Winter weddings are fun and beautiful! Since December of last year, we have had five "winter" weddings and a couple more to look forward to before the spring arrives. Now in the middle of winter, we thought it would appropriate to talk about how you can make your winter wedding a success, particularly under the constant threat of severe weather in the form of a blizzard or a polar vortex!
1. Dress for the occasion AND the weather!
We cannot stress enough the importance of dressing appropriately! This one is both an aesthetic and practical consideration. The last thing you would want as a bride or a groom is to be freezing your behind, especially if you are thinking of having an outdoor ceremony or photoshoot. For those planning a honeymoon right after the wedding day, getting sick is also not going to be fun for you and your new spouse!
So, how do you dress for the occasion AND the weather? For the bride, the essential items include gloves, a winter cape, a fur shawl, or wrap. Check out our photos for what our winter brides have done in the past to stay warm! If you want to stick with the winter theme, having a wedding dress with long sleeves will provide a layer of protection from the cold! Visit Ottawa's local wedding dress shops like the Revelle Bridal Boutique for their collection of long sleeve winter dresses.
For the gents, you are lucky to be wearing a suit jacket and can get away with wearing a long coat in a neutral or dark colour; something slick and classy will often do the trick. Lately, we have seen velvet blazers on the groom or the groomsmen. The texture of velvet just adds to the winter vibe.
Final things to keep in mind about attire: whatever you require to stay warm, the members of your wedding party will need them too. Be kind and dress them appropriately as well. Lastly, stay away from parkas or anything informal! Winter boots are generally acceptable if they are covered up (for the brides) by the dress or if they have a formal look, but wearing bulky winter boots, while practical, can be distracting.
2. Stay in one location if you can!
The things that often eat up time during weddings include; setting up, travelling, moving guests from one room to the next, and coordinating the wedding party members and relatives to have their photos taken with the bride and groom. While having your wedding in one place is not a must, it will help immensely in keeping your big day run smoothly and on schedule! Keeping everyone in one place will mean your guests will not have to travel and this minimizes the possibility of delays, especially if the weather is not the greatest. The same can be said about your vendors. In our experience photographing winter weddings, not having to travel from one venue or location to the next have allowed us to spend more time taking photos of the couple and the guests and less time de-icing or sitting in the car. :D
When looking for a winter wedding venue in Ottawa, consider what facilities they have that can accommodate all aspects of your wedding. Is there somewhere in the venue where you and your wedding party can get ready? Can the venue host an outdoor wedding ceremony? Are there little nooks, indoor and outdoor where you can have your photos taken? Some of the places in Ottawa where we have photographed winter weddings (and did not go anywhere else for photos) include Strathmere and Orchardview! Of course, there are many more all-in-one locations in Ottawa depending on your style and theme, so make sure to visit each one to match your winter wedding plans!
3. Keep your guests warm
While you will be the centre of attention during your wedding, your guests will play a big part in setting the overall tone and mood of your big day. Guests that are freezing will not be the happiest of people! So, make sure to keep your guests warm; you can do this in multiple ways.
First, give them more information than just the itinerary of the wedding day. Summer weddings can get away with just the basic timeline, but for winter weddings, you need to tell your guests a little bit more. For example, you have to let them know if there is going to be an outdoor component to your wedding, like an outdoor ceremony or having their photos taken outside. We have seen sparklers used for the first dance, and that usually needs to be done outdoors. Tell them how much travelling is involved if you have your ceremony in one location and reception in another. The point is, you need to set some expectations so that they can also plan for it!
Second, provide them with little comforts, like hand warmers, which can keep your guests toasty. Some venues offer blankets, and others will have a fireplace to keep your guests warm. If it is snowing, having umbrellas can help! For some thinking of an outdoor ceremony, ask your venue if they have a firepit close by or outdoor heaters the can turn on for the duration of your ceremony. Giving your guests options for warm drinks, like tea, coffee, mulled wine, or cider is also an excellent way to help assist with the cold! If there are no options for warm drinks, any alcohol will do! Nothing warms the body like alcohol! :D
4. Avoid holiday colours
Okay, this next tip is more of a preference but is useful in thinking about how you want to decorate for your winter wedding. Just because you are having a winter wedding does not mean you have to embrace the holiday colours of green and red. This your wedding and not an annual work Christmas party! Do not feel in any way boxed by other people's expectation of what a winter wedding is supposed to be. You do not need to get poinsettias for your flowers; there is no need to have Christmas bells, snowflakes, or any seasonal symbols in your decorations. Your guests will have already seen these throughout the holidays, so be creative with your decorations!
Another to point to consider when decorating your winter wedding is that there is no harm in asking your venue or your church to take down their holiday decor for the duration of your wedding and replace it with your decorations. Just make sure you designate someone to un-decorate the space after you have used it!
5. Put a "Plan B" in place
This last tip is crucial. There is no point in pretending that there definitely will not be a blizzard on your wedding day. This is, unfortunately, the risk you will have to take when planning your winter wedding. Fear not, though, having a Plan B or C will help mitigate some of the issues that might come if there is a blizzard.
First, talk to your major vendors: your venue, caterer, photographer, DJ, and so on. Ask the "what if" questions. What if there is a blizzard? What if you decide to postpone the wedding? What if, for whatever reason, they cannot make it? Knowing the answer to these questions will better help you plan your day accordingly.
During the wedding day itself, if you are considering an outdoor wedding ceremony, make sure to have an indoor space that can accommodate the same number of people as your outdoor space in case the cold is intolerable. Designate members of your wedding party, or ask your wedding coordinator to have people ready to move your set up or decorations. A piece of advice that applies to summer weddings too is: always have a plan in place to move things (and people) around!
For your wedding photos, plan to have many of them taken indoors. Sure, you will definitely want photographs with the snow falling and have a beautiful winter backdrop. But, while your photographers will have their Canada Goose jackets on to keep them warm, you, your new spouse, and your wedding party will still likely be in your wedding attire. Often, your wedding attire will not be enough to keep you warm during a long photoshoot. As an example, for the wedding we shot this weekend, Denise and Joel chose the Nature Museum for their indoor shoot, and it was beautiful! We still did their "first look" outside and we did manage to take photos outdoor photos, the bulk of it were taken indoors where everyone stayed warm!