How to Pull Off an Outdoor Winter Wedding


Melody Farrar- Wedding Coordinator & Planner

Baby, it’s getting cold outside. As the leaves fall all around and the cold blows in, I am reminded just how short our Colorado autumn actually is. It seems like we get about a month of fall before the bitter winter chill moves in.

I am getting excited pulling out all my favorite boots and scarves and preparing my wardrobe for the change of season. This of course, as a colorado wedding planner, leads me to be thinking about the changes this means for the colorado wedding world.

The plus side for brides is that we are now in the off-season and things get a lot cheaper. So if you are planning your colorado wedding on a strict budget and don’t mind that your favorite flower won’t be in bloom or that the trees are bare, look to book your wedding between November and March.

The downside is that most events have to move indoors.

So what do you do if you are caught in between?  If an outdoor wedding was something you have always dreamed about, but aren’t sure if you can pull off during those cold winter months.

Well, the outdoor Colorado winter wedding can be done! The first step, as a bride, is to remain flexible and realistic about it. Don’t plan to do your whole event outdoors and make sure you develop a back-up plan. Remember dark comes fast in the winter so an afternoon wedding outdoors and reception inside might be an ideal situation for you. That will also give you enough daylight after the ceremony to finish up all formal photography.

I am a firm believer that as a bride, the day is about you and your groom; but once you invite guests to come, the day also becomes about them and their participation. Put yourself in a guest’s place; make sure their comfort is a top priority. You don’t want your wedding to be a miserable memory in their mind. Here are a few tips to help make your outdoor event a ‘Winterful’ success.

How Cold is Too Cold:

Know your weather limit. You already know it is going to be chilly, but how far are you willing to go? If it’s snowing gently, that’s not bad at all. But if it’s an ice storm, you might want to execute that back-up plan. You might be picturing a snow covered wonderland, but in Colorado, you just never know. Look out for and try to avoid strong wind. Also, know how far your wedding vendors are willing to go. Especially check with those who use electronic equipment (i.e. Photographer, Videographer, & DJ) to make sure you meet all their requirements on outdoor ceremonies.

Bundle Up:

Make sure on the wedding invitation, you clearly and purposefully let guests know that your ceremony is outdoors and to dress appropriately. Also, if you do a wedding website (which you should), keep guests updated on the forecast and what the day is planning to look like.

You can also give your guests the option to change clothes from the wedding ceremony to reception if they would like. Many people won’t think about taking an extra outfit, so giving them that option might really ease their minds.

Bridesmaids clothing- Friends don’t let friends turn blue! Put careful consideration into what your girls will wear. Maybe let them pick out their own dresses and coordinate cute outer ware for them.  For example, have them all wear a similar colored dress and pick out Pea coats, Stockings, Boots, Hats, and/or Mittens you would like them to wear. You can even turn some of these items into the special gift you give your girls.

Warm Favors:

Let your guests know you appreciate their effort to make your winter wedding come true. Offer warm drinks by the guestbook table for them to take to their seat. You could hire an espresso bar or even just set out a carafe of coffee and hot water for tea and cocoa. Personalized coffee cup sleeves add a great touch to complete the look. You could also use travel mugs that would double as a favor your guests can take home.

Blankets are another nice touch to a cold outdoor wedding. Ladies especially appreciate this as dresses don’t tend to cover the legs very well. There’s no need to go out and buy a bunch of blankets, just borrow afghans and quilts from family and friends and pin their name on their blankets. Put someone in charge of making sure all the right blankets get back to the right people that night so you don’t have to worry about it after the wedding.

Have an emergency “basket of warmth”. While the love you share this day may warm everyone’s insides, it won’t do much to warm someone’s numb fingers who forgot gloves.  Offer mittens, caps, ear muffs, scarves, even leg warmers to those who might not have come prepared.

Reception Sweat Lodge:

Make sure you discuss the temperature settings with your reception venue. You don’t want everyone to dress extra warm for the ceremony and at reception have guests dying of heat before dinner is even served (let alone the dancing). Just inquire if the temp can be turned down if needed (or even have them turn it down beforehand) or make sure you have access to windows/doors that open to let cool air in. Again let guests know that they are welcome to change into indoor reception dress if they would like.

Last Resort- Bring the Outdoors In:

If you have tried and nothing seems to be coming together for your outdoor nuptials, consider bringing the outdoors in. You can turn a ceremony hall into a beautiful room with the feel of winter by using trees, twinkle lights, candles, pinecones, silvers, golds, or blues. Maybe find a hall with a fireplace. You can even go the more Holiday themed route by using berries, ornaments, Poinsettias, Christmas trees & lights. And just because your event got moved indoors doesn’t mean you have to stay in there all day/night. You can still step out for some photos, make a getaway in a horse drawn carriage, or have a bon fire (if your venue will allow it).