For couples that spend their summer dreaming about the first snowfall, a winter wedding is the perfect opportunity to combine two of the things you love the most: skiing and each other!
Destination winter weddings in the alps are becoming more popular and some couples are even chosing to substitue their first dance for a first ski. But ski weddings do take a bit more planning that your average wedding. It’s like trying to plan a ski holiday for 30 people and a wedding all at the same time.
Yet when the wedding day finally comes around, there’s nothing that beats saying your vows on a mountain top and celebrating your marriage by taking to the slopes.
If you’d like to tie the knot on the top of a mountain, here are some tips from ski wedding expert and photography maestra Cat Ekkelboom-White to help plan your day to perfection:
1. Decide whether you want to have a legal or a symbolic ceremony.
In most of countries in Europe it is possible to get legally married, even if you don’t live there, but there may be restrictions on where the ceremony can be held. Wedding planners can help you with the legal requirements if you don’t fancy trying to negotiate language barriers alone. If you would rather get the legal paperwork sorted while you are at home and just choose to have a symbolic ceremony then you’re pretty much free to get married wherever you like.
2. Consider both skiers and non-skiers
Whilst you want to pick a location that is oozing with rustic alpine charm and sophistication, some of your guests may not be skiers and may have never experienced the alps before. Since many guests will be travelling from overseas and spending a few days in the location, try to find somewhere that also offers activities for non-skiers.
3. Keep Everyone Warm
You would think that when you invite people to a winter wedding in the mountains that they would dress accordingly. I’ve done quite a few now and at every single one there are a handful of guests in cocktail dresses and stilettos, no matter how often the bride and groom sent around emails telling everyone to wear winter boots and warm jackets. If you do opt for an outdoor ceremony, have blankets for guests and consider swapping the champagne reception after for mulled wine instead. Making sure that you have a plan B in place for bad weather is also essential.
4. Plan Time For Your Portraits (And Your Wedding Outfits Accordingly)
If you’re dreaming of skiing on your wedding day then make sure you plan enough time to make it happen. There’s a lot more to coordinate than a standard wedding shoot. You’ll need to chat with your photographer in advance about where you are going to ski, and bear in mind things like what lift options are available. I certainly wouldn’t recommend going anywhere near a drag lift in a wedding dress! You also need to make sure your photographer is a confident skier so that they can keep up with you. When shopping for your wedding outfits make sure you can move comfortably in them and consider some matching accessories to help keep you warm.
5. Location Location Location (and a plan B)
Finding a location where you can hold both your ceremony and reception will save you a lot of stress. You don’t need to worry about guests moving between two locations and it saves you paying double for decorations and venue rental fees. When choosing your location bare your guests in mind. If you want to have your 90 year old Grandmother at the ceremony, you’ll probably want somewhere that is easily accessible. Thankfully there are many gorgeous locations in the alps that are accessible by cable car and a short walk (or ski-doo ride).
Words and photos by Cat Ekkelboom-White. Cat is an ex-ski instructor turned wedding photographer living in the capital of the alps – Innsbruck, Austria. She loves accompanying couples into the mountains across Europe for their unique and adventurous wedding ceremonies. She’s also a snowboarder and telemarker, but don’t hold that against her. Follow her – or ask her advice for your own ski wedding – at: