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10 Tips for Officiating a Winter Wedding

Published Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, 2022

Tips for wedding officiants during winter wedding season… in every climate!



Winter is a magical time for weddings, with twinkling lights, gorgeous views, holiday decorations, hot toddies, and family joining in from near and far. 


Winter weddings also come with a few unique risks, including icy roads, the holiday travel crunch, cold and flu season, and busy venues. But with a little careful planning, officiants can ensure their seasonal ceremonies are cozy, safe, and lots of fun. 


Below, you’ll find ten tried-and-true suggestions to make officiating December, January, and February weddings easier, whether you’re in sunny California or snowy Vermont. 




A close up of a heart ornament hanging from a bare tree branch against the sky at sunset

Stay cozy and stylish this winter wedding season



10 tips for wedding officiants during winter wedding season


1. Tissues, tissues, tissues


Tissues are essential at a wedding, but especially in the winter. You’ll want them around for yourself and everyone else, to take care of runny noses, happy tears, and last minute makeup adjustments. Bring several travel packs to share if needed, and keep a pack for yourself near the wedding altar, in case you need it while delivering the ceremony.  


2. Bring hand warmers


If you live in a cold weather climate, bring hand warmers to tuck into your coat pockets and boots when you head outdoors. This will keep you warmer during those chilly outdoor ceremonies and photo sessions, so you can deliver the script or pose with the newlyweds without shivering. Bring a few extras for the couple or their family members, too.


Related: 5 Christmas Wedding Ceremony Ideas for Creative Couples & Officiants


3. Pack boots and extra socks


This is great advice for any climate and any time of year: Always pack an extra pair of shoes and socks in your officiant emergency kit. If you’re in an area that gets heavy snow or rain, plan on packing a pair of boots and warm socks to change into if needed. Officiants in warmer regions can benefit from this too – pack a pair of comfortable flats or sneakers to wear before and after the ceremony. 


Related: This Might Be the Most Important Thing a Wedding Officiant Wears to a Ceremony…



4. Consider wearing a mask 


The optimal word here is “consider,” and we aren’t here to tell you what to do in this case, but it’s a matter worth raising. Most indoor venues don’t require masks anymore, but it’s still a great idea to wear one, especially in the winter months when colds are circulating. Wearing a mask at pre-ceremony planning events and rehearsals can also reduce your risk of getting sick right before the wedding day, and KN95s and N95s are the most effective choices to avoid catching or spreading flu, Covid-19, RSV, and other viruses.


Related: Covid Testing Before Your Wedding -- What’s the Best Strategy to Avoid Last Minute Cancellations?


5. Invest in a formal winter coat


Rugged hiking jackets and sleek wedding attire don’t usually mix. So if you’re wearing a formal dress or suit to officiate a winter wedding or two, it’s worth it to invest in a stylish winter coat. Shop for a coat that will look great in photos and match most of what you already own. You don’t have to spend a lot – second-hand and vintage coats can work! And remember, layers are the key to staying comfortable in cooler weather, so find a coat that fits well over any look.


Related: What to Wear (and Not Wear) as a Wedding Officiant



Close up photo of a bride holding a wedding bouquet, wearing a white fur coat and white wedding dress, with snow in the background


6.  Create a list of reliable backup officiants


Winter months are known for unexpected travel delays, illnesses, and venue changes. These risks are higher for couples and wedding guests, but officiants can also be impacted. Avoid day-of disasters by networking with your fellow officiants to create a list of reliable alternates that can take your place if you’re unable to officiate. When officiants work together this way, there’s less stress all around! 


Related: Ask a Bridesmaid or Best Man to Get Ordained to Serve as a Backup Officiant


7. Schedule around the holidays


Add events you won’t want to miss to your calendar before you start booking couples for holiday months like December and January. This one might seem obvious, but busy officiants will understand why it’s so important to mention this – it’s easy to overbook yourself! This includes that matinee of The Nutcracker with your dad, Christmas or Hanukkah gift shopping, New Year’s Eve celebrations, hair or nail appointments, and time with family. Work-life balance is essential to avoid officiant burnout. 


Related: Meditation for Ministers: Align Your Chakras for Wedding Season (and Beyond)



8. Double check your contract 


If you’re charging for your service (hey professional officiants!) your business contract should include details about what happens if anything unexpected happens, for example if the ceremony’s canceled by the couple or venue, postponed due to extreme weather, if you’re unable to officiate, or if the ceremony starts late. This is important all year round, but especially during the busy winter holiday season.


Related: Attn Wedding Officiants: 6 Business Tips for the 2022 Wedding Boom and Beyond


9. Leave more time for traveling 


Give yourself additional time to make it to winter wedding ceremonies safely. This goes for officiants in warmer states like Arizona and California, too,  where snowbird season is in full swing in December, January, and February. Whether you’re dodging snowbanks, black ice, or crowds of tourists, plan to arrive at the venue an hour and a half before the ceremony starts.  


Related:  Wedding Officiant Do's & Don'ts



10.  Pack a clip-on reading light 


Remember that winter days are shorter and darker in most parts of the country. A clip-on reading light can save the day when you’re asked to deliver a wedding ceremony script outdoors at dusk or inside a dimly-lit venue.




Plan & Officiate a

Winter Solstice Wedding Ceremony
with Candle Lighting Unity Ceremony


Snowy forest with twinkling lights

Light up the night with a Winter Solstice Wedding Ceremony! Learn how to plan & officiate a December solstice wedding, with a candle lighting unity ceremony. 

See the full article.



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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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