of course, there is always the chance that winter weather could stir up some travel struggles and delays. If a storm causes missed flights or keeps out of town guests from driving in, they'll be able to enjoy your ceremony and celebrate with you from the comfort of their own home. Ask around to see if any local videographers or DJ's offer this option as an add-on to their packages. Or, if you're brave, find a friend who knows how to run a GoPro and a wireless mic. There are plenty of apps that will allow you to live stream from your own device. If you do go this route, whether you hire a professional or ask a friend you will want to include an additional tech-savvy friend or family member in the planning and final details so they can take point on this task on the big day if anyone needs help. Give your virtual guests this person's contact info so they can help them get connected at least 30 minutes before the ceremony begins.


#5: Wishing for Snow? Bring Your Own!

You never know if you'll get that fluffy, new snowfall- but you can plan ahead and buy some fake snow online if you want a backup! If you have enough time, check around right after the holiday season to find some on clearance. Other alternatives include chunky glitter or (in a pinch!!) dehydrated mashed potatoes! You can have some friends or wedding party members stand off to the side and throw your "snow" in the air. Just remember, whatever is thrown at you might stick in your hair. So consider those mashed potatoes as a last resort... I've done it, yes! Haha!
Winter wedding photography in Wisconsin

Jenni and Joe took my advice and had some fluffy, puffy snowflakes ready for their November wedding, which turned out to be a GORGEOUS and unseasonably warm day. Despite that happily unexpected treat, we still got some winter-feeling shots with the snow they brought themselves!

Fake snow pictures at a winter wedding
snowy first dance winter wedding

Their wedding was at Badger Farms, and the great balcony there allowed their wedding party to shower them with their own "snowfall" during their first dance. So romantic and fun, and a great way to use up the extra!

So there you have it, some of my favorite tips for winter weddings! I adore romantic winter weddings and look forward to the handful I have on the calendar so far. I hope you'll reach out and tell me all about yours, so we can create some gorgeous winter wedding photographs together! If you enjoyed this, please share or Pin this article to help more winter brides and grooms with their wedding plans!
how to plan a winter wedding

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