Cold hands, warm heart as wild winter wedding trend heats up

"It was just really, really magical."

Summertime is nice, but some couples are looking for a magical winter wonderland setting

Hilary Butler's dream of a winter wedding came true on New Year's Eve, as snow fell while taking photos at the historic Signal Hill site in St. John's. (Alex Stead Photography)

When you think of destination weddings, you might think about warmer climates — like Dominican Republic, Mexico, or Jamaica.

But it turns out Newfoundland is pretty popular. And in the winter, to boot.

Alex Stead is a St. John's-based wedding photographer who has thousands of followers on Facebook and Instagram, where she posts some of her stunning wedding shots.

Winter weddings present specific weather-related challenges, but the magical setting is worth it for photos like this. (Amanda Dinn Photography)

In recent years, she's noticed an increase in the number of clients looking for a winter wedding.

"I think people are seeing the photos of the really romantic, cozy weddings and they just want the same thing," she said.

"Over the past, say, five years it's definitely become more of a trend."

Hilary Butler is a self-admitted winter person, so she wanted a wintry wedding. (Alex Stead Photography)

One of those brides is Hilary Butler, who said "I do" on New Year's Eve.

A self-described winter person, Butler thought the Christmas season was a great time for a wedding, since so many people are already travelling home for the holidays.

Plus, it made for a truly special photo shoot.

Neil Robert Trahey and Leah Condon opted for a winter wedding on New Year's Eve, on family land in the Goulds neighbourhood of St. John's. (Amanda Dinn Photography)

"It was just really, really magical. The day that we got married it was this softly falling snow and walking around it felt like a bit of a fairy tale," she said.

"The weather in the summertime is beautiful and bright and it's a whole other look, but there's just something really … it was a fairy-tale-like quality that you get in the wintertime."

Challenges 'you just gotta roll with'

But there's no denying that winter weddings present specific weather-related challenges, says Andrea Hounsell, a wedding planner with Borrowed & Blu.

Temperatures were pretty mild as Hilary Butler's wedding party posed on the wharf in Quidi Vidi. (Alex Stead Photography)

"You just need to make sure that everyone's kind of close-ish to the wedding venue on the day of in case there's crazy snow, and you keep an eye out for those things kind of ahead of the wedding day to make sure all the pertinent vendors are fairly close," said Hounsell.

"We just make sure we have backup generators on call. We've done weddings through DarkNL … it turned out great in the end, but there was lots of things that of course didn't go according to plan."

The groomsmen have jackets, so a bit of snow shouldn't be too much trouble. (Amanda Dinn Photography)

And of course, Newfoundland and Labrador weather is unpredictable all year round, warns photographer Stead.

"I shot a wedding on Lumsden Beach two years ago where it was –2 C in July and all the guests were wearing coats, and Hilary's wedding New Year's Eve was warmer," she said.

"So you really can't plan for heat or cold. You just plan for the day that you want to marry your love and you just gotta roll with whatever you get."

Snow falls on this couple, who opted for a winter wedding. (Alex Stead Photography)

It isn't necessarily cheaper to book in the winter months, but you'll probably have more options and more flexible schedules of available vendors.

The biggest bit of advice for anyone planning nuptials in the winter months is to just roll with the punches, added Stead.

What's a bit of snow to a happy bride? (Alex Stead Photography)

"Next month I'm going to Fogo Island for a wedding. It's a couple that are not from here, they want this really wild isolated winter wedding, so they have their date picked but it's super flexible," she said.

"I'm planning on going over for four days and they're gonna be there for four days, and they'll just get married on the nicest day, whereas if they were coming in July that would just not even be an option."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show