How to Plan Your Dream Winter Wedding Reception

The magic of a winter wedding reception is unmatched. Instead of melting in the summer heat, you and your guests get to enjoy the cozy, winter atmosphere you create. There are, however, a few challenges to navigate when hosting a winter wedding reception such as lower temperatures, less sunlight, and unpredictable weather. So how can you make sure your winter wedding is special?

To help you with your reception planning, we’ve gathered several winter wedding ideas to help you create a dream winter wedding reception that will be remembered by all of your guests.

Best tips for planning a winter wedding reception:

  1. Know the range of temperature for the time of year
  2. Plan for enough lighting
  3. Add winter decor classics
  4. Keep your guests warm and entertained
  5. Play with textures in your venue

Know the expected temperature range for that time of year

a tented outdoor winter wedding reception

Even temperate locations like Arizona can get into the 40s on a winter night. Whether you’re hosting an outdoor winter wedding reception or indoor wedding reception, we recommend building your own “heating” checklist. This is how you can ensure you have a cozy wedding reception to accommodate guests.

  • Heaters for outside
  • Blankets next to any outdoor seating
  • Sufficient heating inside
  • Warm drinks (i.e. hot chocolate, apple cider, coffee, etc.)
  • Fire pit if the venue permits

For outdoor winter weddings especially, ensure proper heating by finding out how many square feet your rental heaters will cover, and planning ahead of time where you will place them. Keep in mind, you’ll want extra coverage where guests may be sitting down, and possibly less by the dance floor where people are moving.

Plan for enough lighting

an outdoor winter wedding reception draped with white string lighting

The right lighting can make your winter wedding feel even warmer. Since the sun goes down earlier in the winter, you’ll want to have well-lit walkways, lights above tables, and light around any reception activities like a dance floor. 

Special lighting can make your venue feel unique. Here are a few of our favorite winter wedding lighting ideas:

Another lighting tip is to ensure your photographer will have enough light to take awesome pictures. Many brides opt for sparklers at their reception exit, warm lighting over the dance floor, and a twinkle lights wall to take pictures with family members and friends. Your photographer will thank you, and you’ll get amazing reception pictures.

Check out more amazing lighting styles for events.

Add special winter decor classics

invitations for a winter theme wedding reception and ceremony

Take advantage of any winter decor that draws your attention. For example, if you love the rich greenery of evergreens, you can incorporate that into your guest table’s centerpieces and other display tables like your wedding cake table. You can also opt for a snow machine over your dance floor for the first dance or for a dreamy reception exit. 

When deciding which winter wedding ideas to implement, it always helps to write down your priorities and what you “must have” at your winter wedding ceremony or reception. Yet, it’s also important to remember that even if you don’t love hot chocolate, your guests may love to go to your hot chocolate bar. Finding a mix between what you and your guests will enjoy is a good perspective to keep, while planning your perfect winter wedding reception.

A few more of our favorite looks include:

  • A Donut wall or wall of champagne glasses,
  • A wall of pictures and memories of the bride and groom
  • Special backdrop behind the bride and groom sweetheart table

Keep your guests warm and entertained

image alt text: a black and white tented outdoor winter wedding reception setup

As with any time of year, winter wedding receptions need a schedule and thoughtful timing. If you keep your guests sitting, standing, or by themselves too long, your guests can grow restless. Here are some winter wedding ideas to solve this problem:

  • Put your MC in charge of your predetermined agenda
  • Rent enough chairs and tables for people to eat and talk to each other easily
  • Create well-marked “stations” (like a bar or drink station, a wall of desserts, or a station to request dance songs) to encourage your guests to roam around your venue
  • Ensure all areas of your winter wedding venue have appropriate heating so guests are comfortable wherever they decide to socialize

Play with textures in your venue

an indoor winter wedding reception with white drapery decor lining the ceiling

Some winter wedding venues come with a stunning backdrop or a few details you’ll want to keep, but the majority of venues come with a blank slate, which leaves a lot of the imagination up to you. Beyond adding greenery and flowers, drapery is a great way to create a cozy yet gorgeous atmosphere. 

You can also play with some textures on your tables with velvet draped over table cloths, chair coverings, drapes across the ceiling and walls, etc.

Below are a few of our favorite drapery ideas.

Here are some winter wedding ideas to create texture by adding a fun backdrop to your reception or ceremony:

  • Green wall
  • Wooden wall
  • Patterned wall with customer monograms, gobo patterns, which come in a variety of patterns and styles. 

Achieving Your Dream Winter Wedding Reception

Fortunately, brides who plan and prepare for the winter atmosphere can enjoy a gorgeous and cozy winter wedding reception that is sure to be remembered. Aurora Event Lighting & Rentals has everything you need to have the winter wedding reception of your dreams!