Think those bells you hear are coming from Santa’s sleigh? You may want to think again! For some couples, winter means wedding bells and a special way to herald the snowiest season, the New Year, and a brand new life together. After all, at what other time of year can you preserve the traditional wedding ice sculpture by parking it just outside the back door?
For New Jersey residents Robert and Carolyn Settlow, a New Year’s Eve wedding meant that in addition to invited guests, the whole world celebrated with them when they tied the knot in a sparkling black-tie ceremony replete with hats, noisemakers, traditional champagne, and lots of confetti. In Malibu, Ca., actress Valerie Bertinelli married financial planner Tom Vitale on New Year’s Eve, and in the 19th century, many people chose Christmas to get married because it was one of a very few days off for them in a long, hard work year.
For creative 21st Century couples, choosing the winter season to exchange vows provides a wealth of possibilities not always available at other times of the year, whether they elect to say “I do” amid a chorus of “ho-ho-ho’ing,” or weeks later by a roaring fire in a quiet mountain lodge. At many venues, a winter wedding may also help keep costs down, as winter is considered off-wedding season and hospitality sales professionals are only too happy to work hard for your business.
While a daring bride and groom or two have been known to enter into marital bliss on skis or while executing spirals on the ice, a winter wedding for most means an indoor venue and the opportunity to integrate the colors, fabrics, foods, décor, and spirit of the season into a sparkling event not possible during the heat of summer. Let’s face it: In June, July, and August, it’s rather challenging to arrive for the ceremony in a horse drawn sleigh.
Start with invitations redolent of winter’s special glint on snow, defined by silver borders, catching the light with shimmering pearl cardstock, or embossed with delicate snowflakes.
Where winter wedding décor and themes are concerned, ‘tis the season defined by bold, jewel-toned colors. Think black or winter white velvet, deep red and purple satin, forest green, slate grey, ice and cobalt blue, and rich cream representing winter’s festive hues, along with shining silver, gold, platinum, and crystal accents reminiscent of clean, clear ice and sparkling snowflakes just outside the window. If tying the knot around Christmas, consider using clusters of bright Christmas balls and ornaments as centerpieces, place card holders, or to adorn votive candle holders and even bridesmaids’ bouquets.
Hanging crystals in unusual places, such as inside door jams (taking height into consideration, of course) can bring the spirit of the snowy outdoors in. Because snow and ice preclude saving money by using locally-grown flowers and plants in your motif, the liberal use of local evergreens and pinecones (try adding glitter) can hold down costs and add a rich dimension to tablescapes and so much more.
In a colder season, a long-sleeved wedding dress is commonly recommended so the bride isn’t focused on how chilled she may feel on her special day, but if strapless is preferred, think about adding long gloves, a satin, cashmere or velvet shawl, a short jacket in complementary material or a velvet or faux fur cape (hooded capes make for beautiful photographs). A red velvet or satin sash on a cream or antique white wedding dress is an elegant accessory, and velvet ribbons or gold or silver wire around a winter bouquet of poinsettias, carnations and/or amaryllis are guaranteed to stop the show (hopefully, after the ceremony, however).
For Susan Teixiera of Cape Cod, Mass., winter was also the time to manifest her dream of a black-and-white wedding into black velvet and lace bridesmaid’s dresses with traditional white pearl necklaces. While the color and material may not readily come to mind as typical wedding attire, heavier fabrics like velvet, satin, and taffeta will keep the wedding party warm, with nothing quite as classic and sophisticated as black velvet.
When considering an appropriate menu that celebrates the winter season and keeps guests warm and filled, think about ragouts (well-seasoned stews of meat, poultry or fish), root vegetables, and salads of typical winter fruits including grapefruit, oranges, kiwi, pomegranate, pears, and apples. Beverages that include mulled cider, hot peppermint white chocolate, and other traditional hot toddies after dinner complement a winter feast that celebrates the day and the season, and fuels guests for the cold trip home.
Whether you choose to tie the knot around the holidays or further into the season, winter provides hundreds of color, motif, economic, fabric, and culinary options that other months may not, and may in fact allow you to create a celebration people will be talking about well into the summer.