Lovely Layering: How to Be Comfortable and Beautiful at a Winter Wedding

A young bride wearing a white fur coat over her wedding dress.

If you’re planning a winter wedding, you’re probably looking forward to a blanket of snow as white as your dress and you can’t wait to toast with hot chocolate in front of a roaring fireplace. However, there’s a logistical problem that comes with winter weddings: many wedding dresses are designed to be worn in warm weather. Throwing your regular jacket or coat on over the dress is just not an option.

When planning to be a bride in the winter, you can still pick the dress you think fits perfectly. However, you may have to strategize a little to stay beautiful and comfortable when moving between buildings and taking photographs in the winter wonderland. Here are some layering options to make any gorgeous dress comfortable.

Start with the Basics

Some bridal gowns won’t support a pair of warm leggings, but if you have a dress with some volume to it like a floor-length ball gown, try them and see how it feels. Even the addition of a soft white camisole that doesn’t show through your bodice can drastically change how warm you feel in the winter weather. When shopping for dresses, bring some simple nude or white undergarments that might form a layer of warmth under your gown; you can always ditch them if nothing looks or feels good with them.

Experiment with Sleeves

A bride wearing a wedding dress with sleeves that have jewels on them.

Obviously, looking and feeling your best should be your first priority when shopping for a wedding dress, but while you may never consider a dress with long lace sleeves for a summer wedding, maybe this is the time to try one. There are many ways that lace, tulle, and sheer panels can make a difference in how warm a dress is while still being flattering and truly lovely. If you end up falling in love with a sleeveless dress or one with a bare back, never fear. There are more layering options to come.

Pay Attention to the Veil

Veils are often lightweight or just trail down the bride’s back, but it is possible to find or make a veil that is a little heavier and actually drapes over the bride’s shoulders. Often, having a pretty veil that covers the top of the body can add another layer for warmth in quick outdoor photos, and there’s no reason not to take a typical part of the wedding look and make it work toward your comfort.

Cardigans and Shawls

Employing just as much lace and appliques as your dress, you can find simple cardigans and shawls that can be used to drape over your dress and add sleeves on a windy, chilly wedding day. Having one or more of these handy even if you don’t think you’ll get cold is a good idea. That being said, try all cardigans and shawls with the dress if you can; even a simple white cardigan may not look right with an ornate dress, and if you are already investing in this look, you’ll want to find something that looks great.

Tailored Jackets and Coats

A bride standing in the snow and wearing a furry coat while holding a pink bouquet.

One great way to accessorize for a winter wedding is with a short tailored faux fur coat or detailed jacket. By tailoring the coat for your body and having it end above the waist of the dress, you can make it seem more a part of your ensemble, all while still being able to shed the warmest layers when you get out on a dance floor later in the day.

Don’t Forget Your Fingers and Toes!

Many winter brides work so hard to avoid having cold arms that they forget just how cold their feet can get in dress shoes. Figure out a sock, pantyhose, or tights option that will work well for your look so that your toes aren’t crying. Fingers are the same way; figure out if a short or long glove will look best for your outfit, or experiment with a soft muff that you can use as a pocket to put your fingers in when the weather is nippy.

With these plans, you can stay beautiful all day long while also being comfortable in the many different levels of cold and warmth you may find yourself encountering. Consider purchasing multiple options even if you think you’ll only use, say, your tailored coat. Things sometimes change on your wedding day and being ready to switch to a slightly different layer is just one thing you can do to make the decisions a little easier on the day-of.

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