While many flock south for a winter wedding with their toes in the sand, there are those who dream of creating a wedding wonderland that rivals a scene from a shimmering snow globe. If you’re warming up to the idea of a wintery milieu, we’ve called in wedding expert Jennifer Allen to share her tips for cold weather location scouting. Her first word of advice: "Since 'wedding season' is typically over by the winter, be sure to ask if your venue offers a winter discount."
Meet the Expert
Jennifer Allen is the founder and CEO of Just Elope. She is an elopement and micro wedding expert based in Dallas that specializes in planning all-inclusive weddings with as little as 48 hours' notice.
Winter Wedding Venue Tips
As far as the venue itself, Allen reminds couples that depending on your location it is typically dark around 5:30 p.m. during this season. If you want to get those golden hour images with your photographer, you’ll want to aim for a 3:30 p.m. ceremony start time and ensure that the timeline works with the venue.
As beautiful as a stark white blanket of snow may be as the backdrop of your wedding day, biting temperatures may accompany that setting. If your wedding is outdoors, Allens says heaters are a must to keep your guests comfortable. It’s also a wise idea to create a cozy ambiance with accessories that can pull double duty, as she says items such as throw blankets can also double as your wedding favor. Most of all she warns, "Be sure your venue has an indoor backup option that is equally as beautiful should the temperature take a dangerously low dip."
While speaking with your catering team, consider food and drink options that will complement the chilly setting. "Coffee, tea, or a gourmet hot chocolate bar will keep guests nice and warm during your outdoor ceremony," Allen says. "If you opt to have an indoor ceremony, these options still work as an added element to your winter wedding day and are a great way to warm up your bridal party after coming in from outdoors taking pictures!"
With cold and flu also prominent in the winter months, Allen advises considering a served meal versus a buffet to reduce germ spread and staying in constant communication with your catering team. "Have a very transparent conversation with your catering company regarding final guest counts and when they are due, as guests may have to cancOur expert weighs in on how to choose the perfect wonderland for your winter wedding dreamsel due to illness," says Allen.
The current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. As the situation remains fluid, we’ll be sharing tips and stories from industry experts to give you of-the-moment advice and help you navigate wedding planning today. For the most up-to-date guidelines and latest on travel restrictions and requirements, check the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites.
Ahead, check out 15 venues across the U.S. that will inspire a sense of winter wedding bliss.
Terrain at Styer’s in Pennsylvania
Deeply rooted in nature and plant life, Terrain at Styer’s is inspired by the idea of merging house and garden to create an experience for all the seasons. At their flagship location on the historic site of J. Franklin Styer’s nursery, the venue offers an expansive, horticultural retreat for weddings of up to 110 guests. During a wintertime wedding, couples can expect to be surrounded by the nursery’s fir trees, twinkling market lights, and crackling fire pits in the outdoor venues. Inside, temperature-controlled venues such as the Garden Shed or the Hot House embrace guests in a warm environment with rustic touches and evergreen foliage for décor. Weddings at Terrain at Styer’s include exclusive use of the indoor and outdoor ceremony spaces, cocktail hour spaces, a reception room, a private suite, and a signature Terrain fire pit starting at $15,000.
Topnotch Resort in Vermont
Against the breathtaking backdrop of New England’s Green Mountains, the allure of ski-capital Stowe is unmistakably present at Topnotch Resort. Imagine slipping away as newlyweds on a horse-drawn sleigh through the snow at a New England locale tucked into a 120-acre wooded glade at the foothills of Mount Mansfield. Of their wedding venues, the Pinnacle Room is the largest indoor space, set apart from the other banquet rooms with modern lighting juxtaposed by cabin-inspired wooden walls. For a ceremony, cocktail hour, or dinner reception framed by sweeping views of the mountains, the Roost Patio venue is the perfect place to celebrate with access to the warmth of fire pits. Reception rental fees start at $2,000 for up to 80 guests.
Montage Deer Valley in Utah
Perched 8,300 ft. above sea level in the Wasatch Mountain region of Park City, Montage Deer Valley is an ideal destination for couples to have a snow-laced wedding with breathtaking alpine views. From almost any point on the property, couples can gather with their closest friends and family to admire inspiring views of snow-capped mountains while they exchange their vows. Located on the sixth floor of the resort, the Vista Lounge and Terrace provides an exceptional alternative to the traditional ballroom boasting vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, stunning wood floors, a working fireplace, and panoramic views of the valley. The terrace can accommodate up to 100 guests for ceremonies and the elegant indoor lounge can accommodate up to 250 guests for receptions and dinners. Starting rate for weddings available upon request.
The Schuyler in Washington D.C.
For couples seeking ice palace-inspired vibes within a high-end city scene, this newly renovated venue serves up the ultimate winter-white canvas for any atmosphere you can dream up. Located directly adjacent to the Hamilton Hotel, The Schuyler’s design honors its past while forging a future as a modern event space. New additions include LED-illuminated columns capable of creating over one million custom color combinations—when set in white, these striking columns replicate a modern interpretation of shining icicles while frosted paneling on the mezzanine level softens the space with a nod to snow-framed windows. The Schuyler can accommodate up to 700 guests reception style and up to 450 guests seated and comes equipped with a full-service catering kitchen with dance floor, stage, and furniture provided in-house. Rental rates start at $10,000 for weekdays and $14,000 for weekends.
Arlo SoHo in New York
At Arlo SoHo, you can transport guests to the Hudson Valley without ever having to leave Manhattan. Wedding parties can choose to have a cocktail hour or wedding in The Courtyard, a heated outdoor space with two cedar cabins (imported from the Canadian Rockies) as a backdrop, followed by a reception at Lindens restaurant with food prepared by Executive Chef Carsten Johannsen. Both cabins are decked out with hygge-inducing furnishings (think plaid throws and porch front rocking chairs) and can be booked for two hours at a time for small groups. Couples can invite up to 10 guests inside to settle in for an intimate dinner, seasonal cocktails, and board games, or use the cabins to simply set the stage for their winter escape ambiance with a standing capacity of up to 150. Rental rates start at $1,500.
Edgewood Tahoe in Nevada
Set along the beautiful shoreline of South Lake Tahoe’s cobalt blue waters overlooking the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Edgewood Tahoe is a luxe winter haven filled with a rich history of bringing magical moments to life. The LEED-certified mountain lodge offers two lofty mountain chalet venues with an elevated lodge aesthetic and extraordinary lake views—the expansive North Room Deck & Lawn (2,500-square-feet accommodating 150 guests) and the more intimate South Room & Deck (1,700-square-feet accommodating 90 guests). Here, a talented team of passionate wedding specialists is skilled in the art of orchestrating dreams, idyllic dining experiences, and an array of aprés-wedding experiences for your guests. North Room Deck & Lawn rentals start at $15,000 with a food and beverage minimum of $11,250. South Room & Deck rentals start at $10,000 with a food and beverage minimum of $7,500.
Montage Big Sky in Montana
Set against the stunning backdrop of the Spanish Peaks Mountain range is Montage Big Sky, the city’s first-ever luxury ski hotel set that opened in December 2021. Featuring three outdoor event lawns, two ballrooms, expansive promenades, and vista-rich terraces, the resort has over 12,870 square feet of space to choose from to create the perfect wedding in the mountains. The most impressive space may be the resort’s 5,080 square-foot ballroom. Unlike ordinary ballrooms, this stunner features soaring 32-foot ceilings, sky-high windows, double fireplaces, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain scenery. Guests can also use the outdoor Gallery Terrace—complete with a crackling fire pit for the winter—which provides the ultimate backdrop showing off the stunning Spanish Peaks. Rates are available upon request.
Tamarack Resort in Idaho
Tucked away in Idaho’s West Central Mountains, Tamarack Resort offers incredible downhill skiing, snowboarding, Nordic skiing, and other cold-weather activities to keep wedding guests entertained throughout your entire wedding weekend. Of the venues onsite, couples gravitate toward The Arling Center. This collection of three white-washed buildings—a romantic non-denominational chapel, a quaint schoolhouse, and a bi-level space called The Grange—offers a variety of distinctly charming spaces that provide swoon-worthy views of the sparkling Lake Cascade just steps away from the resort’s lodging. In addition to the photogenic chapel, the nearby ballroom and additional indoor options total up to 10,000 square feet of event space to accommodate up to 200 guests. Rates are available upon request.
The Green O in Montana
The new adults-only retreat located on 37,000 acres of Montana wilderness debuted this past June and features 12 design-forward accommodations that can double as mini venues—from an elevated Tree Haus to a Green Haus with a living room—all with floor-to-ceiling windows offering unobstructed views of the wintery wilderness. The standalone accommodations of The Green O are scattered amongst the woodlands (offering the ultimate level of privacy) circling a central Social Haus restaurant, where wedding guests will enjoy elevated woodland-inspired tasting menus with creative presentations and 360-degrees views of the forest. Rates for winter buyouts start at $1,000 a night during winter and include airport transfers and on-property transportation.
Suncadia Resort in Washington
Located 80 miles east of Seattle on the sunny side of the Cascade Mountains, Suncadia Resort is Washington’s premier all-seasons mountain destination, but it really shines in the cold-weather months. Suncadia offers an awe-inspiring backdrop for a snow-sprinkled ceremony with plenty of event spaces to choose from, whether you’re seeking a rustic farmhouse overlooking the meadow or a quirky reception within an on-site ice skating rink. Post-event options include exhilarating activities such as sleigh rides, snowshoe and brew tours, sledding, ice skating, and more. Venue rental rates start at $8,000 plus a $12,500 food and beverage minimum.
Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado
Set in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, Dunton Hot Springs' serene alpine setting provides an unforgettable backdrop, complete with the open-air chapel perched among the snow-covered Aspen trees. From the rustic charm of the well-appointed cabins to the natural splendor of the mineral hot springs, Dunton serves as the perfect venue for guests looking to buy out the resort or host a more intimate wedding or elopement. A full buyout (up to 44 guests) allows exclusive use of all Dunton facilities, including the original Dancehall & Saloon, Bathhouse, open-air chapel, and access to activities from snowshoeing, cross-country and backcountry skiing, to dog-sledding, ice climbing, and snowmobiling. All-inclusive buyout rates for winter 2021-2022 with a two-night minimum start at $28,000.
Sheldon Chalet in Alaska
Adventurous lovers will swoon over the Sheldon Chalet, an intimate and unique wedding venue overlooking the summit of Denali. A small but mighty venue, this mountain chalet can host up to 10 people for a small ceremony before you take your wedding photos inside an ice crevasse and enjoy Alaskan delicacies prepared by your personal chef. Reception décor is not necessary when you can dance the night away under the natural strobe lights of the aurora borealis, which peaks from September to April. The all-inclusive exclusive experience includes an inbound and outbound helicopter tour, chef-prepared meals, use of adventure gear, guided exploration in the 35-square-mile Don Sheldon Amphitheater, and access to a sauna with incredible views of the summit. The starting rate for a three-night minimum stay is $47,000.
Hotel Jackson in Wyoming
This Forbes four-star luxury boutique hotel in Jackson Hole is your basecamp for a weekend of "I dos" with a side of seasonal adventures such as skiing, snowshoeing, ice hiking, dog sledding, and more. Hotel Jackson's Sacajawea Library onsite is perfect for a small wedding reception surrounded by Western-inspired art and a warm fireplace. The hotel also has a cozy ski lodge across the street called the HJ Cabin, which provides ski and boot rentals, hot chocolate, hot toddies, and more, creating an immersive Jackson atmosphere for a lively welcome party or rehearsal dinner. Venue rental rates start at $2,500.
Adams Ranch 143 - Wilson View Retreat in Colorado
For an intimate and more affordable way to experience wintery bliss, vacation rental sites such as Vacasa are home to a slew of spectacular, professionally-managed private homes that you can select from (there's even a search feature to filter results by "wedding venues"). This Mountain Village retreat in Colorado, for example, easily sleeps up to 17 guests, has a sizable kitchen for catering prep, and an elevated fire pit terrace complete with a 10-person hot tub ideal for an after-party dip. Aside from embracing elevated house party vibes, you can enjoy the convenience of having your dressing room and sleeping accommodations all in one place so transitions between wedding prep, ceremony, reception, and bedtime after the excitement are all within steps of each other. Rates start at $1,049 per night.
The Point in New York
Originally built as a Great Camp for William Avery Rockefeller II, The Point offers 11 distinct guest rooms, encompassed in four specific original log buildings, promising memorable experiences and personalized service. For $29,600 a night, couples looking to have the ultimate intimate wedding can buy out the entire property for an all-inclusive experience that means all meals, drinks, activities, and excursions are included for the couple and their 20 guests. You and your guests can indulge in seasonally inspired cheer, with horse-drawn sleigh rides across the frozen Saranac Lake, ice skating, ice fishing, hot toddies, and s’mores by the bonfire, making this venue one of the dreamiest destinations for winter weddings.