I’m different. Always have been, always will. It’s not like I go out of my way to forge a new path, but “the norm” has never interested me. While everyone at the age of 13 was going on lame group dates to see the new hot movies like The Matrix and Something About Mary, I was quietly at home alone, curled up on the couch watching Gone With the Wind for the 10th time or reading Jane Eyre again. I didn’t go to parties, didn’t listen to the music everyone else did (I’m a country music girl!) and didn’t follow the trends.
Another quirk that has always given me trouble among my peers, is my distaste for the heat and all things to do with the summer. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going to the beach…but I can’t be there everyday, and I HATE being uncomfortable and irritable because it’s too hot and I’m too cheap to hire some guy to follow me around with a fan. To me, nothing is more romantic, comfortable, and lovely than the biting cold of winter, with the snowflakes, icicles, and lace patterns you find on your frosted windows in the morning. So once again, going against the norm, I have always imagined having a winter wedding.
I’ve been dreaming of my wedding since I was 7 and saw the Fraulein Maria go down the aisle in The Sound of Music. My visions and imaginings of colour palettes, flowers and the groom may have altered over the past 25 years (couldn’t get my hands on Prince Harry-dammit!), but the idea of a winter wedding never changed. I have been to several summer weddings and they have ALL been lovely….the colours, the fresh flowers, the weather, the expensive cost….but the idea of spending a huge amount on a summer wedding only to have my expensive makeup melt off my face and my fiancée pass out in his suit, has never interested me.
There are several pros and cons to having a winter wedding, especially when I did in the first week of January (in the snowiest winter EVER in Vancouver, BC to date)….but the results can be the most magical, romantic and unique day of your life and for everyone that you deem worthy to attend! Here are some personal pieces of advice when it comes to a winter wedding, if you’re looking to stand apart from the mason jars and wood cut centrepieces….
Everything is cheaper!
Wedding season unofficially ends in October, so most venues will offer you your chosen date at a discounted rate. Winter Weddings usually happen between November and February, and the wedding season won’t pick up again until mid to late April, so first choice on vendors/dates is a huge plus and discounts on venues/flowers/makeup artists/photographers can save you a pretty piece of coin.
Getting married in the high season (summer) means having to deal with guests having multiple weddings to attend, or pre booked vacations that coincide with your big day. Not to mention it can get costly for your bridesmaids/groomsmen who have more than one wedding to attend that summer. My friend was a bridesmaid in 3 summer weddings the year I got married, and safe to say, she was financially grateful for my timing so she was able to be there for me and stay afloat at the same time.
If you get married between Nov 15-Jan 15 at a popular venue such as a golf course or hotel, you are pretty much guaranteed free décor in the form of tasteful Christmas garlands, lights, and maybe a tree or two. It’s always good to check the décor out ahead of time, so it doesn’t clash with your vision, but free is free.
Yes, this can also be a con, but let’s focus on the positive first, shall we? I was lucky and got freshly fallen snow for my wedding pictures. The pictures are unlike anyone else’s pictures and it looked like I was a snow queen. Was it cold? Yes…but it also meant the groomsmen weren’t dying in their suits, and we simply got the bridesmaids a nice pea coat for the pictures outside, and they wore boots under their long dresses. The cold weather also kept the bouquets and boutonnieres from wilting, which a hot day will do quite quickly.
I got married in January, and if you get married in November/January/February or the weeks before or after Christmas, you will find that hotels and airlines will be offering low rates to fill seats and sell hotel rooms. Whereas, guests coming from out of town in the summer time will be paying a high price to get to and stay for your wedding, if they can afford to come at all.
Christmas Party Season!
When you want to get married in November or December at a popular venue, be prepared to either have a second choice for a date, or maybe think of getting married on a Sunday. My first choice was a date in November but had to choose a date in early January because a company who always has their Christmas party had first dibs on that day EVERY year…and didn’t want to give it up. To be honest, it was better we got married in January, so everything worked out.
Here it is…the bare bones truth. It will probably rain. Any wedding not taking place in July or early August is at risk of having it rain. But, it also means some cute umbrella shots in the rain, which I was prepared for and didn’t have to use. I was lucky and I know it, but I went into it expecting it to rain, so I wouldn’t be disappointed. Do the whole superstitious thing and put a broom in a tree on the day of your wedding, and it won’t rain- my Dad still has to explain that one to our neighbours!
You will probably need to either a) have your ceremony early in the day or b) do a first look ahead of the ceremony. Why? Because it’s going to be dark outside by 4:30pm, which doesn’t leave you a lot of time for all the pictures you need to take. I know there are a lot of superstitious people out there regarding seeing the bride before the wedding, and my husband was one, too….but even he agrees now that it was the best thing we did for ourselves. It was a private moment, just the two of us, helped shake the nerves, and guaranteed us the daylight for all the wedding party and couple portraits we did right after, just before the ceremony.
Time of Year
Some people find the weeks around Christmas to be expensive, which is more than fair, especially for the aunt flying in from another province or state. But get married a decent amount of time away from Dec 25th, and give your out of town guests PLENTY of notice so they can save, and you should be fine.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I can share as a winter bride, and really, ANY bride, is to stick to your guns. The amount of people (friends, family, and yes, even strangers) remarking on my choice of year and season was annoying, having to explain myself constantly. Many people could not “see” my vision, only to show up in January and be completely floored when they saw everything in place. You will also have people make excuses as to why they can’t make it even with the year’s notice, but then, there will also be people who prioritize their camping trip to the local lakeshore over your August wedding, too.
Every wedding (summer, fall, winter, and spring) has their pros/cons…the goal is to make it yours, make it what you want to be, and enjoy your day with the people around you that you cherish. My dream was to unintentionally buck the summer wedding trend, and to be a Snow Queen in a winter wonderland. I got my wish, and I know that 13 year old girl watching Gone with the Wind for the 10th time is proud.