What to wear for winter weddings

Weddings happen all year round, and while you may be confident about what to wear for warm weather events, dressing for winter nuptials leaves many of us out in the cold. After all, how are you supposed to look stunning when you’re bundled up against winter’s chill?

Whether you’re looking for bridesmaid dresses that will make attendants look as bright and fresh as new fallen snow, or the perfect outfit that will keep you toasty while looking red hot on your favorite cousin’s big day, it’s easy to find plenty of options for winter wedding wear. Here’s the 101 on dressing for winter weddings:

* Begin by giving yourself plenty of time to shop, especially if you will need a dress altered or might be buying online. Factor in the time it will take to find a dress, fit it and have it delivered. Or, if you’ll likely be buying “off the rack,” you still want to give yourself plenty of time to explore all your options. Since you can likely be confident the weather will be cold on the day of the wedding, planning and buying months in advance offers little risk that you’ll wind up with something too warm – or too lightweight – for the season.

* You can start out with some online resources to help you narrow down the style you’re seeking. Once you find the type of women’s dress that appeals to you, you can refine your search – and find the perfect fit – by trying on some dresses in the stores.

* A winter wedding can be a great opportunity to go contemporary or do something different with bridesmaid dresses. Silk chiffon evening gowns, for example, can make a sophisticated, timely statement for a New Year’s Eve ceremony. And materials not normally associated with bridal wear, like faux fur, rich velvet and lamb’s wool, can look great and be comfortable when worn for a winter wedding. Still, there are some materials that never belong at a wedding – either on guests or attendants – like leather or denim.

* Winter weddings also give you the opportunity to wear rich, vibrant colors that wouldn’t be appropriate for spring or summer ceremonies. If you’re attending a holiday wedding, traditional emerald green, ruby red, slinky silver, glittering gold and royal purple can look seasonally fabulous. For weddings in non-holiday winter months, ice tones like gray or pale blue can look great. Just remember, the ultimate wedding “no-no” – guests shouldn’t wear white dresses – still applies, even in winter.

* Keep smart layering in mind. Sleeveless sheaths and short-sleeved gowns might not seem sensible for winter wedding wear, but paired with cashmere sweaters, they can become the perfect marriage of fashion and practicality. Likewise, an elegant hat can do double duty as a way to make a fashion statement and stay warm at the same time.

Finally, remember that compromise can keep you looking great and feeling warm. Leave the heavy down parka at home, and layer a classic wool coat over an easily removable sweater. If the season demands boots, go with something stylish, rather than utilitarian or casual.

With a little planning and a commitment to looking great, you can heat up the style scene at any winter wedding.