relaxed newlywed couples portrait at sunset at southwood hall
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laughing newlyweds outside their winter wedding at southwood hall in norfolk

Considering a winter wedding in Suffolk or Norfolk? One of my beautiful 2018 brides, Azara, did just that. Her and her husband Liam had the most relaxed, romantic, laughed filled day at Southwood Hall. When Azara offered to write a guide to planning a winter wedding, I said a resounding HECK YES! So without further ado…. here’s Azara’s words of wisdom.

I had always had my heart set on a May/spring wedding- what’s not to love?!? Beautiful flowers, warmth and the air feels full of joy, hope and happiness – don’t you think? Or maybe that’s just how I feel on the first day of spring!

These days a spring wedding is so popular that actually for many of us we have to start thinking of alternatives as it’s too expensive. Our alternative was a winter wedding! I quickly fell in love with the romantic idea of fairy lights, candles and a cozy atmosphere – think Harry Potter style Great Hall twinkly dining meets the cover of Bride magazine – well that was my vision anyway! In all honesty, we really wanted everyone to get an insight into how much we love each other …. and how weird we really are(and we really are a bit odd) but more importantly to enjoy the day.

When you’re wedding planning, there seems to be an abundance of do’s and don’ts which all seem to contradict each other so I’ve put together a few pros and cons and a couple of ideas that worked well for us.

relaxed laughing norfolk couple saying vows at southwood hall

Pros of a February Wedding

It’s cheaper! Not only is your venue a bit cheaper but we were able to massively negotiate with florists, makeup artists, hire companies, you name it! It makes such a difference. Let’s face it, you mention the ‘W’ word and everything sky rockets. We had a clear idea of what we wanted but a budget that really wouldn’t stretch to our dreams in Spring or Summer.

Another pro, that we didn’t even consider but turned out to be amazing is the time the sun sets – this makes your venue so cozy and really helps create a romantic ambience for your day (we have stunning photos of the sun setting over the barn). Plus Emily got some great photos outside at sun set whilst my hair and makeup were still intact! It means candles during your ceremony and wedding breakfast work a treat and I love that our wedding breakfast photos are so twinkly!

Final pro… because it’s cold – everyone has to stay inside! Now as I said, I’m a huge fan of a spring wedding and I adore summer weddings but we’ve all been to weddings where the weather is so gorgeous everyone stays outside for the whole time, drinking and enjoying those precious English summer rays -which is fab until you realise you’ve paid a lot of money for a venue with a gorgeous interior that hasn’t been used and everyone is in their little groups outside. However even if it is cold or rainy, you can still make use of a gorgeous exterior with beautiful umbrellas or creative photography and everyone has to mingle when they are all inside.

relaxed laughing norfolk couple signing wedding register at southwood hall

Cons of a February Wedding

The weather! You just can’t rely on it. We had to prepare for snow, rain, thunder, storms and a freak heatwave! All jokes aside, we got married in a very remote barn and the panic we felt when we heard there was snow forecast nearly killed me! In fact, had we been a week later, we would not have been able to get to our venue! As long as the weather isn’t too miserable you can still make use of a gorgeous venue though and lets face it, anyone planning for a UK wedding, any time of the year, needs to be prepared for a freak storm!

Keeping everyone warm! Even though we really tried to think of everything, everyone was freezing during our photos – luckily, you can’t tell but as a bride and groom when your first few moments of marriage include shivering, you need to think about options – with hindsight, I wish I had stashed some coats for us that we could wear between photos!

relaxed laughing norfolk couple throwing confetti at southwood hall

Some pointers that helped us…

Be organized!

Everyone laughed at me when I sent out our wedding invites 5 months in advance but with a winter wedding you need to be organized! Everyone is usually quite poor between November and January with Christmas presents, parties and for us, all of our friends and families birthdays!

Weddings can cost so much as a guest, so we wanted to give everyone enough time to get cheap rates at hotels, to organise travel and don’t forget the post slows down over Christmas too! Getting your invites out may be easy enough, but we needed to confirm with our venue numbers in the first week of January…… therefore we couldn’t have RSVPs getting too delayed!

Be mindful of the type of winter wedding you are having! 

We got married in February – which was great as usually the weather is cold but usually dry. As such we spent loads of time googling winter weddings – I imagined, loads of glitter, sparkle, mulled wine , winter warmers, fairy lights – the works!

However our florist very rightfully reminded us, the 23rd Feb is 8 weeks post-Christmas. Everyone has forgotten about mulled wine and fairy lights which are very much associated with the festive period!  She also cleverly advised us away from typical winter flowers (such as lots of greys and icy white tones) as by the end of February everyone is hoping for spring and the weather is starting to brighten up ever so slightly.

The two weeks before our wedding was glorious. It was bitterly cold but very dry and the amount of people who said “oh it feels like spring is coming” was amazing! I was so relieved we took her advice!

Ignore people who say you are taking on too much or going overboard. 

We made everything for our wedding! Invites which consisted of 2 envelopes (with envelope liners) and 5 different size squares. Signs – we had at least 8. Table runners for 8 tables (although my mum made them). A table plan. All stationary, including the order of the day and order of the ceremony which were a booklet, menus etc. Don’t get me wrong – it was hard work! There were points where we regretted the decision – however when you have a vision, you either need an endless budget or a creative mind and a very handy fiancé! Don’t be put off though – it’s so worth it when everything comes together! Plus it’s great bonding for you and the Mr. There are photos of Liam patiently tying ribbons and stamping things with glitter!

Enjoy your planning!
Wedding planning is so stressful for everyone but as a bride – a lot of it really does fall to you. Enjoy every moment.  It is super stressful and so overwhelming. There are tons of decisions to make and loads of choice but once you have booked your florist, photographer and bought the dress – you will never do it again! Really embrace planning and don’t be perturbed by people and their opinions – it’s your wedding, your way!

You can see more of what Azara and Liam’s Southwood Hall winter wedding looked like – here!

relaxed newlywed couples portrait at sunset at southwood hall