How to stay warm at a winter wedding

In Style over 50, Weddings by Joni

Tips for choosing the right coat, jacket or wrap for when the weather turns cold, plus my pick of the best USA and UK winter wedding cover-ups.

As the days get chillier you’ll want to make sure you’re not shivering on your daughter’s or son’s big day.  I’ve looked through hundreds of jackets and wraps online to pick out what I think are the perfectly priced and perfectly designed cover-ups for a winter outdoor wedding or simply arriving in great style.  My selection is from reliable British and American online stores who deliver worldwide.

But first… Here are my list of dos and don’ts for what to wear at a cold weather wedding.  You’ll be right there in the public eye and need to look fabulous even if you’re sitting in a frosty church or waiting for your next photo call against the snow-laden trees.  Let’s start with the don’ts:

Never commit these fashion faux pas just because it’s chilly

  • Never forget how cold it might be at the wedding and think you won’t need a jacket or shawl.  Yes, it’s another expense and sure, if it’s a sunny day you won’t need a cover-up.  But it’s like umbrellas and rain – buy one, and you’re almost certain to have lovely weather!
  • Never decide to pull on your ‘best’ winter coat or favourite warm jacket.  Weddings aren’t like everyday.  Even if they are very informal.  They’re theatre really.  So get ready to play your part and make sure you buy something exactly right for your dress or pantsuit.  Even if you are just going to be outside for a few moments as you arrive, use those moments to make a memorable entrance.
  • Don’t wear brown unless it’s fur.  Brown doesn’t look great in photos.  It might be useful afterwards for going to the shops but it’s simply not a wedding colour.  The only exception is if your daughter is using bright fall colours in her theme or if you’ve been asked to dress vintage.  Black can be fine especially in small amounts.
  • Never choose a jacket with a zip up the front.  As soon as the cooler days arrive shops are full of jackets but these mainly fall into two categories: the office and the weekend.  Neither category is right for you.  Zips, usually, mean jeans and lazy weekends even if the jacket is fur.
  • Don’t even try on any coat or jacket that has a tie belt.  It’s a popular style for the winter and is easy to wear but…and this is an important but (pun intended)…it makes you look fat.  Your waist is increased by the thickness of the tie belt and the knot at the front does few people over size 8 any favours.  Besides, it makes you look a bit of a bundle, frankly. Much better to have a straight line from shoulder to hem on a winter coat and look elegant.
  • No, you may not not wear anything white even if it is fur.  I know, that little shrug fur top looks adorable, doesn’t it.  But it’s for the bride, not you.
  • Don’t buy a coat or jacket with an obvious front fastening such as a double-breasted coat.  The military look is not the vibe you are going for today.  Your dress will likely be lighter weight or even lace and this style looks better with woollen dresses.  It’s just too heavy for the wedding.
  • Don’t wear a coat or jacket in cord, needlecord or corduroy.  Yes to velvet, no to anything that runs in lines.  Cord is for the weekend and geography teachers (do they still exist?).
  • Never even think of wearing an animal print.  Animal prints never seem to go out of fashion but they are not the fashion for a mother of the bride or groom – though younger guests may certainly wear them.  They might look innocent to you but they spell out s-e-x.  On this one day, sexy is not the adjective you want people to be using about you.  Whilst not looking virginal – after all your daughter’s living proof that you are not and anyway you cannot wear white today – you will want to look the happy proud mother not a cougar on the prowl.
  • Never wear a fur hat unless it’s snowing.
  • Don’t wear real fur – you’ll make lots of guests unhappy.

And now for the dos:

What to wear to be stylish when it’s cold outside

  • Wear a maxi fur coat that you never close
  • Add a fur cross-over scarf or collar to any outfit but especially pants
  • Wear a little fur bolero jacket or shrug over your frock
  • Fur in any colour especially pastels is trending
  • Arrive wearing an oversized scarf as a shawl – then put it over your knees if your legs get chilly in church. 
  • Wrap a bold tartan blanket-scarf around you – yes even over lace
  • A cashmere wrap or scarf spells elegance and you’ll love wearing it for years and years

The fur coat you never close

This faux fur coat by Vila can be worn over a delicate frock or striking jumpsuit.  It will look superb over pink or other pastel colour.  It’s inexpensive so ideal for looking fabulous for just one day.  But you’ll soon find you’re wearing it over jeans every weekend!  At the wedding don’t complicate the look with scarves or hats, just let the coat swing open to reveal your beautiful dress as you enter.  Then enjoy its snuggly texture whether you’re sipping champagne in the garden or watching the couple plight their troth in a draughty ancient church.

Fabulously feminine cross-over collar

Wear this sweet accessory by Phase Eight whenever you’re outside waiting for guests to arrive or waving them goodbye.  It will make just that important little difference to your comfort.  Turn a dark jumpsuit into a more feminine outfit as soon as you put it on.  Or look adorably cosseted when you wear it over a lace dress. 

The bolero for a sleeveless dress

If you’re going to wear a sleeveless or short-sleeved outfit for the wedding and just need a little bit of extra warmth once or twice during the day then here’s an elegant bolero faux fur top by Echo.  Imagine it with silver, gold or any striking occasion-wear colour.  Or team it with chiffon. 

With a pearl necklace it will make you look monied, with dangling earrings it will make you look stunning.  Just keep your eye on ths little jacket though, because your daughter will be wanting to borrow it to turn her jeans into partywear – and let’s be honest, when do our girls ever return things?

Fur in pastel shades is bang on trend

If your outfit has sleeves then your jacket needs sleeves too.  Look at this bright party-ready little top in lilac by ASOS Design (that’s their own brand and as always is incredibly affordable).  It isn’t going to be too warm for indoors but it will add a cosy layer to any navy or blue-toned frock.  Expect relatives and friends you haven’t seen for years to start stroking your arm when you’re wearing it!  ASOS Design items are available in standard fit, petite, tall and curve – we love you ASOS!

Cashmere scarves and wraps for elegance

Cashmere is the softest lightest weight wool you will find for a scarf so it’s ideal for occasions such as weddings where you don’t want to look ‘winterised’ yet want to feel warm.  This Italian snood or endless scarf by John Lewis & Partners comes in many colours.  It will work well with slightly heavier weight dresses such as jersey fabrics and of course will look very elegant at the neckline of a jacket.  You will be wearing this accessory after the wedding too as it is a wardrobe staple for autumn through winter.

An oversize scarf is super-versatile

Pashminas are useful accessories year-round.  They take up so little space when folded away yet can add a vivid splash of colour when worn as a wrap.  This oversize scarf is excellent value from John Lewis & Partners and comes in several colours.  The knotted fringed ends bring it right up to date too.  A spot or two of rain outside the venue on the day?  Just drape it over your hairstyle and throw the long ends over your shoulders. 

A big tartan scarf says ‘Hello Winter!’

Etsy is a great place to find tartan items.  This example is a wide woollen tartan scarf with a satin reverse. Choose a scarf that has at least one colour that tones with your dress or go the other way and find a tartan that is striking by its difference.  You can wear tartan over lace, silk, jersey or almost any other mother of the bride dress fabric.  And it keeps your knees warm on sleigh rides too (well, you never know your luck!)