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How to host a winter wedding reception: winter wedding ideas and a checklist

Hosting at home? From the romantic to the practical, here are some winter wedding reception ideas.


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graduation party: champagne being poured into small glass flute sat on marble worktop

In the winter, an outdoor wedding reception might not be an appealing idea, but hiring a venue isn’t always feasible either. Don’t despair! There are plenty of winter wedding reception ideas that can help to make your day perfect.

A home wedding reception will let you spend your special day in an intimate, familiar setting with the people you love. But how do you make sure it’s going to be a memorable occasion for all the right reasons? Here are some home wedding reception ideas.

Ice decorations are tempting when you’re thinking about winter wedding ideas, but you’d have to keep the venue uncomfortably cold to maintain them. Artificial icicles can create a similar effect without forcing your guests to shiver through the reception.

How to host a wedding reception at home: the absolute basics

Do you have enough toilet paper?

It’s a big, exciting day, and it’s easy to get caught up in your winter wedding ideas about lighting and music and grand decorations. But it’s important not to forget the basic essentials. No matter how beautiful you make your home, it’ll be hard for the guests to appreciate it if you don’t have enough toilet paper.

If you’re hosting any large event at home, there are things you’ll need to establish before you do anything else.

Here’s a winter wedding checklist to cover the basics.

  • If you’re part of the happy couple, you probably won’t have much time for hosting on the day! Is there someone you can put in charge of the reception?

  • Do you know how many people are coming?

  • Does the reception have a structure? Do you know when people will eat? Will there be speeches?

  • Will the venue be warm enough? Bear in mind that it’ll get warmer when the guests are there, so it’s best to have a temperature on the lower end of comfortable.

  • Is the venue clean?

  • Do you have plenty of toilet paper and hand soap?

  • Do you have crockery, cutlery, glasses and seating for all the guests?

  • Have you prepared food and drink? Have you taken allergies, vegetarianism and other needs into account?

  • If you’re hoping to have music, either live or recorded, have you prepared it? Will people be able to have conversations over the music, or will it be too loud?

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Winter wedding reception decoration ideas

  • There’s something magical about winter. Snow and frost can make the places that are familiar to us seem completely new. In a way, that’s your goal when you’re hosting a wedding reception. You want your friends to walk through your familiar front door and find themselves somewhere else.

  • When you’re listing your wedding reception ideas, consider the colour scheme before deciding on anything else. There are a couple of different directions you could go with this.

  • If you want your home to feel like an ice palace or a frozen landscape, use cool colours: white, blue, silver. Adding green into the mix will help to create a ‘winter forest’ feel. Touches of glitter can give a sense of frost, although it’s easy to overdo it.

  • Alternatively, you may want your home to feel like a comfortable sanctuary in the middle of winter. Using warm lighting and warm colours – reds, golds and browns, for example – will make the reception feel cosy and welcoming.

  • Whether you’re aiming for ‘cold and striking’ or ‘warm and welcoming’, fairy lights can amplify the effect of the decorations around them. Try stringing them along corridors and banisters.

Wedding reception food ideas for winter

  • In the colder months, it’s comforting to have hot food. Soups, stews and curries are great food choices for a winter wedding reception, as they can be made in large quantities in advance and reheated on the day. If you want rice to go with your curry, though, it’s best to cook the rice on the day itself.

  • Make sure you can cater to everyone. It helps to offer a couple of different meal options if you can, at least one of which should be vegetarian. If you send out a mass e-mail to all the guests in advance, asking which meals they’d prefer, you can work out approximately which quantities you’ll need. Make slightly more than you think you’ll need, of course!

  • You’ll probably have some guests who are teetotal or too young to drink, so stock up on non-alcoholic drinks as well as booze. Warm drinks will probably be welcomed in winter: hot chocolate, tea or coffee, with mulled wine for the drinkers.

Unique winter wedding reception ideas: the personal touch

  • If you’re looking for truly unique winter wedding reception ideas, you won’t find them in an online article. Think about how you and your spouse-to-be can reflect your personalities and values in the reception. Can you include photographs of yourselves, the people who are important to you, your pets? Can you incorporate your hobbies and creative interests in some way?

  • An article can give you ideas for a wedding reception, but it can’t tell you how to personalise it. At the heart of it, this is a celebration of two people. If your closest friend suddenly lost their memory of the wedding, would they be able to work out who’s getting married by looking around the wedding reception? Once you’ve taken care of all the practical details, adding that sort of personal detail will make your winter wedding reception perfect.

  • Make sure you know how many people to expect.

  • Plan the structure of the day in advance.

  • Stock up on basic necessities.

  • Add a personal touch.

  • Have a wonderful day!

Originally published