Over the past few years, we’ve all seen some spectacular renditions of Winter Wonderland weddings in the magazines. When most of us see this done up ‘right,’ we get an immediate, gut reaction. Brides with sunny, butterfly-festooned weddings in June suddenly succumb to second thoughts. Why? Because the Winter Wonderland wedding has all: fantasy, drama … even a strong underlying mood that sweeps up your guests and carries them along.
Setting the Stage
There’s no doubt about it: the Winter Wonderland wedding is one of those grand gestures that goes easier with a crew of helper-elves: a planner, a lighting team, and a designer to unleash some draped-fabric magic along the walls and ceilings.
But even if you don’t have all those things at hand this minute, perhaps friends and family can help you make the magic happen. So let’s talk wonderland style and see what develops.
Once upon a time, the wonderland palette was pretty simple: white and ice blue. Or white and silver. Or maybe, even, both! Ooh!
These days, sophisticated brides and event planners know there’s a way to make almost any palette work for winter. But as a foolproof alternative to powder blue, try classic jewel tones, like burgundy, royal blue, hunter green or royal purple.
The appeal of these richly saturated colors against the background of crisp white just can’t be overstated. But to stay true to the wonderland feel, you still need lots of sparkle. Where’s that going to come from? Here’s some ideas:
Draping and Lighting
The wonderland wedding belongs to the family of fantasy weddings. That means, if you can get a pro to drape the ceilings and walls and statement tables with tulle or organza and twinkle lights, you’re 75% home-free. Ceiling treatments like this aren’t cheap, but they utterly transform the room.
Trees and Centerpieces
Big-budget fantasy winter weddings have tree-lined corridors down the length of the room, with rose petal “snow” lining the aisle. While your pocketbook might not have room for your own private Champs-Elysées, renting potted bare-branch trees for the focal points can make a big impact. Make them sparkle with twinkle-light strands, and veil them with swaths of tulle. You can do the same with four-foot topiaries from craft stores to tart up your tabletops
Silver and Crystal
The timeless look of these luxe materials are crucial for setting the mood. For silver, think shining candelabras, pastry tiers and serving platters, and the classic look of embossed cake plateaus.
For crystal, rent or get do-it-yourself on special touches like crystal trees: spray bare branches in silver or glitter, then drape them with crystal strands or large chandelier beads hung from microfilament (pop in a few unexpected touches, like white orchid heads).
Then, trim the edges of tiny candleshades in smaller beads. Keep the lighting low and use plenty of candles so all your bling-bling looks as dynamic as possible. Tip: crystal can get heavy quickly, so don’t overload ordinary branches without proofing your concept first! Speaking of looks, let’s take a gander at classic wonderland bridal styles …
Yay, again, for fantasy weddings! This means you can go all-out with clothing that practically verges on costume (in the most elegant way). Full, out-to-there ballgown skirts with luxe draping or ruching? Layer on layers of Alençon lace? Opera-length gloves, a sparkly tiara, and a faux-fur shrug? No problem! The winter bride can carry all this off in stride.
And a sparkly snowflake brooch at the neckline or the waist is a gorgeous way to fasten a bit of satin. But what to hold in those satin-gloved hands? That brings us to …
The season’s all-white bouquet is smashing here (with sparkling bouquet picks, natch). Popular all-white blooms include crisp white tulips, exotic orchids, hydrangeas full of dusty country romance, and dramatic foliage like seed eucalyptus in silver. Finish off these beauties in a platinum-gray bouquet wrap, and you have a floral creation almost as eye-catching as the bride.
But bouquets in more muscular jewel colors like burgundy or maroon are equally breathtaking. Try a simple nosegay of roses ranging from crimson to black magic, or a striking hand-tied bouquet of deep maroon callas.
None of the above suit your fancy? Try an everlasting crystal bouquet, tailor-made for the winter bride.
And what about the tables? If you want something super-simple (but lovely), try white potted poinsettias. Also, crisp white carnations are workhorses when it comes to wonderland scenes. These fragrant, snowy blooms look smashing in flower wreaths for the church doors, or grouped in bright white masses.
Idea: start with tall, clear eiffel vases, fill to the top with metallic ball ornaments, pile white carnations in a “snow mass” at the top, and finish off each vase with dramatic, reach-for-the-sky bare branches or bittersweet.
Santa’s Secret Toolbox
Okay, the jolly guy himself has barely made an appearance thus far (no offense, Santa!), but let’s borrow his secret workshop concept and dream up a few more ideas. Imagine your wedding unfolding in real-time: cast a glance around the chapel and fully-appointed ballrooms, and what do you picture? Feather-trimmed organza swags from the pews? A flower girl scattering snowflakes down the aisle? An ice sculpture glinting from the far side of the room? A card box that passes for a luxurious stack of gifts?
Aside from crystal and silver, your winter wedding toolbox might hold ingredients like white feather boas and clear beaded garlands, silver bells and white rose petals, luxury satin ribbons and pooled satin in pale hues. What else do you see?
Taste-tickling drinks are key to making a good event great. A vodka or martini luge is classic for winter weddings, but equally fun are stacks of Blue Glories (schnapps, curacao, etc.) in martini glasses. Finish each one with a bright blue sugar rim and a miniature candy cane for garnish. Use a pin light to really make them shine!
From feasible to totally fanciful, here are some favorite splurges for a winter wonderland fantasy wedding.
Bring in couches and loveseats in white and pale blue, and finish off with faux arctic-fox pillows and faux bear rugs. Your guests may never go home.
Kiddie Candy Tree
The munchkins are sure to dream of sugarplums after they’ve clapped eyes on your mini kiddie tree, each branch loaded with fresh-frosted cookies and sweet confections tied in cellophane bags and ribbon.
Craft stores and mega-stores have unpainted wooden cutouts that time and patience can transform into one-of-a-kind personalized ornaments for each guest. Hang them from chair backs so they double and triple as place cards … and décor.
Candy Buffet With a Twist.
All-white candy buffets look spectacular, and it’s easy to find indulgences to fit the scheme (plenty of chocolates come with a white candy shell, for example). But consider adding the element of surprise with gourmet popcorn. Dale and Thomas’ white chocolate popcorn is legendary. Or have a hometown kitchen wizard whip up white chocolate popcorn “snowballs” your guests can simply tuck in a pretty take-home bag.
Gourmet Hot Cocoa Bar
Make this unforgettable with gourmet Dutch chocolate cocoa, homemade marshmallows (soooo indulgent, and light years away from the jet-puffed things in a bag), flavored whipped cream and gourmet mini candy canes in flavors like butter rum. The Pièce de résistance? A line-up of mini-bottles of Bailey’s Irish cream and Kahlua. Your guests will swoon
Photo Booth With a Twist
Everyone knows that guests go wild for photo booths at weddings: they’re the talk of the town for month after. Make this memory-creating treat even sweeter with an elegant silver ornament that guests can use to frame their best pictures on the spot.
Pretty as a Peacock
Take your cue from Vogue’s bash at the Met last May — the Costume Institute Gala — and stun the crowd with four snow-white peacocks in an epic gilded cage.
Pass It On …
What winter wonderland fancies have you dreamed up? Share your inspirations with other winter brides below!