If there’s one planning event brides look forward to the most, it’s shopping for their wedding dress. There is just something undeniably exciting about trying on a myriad of gowns to find the one that fits your figure and style. Not to mention makes you feel beautiful walking down the aisle to the love of your life. And shopping for winter wedding dresses is no exception.
The first thing to consider when browsing the racks at your local bridal salon is the time of year in which you’re getting married. That’s going to dictate so much about the kind of dress you’re going to feel most comfortable in. If you’re getting married in the winter months, this is especially important, as you want to make sure your dress provides adequate warmth for those unexpected snowflakes. You’ll also want to consider coverage and comfortability for when you’re outside in that winter wonderland OR on the dance floor.
“Winter weddings immediately throw people into coziness and warmth,” says Galia Lahav, an Israeli fashion designer primarily known for her bridal and evening wear. “If weddings are all about celebrating intimacy and togetherness, then the winter setup just enhances the entire thing. It reminds us of the best time of the year—the holidays where we can be surrounded by family and friends.”
“Brides getting married in the winter have the most beautiful elements of all the seasons to play off of,” adds Bri Marbais, bridal stylist at The Bridal Finery in Winter Park, Florida. “Metallic color palettes, romantic venue lighting, and a variety of textures are just a few common winter wedding must-haves.” All of which serve for plenty of inspiration!
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What to consider when shopping for winter wedding dresses
Considering winter is such a distinct season, shopping for a bridal gown is a whole different process compared to spring or summer. It also doesn’t mean you have to automatically eliminate anything revealing (such as a plunging neckline or open back). You’ll just want to consider whether a long sleeve dress is something you would be into, or if an illusion neckline that provides both warmth and a hint of skin is more your style.
Here are a few important factors to consider when shopping for winter wedding dresses.
When it comes to winter wedding dresses, it’s important to prioritize warmth combined with formal flourish. “A ball gown with a full skirt and long sleeves are sure to keep you feeling toasty all evening long,” suggests Hailey Ramirez of the Historic Mankin Mansion, a private wedding and event estate in Richmond, Virginia. “If you plan to have an outdoor ceremony or take photos outdoors, you may want to rethink that backless, sleeveless gown.” However, most styles can be winterized with a few simple touches. She recommends including a thick, skin-toned layer underneath to provide the sexiness of showing skin while secretly adding warmth in layers.
You can also consider more heavyweight fabrics. Tulle and velvet will be warmer than silk in cold weather.
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Covering up to keep warm doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice fashion. While a high neckline is always chic, her recent go-to for winter brides include an off-the-shoulder neckline for a dose of glamour. This can frame your face, elongate your neck, and show off your collarbones while still extending into a long-sleeve dress. She also recommends a high slit, which adds dimension and a sense of mystery to your dress. “Adding a simple hook-and-eye closure also stops a cold breeze in its tracks,” she adds.
Sleeves can also make your entire look. A long-sleeved wedding dress can add the right amount of drama while still being practical in terms of coverage, notes Lahav. For brides looking to show more skin, she recommends outerwear such as a scarf, jacket, or even gloves. “There are so many options, but your dress should set the tone and not the other way around,” she says.
If your ceremony will be taking place outdoors in the winter, a detachable skirt is something to consider, according to Marbais. “The skirt will give the bride a grand and timeless feel for their ceremony while keeping them warm outdoors,” she says. “Having the option to remove the skirt for the reception will give the bride a complete second look and something easier to dance in.”
In order for the stylist to provide the best options during the appointment, she recommends brides come with an idea of their wedding timeline. For example, at which point during the wedding they will be indoors or outdoors.
Accessories for Winter Wedding Dresses:
Winter weddings typically call for colder temperatures, which means outerwear is a must. “Brides have more options now than ever for this important winter wedding accessory,” says Marbais. She recommends chatting with your bridal stylist to learn what pairs best with your chosen dress. This could be a faux fur coat or shawl, a vintage cape, or even an oversized comfy sweater. Even if they don’t sell these in their store, they may have some recommendations for where you can find them.
Gloves are also making a huge comeback, notes Lahav. “Combining a nice pair of gloves with your gown is a wonderful way to cover yourself, but also a way to create two looks.”
Shopping for shoes for your winter wedding? Marbais urges brides to not only keep style in mind, but functionality as well. “While snow is incredibly magical, having the right pair of shoes will make getting around much easier,” she says. “It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have two pairs of shoes to choose from, depending on how the weather turns out the day of the wedding.”
Current Trends for Winter Wedding Dresses
A strong trend that Lahav has noticed for several seasons now is lace sleeves as well as dramatic sleeves. “Big, puffy, over-the-top sleeves create drama and romance. It’s a one-of-a-kind look that immediately transforms the whole gown into a fashion-forward, sophisticated statement,” she says. “Another bonus is that big sleeves always photograph well. They allow you to have more playfulness and variety in your wedding images.”
Winter Wedding Dresses FAQ
When it comes to winter wedding dresses, there really are no rules as our experts note above. However, you DO want to be practical. Long sleeves and thicker materials will keep you warmer. However, if you have fallen in love with a silk sheath dress, just make sure you at least have warm accessories on hand to keep you comfortable.
Cocktail attire isn’t necessarily made for warmth, so it’s important to make sure you bring all your traditional cold-weather gear (like that parka or faux fur coat and gloves). Pantyhose are also a great way to keep your legs warm if you’re wearing a shorter dress.