How to Plan Your Dream Winter Wedding Reception

Winter is a magical time of year for a winter wedding reception. 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 such as lower temperatures, less sunlight, and unpredictable weather.

To help you with your reception planning, we’ve gathered several ideas to help you create your dream winter wedding reception.

Our 5 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

Even temperate locations like Arizona can get into the 40s on a winter night. Whether your winter wedding reception venue is tented or indoors, we recommend building your own “heating” checklist to make sure all your reception areas are cozy enough 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

To ensure proper heating, you can find out how many square feet your rental heaters will cover, and plan ahead of time where you will put 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.


The right lighting can make your venue 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 favorites:

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.

To see more lighting styles, click here

Add special winter decor classics

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 ideas to implement, it always helps to write down your priorities and what you “must have” at your winter wedding 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.

A few more of our favorite looks:

  • 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

As with any time of year, all receptions need a schedule and thoughtful timing. If you keep your guests sitting, standing, or by themselves too long, your guests can grow restless. The best way to solve this is to:

  • 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

Play with textures in your venue

Some 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.

Another way to add texture is by adding a fun backdrop like a

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

Fortunately, for the brides who plan and prepare for the winter atmosphere can enjoy a gorgeous, yet cozy winter wedding reception that is sure to be remembered.