Top Winter Wedding Tips

A winter wedding can be a great option for so many engaged couples!

Yosemite winter wedding elopement by Ashley Norton Photography

If you’ve visited the Central Valley, you probably aren’t a stranger to the sweltering summer heat that wilts flowers and melts your gorgeous makeup right off your face. It’s not surprising that summer tends to be a less popular time for weddings in Fresno compared to other states, because of the high temperatures. Fall and spring tend to be more common weddings months in the Central Valley. Milder temperatures and gorgeous scenery make it an easy choice for many couples to opt out of a winter wedding.

However, the phrase winter wonderland exists for a reason. Winter can be such a beautiful and romantic time. Think about it! What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think winter wedding?

For me, it’s sipping hot cocoa amongst awe-inspiring, snow-capped mountains. The newly married couple slow dances (Michael Bubl√©, perhaps?) in a cozy ski lodge, as their guests lean into their dates and feel the palpable magic in the air.

Have I convinced you? If not, keep on reading for some pros of having a winter wedding.

Paso Robles winter wedding tips by SLO wedding photographer Ashley Norton Photography

1. More availability with better rates!

There tends to be far less competition amongst wedding vendors with date selection compared to the other seasons. Because the dates are less popular, many venues will actually offer discounted rates and negotiable deals to keep up profit during their off-season.

2. Bonus decor!

Some venues choose to decorate during the holidays, which could save you quite a bit in your decor budget. Snow, garland, holiday lights can definitely make your wedding day a bit more magical.

3. All the accessories!

Winter weddings let you add some layers without the risk of sweat or humidity ruining the makeup that took so long to apply. Some of my favorites are adding sleeves to your wedding gown, chic velvet shawls to keep your wedding party warm, and also button down flannels for those getting ready photos with your crew.

4. The sun goes down earlier, so your party can last longer!

The sun sets several hours early in the winter compared to summer. An earlier ceremony time will give you alllll the time to soak in the fun memories of your reception.

5. You can honeymoon somewhere warm! And maybe score some off-season travel deals.

The ideal beach vacation is when you’ve come from somewhere chilly because the change in temparature can be so relaxing! Plus, you can continue the tradition with anniversary trips in the coldest parts of winter!

Keep reading to find out my top winter wedding tips as a Central California wedding photographer!

Winter wedding tips by Yosemite photographer Ashley Norton Photography

1. Over-communicate the details of your winter wedding to your guests

Will the ceremony be outdoors, or indoors? Is the reception in a separate location? Will guests need to drive, or will there be a shuttle to the reception? Will the shuttle be on standby to leave the reception every 20 minutes? What is the temperature expected to be? Is there a chance of rain? What is the rain plan? What should guests wear to be comfortable? Answering all of these questions for your guests will make your day run much more smoothly. You’ll also be able to avoid having to be attached to your phone, answering all their questions the day of the wedding. A wedding website can go a long way in communicating with your guests. Zola and the Knot are my two favorites because they’re user-friendly, come with beautiful designs, and are free!

2. Have back-up plans in place

A back-up plan is essential no matter which month you get married in, but they are especially needed during the colder winter months. If the entire wedding will be held indoors, you’ll probably be just fine. However, if you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony or reception, have tends and space heaters on standby to use. Quick tip: If your wedding day has heavy rain or snow forecasted, you can always do a day-after session to ensure you get some incredible photos of you and your partner in your wedding attire. Bonus points if you decide to go somewhere epic like Yosemite, the central coast, or a spot that is special for you two.

3. Space heaters, blankets, and cozy campfires

If any portion of your wedding will be held outdoors, space heaters will go a long way in keeping you and your guests comfortable. Your venue or wedding planner may even have some available for you to rent if needed. Warm fleece blankets can be an inexpensive option to provide during your winter wedding to keep guests warm. Lastly, a cozy campfire can go far in keeping guests warm and fed (s’mores, anyone?).

4. Seasonal winter wedding beverages

Starbucks isn’t the only place to offer winter seasonal beverages. Spiced cider, hot cocoa, and holiday cocktails can be fun options to make your wedding feel more memorable and unique to you two.

5. Fleece-lined tights

I got married in late October in a town right next to Yosemite. While the day was pleasant in the morning and afternoon in the high 50s, the evening dropped into the low 40s. The entire wedding was outdoors, so we rented space heaters and provided alcohol to help keep our guests warm. I planned to wear a lined jean jacket to keep me warm during the reception, but the $10 pair of skin-colored, fleece-lined leggings I bought from Amazon kept me plenty warm through the night!

6. Provide extra travel time

Poor weather easily gives way to congested traffic, especially if snow is involved. Plan to start your ceremony a bit later than the invitation says to give guests a little leeway. If possible, I recommend keeping your ceremony and reception at the same venue to avoid some of the winter weather driving.

7. Pick winter wedding colors

No, you don’t have to pick burgundy and forest green as your wedding colors if you want a winter wedding. Warm tones like gold, berry, and burgundy can make your wedding feel extra cozy. Cooler tones like ice blue, silver, sapphire, black, and cream also make an interested palette. You can also pick and choose! My favorite winter wedding palette is a deep forest green, with hints of cream, silver, and sapphire.

8. Ambient lighting

Remember, the sun sets much sooner in winter. Candles and twinkling lights can go a long way in adding extra light into your ceremony and reception space. The dazzling light will also add to that sense of wonder and magic into the decor.

9. A few more winter wedding emergency kit essentials

A wedding day emergency kit is a must-have all year-round. A few items that should always be in your emergency kit are fashion tape, sewing kit, tweezers, Tide to Go, bobby pins, tampons, bandaids, travel hairspray, oil blotting sheets, breath mints, lint roller, granola bars, etc. Some winter wedding items you may need to add are tissues for those runny noses in the cold, hand warmers, gloves, chapstick, and lotion.

10. Consider a First Look

This one is a bit controversial. Hollywood has told us that when bride walks down the aisle, its the moment. Her groom hastily wipes one tear away, while her father looks on with pride. It’s definitely a magical moment! However, I can guarantee the magic will still be there if you choose to have that moment earlier in the day. It may even be more magical because you have the opportunity to connect before one of the most important events of your life.

You can sit together, exchange private vows, pray with one another – the options are endless. Plus, remember that the sun sets much sooner. If you want family, wedding party, or bride and groom portraits while it’s still light out, a First Look allows you to get those done before the ceremony starts. You’ll also be able to party tight after your ceremony if those portraits are done beforehand.

Winter wedding tips

Ready to get the ball rolling on your winter wedding? Let’s connect.

P.S. This is a series! You can find more seasonal wedding tips from your favorite Central Valley wedding photographer here:

Top Summer Wedding Tips

Top Fall Wedding Tips


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December 1, 2022



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