Imagine: fresh snow blankets the ground and caresses tree limbs to set a romantic scene for a winter wonderland wedding. The couple stands together, surrounded by family and friends in a magical setting to say their ‘I dos.’ Behind the scenes the wedding planner watches with pride, knowing that they’ve made another bride’s wedding dreams come true.
As magical as winter weddings can be, they are actually quite rare. According to The Knot’s 2021 Real Weddings Study, only 5% of weddings take place during the wintertime. So, who’s tying the knot in the colder months of the year?
“I find that typically people who have winter weddings are looking for something a little bit more outside the box, and there tends to be some sort of reason behind it,” said Virginia Frischkorn, founder and principal of Colorado-based Bluebird Productions. Frischkorn became a wedding planner in 2008 and launched Bluebird Productions in 2010.
Frischkorn added that she thinks there is a lot of intentionality behind winter weddings because they are a little harder to execute and harder to do, and they’re a bigger ask for guests.
“A lot of times they [winter weddings] end up being more special in my mind because of the nature of time of year,” Frischkorn said.
She also said that couples who plan wintertime weddings are looking for experiences, “definitely multi-day,” that they can share with their guests, like skiing or snowshoeing to a remote cabin for a fun picnic or dinner.
“They really want to make it a larger, more unique experience for a closer group of friends,” said Frischkorn. “When I say unique, it’s not ‘let’s all come to a city or a beach and go our own ways’ — it’s a lot of collective time together and there tends to be a cozy vibe because of winter.
“In my opinion, that elevates the intimacy of the wedding, even if it’s a large group. It just feels more intimate because of how everyone is together,” Frischkorn continued. “There’s this kind of coming together and intimacy ‘forced’ by the colder weather. And there’s a candlelit, warm romantic vibe, with so many twinkling lights that elevates that cozy feel.”
As magical as they are, wintertime weddings can present their own sets of seasonal challenges, the biggest of which, according to Frischkorn, is guests’ travel. She also said that hotel rates can be more expensive, and it can be challenging to schedule weddings and reserve room blocks if couples are hoping to hold their ceremony over holidays and spring breaks.
“Couples have to be very comfortable with weather backups,” said Frischkorn. That can mean no outdoor cocktail hour and considering daylight savings time when planning the time of the ceremony because the sun sets earlier in the evening if they’re hoping for an outdoor wedding. Additional factors she considers when planning winter weddings is hand warmers and blankets for guests.
“For us [wedding planners], our load-in and load-out is significantly more challenging,” she explained. For example, if the ceremony and reception is at the top of the mountain, that means using snow cats or gondolas “…because you can’t truck anything to the top of a mountain. You’re really limited with things you can do based on the load-in and breakdown, making it that much more challenging.”
There are advantages to planning winter weddings, though. Frischkorn said couples may have less competition from other couples when it comes to choosing dates and notes that because winter weddings are less common, there is more vendor availability.
“If people are looking at planning a winter wedding, I think it’s a really special thing and they should 100% consider it, but be comfortable with a lot of changes,” she advised.
Wherever in the world the bride and groom dream of for their winter wonderland wedding, ALHI has them covered. From Nemacolin in Pennsylvania to The Broadmoor in Colorado, The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa in Vermont to Sun Valley Resort in Idaho, and even the Kempinski Hotel das Tirol in Austria and the Frutt Mountain Resort in Switzerland, ALHI members can make couples’ winter wonderland wedding dreams come true.
When Vermont’s Green Mountains are blanketed with snow, The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa becomes a frozen wonderland that serves as an amazing setting for a winter wedding. From elopements and intimate nuptials to bigger celebrations for up to 300 guests, the resort’s team of romantics will ensure that the special day is magical. After they’ve said goodnight, the happy couple can retreat to the Cupola Suite with 360-degree mountain views.
It’s stunning Swiss location, blended with European luxury and exemplary service, make Frutt Mountain Resort, near to Lucerne and Interlaken, an idyllic spot for a winter wedding. Situated on a “mountain island” in the sunny plateau of Melchsee-Frutt at 6,300 feet above sea level, spaces like the rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains are suited for nuptials and cocktail receptions alike for up to 180 guests.
Whether the bride would like to arrive by carriage or helicopter, or the happy couple wants to treat their guests to fireworks for a grand finale to their special day, anything is possible at Kempinski Hotel das Tirol in Austria’s Kitzbühel Alps. The hotel’s interior spaces feature floor-to-ceiling windows that allow natural light to flow in, and the surrounding grounds make for a naturally beautiful setting that can accommodate up to 250 guests.
Couples can celebrate their big days in a myriad ways at Nemacolin, situated on 2,000 acres in the Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains. With five options for accommodations, ranging from The Chateau and The Lodge to Falling Rock, Homes and Estates, wedding guests will feel right at home. When it comes to the big day, indoor and outdoor spaces can be transformed to make every bride’s wedding dreams come true.
Weddings reach new heights at Sun Valley Resort in Idaho. Sweep guests away by gondola for a ceremony and intimate reception at The Roundhouse; spectacular views of the Sawtooth Mountains provide a dramatically stunning backdrop. Stay on solid ground and welcome guests to an intimate reception at Dollar Lodge, or have a larger gathering at Sun Valley Club, both with unique architectural features and views of Bald Mountain and surrounding ranges.
For nearly 100 years The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs has welcomed couples to tie the knot in its elegant spaces. Opulence and mountain views blend effortlessly in the Penrose Room for weddings of up to 120 guests or host a warm celebration in the rustic yet elegant Cheyenne Lodge with breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains and Colorado Springs from its wraparound patio. Guests can cozy around the stone fireplace for an intimate reception at the Mountain Clubhouse, perched upon Cheyenne Mountain.