Winter weddings rare but distinctive

Matt and Emily Skoronski prayed for snow on their wedding day.

The Perryman couple chose Dec. 28, 2012, to get married because they love winter. Snow would have made the day perfect.

"I wanted it to snow, because what's a winter wedding without snow? But it ended up being a sunny 40-degree day," Emily says. Her bouquet was adorned with acorns and snowflakes, and personalized snowflake wedding ornaments were given to guests as wedding favors.

"My husband grew up in Massachusetts, and I love the cold and snow, so having a winter wedding was a no-brainer for us."

The Skoronskis aren't alone — but they're close to it. Winter nuptials account for just 5 percent of all weddings nationwide. In Maryland, that statistic is 2 percent, says Jamie Miles, editor at The Knot, an online wedding resource. Still, they offer upsides such as lower costs and distinctive visuals.

"It's even less popular in Maryland than the rest of the U.S. The number has stayed relatively flat since 2009," Miles says. "We are predicting for 2013 it will remain pretty steady."

Cold weather makes travel difficult, and the unpredictability scares brides off from winter weddings. Insurance, agreements with vendors and a backup plan are necessary for winter weddings.

"If we're in Baltimore and there's a blizzard, you're in trouble," says Diana Venditto, owner of Eventi Planning in Baltimore.

Raquel Shutt, owner of Wedding Savvy in Annapolis, remembers one wedding a few years ago at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. It had snowed heavily the night before. Shutt spent most of the day before and the morning of the wedding making sure the photographers, florist and caterer were going to show up. She also had to make sure the transportation company would drive guests to and from the hotel.

"It was the day of a huge, huge snowstorm," Shutt says. "I had assistants with me that day because we knew it was going to be a tough job."

Snow can make for stunning photographs, but it can also make some areas difficult to shoot. At the Naval Academy wedding, the field was covered with snow, but the bridal party took pictures anyway. "All the girls that day had snow boots as a backup. Everybody had winter jackets and cute furs," Shutt says. "People do want and expect from the bridal party a few outside shots."

Colder weather was a draw for Peter and Renee Coolbaugh of Baltimore when they were planning their December wedding. There was no snow on their Dec. 7 wedding day. The next day; however, it snowed a couple inches.

"The day of our wedding it was about 40 and windy," says Renee. "We got snow the next day and that made it fun for our guests getting home."

Renee and Peter knew messy weather was a possibility.

"There's no way I wanted a summer wedding. I don't like to be hot. We wanted cooler temperatures," Renee says. "I'm more of a cold weather kind of person."

Renee's one regret about the timing of her wedding was photo locations.

"The places I really wanted photos weren't possible in 40-degree weather," Renee said. "One thing, if you're thinking about this season, think about where you want your photos." Renee and her bridal party took photos at a harborside hotel in the outside garden on the eighth floor, and she and Peter took photos around Little Italy.

Despite the drawbacks, winter has some wedding perks. With amazing photographs and festive decor, they can be beautiful and memorable, says Shutt.

"There's something about a winter wedding that is intrinsically more romantic," says Shutt. There are candles and fireplaces and plenty of greens and warm hues. It all meshes in a winter wedding, she says.

Emily and Matt's reception was at the Bulle Rock Residents' Club in Havre de Grace. It was decorated with Christmas trees and poinsettias, which the couple loved.

"It is always decorated to the nines for Christmas," Emily says. Two evergreens in the hallway were decorated with snowflake ornaments for the guests to take home. "I had an ice-blue color for lighting in the reception to give it more of an icy wonderland look."

And all that romantic ambience will cost less in winter. Because weddings are scarce in winter, reception sites and vendors often offer major discounts. Some sites are already decorated for the holiday or winter season.

"You can save money that way if you like the decor," says Venditto. "Winter can be gorgeous, and you can make it your own."

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