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Winter Weddings

Brave the cold and host an affair to remember in the off-season.
updated 8/29/19

Winter in Minnesota: It’s cold, it’s dreary, and it can be a mess. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook our longest season (yes, don’t remind us) when planning your nuptials. There are more reasons than you think to get married amid all that snow and ice.
     “In the winter, people are looking for a party,” says Laura Hotvet, principal and lead consultant for Mother of the Bride Wedding Design and Coordinating Services. “Especially after the holidays, they’re looking for a reason to get dressed up, celebrate and have fun.”
     Hotvet’s right. It may be cold and wet, but winter weddings can be some of the most gorgeous events. Read on for four brides who braved the elements and couldn’t be happier.
a very important date
     “We hate winter,” laughs Bri Smith, who married Jason DePauw on Dec. 31. “We did it so we’d have something fun to look forward to.” The two chose New Year’s Eve because it provided many opportunities for unique décor, and it gave their friends a good excuse to get all dolled up and party.
     Carolin Becker and Shane Goodman picked Feb. 13, 2010, because it marked their third anniversary as a couple. Not only did the date hold sentimental value, but they got to incorporate a bit of Valentine’s Day into their festivities as well. “Toward the end of the wedding, [we] brought out red desserts and changed the lighting to more of a Valentine’s look,” she says.
     Bride Lori Gluth used her winter wedding as a surefire way to break up the chilly season. “We looked at it thinking that every year on our anniversary we now have a reason to go someplace warm. January gets to be so incredibly long, so it’ll break up the monotony of winter,” she says.

Open Book
One advantage to a winter wedding, especially after the holiday season: Venues and vendors are much more easily available. “People want to fill the spaces; they want to book you,” Hotvet says. “Getting married in the winter can be a value-based thing for sure.”
     Smith agrees. “We found more availability and better prices. It worked for us getting married on a student budget, too,” she says.
     Rosemary Klein found everything open for business and everyone willing to help for her January nuptials. “We had nobody say no to anything we wanted,” she says. She also was astonished to have almost their entire guest list in attendance; only about 10 people declined. “They aren’t doing holiday parties anymore at that time, so everyone’s available.”

Weather Woes
While unpredictable weather can strike a winter soirée—think freezing temps and blizzard conditions—there’s an equal chance it can be downright beautiful, despite the chill. And, notes Don Jensen of Linen Effects, “you don’t get humidity and bugs!”
     Klein married her husband Jeff on Jan. 9, which turned out to be unusually cold, with a high of only seven degrees. “I was glad it was cooler,” says Klein. “It was nice to not be sweating. It felt really comfortable—especially for the guys.” In fact, the entire wedding party braved the chill for a few amazing shots on the Stone Arch Bridge.
     Just like weddings held the rest of the year, it’s important to plan for the worst, weather-wise. Hotvet says brides should think about parking options for their guests. “You don’t want them to have to park blocks away,” she says. Hire a valet service and prepare a heated entryway for guests waiting for their cars at the end of the night, or consider venues that have attached underground parking available.

The Look of Love
Winter weddings can look one of two ways, says planner Lindsay Piram of Amy Zaroff Events + Design: You can embrace the season or play up the contrast.
     Some brides welcome winter with open arms by taking the colors and textures of the season and creating an indoor winter wonderland as Becker did. Piram used an icy color scheme to create Becker’s reception at The Depot in Minneapolis, complete with a cake on ice, placecards set in ice, ice sculptures, ice bars, and faux snow on the tables. She even created a surprise snowfall during the couple’s first dance. “It was magical and wonderful, like walking into a complete transformation,” says Piram.
    Linen Effects’ Jensen likes the look of a mid-winter’s eve theme, with 10-foot-tall silver trees and dangling crystals. Icy silver, pewter, and black satin, which remind him of a “beautiful onyx French brooch,” are some of his favorite winter colors to work with.
     But winter isn’t all cold. Bring a little bold blaze to your wedding with a striking palette. “Hot and fiery is such a great contrast to Minnesota winters,” Piram says. “When it’s cold outside, warm it up inside.”
     Or add a cozy feel by incorporating tree bark and metallic tints like copper and gold. “There are lots of Minnesotans who just don’t like the cold,” says Jensen. He recommends luxurious, heavy fibers and lowering the ceiling with draping. Linen Effects even carries faux-fur table covers, which are popular in the cooler months.

Special Touches

Since the guys typically don suits or tuxedos for the wedding, they aren’t as sensitive to the cooler temps. But don’t forget about your ladies! Klein gave her ’maids brown Ugg boots to keep them nice and toasty. Gluth bought wraps and gloves for her bridal party, some of which she found on sale after the holidays.
     As the bride, Gluth also needed a stylish way to keep warm, since she and husband Todd Hansen married in a tent on the ice at Excelsior’s Bayview Event Center. A vendor mentioned she could rent a fur from the costume shop at the Guthrie Theater. After browsing through hundreds of furs, she selected an ivory mink stole as the perfect complement to her halter wedding gown.
     Becker wanted a fun place for the guys at her wedding to hang out, since they weren’t “big on dancing,” she laughs. They hosted a heated cigar tent outside, which drew many folks, though it was predominately for the boys, says Becker. There they could get away from the excitement and relax while enjoying the cognac and cigars on hand.
     To keep the party atmosphere going at the DePauw’s New Year’s Eve wedding, Bri and Jason opted for heavy appetizers in place of a sit-down dinner. (Her favorite was the quesadilla bar.) They also made sure to have plenty of party hats and noisemakers on hand for the midnight countdown. Their guests were having such fun at Minneapolis’ FIVE Event Center, Bri recounts, that just about everyone stayed until 1 a.m.

Sage Advice
“If you’ve been to a wedding that you love, ask the couple as many questions as possible,” Klein says. She found a lot of her vendors through word-of-mouth from past brides and her wedding planner. “Ask for referrals and take people’s advice.”
     “Every bride says ‘I couldn’t believe how fast it all went,’ ” says Smith. “Well, it’s so true!” She made a point to steal away a few moments with her groom at the reception—not only to revel in their newlywed bliss, but also watch their guests enjoy the party. “It was one of my favorite memories.”
     Becker knows a winter wedding isn’t for everyone, but it was just right for her. “It’s very romantic and cozy,” she says. It’s hit or miss with the weather, she says, but the same is true in the summer. “Really,” she says, “it’s what you make of it.”

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