Best Tips for Having an Outdoor Winter Wedding
The winter is a beautiful time of year to throw a wedding – the chill in the air, changing leaves, snow on the ground, and the overall feeling of comfort, closeness, and intimacy.
In Maryland, throwing an outdoor winter wedding can mean anything from temperatures in the 60s to facing an icy day with snow on the ground.
If you have a vision of an outdoor winter wedding but aren’t sure how to make guests comfortable, handle the unpredictable weather, or plan for an early sunset, we’ve got you covered.
Check out our top tips for hosting an outdoor winter wedding in Maryland (or anywhere you’re facing the unpredictable cold) below.
At a Glance:
Winter Wedding Tip #1
Stay Ahead of the Holidays: Early Save-the-Dates and Invitations
Fall and winter weddings are in direct competition with holiday travel – regardless of when your wedding falls between the months of Nov. and Jan., guests will need to know as soon as possible to arrange their schedules and plan travel accordingly.
To ensure the best turnout for your wedding, send your save-the-dates in Jan. of your wedding year. While invites normally go out 4-6 weeks ahead of the wedding date, consider 8-10 weeks instead for a winter wedding.
Don’t take it personally if guests are unable to travel due to time off of work, finances, or other holiday-related situations. It’s one of the cons of a winter wedding, but with proper planning and heads up, winter weddings can receive a traditional guest turnout.
Winter Wedding Tip #2
Plan for the Weather with Cover and Tents
It’s not just the cold of winter or fall to contend with, but the unpredictable precipitation. Talk to your outdoor wedding venue about different coverage options, including tents with sides, back, and entrances.
While you don’t need to utilize the tents or coverage for the entire celebration, it’s wise to have these ready for ice, rain, or snow and for guests to go somewhere insulated when the temperature becomes a bit too much.
Tents with all sides also help block winds and insulate heat, perfect for couples looking to keep their reception entirely outdoors.
Pro Tip- At Circle D Farm, we offer outdoor ceremony spaces and indoor reception halls with fireplaces. This creates the perfect balance of an outdoor wedding ceremony in Maryland but with the comfort of an indoor reception hall.
Winter Wedding Tip #3
Decorate the Area with Heaters
Both inside the tents and outside in your gathering areas, decorate with heaters. Most outdoor wedding venues in Maryland that host fall and winter weddings should have these available, but inquire during your tour and ask if you should rent additional heaters if you are having a larger wedding or utilizing more of the space.
Heaters can be a cozy aesthetic, too – shop around at different vendors to find outdoor heaters that complement the style and don’t take away from the aesthetic of the day.
Winter Wedding Tip #4
Talk to Your Outdoor Wedding Venue About Salt and Shovels
Nothing is worse than an icy sidewalk, walkway, patio, or other gathering areas.
Make sure your venue has both the supplies and logistics set up to salt the walkways and gathering areas, plow or de-ice the parking lot, and shovel any other locations where guests will mingle. Confirm there is someone on site to handle this.
Winter Wedding Tip #5
Get Cozy with Winter Favors: Blankets, Handwarmers, Slippers, Mugs
The most practical wedding favor for an outdoor winter wedding is a blanket, shrug, or shawl. Have these sitting out by the ceremony entrance so guests can immediately grab and make use of their gifts. This is a sweet favor that is also practical for use for the day.
If you want to go above and beyond, other winter favors guests can use the day of include mugs, slippers, hand warmers, gloves, scarfs, and shawls. These can all be adapted for any gender or age of the guest – it keeps them warm and is a sweet gesture.
Winter Wedding Tip #6
Remember to Keep the Ceremony Short
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but it is a guideline we like to recommend at our Maryland wedding venue: try to keep your outdoor ceremony shorter during colder seasons for guests’ comfort.
Even if your entire wedding celebration is outdoors, the ceremony is the hardest part for guests to stay warm during. Sitting, remaining stagnant, and keeping their attention focused can make for cold guests even with proper planning and accommodations.
Consider the length of your ceremony when having it outdoors so that guests can look forward to getting up, moving around, and having a hot beverage or moving indoors when they need to during the reception.
Winter Wedding Tip #7
Better Yet, Play with Your Timeline and Have an Early Ceremony
Another recommendation for winter weddings is to have a brunch or early day wedding ceremony. This can be a way to take advantage of the light and the warmest parts of the day without sacrificing the length of the wedding.
Breakfast bars and brunch servings are a great winter meal and allow the party to take place while the light is still out. Brunch wedding ceremonies are also popular on Sundays, if you’re looking for a flexible wedding day.
Pro Tip- Always check with your wedding venue about what time you have entrance to and use of the venue. This can help you determine if an early or late wedding ceremony is possible.
We cover other venue questions like this is our Top Wedding Venue Questions Checklist, perfect for any season wedding planning.
Winter Wedding Tip #8
Consider Kids, Grandparents, and Elderly Guests
Kids and elderly guests have the hardest time staying warm (and calm) during winter weddings. We recommend setting aside an area for kids or grandparents that has more heaters or is indoors to help them reacclimate and get comfortable.
Remember – your guests’ comfort is important and they’ll be thankful you thought of them so they can stay longer and participate in all of the activities.
Pro Tip- Booking a Maryland wedding venue that offers outdoor ceremonies and indoor reception halls is often the best compromise to accommodate all guests of all ages. You can separate activities indoors and outdoors to get the perfect mix.
Winter Wedding Tip #9
With an Early Sunset, Remember the Lights
If you’re looking forward to an evening winter wedding, remember the lights for your reception. Fairy lights are a great way to light walkways and gathering areas while still keeping a romantic and soft atmosphere.
If there is a lot of walking around the grounds, headlamps or flashlights can be cute favors for guests to use that keep them involved in the spirit of the event.
Winter Wedding Tip #10
Brides, Grooms, and Bridal Parties: Bundle Up
You don’t necessarily need to trade in a strapless dress for a long-sleeved gown for a winter wedding, but you do need to plan accordingly. Even if you omit the layers for the ceremony, you will want them during the reception.
Winter wedding attire can include wedding cloaks for both the bride and groom, shrugs, wraps, scarfs, and leather jackets (white for a traditional look or black for more alternative brides). Consider this when selecting bridal party attire as well – floor-length dresses allow for tights or leg warmers to be dawned that are thick and insulated.
Winter Wedding Tip #11
Trade in Your Traditional Footwear for Boots and Thick Socks
Grooms and brides alike need to consider footwear for winter weather.
Regardless of how well kept your outdoor wedding venue is, you will need to consider the chill, snow, and ice. Boots with thick socks are the preferred footwear to stay warm and keep you active and dancing all night.
At our Maryland wedding venue, we’ve had couples get away with non-winter weather shoes for an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception, but you should always have a back-up, just in case.
Winter Wedding Tip #12
Lean Into the Winter Theme with Fire Pits
Our favorite thing about a winter outdoor wedding is booking a Maryland outdoor wedding venue with fire pits. Fire pits are cozy, a great gathering place, keep guests warm, and create that intimate romantic atmosphere almost every couple is looking for.
Fire pits and fireplaces can also adapt to any theme based on the seating, blankets, pillows, and color combos used. Get creative!
Winter Wedding Tip #13
Have Winter Wedding Snacks and Drinks
Winter weddings are always a joy when they serve seasonal snacks – hot cocoa bars, s’mores stations, and spiced apple cider all lean into the season and give guests something warm and also indulgent.
For your entree, consider hot soups in mugs and other warm meals. Now is your time to gather all your holiday favorites in one meal.
Winter Wedding Tip #14
Be Flexible and Ready for Anything
An outdoor winter wedding means being ready for anything. Work with your Maryland wedding venue to plan for all possible outcomes and be ready to shift indoors if needed. Coordinators, planners, and bridal party members can all be a great aide in planning an outdoor winter wedding.
At the end of the day, know that your day will be beautiful, romantic, and a great celebration of your love no matter how it turns out. If you keep your expectations in line with the season, you’ll have a wonderful wedding celebration that no guest will forget.
Request a Tour of Our Outdoor Wedding Venue in Maryland
If you’re excited about the idea of an outdoor winter wedding (or winter wedding in general), contact Circle D Farm and request a tour of our Woodbine Wedding Venue.
With a selection of both indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception spaces, indoor fireplaces, and more, you can create the perfect seasonal wedding with minimal effort.