Getting hitched in the winter could be a magical experience—snow makes for an enchanting backdrop. But there’s also the obvious—temperatures drop a lot, and you have to take that into consideration when looking for a wedding gown. Finding a gorgeous dress to wear on your most special day, when that day happens to be freezing, doesn’t mean you have to compromise style over warmth. Yes, you may need to stay away from those strapless numbers, but there are a ton of other designs to consider.
We talked to several wedding dress designers with enough experience in the industry to know what makes a beautiful and functional winter dress.
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1. The Silhouette
Parisian designer Rime Arodaky knows a thing or two about French effortless style—she favors modern silhouettes with clean lines, and it’s all inspired by her life in the City of Light. “I personally love long sleeves, clean mermaid gowns with high neckline and a gorgeous back with lace or embroidery to create a surprise,” she told InStyle. “Minimal design—no feathers or fur—looks modern.”
The queen of vintage bridal style, Claire Pettibone, agrees—sleeves are a must-have in a winter wedding dress. If you are not a fan of plunging backs, she suggests opting for a delicate illusion embroidery that “would give a hint of your beauty.”
Pettibone is also categorical—go for the drama. “Winter is the perfect season for a statement gown. Full skirts, or a mermaid silhouette, dramatic long trains, elegant sleeves, and details galore.”
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2. The Fabrics
When creating a cold weather bridal collection, designer Alon Livné always takes into consideration that the bride might have the ceremony or pose for photos outside and will therefore need a warmer gown.
“I try to incorporate richer fabrics and fuller skirts to hold in the heat and keep the bride comfortable throughout her special day,” he said. “Silk and satin tend to be the richest and heaviest fabrics while still appearing luxurious and wedding appropriate.”
For those of you who already have their eyes on lighter and thinner fabrics, he suggests adding a satin lining to keep you warm.
For the modern bride, Arodaky prefers crepe and tulle. “It’s timeless and chic. I’d rather use embroidered tulle as it’s very graphic.”
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3. The Details
And since winter also happens to be holiday season, this is the perfect time for a little sparkle, according to Pettibone. “Delicate crystal beading, tiny sequins, or seed pearls offer a subtle nod to the season,” she said.
“This is the time to incorporate silver or gold as an accent in your gown and overall wedding theme. Play with corded textures, or metallic thread. A bold pattern looks so beautiful in the snow or set against twinkling lights and candles.”
4. The Length
While a floor-sweeping design is probably a no-brainer when temperatures are low, there is good news for brides who like their hemlines on the short side. “The dress would need to look like a little wooly structured coat with very high boots or even slim embroidered pants,” suggested Arodaky.
And Livné’s take on a short winter wedding dress? “If a bride decides to go in that direction I would recommend wearing it with sheer tights and a large topper to warm up with.”
Finally, just remember that looks are important but the last thing you want to be left with after your wedding is a serious cold.