Christmas weddings have a charm of their own, but only people who opt for such weddings, know the kind of elaborate arrangements that go into it. Here’s a guide on how to go about arranging a wedding when Santa’s sleigh is riding in the sky.
Echoing some common sentiments, I must say that the very sound of Christmas weddings, rings a romantic bell in one’s ear. Moreover, if you are lucky enough to have a white Christmas wedding, your small nuptial affair will be the talk of town for years to come. We (My wife and I) had a Christmas wedding, and everyone enjoyed it (or at least they didn’t tell us if they didn’t!). So, from my experience, I write this brief guide on how to arrange a Christmas wedding.
Considering the practicalities, planning a wedding during the Christmas season makes good sense. The festive cheer has already caught on, so you will find even the most laid-back guests hitting the dance floor and generally making merry, just because it is the Noel! Also, churches and reception halls will be better prepared to serve you. You will find most of these places already decorated for the season, so you can even save some money.
But planning a wedding in the heart of the Christmas season takes some planning. For starters, all churches will be busy with their Christmas preparations. Many churches have their other ceremonies like communions, confirmations and even many baptisms in the days prior to Christmas. In addition, many churches will not allow weddings in the days immediately before and after either Christmas or New Year. A good time to have a Christmas wedding, therefore, is on the Saturday or Sunday (Saturday is better, it gives your guests the Sunday morning to relax) before Christmas. Ideally, there should be about a week’s gap. You will have to book the church way in advance – a couple of months in advance, depending on the total strength of the parish and the availability of the parish- if you want to make sure you get the date you want.
Booking the church is the first thing you must accomplish. The next important factor to be taken into consideration is the reception site. Book the reception venue in advance and then head to meet the caterer. Discuss with the caterer about the different dishes you would like on the menu. If you have these three bookings done 2 to 3 months in advance, you can move on to the other arrangements. Once that is done, look into other church-related matters. You will have to speak to the priests regarding the wedding banns, arrange a choir for the mass, write the mass itself, arrange for a videographer and a photographer, arrange for the nuptial car, arrange for the decorations, etc. Just keep in mind that since it is Christmastime, start well in advance.
Church and Reception Decorations
The church will already be decorated and you might only need to add your touch to it. An unforeseen problem here is, you will not know how the church will be decorated in advance. The church decorations could be up just a few days before Christmas, and if you want to put your own touch at that time, it will be cutting too close. Also, you will not find any decorator free to do the job. That is why, you must contact the church decorators and ask them in advance how they are going to decorate the church.
Points you must ask are – where will the tree be kept? (if there is a tree); information on the kind of decorations on the altar; flower color theme, entrance decoration, etc. Based on these, make your plans. It is best to stick with red, green and white, the original ‘Christmassy colors’, since these will also be the colors the church decorators will use. Explain to the decorator the way you would like the church to be decorated for your wedding. Also let them know how you want to decorate the bridal seat in the church. The church will not do that; that is up to you.
As far as decorating the reception site, you are free to do what you like. Depending on whether it’s indoors or outdoors, you can arrange for the decorations. If possible, hire your church decorator to look after your reception hall decorations too, so that you can work with the same theme. Also, there will be less wastage and more savings, because some of the leftover decorations can be used between the church and the reception hall.
There is one more very significant thing to be decorated – that is your bridal car. Do not ignore it! If you are hiring a car, they might insist on getting their own decorator. If you are fine with it, OK, but if you are not, let them know. The best bet is to keep a common decorator for everything. You will have much less liaising to do that way, and explaining your wedding concept to so many people is always a pain.
Wedding invitations for the Christmas wedding should be ready by Halloween and distributed by Thanksgiving. Remember that Christmastime is holiday season all over, and that’s why people are busier. They will be vacationing, meeting up with their relatives, etc. Let them know in advance that your big day is arriving. Make sure to put in a ‘save this date’ card and a Répondez s’il vous plaît below the invitation.
Your invitation card should emphasize it that it’s during the Christmas season, so that people can plan accordingly. I said emphasize it’s Christmas, however, don’t say so in words! Incorporate a Christmas theme on the card – like use some golden poinsettias, or a motif of holly, etc. on the invitation. Or you could get a card that has a pattern of snow on it. Do not keep a red and green card though; it will look like a greeting card. Stick to the traditional white cards and decorate in golden or silver. You could use delicate blues and pinks, depending on which side of the bridal couple you are on!
Bridal Party Attire
What’s a Christmas wedding without proper bridal attire? Let’s speak of the center of attention, the bride, first. It is sacrilege, I think, to keep the bridal dress in anything else but white. But then trends are changing and we see brides in all kinds of colors. However, I would suggest going with white, because it represents snow, and is very good to reflect the purity of the season. Even for aesthetic reasons, white is a good choice. Accentuate a pristine ivory white bridal gown with a red stole, and you get a Christmassy bride. Or just give her a bright red bridal bouquet and it will look great!
For the bridesmaids, shimmering colors will do. Now you can think of reversing the bride’s color – like making it red gowns with white stoles – or you could think of some other color suitable to the colors you have used in the decoration. A good idea if you are having many bridesmaids is to alternate between two colors, like red and green for example. Trust me, it will make a very good picture when they surround the white-attired bride. Moreover, instead of giving the bridesmaids small bouquets to hold, give them corsages, which will not only look elegant, but will also keep their hands free to help the bride at all times.
The groom could be traditionally dressed in proper wedding suit in a dark color. I advise people to avoid black, and settle for navy blue or dark brown. Moreover, lighter colors, in my opinion, do not suit grooms. They need to have colors to offset the brightness that the bride will be radiating. As it is Christmas, the groom could put mistletoe in his buttonhole, which could be put to various uses as the ceremony proceeds!
An array of flower girls and pageboys is a good sight, especially during the bridal march when they teeter along in front. You can have the flower girls dresses in ivory white, with red and green thick sashes. Decorate their baskets with tiny red roses and ribbons. Place lovely red rose petals in the baskets as well. If you want to be creative, you can have the pageboy dressed as Santa’s helper. Just think about this. It’s a great Christmas touch, and will look excellent in the photographs! However, this will escalate your wedding expenses.
Small Things That Matter
With all the major issues taken care of, we can get down to thinking about the minor details. One such minor, yet crucial detail is the reception program planning. You need an emcee, toast raiser, a pastor or close family member to begin with a word of prayer, a family member or close friend to introduce the bride and groom, etc. Let’s take a look!
While choosing an emcee, make sure he or she is a charming, efficient public speaker and not somebody who will overdo their part by praising you too much or irk people with their boring jokes. The best thing to do would be to ask a friend or family member, whose style you are well aware of to emcee the wedding reception. You could also have the emcee dressed like Santa to extend the Christmas theme. However, do check with the emcee, if he or she is willing to wear the costume!
One important arrangement has still been left out! That’s the cake! You will have to book the cake about a month in advance. Some wedding bakers also take orders two weeks before the nuptial day. However, it’s better to have it ordered in advance. Choose the design and style you want. Since it’s a Christmas theme, have red and green fruit or flowers to adorn your wedding cake. If you wish to have an exotic wedding cake, go to expensive bakers, who will create five foot tall wedding masterpieces.
You will also have to look into the sound arrangements. Make sure there are enough mikes, speakers, etc. You should also choose the kind of music you like and provide it to the sound system guys. As far as music is concerned, if you wish you can have contemporary Christmas carols being played in the background. This will accentuate the theme.
Then comes the wedding favors. With a Christmas theme, one need not think much about the favor. Just have whichever favor you like wrapped in tiny gift boxes and place them under a tree at the wedding reception. Instead of having a large tree, get a small one and place it on a large table. Then place the favors, so that your guests won’t have to bend to pick up the gifts. You can also have favors of your choice placed in little stockings.
The arrangement of tables will depend on the shape of your hall and the size of the congregation. Have the chairs covered in red. You can also have red table runners to accentuate the theme. If your budget allows, buy cute Christmas votive candles and place them at the center of the table. Make sure you leave enough space for the wedding march (most people will join in the wedding march, just because it will seem to be a very interesting Christmas wedding to them!) and for the dances that come later. Do check up on your jiving skills with your partner a few days in advance.
Coordinate with your emcee and organize some Christmas-themed games. However, don’t let this pin you down. It’s the job of the emcee to decide suitable Christmas games for the wedding, so leave it to him or her. Just make sure there are a good number of young men and women to help the emcee out while setting up the game at the hall.
These were some pointers regarding Christmas-themed wedding planning. Weddings and the preparations associated with them are no doubt stressful, however, after everything is over, you will definitely say all the effort was worth it! Don’t forget to enjoy your Christmas wedding planning. After all, it is the most important day of your life! All the best!