Shorter days, darker skies and bone-chilling temperatures give the extremities of the calendar year a bad wrap, but the twinkling tinsel, sumptuous textures and cozy comfort foods bring a level of jubilation to wintertime festivities that more than make up for an otherwise melancholic atmosphere. As evidenced by our recent look at winter wedding ceremonies, couples who fully embrace the spirit of the season reap wonderfully sophisticated wedding designs. And today, we’re looking at winter wedding reception ideas that sleigh (all day!) as well. From jewel toned palettes of teal + red to maximalist centerpieces spilling with blossoming branches, these modern winter wedding ideas are a surefire way to make your celebration merry and bright.
(L) photo by Christy Speers with planning + florals by Monica Relyea; (R) photo by Abby Jiu with planning + design by Lauryn Prattes and florals by Sweet Root Village
Winter Wedding Escort Cards & Favors
Photo by Tec Petaja with planning + design by Calder Clark, florals by Blossoms Events and stationery by Cheree Berry Paper
Seating charts, escort cards, place cards and cute little favors are an easy way to add a light-hearted, creative spirit to your wedding design. A few of the standout ideas we’ve seen for winter weddings in particular? Holiday crackers (especially when they’re hand-marbled!), calligraphed logs, mini winter villages, golden hand bells, tartan-bound frames, mulled wine dressed up like the three wise men (the myrrh, the merrier).
(L)photo + styling by Houses & Parties; (R) photo by Yuri Yatel with planning + design by Amorology and calligraphy by Four Things Paper
Photo by James x Schulze with planning + design by Bluebird Productions, florals by Mindy Rice Design and calligraphy by Pitbulls & Posies
(L) photo by Perry Vaile with planning + design by A Southern Soiree, florals by Watered Garden Florist and escort cards by If It’s Paper + Willa Heart; (R) photo by Perry Vaile with planning + design by Pamela Barefoot Events, florals by Holly Chapple, paper goods by Cheree Berry Paper and calligraphy by Laura Hooper
Photo + styling by Houses & Parties
Have Santa hand out gifts, wrapped in paper that matches your palette or custom wedding print. Tie letterpress tags to a patchwork of poinsettia wreaths. Have servers pour signature cocktails into calligraphed lightbulb shaped glasses to surprise guests during Cocktail Hour. Hang vintage ornaments on a multi-colored tree, allowing your guests to take these curated treasures home as a memorable keepsake they can rediscover every holiday season. Truly, the starry night sky is the limit when it comes to winter wedding escort cards, favors and the like!
(L) Photo by Brandon Kidd with planning + design by Amorology, florals by Native Poppy and calligraphy by Four Things Paper; (R) photo by Perry Vaile with planning + design by A Southern Soiree, florals by Watered Garden Florist and Santas Just Like Me as Santa
Photo by Lennart Weibull with creation + styling by Naomi de Manana for Martha Stewart
(L) photo by Perry Vaile with planning + design by Grit & Grace, production by Crush x Eventworks and calligraphy by Laura Hooper; (R) photo by Abby Jiu with planning + design by Lauryn Prattes, stationery by Cheree Berry Paper and calligraphy by Laura Hooper
Photo by Jose Villa with planning + design by Easton Events, florals by Mindy Rice Design, escort cards by Amber Moon Design and calligraphy by Curlicue Designs
Winter Wedding Tablescapes
It’s the Texture of the Season
Like Christmas at Balmoral, tartan is a leading player in the winter wedding texture scene. Then again, so is velvet. Classic and luxe, these table complexions are a Santana kind of smooth. And while we most often see them make their debuts in tablecloths, dresses and the ever-suave tie, there’s much to be said about whimsical swags of velvet ribbon bedecking chairs or cinching napkins and plaid lambswool sleeves safeguarding menus. It goes without saying that cozy blankets a knack for insulation are welcome enhancements to seat-backs and lounge vignettes for outdoor receptions.
Photo by Tec Petaja with planning + design by Calder Clark and florals by Blossoms Events
(L) photo by Sarah Kate Photo with planning + design by Stefanie Miles and florals by Bows & Arrows Flowers; (R) photo by Sposto Photo with planning + design by Amorology and florals by Posey Pop
Photo by Charla Storey with design + florals by Max Owens Design
(L) photo by Rachel Havel with planning, design and florals by Greenwood Events; (R) photo by William Jess Laird with design by Houses & Parties
An oft-missed opportunity for tableside hygge is investing in the dining seats. Whether that means splurging a bit more on chairs with plush textures or renting slip covers/sheepskin chair pads to elevate comfort, your guests will thank you for any simple touches that keep their snugness top of mind.
Photo by Perry Vaile with planning + design by A Southern Soiree and florals by Watered Garden Florist
Patterns To Pine For
If we recognize any themes from winter weddings this year, it’s that maximalism is ever on the rise. Layering patterns and going all-in with print-happy china is will quickly show you that there is no wrong answer in the Maxiverse. A good rule of thumb as you approach the design is to consider the kind of mood you want to create. Is it laidback and refined? Funky and colorful? Peaceful and calm? Classic and enduring?
(L) photo by Rebecca Yale with planning, design and florals by Greenwood Events; (R) photo by Corbin Gurkin with florals + styling by Ariella Chezar Design
Photo by Corbin Gurkin with planning + design by Gregory Blake Sams with florals by SYG Designs
(L) photo + styling by Maison Fête; (R) photo by Martina Mondadori with styling by Cabana x Houghton Hall
Start with one focal piece and build outward from there. Consider patterns that strike a perfect balance between breezy and sophisticated without verging on feeling too elaborate or unapproachable. Marry 2-3 textures throughout the table linen, dinnerware, flatware, glassware, candle holders, floral vessels and so on.
Photo + styling by Elizabeth Lake
(L) photo + styling by Caroline Gidiere Design; (R) photo by Charla Storey with design + florals by Max Owens Design
Photo by Hector Manuel Sanchez with styling by Page Mullins
Punch it up with a handful of colors – easily done through winter citrus, stone fruits, foraged mushrooms, leafy greens and seasonal blooms. Get playful and color outside the lines – it’s an instant dose of Yuletide pep for your guests!
(L) photo + styling by The Avenue; (R) photo by Adam Kuehl with styling by Houses & Parties
Photo + styling by Houses & Parties
Make The Whole Place Shimmer (overhead)
The perfect way to give ’em the ole’ razzle dazzle? Bits and baubles (of tinsels + glass, respectively). When thinking about your winter wedding reception space, don’t forget to look up! Consider the environment from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. How can you treat the latter in a way that surprises + delights your guests with layers of color, vibrant sparkles and unexpected depth? As for us, we love a good garland festooned with ornaments and icicle-allusive tinsel.
Photo by Gulshan London
(L) photo by Loveshack Fancy with planning + design by Fiona Leahy Design; (R) photo by Grant Daniels with planning by Keely Thorne Events, design by Bella Acento and florals by The Fleuriste
Winter Wedding Centerpieces
(L) photo by Hannah Rosa Lewis-Lopes with florals by Putnam Flowers; (R) photo by José Rodríguez and Saint Rose with florals by Putnam Flowers
When on the hunt for winter wedding centerpieces, look no further than these clever remixes on cult classics like hellebore, lilies, camellias and daffodils. Talk to your florist about favoring wild + unruly stems evocative of the natural world. Since there is less nuance in the colors available from winter blooms, creating a sense of movement through intricate layering and unexpected textures will effectively uplevel your winter dining table arrangements with dynamic composition.
Photo + florals by Nicolette Camille Floral
(L) photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo with florals by laMUSAdelasFLORES; (R) photo + florals by Nicolette Camille Floral
Photo by Steven Meisel Photography with florals by Ariel Dearie
(L) photo + florals by Renko Floral; (R) photo + florals by Jenn Sanchez
Playful and unfussy winter wedding moods call for a cirque de fleurs of sorts – limes on a trapeze of blossoming branches, fantastic funghi juggling flair, pomegranates trampolining high in the sky… it’s a show we could watch again and again and again.
Photo + florals by Max Gill Design
(L) photo, florals and styling by Putnam Flowers; (R) photo via Pinterest
Photo by Sylvie Gil with planning, design and florals by Greenwood Events
(L) photo + florals by Nicolette Camille Floral; (R) photo + florals by Ava Floral
Photo + florals by Tulipina Design
While snowy whites and pine needle greens are the most “gravitated towards” color palettes for winter wedding centerpieces, we hope these sugarplum sherberts (our wintertime version of summer’s juicy fruits) offer enough evidence of cheery colors receiving an A++ in floral design briefs all year round.
(L) photo + florals by laMUSAdelasFLORES; (R) photo by Corbin Gurkin with florals by Nicolette Camille Floral
Photo + florals by Tulipina Design
(L) photo by Nirav Patel with planning + design by Natalie Choi Events and florals by The Loved Co; (R) photo + florals by Nicolette Camille Floral
Ikebana is another special touch you can employ for accent flowers on your dining tables, wedding bars or lounge vignettes. Gentle without feeling sleepy, these botanic ballerinas offer a poetic continuation of soft ethereality and watercolor hues.
Photo + florals by Max Gill Design
(L) photo by Francesco Lagnese with production by Carolyn Englefield and florals by Lewis Miller Design; (R) photo + florals by florals by Nicolette Camille Floral
Photo + florals by Nicolette Camille Floral
(Both) photos + florals by Lambert Floral Studio
Burgundies, pinks and muddy browns are called out of their hibernation station during winter months as well. If your design MO is straight out of the wedding aesthetic playbook for “timeless with a twist”, it’s true that this seasonably rich approach feels polished, debonair and effortlessly elegant.
Photo + florals by AvaFlora
(L) photo + florals by Bows & Arrows Flowers; (R) photo + florals by Aesme Studio
Photo + florals by The Fleuropean
Winter Wedding Canapés & Cocktails
Photo by Anna Marie Akins
Spiked eggnog may be dealer’s choice when it comes to winter wedding licks and libations, but the festive season bartender’s bible hardly starts and ends here. Hot buttered spiked cider, pomegranate ginger palomas, mulled wine negronis and chai espresso martinis are just a few of the frosted weather cocktails we wouldn’t mind having on deck – particularly if they’re served with fun presentation like a customized shot ski, birch pattered straw, cinnamon stick cigar or jumbo sized marshmallows.
(Both) phots by Abby Jiu with planning + design by Lauryn Prattes and catering by Occasions Caterers
Photo by Jeremy Harwell with planning by Suzanne Reinhard
(L) Photo by Abby Jiu with planning + design by Lauryn Prattes; (R) photo by Sandy & Odysseas Photography
Look to sites like Half Baked Harvest, Food52, Martha Stewart and Food & Wine for some of the best winter cocktail recipes we’ve discovered yet!
Photo by Paulina Akoss
(L) photo by Steve Steinhardt with planning + design by Beth Helmstetter; (R) photo by Perry Vaile with planning + design by A Southern Soiree
Photo by O’Malley Photographers
(L) photo by Sylvie Gil with catering by Calamigos Ranch; (R) photo by Abby Jiu with planning + design by Lauryn Prattes and catering by Occasions Caterers
As for the grub? These sweet and savory bites never fail to speed up the ski lift and into your mouth faster than you can say Noel. While they say to never judge a book by it’s cover, we can’t help but defect when it comes to food. As far as Cocktail Hour and Late Night Bites are concerned, presentation is everything. So play up the spirit of the season through patterned bowls or souped-up platters, themed stations or roaming carts and tasty treats in emblematic shapes that immerse guests fully into your winter theme.
Photo by Chia Chong with styling by Houses & Parties
(L) photo by Abby Jiu with planning + design by Lauryn Prattes and catering by Occasions Caterers; (R) photo by Marlene Lee
A few starter ideas for winter wedding canapés?
- Warm Raclette Swiss Cheese with Riesling-poached pears, red wine-braised figs, candied pecans, honey, and cranberry toast
- Pão de Queijo: Brazilian cheese bread
- Rock oysters with finger lime dressing
- “Twice Baked” Baby Potatoes with Caviar
- Belgian Waffle with warm chocolate ganache
- Canadian Cheddar and Bacon Soup served with a pretzel roll
- Braised Beef Poutine: French fries, Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese Sauce, cheese curds, and gherkin relish
- Polenta Squares with Wild Mushrooms and Fontina
- Beef and Asparagus Negimaki
- Chicken Tikka Masala with fennel-spiced yogurt and naan bread
Winter Wedding Cakes
All is Green. All is White.
(L) photo by Natalie Watson with planning + design by Jennifer Laraia and florals by Amy Osaba Design; (R) photo by Jen Huang Bogan with florals by Studio Mondine and cake by Nine Cakes
Park your eyes here for a while, ’cause these green and white wedding cakes have charisma to spare. With frosted tiers marked by bas relief, sugar flowers, nonchalant brushstrokes and gravity-defying angles, these dazzling confections are anything by traditional. Still, there’s a classic sensibility about them. Humble grace and universal appeal. For couples looking for a bit of familiarity or a classic design with a fresh twist, consider enhancing a buttercream cake with natural adornments of flowers, vines, or wintertime berries. And for a more modern vibe, a little bit of monochrome motif goes along way!
Photo by Willett Photography with design by Joy Proctor, planning by Suzanne Reinhard and cake by Bakers Man Inc.
(L) photo by Charla Storey with planning + design by Birds of a Feather Events, florals by Max Owens Design and cake by Sugar Bee Sweets; (R) photo by Almond Leaf with planning + design by Anthology Weddings and florals by Kelly Lenard
Photo by Jen Huang Bogan with florals by Studio Mondine and cake by Nine Cakes
(L) photo by Judy Pak Studio with planning + design by Ryder Sloan Events, florals by Porcelain Vine and cake by Nine Cakes; (R) photo by Greer Gattuso with planning + design by Angle Events and florals by Kelly Lenard
Photo + cake by LiMa Cakes
(L) photo by Judy Pak Studio with cake by Nine Cakes; (R) photo by Kurt Boomer with planning + design by Haute Fetes, florals by Plenty of Petals and cake by Hey There Cupcake
Candy Stripes & Gingerbread Spice
While some wedding cakes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, these candy clad confections certainly are. Gingerbread castles with icicle frosting, strips of fondant taffy unfurling as ribbons, stripe-spangled canes bristling with peppermint… nothing feels quite as mirthful as cold weather desserts like these. Add them to your lineup of wedding sweets, and you’re sure to end the night on a high note!
(L) photo + cake by Cuisinart; (R) photo by Rebecca Carpenter with styling by Locate to Create and cake by Chelsea Buns Cake Design
Photo by KT Merry with planning by Allie Levine Events, design by Naomi de Manana and cake by Cake Alchemy
(L) photo + cake by Le Blog de Madame C; (R) photo by Joseph Rogero with planning + design by Haute Fetes, florals by Plenty of Petals and cake by Hey There Cupcake
Nectar of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Deck your cake with fruits and flowers, fa la la la la la la la la. Straddling the line between understated and whimsical, these high-brow cake designs feel entirely approachable. Gussied up with flourishes of blooms, these playful winter wedding cakes feel like confidence personified. So, of course, do the pavlovas, meringues and spiced sponge gâteaux that we’ve hand-picked for you to peruse below. Nestled in a bed of seasonal berries or perched atop a sleek glass stand, these lively designs feel spry, chic and entirely invigorated.
(L) photo + cake by LiMa Cakes; (R) photo by Louise Hagger with styling by Zeke Westerman and florals by Putnam Flowers
Photo by Perry Vaile with planning + design by A Southern Soiree, florals by Watered Garden Florist and cake by Ashley Cakes
(L) photo by Charla Storey with florals by Max Owens Design and cake by Sugar Bee Sweets; (R) photo by Jose Villa with planning + design by Stef Cove and florals by Putnam Flowers
Photo by Ryan Liebe with cake by Jason Schreiber
(L) photo by Charla Storey with florals by Max Owens Design and roses from Grace Rose Farm; (R) photo by Tec Petaja with florals by Sarah Winward
Photo + cake by Marina Machado Cakes
(L) photo via Details, Details; (R) photo by Iann Ivy with planning + design by H & L Lovely Creations and cake by CocoaBerry
Just like toaster strudels, mini cakes, cookies and boozy popsicles are so fetch. Particularly when they’re intricately painted or crowned with elaborate frosting designs!
Photo by Ashley Ludaescher Photography with planning + design by A Very Beloved Wedding, florals by A Very Beloved Bloom and cake by Demel K.u.K. Hofzuckerbäckerei
(L) photo + tart by Andrea Sham; (R) photo + cake by Aimee France
Photo by Corbin Gurkin with cake by Nine Cakes
One trend we’re unabashedly giddy for? Sugar mushrooms! These darling little toadstools make the jolliest additions to an enchanted forest inspired wedding reception.
(L) photo by Michelle Beller with planning by Sonia Hopkins, design by Kate Holt Creative and cake by The Butter End; (R) photo by Valorie Darling with planning + design by Trapp & Co
Photo + pavlova by Fig & Salt
(L) photo by Mark Weinberg with cake by Erin McDowell; (R) photo + cake by Nine Cakes
Photo + cake by Aimee France
Fondant Flossing x Abstract Flair
Photo + cake by Jasmine Rae Cakes
Ripples and waves of hand-painted fondant can create the most hypnotic winter wedding cake. Like shards of ice or glimmers of a frozen lake, these sculptural wedding cakes double as artworks + conversation starters. This approach suits couples seeking a modern minimalist vibe, without veering into spartan territory. The velocity of each iridescent swoop draws the eyes upward across a sugar paste mountain terrain, though often, these glazed trimmings frame solid colored tiers through grand curlicue shapes reminiscent of exotic bird feathers. And sometimes, these abstract confections seem to mirror the flirtatious silhouettes of a bridal micro mini with wispy embellishments.
(L) photo + cake by Jasmine Rae Cakes; (R) photo + cake by Marina Machado Cakes
Photo by Almond Leaf with planning + design by Alise Taggart, florals by Floressence Flowers and cake by Sugar Cloud Baking Co.
(L) photo by Kurt Boomer with planning + design by Kingsley Events and florals by Plenty of Petals; (R) photo by Clareece Smit Photography with planning + design by MODE Weddings + Events and cake by Turquoise Squirrel Patisserie
Photo by Beige Weddings with planning + design by Ariel Chiu Events, florals by Da Fiori Design and cake from Cake by Nicole
(L) photo + cake by Jasmine Rae Cakes; (R) photo by Alix Gould with cake by Sweet Celebrations
Photo + cake by AliceChow
Winter Wedding Send-Off Style
A word about winter wedding send-offs: DO THEM. Has there ever been a better excuse to hire a horse drawn sleigh, slap a twinkle lit Christmas tree atop a vintage car or dress up a sleek wooden boat with holiday frills? Wedding send-offs technically don’t have to occur at the end of the party either. Your exit from the ceremony can be equally grand, and you can surprise your guests with a clever entrance to your Cocktail Hour or Wedding Dinner if you’re stealing away for photos while they mingle + nosh.
Photo by Sara Tasker
(L) photo by Rebecca Hollis Photography with planning + design by Greenwood Events; (R) photo + styling by Southern Living Magazine
Photo by David Christensen for Atlanta Homes Magazine
(L) photo by L’Apogée Courchevel; (R) photo by Elise Sterck
Photo by Georgia Furness with styling by Sarah Prall for Wildflower Magazine
Ski down the slopes if that’s your vibe (and that’s your wedding setting), or immerse your guests in the fun by letting them take part in the unique transportation element too. Who’s to say the “getting there” parts of the day can’t be novel, entertaining and endearingly memorable? Not every part of the day has to be about efficiency, so consider how you can enchant your guests at every touch point.
(L) photo by Alyssa Campanella; (R) photo by Nate Shepard
Photo by Elise Sterck
There’s a reason they call it the most wonderful time of the year. So while spring and summer weddings remain ever popular, we hope you consider these brisker months for their infinite opportunities where designs + immersive experiences are concerned. In many locations, you can save big on your investments as well. Off-peak dates tend to offer extreme savings at most wedding venues, and you’ll generally find the same trends across different vendor categories as well (particularly where minimum spends are concerned). Long story short, don’t let the lower temperatures deter you from the exceptionally cozy potential these winter months bring. And if you haven’t perused our unofficial masterclass on winter wedding ceremonies yet, it’s about time you burrowed into that rabbit hole as well. We hear it’s pretty darn hygge.
Cover photo + styling by Martha Stewart Weddings