When Your Fall Wedding Turns into a Winter Wedding

Mountainside Tip | Have an Adverse Weather Plan

Lots of things are happening behind the scenes at Mountainside Bride. One thing I’m doing is researching and writing articles based on your biggest questions for planning a mountain wedding. Another is I’m building you a mountain wedding vendor directory so you can easily find top wedding vendors in one place. So for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be publishing the Best of Mountainside Bride. These posts contain information that are good to know, but have gotten buries in the more than 850 posts I’ve written since March 2010. Enjoy!

This post was originally published on October 5, 2011.

Chamonix_Ceremony_160Josh Fassbind via Mountainside Bride

It snowed in the high country today. Not a dusting, but 4 or so inches in town. Last weekend my mother-in-law attended a wedding in western North Carolina where temperatures dipped into the 40s, snow threatened for days, and the bride was sent scrambling to David’s Bridal to buy a cozy wrap. Her bridesmaids, however were left shivering in tea-length spaghetti strap dresses. When I asked my mother-in-law (MIL) about the decor and details of the weddings she replied, “I don’t know; all of my energy and focus went into staying warm. Ultimately, instead of a lovely outdoor wedding on the lawn, 200 guests piled into the family’s house. So much for a fall backyard wedding.

Brides Be Warned!

Sometimes fall weddings in the mountains aren’t really fall weddings at all. They’re winter weddings. It’s not uncommon for snow storms to start as early as the first week in October in many mountain regions in the US. Follow these three tips to be sure your guests have a great time, rain, shine, or snow!

Have a Backup Plan

  • Planning an outdoor wedding? Make sure you have a backup plan for an outdoor wedding. This may be either a tent or a large house or building that can accommodate your number of guests. This is similar to having a rain plan for a summer wedding. Be sure to consider a heat source. For tents, you can rent gas heaters.
  • PLanning to have a unity candle ceremony? Have a backup plan for your unity candle in case of stormy or windy weather. My MIL said it took “forever” for them to get the candles lit for the unity ceremony. Have some colored sand available as a backup for a sand ceremony. The concept is similar in that each partner or family mixes their color of sand to together with the other creating something new and separate.
  • Other things to consider: have a backup pair of boots or shoes for inclement weather; have a pair of warm tights or leggings on hand to keep warm. Keep moisturizer on hand as winter weather dries out skin.

winter Colorado bride and groomFrom Adam & Imthiaz Photography via Mountainside Bride

Guest Comfort Comes First

  • The first thing my MIL recounted about the wedding was how cold she was. While she dressed warmly based on the forecast, guests need to have their basic needs met to have a good time. Plan to rent heat lamps or have a warm building or tent available for guests to retreat to.
  • If it’s chilly but not cold, have a fire pit outside or offer small blankets guests can wrap themselves in.
  • Remember your bridesmaids are guests too. Don’t leave them out in the cold. Bring them to a local bridal salon or mall to buy wraps, or, splurge on some pretty pashminas.
  • Consider sending a last-minute website and email update instructing guests on what to wear for cold weather and altering them for any change of plans. For older guests who don’t use email or the internet, have your family and bridesmaids do a phone tree.

winter bride in painted cowboy bootsIN Photography via Mountainside Bride

Guests Will Follow the Bride

OK, let’s assume that you ignored this mountainside advice and figured everything would be fine, but it ends up being a weather disaster. Keep your chin up and enjoy your wedding anyway. Savor this time when you’re surrounded by family and friends. Revel in the your first moments with your new spouse. If you’re having a good time, your guests will follow you and have a great time too. The second thing my MIL remembers was how gracious the bride was. She made jokes about the weather and put everyone at ease. While my MIL didn’t remember many of the reception details, she did remember the bride as a loving and gracious hostess!