Tying the knot in winter makes sense for a number of reasons: the venues are far cheaper to book for one thing, and they aren’t as over subscribed as they are in the peak summer months. And let’s face it, you can no more guarantee the weather in the UK during summer than you can in winter, though the odds of good weather in summer are more favourable, of course. The winter can also be dramatically different from a summer wedding, if dramatically different is what you’re after. But there are 5 things you must seriously consider and get right if the day is to go well.
1/ Look at your venue at the same time of year as you intend to get married, not during the summer months. This will give you a better idea of the type of weather you might get, and certainly the look and feel of the light. It all looks so different during those bright summer months, the trees in full greenery, the skies blue. Most have an outside area they’ll use, and of course they’ll tell you that you can use this if the weather is good. Don’t be fooled by this. The chances are the weather might not be good at all and you will be forced to use the inside for everything, from ceremony to group photos. If you do get good weather, that’s great, but never bank on it during the winter.
2/ Scrutinise the inside of the venue as if the outside wasn’t an option. Be prepared for the worse-case scenario – freezing cold and a torrential downpour. I recently had this in during summer! The couple picked the one day we had the remnants of a hurricane, the day was cloudy and grey all day, and it teemed it down. So look at where the ceremony will be conducted – does it feel right, can you imagine it being performed there, will it be as nice or as special as you would like it to be? To save money, a lot of places light their venues with low-wattage light bulbs, and they can be as dim as hell and not very inspiring. How will they dress the area? They can get away with things when performing a ceremony outside – the sunny day and greenery will compensate for any shortcomings, but inside it can often be a few plastic flowers and cheap lights. Is that what you want for your special day?
3/Remember the photographer! Taking photos inside can be a challenge, especially when the venue is small, dark and crowded. You want your reminders of the Big Day to be special, but inside shoots limits what you can have. If the place is dimly lit then you have to have flash photography – not always flattering – and not always easy for some photographers to get right. Talk it over with your photographer, invite them to the venue; they’ll gladly take you up on the offer. Will there be somewhere to take group shots? What about shots of the bride and groom? Where will they be taken? As I say, it’s fine if you can shoot outside, but always consider the worse case scenario. I had to do a wedding shoot with the bride and groom etc posed in an open doorway with the rain pelting it down outside. With the outside not being an option, it was the only real location the venue could offer and not very satisfying for all concerned. Remember, though our eyes are good at seeing in dim light, even modern digital cameras struggle in the same light. Think like a photographer, and if possible get their expert advice before finally deciding on a venue.
4/ Dress for the weather. Sounds perfectly reasonable, but I’ve come across many couples who don’t. Skimpy dresses and shawls are fine in summer, but you will freeze to death in winter, so even if it’s fine outside and you can go outdoors, chances are you won’t want to be out there long, and an even shorter time if you’re dressed for summer. Imagine wearing your wedding dress in winter when you first try them on. A lot of bared skin might not be something you want in the depths of winter! Buy something appropriate you can wrap around you to stay warm. Have a few white golf umbrellas to hand in case it rains (most wedding photographers like myself always have a couple to hand!). Remember, high heels sink into wet grass! If the weather holds, you might indeed have the choice of a large grassed expanse, but traversing it will prove nigh on impossible. Even consider a pair of Wellingtons! Go with the flow. Photos taken in the rain and snow can be very dramatic and romantic, if you’re prepared to get out there and have them taken.
5/ Don’t forget your guests. Winter can offer some really dramatic opportunities, but if everyone is freezing or wet through they’re not going to enjoy it one jot. Ensure they are as prepared as you are. If you expect them all to turn up wearing suits and dresses, as you would in summer, expect a lot of guests to be moaning behind your back desperate to get back inside out of the cold and wet. If they’re comfortable and protected then they’ll enjoy it and make your day special. If not, they’ll remember your day for all the wrong reasons. While they won’t complain to your faces they’ll certainly be letting rip behind your back. Ensure they’re allowed to be dressed sensibly too. If everyone on the photos are dressed in heavy coats, so what? It can look just as charming and special, in fact even more so than all those homogonous summer photos. Think of them and what you will be expecting of them. It’s fine if you two are prepared to do what it takes, but old Uncle Albert and ancient Aunty Liz might not be so enamoured.
Choosing a winter wedding can be challenging, but if you embrace what winter has to offer and be prepared, there’s no reason your big day can’t be just as successful as if it happened in the height of summer.