If you’re attending your fair share of weddings this year, chances are most of them fall under what is commonly known as “wedding season.” Yes—that’s actually a thing. In fact, nearly ¾ of all weddings take place between May and October. Sure, these might be the most popular wedding dates, but that’s not to say they are the best. In fact, most wedding planners shy away from weddings during these seasons, mainly because they’re overpopulated. Which also means vendors are overbooked and busy as can be. While winter wedding dates might not be the hottest commodities on the calendar, experts say they shouldn’t be overlooked.
Why winter weddings are underrated
“There is something so very magical about bringing nature indoors, and creating an oasis of lushness when it is so cold or barren outside,” says Ashley Greer, owner of Atelier Ashley Flowers in Alexandria, Virginia. “I always enjoy the planning process a little more because there are fewer weddings taking place, allowing for more individual clients attention and labor intensive details.”
Amanda Hudes, event planner, life coach, and author of Smiling Through the Chaos of Wedding Planning, also points out another perk of winter weddings—that it affords guests something to look forward to. This is especially true later in the post-holiday season where there are fewer events going on. “When the days are dark and gray, having a celebration is exactly what people crave,” she says. She loves planning winter weddings because she has less going on and more time to truly hone in on the relationship she has built with her clients.
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Pros of planning a winter wedding
If you’re planning a winter wedding, here are some of the pros you can look forward to, according to experts.
You can get better availability with venues and vendors
With so many couples clamoring over each Friday and Saturday night in the spring and summer, both venues and vendors book up quickly. They do, however, tend to have more off-season dates available. Better yet? They may be willing to offer them up at a discounted rate. Opting for these dates not only helps your budget, but will afford you a greater range of choices with your vendors, notes Tzo Ai Ang, founder of Ang Weddings & Events, a wedding planning company in New York City. “Some wedding venues can be booked up over a year ahead for the peak months, but can be quieter during winter. If you’ve opted for a shorter engagement and want to get married quickly, booking a winter date would be a good way to do that,” she says.
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Your guests are more likely to be available
During popular wedding months, your guests may be invited to more than one on a particular date, notes Ang. Given that winter weddings are less popular overall, the chances they are available is much higher. That means they’ll be more likely to attend your celebration. What’s more: Fewer people tend to take vacations in the winter months than summer. This helps ensure that your guests will be more open and available to attend your big day.
You don’t have to cope with hot weather
If you’re getting married in the warmer months, you can’t control the temperature with a dial. That means it might be really, like uncomfortably, hot. “In the winter, you don’t have to worry about your makeup dripping off from being so hot (and then looking a mess by the time the ceremony actually comes around!),” says Hudes. “You are taking photos for hours before any of your guests even see you. If you’re someone who sweats a lot, winter is perfect for maintaining your beautifully made up face.”
You can spend less of your budget on decorations
In the winter, most venues kick their decorations up a notch to accommodate the holiday season with poinsettias or lights. That means you can likely get away with spending less on floral, according to Hudes. “Outside of the venue and inside, there will almost always be decor. You can usually get a better overall price for the venue during the off-season, or winter,” she adds.
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Cons of planning a winter wedding
Like any decision with pros, there are always cons as well. Here is a closer look at some of the cons of planning a winter wedding—and how to work around them.
You may have to factor in snowstorms
Depending on the location, it’s a wise idea to factor in possible weather issues. These could affect flights as well as your guests’ ability to actually get to your wedding destination, notes Ang. Of course, you can’t control the weather. However, you can work to prevent issues regarding storms and iciness from ruining your big day. Ang recommends planning for key members of your wedding (i.e. your bridal party and close family) to arrive at the wedding location a few days earlier just in case flights get cancelled. One perk of this is that you get extra time to spend with these special people in your life. You can even make a long weekend out of the celebration.
Guests may have holiday plans
While guests are less likely to be booked with other weddings during the winter, there are more holiday office parties and family gatherings. “There aren’t many free dates to host a wedding or celebration without running into some sort of scheduling conflict for guests,” says Hudes. “If you want an intimate wedding, however, winter might be the perfect time of year for you to have one without inviting fewer guests!”
It is harder to pull off a unique winter wedtheme
Considering most venues decorate for the holidays, your wedding theme may have to go along with whatever they are doing. For example, there may be a Christmas tree at your wedding.
“Many venues add holiday decor to their lobby area. If you are not comfortable with that, make sure you have the discussion and get everything in writing,” says Hudes. “If the venue is going to be decorated with all red poinsettias and you want a pink theme, it is not going to look right. You have to understand their vision before you can create yours.”
You have less options for flowers
From a floral perspective, if temperatures drop below 20 degrees and you are planning outdoor photos, you may need to order two sets of personal flowers, according to Greer. “After being exposed to below freezing temperatures for longer than a few minutes, flowers are likely to brown and wilt as soon as they are brought back indoors,” she says. “Tropical flowers such as orchids or anthurium are even more sensitive.”
How to plan and pull off an epic winter wedding
Whether you are highly considering a winter wedding or are deep in the throes of planning one, here are some key pointers experts recommend to ensure your big day goes off without a hitch.
Give yourself more than enough time to plan
If you are planning a winter wedding, Greer recommends starting the planning process early for two main reasons.
“If you want your wedding to fall over Thanksgiving or New Years, it is important to acknowledge that those dates go fast,” she says. “There are fewer available florists to choose from, since many florists do not take weddings over the busy retail season.” Also, she points out the importance of giving your guests more than enough time to lock in your wedding date. That way they can request time off from work and make necessary travel arrangements.
Be flexible and open to new ideas
No matter which season or time of the year you are planning your wedding in, it’s important to stay flexible and keep an open mind. Hudes recommends planning for a specific date and not budging on that place in time.
“Remember how many times people have had to reschedule their wedding in light of the recent pandemic. Don’t take that for granted,” says Hudes. In other words, rescheduling your big day last minute because the weather forecast looks bad too is simply not worth it. “Whoever can come will come, and whoever isn’t able to will celebrate with you through video and pictures,” she says. “If you’re able to afford a live-streaming service, that’s a great addition that will remove the concern and allow everyone to join in, no matter where they are.”
Remember why you’re getting married
Another universal truth about planning a wedding any time of year? Not everyone will be happy with your decisions. “Some people might have a problem with a winter date because it makes it more challenging for them to attend,” Hudes points out. “While it’s about them in the sense that you want them there, this day is about the two of you.” If your wedding date is more affordable and works better for you, she recommends going for it. Allow yourself to be excited without paying too much attention to what everyone else thinks. It’s your day.
Don’t let the season dictate everything about your wedding
Hudes recommends designing your wedding with winter in mind, but urges couples to not let winter dictate your entire wedding. “If you really wanted a summer wedding with pink peonies and yellow roses, you may need to change that vision somewhat. That doesn’t mean you have to go 180 degrees and have something completely opposite of what you envisioned,” she says. “It’s all about the design and execution.”
Be upfront with your vendors about your winter wedding vision
It’s a good idea to be upfront with your vendors about the wedding you’ve envisioned. Any good vendor will do what they can to make your wishes come true. They will also be honest about their limitations. One issue couples are increasingly aware of is their environmental impact. While flowers, for example, are technically available year round. However depending on where you are getting married, local flowers may not be. “There is a substantial carbon footprint associated with the travel that flowers would have undergone to make it to your event,” Greer says. “During summer months when you are able to source more product locally, you can be more eco-conscious and still have an amazing assortment of available flower varieties.”
Plan close enough to major holidays—but not too close
If you want the majority of guests to attend your wedding, it’s a smart idea to plan your day reasonably close to a major holiday—be it Thanksgiving or Christmas. This way, friends and family who have to travel from far distances, especially those traveling internationally, won’t have to travel twice to attend your wedding, notes Kia Marie, a Chicago-based wedding planner and founder of Kia Marie Events. “Traveling in the winter time can be stressful and the snow or rain can cause travel delays. Planning for your guests to arrive at the location early pads in extra time for them to arrive safely.”