I would love to tell you that winter weddings are exactly as easy to plan as a summer wedding, but that would just be a lie. Whilst winter weddings are definitely as beautiful as summer weddings, and they can certainly be more cosy – they definitely require a little extra planning. As a winter weather wedding photographer, I have found that one of the most make-or-break parts of winter wedding success is keeping you and your guests warm. I am sure by now if you are planning a winter wedding that you have read lots of advice, so I am hoping that I have put together 5 unusual tips for keeping you and your guests warm at your winter wedding so you can pick up a few extra ideas you might not have considered.
Tip 1 – You get a Blanket, You get a Blanket and YOU get a Blanket!
Now the idea of providing blankets for you and your guests might not be the most original start, but I think I have a bit of a twist for you here. Ask your guests to bring their own favourite blankets with them! Apart from the wild expense of buying 75 blankets and the environmental cost of buying cheap factory churned thin throws, weddings I have photographed where guests brought their own blankets meant that they actually used them. In a huge number of weddings where blankets are provided, over half of them tend to sit rolled up neatly in a basket somewhere. Maybe this is because they weren’t found by the shivering guest or maybe they didn’t like the feel or weight of them. Let’s face it – we all have our own special blankie preferences. By bringing their own, guests know where it is and can use it when they are ready. And don’t forget a cute blanket for yourself. Nothing makes a more adorable photo than being cosied up under a snuggly blanket with your new spouse!
Tip 2 – Bring some joy to that ring of fire.
Make sure to have sources of outdoor hear such as heat lamps or fire pits. Again, this tip on its own is pretty common sense. However, the biggest issue with these features (much like the blankets) is the failure of guests to make the most of them so they become trapped indoors packed together like teenage girls at a K-pop concert. You need to create a space that is more inviting than just a fire pit and two sad hay bales. Make a marshmallow toasting station or a pimp-your-mulled wine station and place it right next to the space. Keep extra blankets close by. Ask the venue to keep the fire topped up at all times, even when guests aren’t in the space. It can take 15-20 minutes for a fire to warm an open space, if the fire is allowed to die down then it will get too cold to entice you guests. And as with all my advice, here is your reminder that your guests want to be where you are. If you never visit the fire pit, don’t be surprised it won’t be used.
Tip 3 – Warm the belly and you will warm the heart.
One of the quickest ways to warm up your guests is by providing warming food and beverage options. When selecting your canapés, consider what options make you feel warm just thinking about them. Maybe little mini Yorkshire puds filled with roast beef? One wedding we photographed, the catering company provided teeny tiny little french onion soups in tiny little bread bowls. Everything about that makes me feel winter-ish! And consider switching cold drinks for warm ones. Mulled wines and ciders are quite popular but try to think outside the box. What about going for buttered rum, hot toddies, warm White Russians or warm Bayleys and hot chocolate? Providing a wide variety of options will appeal to everyone – including those of us that prefer our drinks to be mull-free. While none of these food or drink options will change the weather, they will help everyone think they feel warmer and that is often more important than the real thing!
Tip 4 – Let’s get physical.
One scientifically proven way to warm up is to keep your body moving. So why is it that winter weddings often involve guests sitting around doing very little? Think of some ways to get your guests moving both on the dance floor and throughout the day. Make a scavenger hunt that sends them on a mission through the venue both indoors and outdoors. Have a marshmallow snowman building contest with a prize for the best dressed mallow-man. Consider some indoor “lawn” games like giant jenga (just as good indoors as out!) or a hula hooping competition. And of course, work to get everyone shaking their groove during the evening disco. Think about interactive dance floor choices such as a ceidligh or line dancing. Get a winter themed beach ball and toss it across the dancers on the dance floor. Nothing keeps guests on the dance floor longer than a one wo/man mission to keep that beach ball in the air.
Tip 5 – Light it up!
Winter wedding success is all about creating a warm and inviting environment that gets your guests excited to actually engage with all the winter warmers you are providing them and this is where lighting is your best friend. Remember that fire pit? Light it up with festoons and tiki torches. Remember those drinks? Ask the catering company to add battery operated strings of mini lights to the service trays. Or look at using light up drinks glasses. Remember the dance floor – you got it – lights! Not just your usual party lighting either – look at picking up a few of those light wands you see at Guy Fawkes night celebrations and hand them out to guests on the dance floor. Very 90’s rave without the risk of being busted by the fuzz. In fact, at a winter wedding it is a known law that you cannot have too many lights. From battery powered candles, to fairy lights, to LED up-lighters, if you plan it – light it.
Bonus Tip – Use your Jedi mind tricks.
Keeping your guests warm and comfy is crucial for any winter wedding and by putting a little extra grey matter on the case, you can ensure that all of your guests have a fabulous time. With each stage of your planning, ask yourself “how can I make this a warmer experience for my guests?” Or “How can I ensure my guests actually make use of the warming options I will offer them?.” Lead them by example by wrapping up in your blanket and visiting the fire pit for some mallows. When you can’t be there – get your wedding party involved. Make it a mission for your brides/grooms people to use blankets and hit up that dance floor so everyone else doesn’t feel like they have to break the ice. And most of all… remember to hire us to take your winter wedding photos so you can have a vibrant and authentic record of the fun everyone had. (Insert shameless plug to hit up our contact form here)
Looking for more winter wedding tips?
Expecting a little rain on your winter wedding day? Check out our blog post on how to have the best rainy day wedding ever!