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Weddings are traditionally in the summer because, well, the weather is lovely — and suitable for grandma to be sitting outside for a ceremony. But in a world where couples strive for originality, winter weddings are rising in popularity for the gorgeous photos, unique food and drink menu, and cozy ambiance.
If you’re on the fence, here are eight reasons to plan a winter wedding, according to the experts.
1. Winter wonderland feel
Shawna Henderson, owner of Breck Mtn Wedding, explained that the magical look and feel of snow is part of what inspires people to have their weddings in the winter.
“A lot of my winter wedding brides definitely love the idea,” Henderson said. “… A lot of them don’t get to live in winter all the time. So for them, it’s this wonderland of beauty and the sparkles and the fun elements of snow falling.”
Henderson noted that if a wedding is hosted in December, there’s snow, Christmas lights and decor that add to the winter wonderland feel.
2. Sparkling photos
Unique wedding photos in the snow are usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the beauty of a winter wedding.
“I just think it’s very untraditional, and so it kind of wows people when you see a photo of a bride and groom in a white dress walking on fresh snow,” Stacy Gillespie of Gillespie Photography said.
Gillespie explained that part of the beauty of winter wedding photos is snow hanging on evergreen trees, so she recommended choosing photo locations where the snow is seen not just on the ground, but above on trees or other structures like roofs or bridges. It’s also a good idea to pick a spot at least a half-mile from heavy foot traffic so the snow appears more untouched.
To stay warm, Gillespie tells couples to wear long underwear under their clothes. Wearing waterproof shoes and using hand warmers can also make sure hands and feet don’t get cold.
Other activities where you can implement snow, such as sleigh rides or snowshoeing, can be fun and offer good photo opportunities.
3. Incorporate a favorite hobby
Gabrielle Stowe’s company Ski the Day specializes in helping people who want to get married while skiing or snowboarding.
“They love skiing. They want to do something a little bit alternative,” Stowe said about her clientele.
Stowe recommended couples think about timing and try to do their ski wedding day on a weekday — particularly in the morning — to avoid crowds. While some couples elope on the mountain, others want to ski a few runs on their wedding day before heading to a ceremony, so Stowe pointed out that the process of getting on the mountain and skiing often takes longer than expected and that couples should give themselves plenty of time.
If getting married on the mountain, Stowe recommended trying to find more secluded locations to avoid other skiers, such as in the trees or at the top of the mountain where there’s an overlook.
4. Spiked hot drinks
Steering away from beer and wine, some winter wedding hosts will keep guests warm and feeling toasty with festive hot drinks, such as spiked hot chocolate or hot toddies.
5. Unique bouquets
Wintry bouquets are another element that makes winter weddings unique, as colors like burgundy are traded for summer’s pastels.
Carla Pettit, owner of Garden of Eden Flowers and Gifts, said she has made winter bouquets for weddings that incorporate coniferous trees, pine cones and berries.
“In the winter, there tends to be a lot of burgundy and whites,” Pettit said. “… Most people are looking for greenery. They want wintry bouquets.”
Pettit pointed out that after about 30 minutes outside in freezing temperatures, flowers will start to show cold damage, fading their colors and vibrancy. She recommended couples pick out flowers that will withstand the cold better, such as mums, carnations or flowers that grow in the winter, such as hellebores.
6. Warm and cozy ambiance
If a summer wedding color palette is light and airy, a winter wedding palette is warm and cozy. Henderson said couples often opt for deep reds, dark greens and earthy tones as well as incorporating scents into the ambiance from decorations like evergreen branches and beverages like mulled wine.
If there’s an outdoor element of the wedding, such as a short ceremony, Henderson said blankets can be hung over chairs to keep guests snug. Inside, a fireplace can bring that feeling of warmth.
Warming food options like soups add to the cozy feel, too.
7. Wardrobe change
Out of necessity, winter weddings in Summit County come with their own wardrobe. Henderson said brides have the opportunity to wear a different type of dress, such as a long-sleeved gown, and have fun with accessories like winter boots and warm coats.
8. Pick of the weekends
Since summer is the traditional wedding season, professionals in the wedding industry — like wedding planners, florists and photographers — are often not as busy in the winter and may have more availability for the date you pick.
A word of caution
Henderson noted that there are reasons why wedding business in Summit County is lighter in the winter, and they should be considered. It can be harder for people — particularly older adults — to travel in the winter, and lodging and venue prices are more expensive during ski season.
It’s also worth pointing out that it is dark early in the evening in winter, and Breckenridge has an average winter temperature of 28 degrees during the day and 15 degrees at night.
This story originally published in the winter 2021-22 edition of Explore Breckenridge & Summit County magazine.