Our fashion roundups are unbiased. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to affect our coverage.
If you thought wedding season was over, you were wrong. While it is true that the majority of nuptials take place during the summer months, more and more couples are beginning to see the allure of a winter wedding.
According to register office data, thousands more people are tying the knot between October and March than in previous years, with the number of couples getting married in winter increasing by up to 15 per cent in some areas, and for good reason.
From snow-covered settings to fairy lights, choruses round the piano and flagons of mulled wine, there is plenty of romance to be found in the winter.
But while the venue may be easy to bedeck, mastering a winter wedding wardrobe is an entirely different battle.
The cold weather means guests are forced to grapple with a string of sartorial conundrums, including finding an outfit that will shield them from the elements while still maintaining a sense of occasion.
The rules surrounding wedding guest dressing during the winter are as nuanced as they come but according to fashion stylist Rebecca Lockwood, it also affords attendees the chance to break their own style rules and try something new.
“Dressing for a winter wedding is all about luxury and layering but it can also be your time to experiment with something fun,” Lockwood says.
Sameera Azeem, creative director at London-based fashion label Ghost agrees, adding that while winter presents itself as a bit of a challenge, there are plenty of ways guests can stand out from the crowd.
“Weddings in the winter do have more of a festive feel, whether it is in the colour or fabrication,” Azeem says, adding that “warmth and looking chic” should be key factors when assessing your style.
Here’s our handy guide to winter wedding guest dressing, with tips from industry experts on the trends and colours you need to know about this season.
A ubiquitous summertime staple, dresses are classically the go-to choice for wedding guests and there’s no reason a winter wedding should be any different.
However, Orlagh McCloskey, co-founder of retro-inspired fashion brand Rixo, says it is important to recognise that the colder months call for a shift in colour and texture.
“Winter weddings are a great occasion to make the most of wearing textures like sequins and velvet, as well as longer sleeve midi styles, which you might ordinarily not get the chance to pull out your wardrobe during summer wedding season,” McCloskey says.
“It’s also a great time to reach for earthier and jewel tones such as green, burnt orange, deep blues, purple and magenta.”
Lockwood agrees, adding that while deep tones such as black, navy and red are perfect for the occasion, guests shouldn’t dismiss lighter hues altogether.
“I love the combination of a black velvet skirt with a soft mint green cashmere jumper,” Lockwood says.
“It oozes style and luxury. Team with some pointed heels, tights and a beaded bag.”
If print is more your thing, personal stylist Anna Berkeley argues that florals aren’t the sole reserve of summer affairs. Simply opt for a blooming motif against a dark backdrop to ensure it is more seasonally appropriate.
Silhouette-wise, Frances Cookson, co-founder of British fashion brand Rewritten, makes a case for midi lengths with side splits or open backs, while Emily Gordon-Smith, director of consumer product at trends intelligence company Stylus, says retro shapes are all the rage.
“The pretty, modest dresses – think covered-up, frilled and ruffled, with high necks and long sleeves – that have been so popular on the red carpet and runways are perfect for a winter wedding,” Gordon-Smith says.
“Erdem is the go-to for this look or if that’s out of budget take some inspiration and seek out midmarket and high street versions or, even better, an original 1970s vintage one.”
The Trouser Suit
Winter gives wedding guests the opportunity to take their style in a new direction with warmer outfit options such as a sharply tailored suit or jumpsuit with long sleeves.
“There are some great suits around this season,” Lockwood says.
“I have fallen in love with the velvet tuxedo suit as it’s super-sexy and sophisticated. It is definitely worth it as an investment piece that would be sure to last for many seasons due to its classic style. Team with an embellished heel and headband.”
To avoid looking too corporate, Gordon-Smith suggests investing in a suit that fits your body well and to not be afraid to experiment with bold hues or fabric finishes.
“The recent spring/summer runways were full of patterned trouser suits, which could make for a bold winter wedding guest look as well as prove a sound investment for next year.”
If a trouser suit doesn’t appeal, Cookson states that she is a “massive advocate” of jumpsuits as an alternative for women who usually shy away from wearing skirts or dresses, admitting she owns one style in four different colours.
“Not only do they look super cool as an alternative to a dress but they are an incredibly versatile choice,” she says.
“A trouser leg also means you can avoid the tights/no tights conundrum.”
As the weather cools and nights draw in, a stylish coat sits at the core of every woman’s wardrobe. But, is it really acceptable to wear your favourite floor-length puffer to your best friends nuptials?
Scruffy sleeping bag-styles aside, Berkeley says a statement coat is a must.
“Layers become key. You’ll need a very smart coat as you may be in it for a while, depending on the venue. I spent an entire wedding in my coat once,” she says.
“It’s totally acceptable to wear a coat or blazer to a wedding. In fact, make it all about the coat if you like.”
Azeem agrees, sharing her preference for belted or longline double-breasted options, while Lockwood adds that the right coat can really help to elevate your wedding look.
“I would suggest going for something statement in colour or, if you are not brave enough for that, maybe a statement fabric. Faux fur can work well or even try a check print,” Lockwood says.
“Blazers are also a great alternative if you want something a little lighter or, if you want to update your current coat, why not try an embellished belt worn over the top to nip in the waist – a great styling trick for this season that looks both cool and flattering.”
In recent years, occasion hats have slipped out of fashion favour, but a recent resurgence for fancy headwear (sales are up by 250 per cent on luxury online retailer Net-a-Porter in the last year) means they have officially regained some credibility.
Australian milliner Lisa Tan says the key to selecting the right hat for you is to keep comfort at the forefront of your mind.
“I generally recommend wedding guests wear smaller pieces without large brims, as they can be quite restrictive when greeting people,” Tan says.
“I would definitely recommend wearing either a felt or fabric hat, straw is definitely out and saved for spring and summer.”
The designer adds that headbands are also a popular choice, with the schoolgirl accessory having experienced a coming of age.
“Headbands with small veils are a lovely alternative to a hat or headpiece, but ensure your veil isn’t so restrictive as to prevent you from eating or drinking comfortably,” Tan explains.
“Wide, padded satin or velvet headbands are also a great choice for a less formal occasion and easily pair with most outfits.”
Azeem agrees, explaining that as weddings become “more relaxed”, accessories such as beaded hair clips, hairbands and simple fascinators “give less of a formal feel than hats but still give a subtle nod to traditional headwear”.
Footwear is largely a matter of personal preference but with a winter chill in the air, it seems open-toe options are a no-no.
Instead, Berkeley recommends opting for closed-toe heels, a pair of smart boots or even sandals with dainty socks.
Cookson and Azeem both agree, adding that while the cooler climes are likely to impact how they choose to finish their big day look, comfort comes first.
“Accessories-wise I would opt for a closed toe, block heel shoe any day,” Cookson says.
“Not only will they keep your feet warmer but they are infinitely more comfortable – your feet will thank you later.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies