"Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…" Long nights and cool weather may be associated with cosy winter nights in, but it's not a common choice for weddings.
After hearing from UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP) elite member Dominique Douglas of Stylish Events, we've completely changed our mindset. She's explained why winter is the best season to tie the knot, from unique drinks to comfort food and readily-available venues – and did we mention it can save you a small fortune? Take a look at her top tips and prepare to be convinced to book a date in your winter diary.
WATCH: The most unconventional wedding dresses of all time
1. Venue discounts
The first, and perhaps most important, is actually the weather itself. In the UK, our weather can be unpredictable at the best of times, so even if you choose a summer month for your wedding, you may have to contend with wind and rain and your garden party theme may be destroyed.
Choosing to have a winter wedding takes the inevitable "weather watch" stress out of the picture. You already know that your reception will be inside and you can select a venue that you love without having to wonder if you will need to change your plans at the last minute.
Venues (Hedsor House pictured) may have out-of-season discounts in the winter. Photo: Ann Koch
Many venues offer "out of season" discounts or lower package rates. You will still get the same lovely venue and catering, but it will be for less than you would pay from May to September. When comparing the hire fee for a Saturday in winter versus a Saturday in the summer, the saving could be as much as £4k! Let's face it, that's the cost of a honeymoon. Win, win for everyone!
2. Warming food
Speaking of the food, you can select hearty, satisfying dishes for your reception – think warming stews, casseroles or roasts. These dishes are generally easier to prepare and work very well for mass catering, which invariably means they are slightly cheaper than a summer feast.
3. Christmas fizz
Wine and drinks merchants often have deals leading up to the Christmas period, so you may be able to take advantage of discounts or two-for-one deals on your wine, champagne or prosecco. Don’t be afraid to call the stores and ask what deals they have coming up and mark the date in your diary to buy your drinks closer to the wedding date.
Champagne is traditionally associated with weddings but it is very expensive, so you may want to serve something festive such as mulled wine or spiced cider at your drinks reception, which would be a fraction of the cost.
For example, the cost of a bottle of champagne starts at around £25 and can go much higher, while a good prosecco can be anywhere from £12 upwards, but a bottle of mulled wine will be around £5.50, perhaps even less if you buy in bulk.
4. Cosy extras
Try s'mores and hot chocolate as warming winter wedding snacks. Photo: Sergio de Riccardis
Just because the weather is cooler doesn’t mean you can't have some of your wedding day outside. How about having a fire pit in the garden, placing some blankets around a seating area and serving platters of s'mores with mugs of hot chocolate? The perfect after-dinner treat for your guests.
If your budget allows, a fireworks display or hand sparklers will add to the magical atmosphere.
5. Dried flowers
Some couples may feel that they will have fewer flower options in the winter, however, one way to have what you want at any time of year is to opt for dried flowers. Whether for your bouquet or table centrepieces, dried florals can bring texture and fun to your arrangements.
Many summer flowers look stunning once dried, including hydrangeas, roses, artemisia, astilbe, gypsophila (baby’s breath), salvia and lavender. If you have a garden or someone in your family has a green thumb, then grow the flowers yourself in the summer and dry them out in time for your wedding. There are some great videos online on how to do this.
If you have a florist for your wedding, speak to them about having either a fully dried flower bouquet or mixing it with some fresh blooms to bring the costs down. Dried flower bouquets can start at around £70 compared to over £100 for fresh flowers, depending on the flowers selected. They also have a longer lifespan than fresh flowers, which means you can save your bouquet to decorate your home.
Don't feel the pressure to have an abundance of flowers for your centrepieces. A few simple vases of pretty dried flowers, surrounded by some twinkling tea lights can look very elegant.
6. Romantic lighting
As we all know, the days are shorter in the winter, so it's a great time to amp up your lighting. Flood your reception room with candles (whether they're real flame or battery-operated), lanterns and fairy lights along the walls or ceiling.
Lanterns and candles offer the perfect romantic lighting. Photo: Adrian Neal
It doesn't have to cost a fortune as you can buy these items in bulk online and ask the venue, your florist or your wedding planner to install them. You can then take them home after the wedding to decorate your own space. It's such a cost-effective way to create a magical ambience.
7. Recycle décor
You also may be able to take advantage of décor that venues may already have in place in the run-up to Christmas. For instance, many hotels go all out to create a cosy, wintery vibe for all their guests, with large Christmas trees and beautiful garlands hung over lit fireplaces in the lobby or in the venue spaces.
Decorating these areas would normally be an expensive option, but in the winter, it may all be done by the venue at no additional cost to you, which will save you hundreds of pounds.
8. Available suppliers
Having an out-of-season wedding means that suppliers are more likely to have availability, so you should be able to get the suppliers you want and they won't be back-to-back with weddings. Whether that be your perfect venue, photographer, florist or even your wedding planner, they will have the time and resources to concentrate on your wedding.
9. Honeymoon savings
And finally, as you will be booking your honeymoon out of the usual UK holiday season, there may be some great travel bargains to be had. Whether you opt to travel to sunnier climes or a winter wonderland, there will be some fantastic places you can visit that will cost less in the winter.
So, have I convinced you that a winter wedding could be a wonderful option for your wedding? Cosy, stylish, whimsical and it may cost you considerably less – perfect!