You may not have to deal with makeup melting down your face or bouquets wilting in the sweltering summertime heat, but winter weddings also come with their own set of potential mishaps—and no, they don't all have to do with snow. When planning their seasonal soirées, there are a few winter wedding mistakes couples always make. Don't let them happen to you.
From forgetting to purchase wedding insurance to neglecting to bring an extra pair of shoes, these winter wedding mistakes are all too easy to make. What's more, each of these blunders can put a real damper on your big day, which is frustrating when you realize exactly how avoidable they really are. Commit the most common winter wedding mistakes below to memory, then follow advice straight from the experts to ensure they don't happen to you.
Meet the Expert
- Nicole-Natassha Goulding is a luxury wedding coordinator and stylist based in Toronto, Canada. She is the founder and lead creative of Chic by Nicole.
- Lea Stafford is a San Francisco-based wedding planner and the owner of Lea Stafford Events.
- Kelli Corn is the founder and lead wedding planner of Kelli Corn Weddings & Events, a Boulder, Colorado-based event firm.
- Marissa Levin Rybalov is a New Jersey-based wedding photographer and the co-owner of Heyn Photography.
- Tracie Domino is a Florida-based wedding planner and the founder and creative director of Tracie Domino Events.
- Kelly Heyn is the owner of SociaLife, a New Jersey-based wedding planning firm.
Under-Communicating Your Plans
According to Nicole-Natassha Goulding, the founder and lead creative of Chic by Nicole, the most common winter wedding mistake she sees couples make is not giving guests all the information they need. "Over communicate what guests can expect," she says. The best way to do that? Include an insert card in your invitation suite or add a section to your wedding website that details how long guests might be exposed to winter elements or what plans you have in place should inclement weather occur.
Another detail to communicate? The actual expected temperatures. Lea Stafford, owner of Lea Stafford Events in San Francisco, California, says that it's important to remind people that winter in warmer locales can be chilly, too. "While California winter weather may not be as cold as East coast states, it still gets pretty chilly along the coast," she explains. "Providing attire recommendations may be helpful for those first-time visitors."
Counting on Your Guests to Come Prepared for an Outdoor Ceremony
Even if you make a concerted effort to warn everyone about your outdoor wedding ceremony in advance, there will always be at least a few guests who don't arrive prepared. "Having heaters, hot drinks, and even maybe an indoor space that can be used to warm up quickly before and after any outdoor events is ideal," Goulding says. It's a good idea to keep a stash of blankets on hand, too. "With cooler temps and an outdoor component of your day, consider blankets, heaters, hot toddies—you get the point," Stafford says. "Warm your guests up so they can focus on what they came for, rather than any discomfort."
Not Having a Backup Plan
In the day and age we live in, a backup plan is essential no matter when you're getting married, but especially during the colder months. "I suggest definitely having a backup plan to the back up plan in case of inclement weather," Goulding explains. If your ceremony space is too deeply covered in snow or icy conditions make it dangerous for guests to get to a certain part of the property, it's important to know exactly how you'll pivot. With a winter wedding, it's incredibly important to plan an indoor option as a Plan B that you love just as much as your original choice; this means vendors can quickly change course should it be necessary and you know you'll be happy with the outcome.
Leaving Out Winter Must-Haves in Your Emergency Kit or Welcome Bags
You know you need a wedding-day emergency kit, but the winter months call for a few extras you may not have thought of. For example, tissues for any runny noses in the cold weather, hand warmers that you can actually put in your shoes or even your attire for any outside photos, and powder for pink cheeks are some extras to include. Stafford suggests including a few essentials in your welcome bags. "Consider offering some helpful goodies on the welcome gift that helps those who may have forgot cold weather staples at home," she says. Hand warmers, tissues, and even hats or gloves are thoughtful additions.
Deciding Not to Provide Transportation for Guests
When road conditions are less than ideal, your guests will appreciate having a safe transportation option. What's more, you'll appreciate knowing when everyone is getting to the venue. "If the budget allows and are guests are staying in close proximity to each other, having a shuttle service is a nice bonus so that guests won't have to be concerned with transportation," Goulding explains. "This can also help ensure guests arrive on time in tricky weather situations."
Forgetting to Pack an Extra Pair of Shoes for Pictures
Flats are essential for sore feet, but winter couples will also want to consider packing an extra pair of boots to take on the elements. As wedding planner Kelli Corn of Kelli Corn Weddings & Events explains, satin, in particular, is one of the hardest materials to work with when it gets wet, and a pair of beautiful satin heels will be ruined from walking around before the ceremony or taking pictures outside. "Remember to bring a temporary pair of shoes for pre- and post-wedding activities so you don't destroy the ones you wear to tie the knot in."
Not Taking Advantage of Indoor Photo Ops
Even with the proper accessories (shawls, coats, scarves, gloves, leggings, and so forth), taking pictures in freezing temperatures is no walk in the park for anyone. Newlyweds often forget how cold it actually is, notes Marissa Levin Rybalov, co-owner of Heyn Photography. "They should look for unique places indoors to use for their photo sessions, as this also helps with the lighting issue," she advises.
Not Doing a First Look
According to Tracie Domino, founder and creative director of Tracie Domino Events, one of the biggest mistakes winter couples make is not accounting for the limited hours of daylight when planning for photos. "If your ceremony is at 6 p.m. for instance, it'll be dark out before it even starts. So, if you forgo a first look, getting any portraits of you and your [spouse] in the daylight will be impossible."
Assuming the Wedding Will Cost Less
The truth is, a winter wedding could cost more for both you and your guests. If you're tying the knot in a warmer region, like the South, winter is actually peak wedding season. In snowy locales, winter sports enthusiasts will flock to the region, also driving prices up. If a savings is what you're after, do your research and carefully consider all the costs before making a final decision.
Failing to Purchase Wedding Insurance
If there's a blizzard that leads to the local government calling for a state of emergency, all roads could be shut down on the day of your wedding. In that case, not only will your guests not be able to get there, but your vendors won't be able to either, cautions Kelly Heyn, owner of SociaLife. There's a nice "Act of God" clause in their contracts that cover them, but you'll want to make sure you're covered by insurance for all costs associated with having to cancel or change your wedding date. "For example, you'd still be liable to pay for perishable items from the florist or caterer, however, if you have wedding insurance, you're safe," she explains.
Forgetting to Appoint Someone to Keep Track of Logistics
Flight delays and cancellations are a regular occurrence throughout the year, but they're especially common during the winter months. Especially in the case of a destination wedding or when many guests are traveling for the big day, Goulding recommends working with a professional to keep track of all the comings and goings. "We always have a list of guest travel arrangements so our travel concierge can keep track of flights and manage guests if flights are cancelled," she explains. This person can help guests rebook, if necessary, rearrange their travel, or adjust the seating at the ceremony and reception to reflect the updated headcount.