So you're dreaming of a perfect winter wonderland wedding in Colorado. Hot drinks, hearty foods, a blazing fireplace. Watching snowflakes slowly fall against a mountain backdrop. Few things sound more cozy and romantic, right? Maybe even a bit unique and unprecedented in your circle of friends or family.
Colorado can be a fickle mistress. The weather conditions are often raw and untethered. While we certainly have four very distinct seasons each year, the intensity and longevity of those seasons tends to fluctuate heavily. Autumn in the mountain generally runs between mid September - mid October, with the possibility of snow starting in September. Winter conditions can last through mid June (I know, it's crazy!).
Whether you are looking to plan a winter wedding or simply want magical winter engagement photos, my BIGGEST ADVICE to you for the best chance of SNOW: plan for March or April.
It sounds odd, but Colorado gets its heaviest snows in those months! Don't get me wrong, we still get snow here in Jan-Feb, but the temperatures are also FRIGID. If you wait until March or April, there's a good chance we'll have snow on the ground still AND the temperatures begin to raise just a tad. So instead of enduring an hour outside in 19 degree temps, you may experience 40 degrees.
There are a lot of considerations to make when planning the perfect winter wedding in Colorado. After photographing more than 155 weddings (gasp!), here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind while you plan your perfect winter soiree.
1 | CONSIDER YOUR GUESTS
Set guest expectations right away. Include detailed information on your wedding website or invitation set, such as "Winter Attire" note. Keep it classy and simple, but informative. Your guests will appreciate it!
Keep holidays and winter travel in mind. Your guests may be maxed out on time off work from Thanksgiving or Christmas travel. What happens if a winter storm delays their flight? Colorado winters can be BRUTAL. We may have sun and warm temperatures one day, and the next day 12" of snow. The mountains often become untravellable with slick conditions and road closures.
Consider hiring transportation for your guests. If the roads are a bit dicey, they may not feel comfortable driving. Book a shuttle bus for guests to utilize to make the most of your special day!
Keep your guests WARM. Make sure there are heaters, blankets, hot drinks, and easily available cozy spaces for your people to enjoy! There is nothing more miserable than being COLD.
If you have your heart set on outdoor photos, consider having an INDOOR ceremony, so that guests don't have to endure very cold temperatures. Family photos, Bride & Groom portraits, and wedding party photos can be taken outside!
Have a coat check! It seems a bit old school, but having an easily accessible location for your guests to shed their big, heavy winter coats is a great way to help them feel welcome and ready to party!
2 | WHAT TO WEAR
I'm talking to you, brides: your goal should include staying warm yourself! It's very easy to overlook the practicality of warm wedding attire. A fur shawl is a great option to add to your wedding look! Gift your bridesmaids their own shawls to complete the look and keep your besties warm. Guys generally tend to stay warmer with their suits, but be sure to consider what type of shoes your groom and groomsmen will wear. Shiny formal dress shoes tend to have zero tread on the bottoms, making them ice-skates on snow!
Shoes. That's a BIG detail to consider. Yes, we all want beautiful blinged heels to wear but in snowy conditions, they are the worst. If you are having an indoor ceremony or reception, consider having two pairs of shoes - indoor heels + outdoor winter boots!
I've noticed that dress fabric plays an important role in a bride's overall comfort on a snowy wedding day. Fabrics that are silk or crepe tend to soak in water. This creates a heavy drag on the dress and uncomfortable cold situation! Organza / tulle, overlay lace, and lighter fabrics tend to stay dry with minimal snow saturation.
3 | BACKUP PLANS
Does your venue or wedding location have an indoor backup option? If the weather is less than ideal, what are your plans? This general principal also applies for the other seasons, not just winter. In the summer, afternoon thunderstorms are a common occurrence, which can make wedding planning tricky. Having the ability to move your wedding indoors if needed is a important aspect to having the perfect wedding day.
4 | DECOR CONSIDERATIONS
Let's talk decor! Details and all of the pretty elements that go into a wedding day are some of my favorites to photograph! The florals, centerpieces, and signs, are all important parts that make your wedding day unique.
Flowers might be my favorite element! Keep in mind that with colder winter temperatures, your flowers will need to be winter hearty. Thinner, less hearty flowers may freeze and wilt quickly. Here are a few in-season winter flowers that are sure to impress:
Hypericum berries - rich, red berries that add a pop of texture and color!
Brunia - white mini pom-poms that add a great texture to any bouquet
Succulents - popular wedding trend that creates a unique look for a winter wedding
Pine branches - always hearty with great texture
Roses - these year-round flowers come in so many varieties and colors, they make a great option for a romantic winter bouquet
Chrysanthemums - stunning and filled with texture!
Eucalyptus - adds depth and texture to your bouquet for a more organic look
Candles are a perfect way to create a cozy and romantic environment. Many venues do not allow open flames, as they increase the risk for fire, especially in the mountains. However, that doesn't mean you can't create the look! Opt for flameless candles and your wedding space can be transformed into a warm winter oasis.
Keep in mind that if you get married around the Christmas holiday (Dec-Jan), Christmas decor may be part of your wedding decor. If you don't want that vibe, be sure to communicate with your venue and photographer regarding decor. Twinkle lights are a great way to create ambiance without looking too Christmas-y. They are also a great element for your photographer to use for unique frames.
5 | FOR THE BEST PHOTOS
There are so many elements that come together for the perfect photograph. While the phrase "right place at the right time" is true in many instances, there is also a considerable amount of planning that goes into many of the jaw-dropping photos you see on social media. Sure, some of what you see are purely candid moments. However if you really dug into that photo, you'd likely find that the photographer had anticipated that moment or manufactured that moment as part of pre-planning.
Excellent wedding photographers are constantly anticipating moments and looking for the next creative frame. This ensures that no real moments are missed and also opens up a world of possibility when it comes to your photos!
Planning ahead can make or break a photo. I work closely with each couple to plan their timeline, giving consideration to time of year, sunset, weather and lighting conditions, unique situations with family, wedding party, and of course the Bride and Groom's wishes.
Winter weddings are very unique simple in the fact that sunset is so early. In the mountains, blue hour can begin 2+ hours BEFORE true sunset. This can plunge your venue into darkness (dark in photography standards) very quickly. Any photographer who is experienced with artificial light will have no problem with this! For my couples, I bring flashes and excel at low-light conditions to still capture all of their moments.
As a color-loving photographer, of course I get giddy with pops of vibrant color! From deep jewel tones to romantic reds, bold blues to classic black, color can tie your entire event together!
Be prepared for a red nose. Cold temperatures have an unfortunate side. If you're like me, after spending 5 minutes in the cold air, I look like Rudolph! While some of this can be reduced during the editing process, keep in mind that red noses are a part of winter conditions.
Lastly, be flexible! There is always a chance that your wedding day weather may not go as planned (or hoped for!). I've seen 70 degrees in December and I've seen SNOW in June. If you do your best with planning and stay mentally flexible, your wedding day will be PERFECT.
I hope these tips help you with planning your dream winter wedding! If you are still looking for high quality, crisp, vibrant photos, contact me today to schedule a consultation.
Cheers to a beautiful and healthy 2023!