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Wonderful Winter Weddings in the Hudson Valley
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The Hudson Valley is renowned for its extraordinary vistas and colorful canopy, in the spring, summer and fall. Unfortunately, as a place for a winter wedding, it is too often overlooked. For the couple who enjoys the outdoors, who wait all year for the opening of the ski slopes, for the couple on a limited budget, and for those who relish that special briskness in the air, the winter is an outstanding time of the year for a wedding.

What could be nicer than a fireside gathering, sipping hot apple cider and overlooking snowcapped mountains and snow-covered lawns and meadow? From rustic barns to elegant manor houses, the Valley is replete with ceremony and reception locations that work equally well in the winter. For those who wish to "stretch their special day," there is the special joy of a destination weekend wedding which allows family and friends to spend time together . . . from welcoming cocktails to ceremony, to reception and through the day-after brunch. Resorts and inns in the Valley offer the "usual" wedding-related amenities and many add such winter-appropriate "extras" as spas, fitness rooms, indoor pools, outdoor activities, campfires, hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Some venues supply equipment and services at reduced, little or no charge.

By no means should a winter wedding be viewed as a last resort. Case in point, a recent winter wonderland wedding in sunny Los Angeles. The wedding planner staged the frosted gala at a posh hall in Beverly Hill and brought in "faux snow" which was used to dust the floor, guest book table, and trees on the restaurant's front patio. Tiny ice-blue lights overhead added to the wintry ambience.

For the couple who has dreamed of a theme wedding, the winter offers its own special spin. Winter offers an array of theme possibilities such as Christmas theme, winter wonderland, winter sports and Valentine's Day. Rounding out winter-related themes is easy, because there are so very many accouterments available. For party favors they may use items such as cedar packets, spicy sachets, spiced teas, mulling spices, evergreen potpourri, hot cocoa mugs and snow globes, to name a few.

Although there are no true winter colors, winter brides seem to prefer deep, rich shades like plum, cranberry, garnet, emerald, pewter, cobalt, navy, dark green, or black. Standards like silver, gold, of course are also a fit.

Professional florists are skilled at decorating winter weddings. Flowers of the season like poinsettias (white and/or red), roses (white and/or bold colored), snowball mums are favorites. Evergreen sprigs, snow globes, wreathes, ice sculpture, candles and/or hurricane lamps can be used in lieu of or with flowers in centerpieces. For the couple with an "unlimited" budget, almost any flower can be flown into the country. Less expensive flowers are those that are native and more readily available, such as lilies, Gerber daisies, carnations, freesia, gardenias and amaryllis. Additional decorations can include everything from large crystallized snowflakes to garlands and fake snow confetti.

Any kind of food works at a winter wedding, but menus may be a heartier and richer than in warm weather. The winter theme can be carried through with items such as mulled wine or cider, cheese fondue, hearty soups, warm breads, bread pudding or hot fudge sundaes.

There are no absolutes when it comes to winter wedding attire. The "what to wear" rules for formal versus informal and daytime versus nighttime apply and logic wins. Heavier fabrics such as satin are preferable to light, floaty fabrics such as chiffon. Long sleeves and/or gloves may be more comfortable than a strapless gown, but anything goes.

Depending on the choices that a bridal couple makes, a winter wedding can be as elaborate and as expensive as a wedding at any other time of the year. However, the budget conscious bride and groom can take advantage of off-peak rates which can translate into substantial savings. Reception and ceremony venues and destination weekend wedding venues are generally booked in the "popular" wedding months, but in the winter, couples can take advantage of special packages and/or discounted rates. Savings apply not only to venue rates. Travel agencies and cruise lines offer off season discounts. Couples can use the winter bargaining chip to get a lower price. Businesses offering lodging accommodations are more likely in winter to offer discounts for room blocks. Couples can take advantage of winter decorations that are already in place at churches, reception and lodging venues, by incorporating and/or embellishing them.

Locations that are open year-round for weddings have the experience and know how to properly "winterize," but for a venue that isn't kept heated at all times, it would be prudent to check that the space is warmed up, in advance, and that if it snows, pathways and parking areas will be cleared. For the possibility of rain or snow, if you are wearing your gown to your ceremony and/or reception location, outerwear and weather-appropriate shoes are wise as a standby.

Regardless of the time of year you choose for your wedding, ask your wedding professionals about cancellation policies and ask that details are spelled out in your contract. A wedding is an expensive investment, so if it will make you more comfortable, consider purchasing event cancellation insurance. It is prudent in all seasons to create a method by which your guests can be informed should you need to cancel the wedding for any reason.

Despite the possibility for snow and potentially difficult weather, a winter celebration can be just as wonderful, if not more so, as a wedding at any other time of year. Best of all, when budget issues are a concern, wintertime special rates may allow you to plan the wedding you have dreamed about and may give you the option of "upgrading" to a destination weekend wedding, more expensive in peak season, yet affordable in the winter. Whatever season you choose for your special event, enjoy!

Thanks to the Management of Full Moon Resort for his assistance with this article.

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