Wedding planner Barbara Johnson is used to last-minute dramas, but waking up to a heavy snow fall on her daughter’s Christmas wedding day, was a different challenge altogether!
Georgette was always quite original and when her fiancé Tim proposed on a romantic break in Switzerland, they set the date for New Year’s Eve. As the old saying goes, ‘If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail‘, so Barbara – a wedding planner for the last 16 years – was soon on the case, ordering everything her daughter would need to get her through the potentially snowy nuptials!
Having organised more than 1,000 weddings, Barbara knew there was a chance of snow, but was determined not to let it spoil the day. She ordered pretty long johns to go under the girls’ dresses, colour co-ordinated umbrellas to fend off the rain and encouraged everyone to take lots of Vitamin C.
Snow way you can wear them!
One of the main problems for Georgette was what to wear on her feet. She had planned to wear white pumps rather than heels because she wanted to be comfortable, but with a thick layer of snow building, she was worried she’d ruin them. So the day before the wedding, her sister drove to a nearby dairy farm and bought an enormous pair of white wellies.
“They were real farmer’s wellies,” laughs Georgette. “With heavy duty soles and big grips. They were also a size nine – they didn’t have my size, so I had to wear thick socks.”
Barbara adds “I was also thinking about the lighting. All the important photos had to be done by half past three, before it got dark, so we brought the service forward to midday.”
When she woke up to a fresh fall of snow the following morning, Georgette felt her dream had come true. “Everything was white, it looked so beautiful,” she says. Complete with 150 guests, the ceremony was being held at St Michael’s Church, in Barningham, but the path leading up to the church was buried in snow. The groomsmen went out with rakes and brushes, but the village had run out of salt.
“The only thing they could find was cat litter,” says Georgette. “It stopped people falling over, but everyone got it on their shoes and the whole church was covered. My dad had to go down with carpet cleaner the following week so it was ready for the Sunday service!”
Most of the guests took two pairs of shoes, leaving their wellies in the church foyer. Meanwhile, in all the chaos, Georgette was running 30 minutes late. Her hair and make-up took longer than expected and the roads were difficult to navigate. Eventually, dodging the puddles with the help of her bridesmaids, Georgette arrived, wearing a dress by Angelina Colarusso – and wellies.
“The service was so special, I don’t think either of us were expecting that,” says Georgette. “It was definitely the highlight of the day.”
As her parents own The Morritt, it was the ideal place for the wedding reception and as a surprise gesture, the staff were all outside and clapped as they went in.
With temperatures freezing and many guests in strappy heels and no tights, they kept group photos to a minimum. While it was a team effort, Georgette also added her own touches – hand-delivering all the invitations (rolled up inside an empty wine bottle, decorated with string, feathers and glitter).
Instead of the cake-cutting ceremony, all the guests popped bottles of Champagne, then at midnight, they celebrated the new year by releasing 80 Chinese lanterns into the sky.
“My advice to any bride would be to remember that it’s your day and you can make it as unique or different as you like,” says Georgette. But Barbara says the biggest challenge wasn’t the snow, but trying not to force her views on to her daughter. “I think there’s a valuable lesson there,” she says.
“A lot of mothers should learn to compromise because it’s not their day, it’s their daughter’s. My biggest tip for any wedding is to let the season work for you. On the day itself, I let everyone get on with it and it went like clockwork.
Five top tips for a Christmas wedding
- Think about transport and alternatives routes to your venue if the roads happen to be closed.
- Remind guests of the dress code and that they’ll need warm coats, gloves and hats.
- If you’re the bride, have a pair of wedding wellies ready to slip into for your walk to the church.
- Provide the groomsmen with umbrellas so they can protect guests from the sleet or snow.
- When it comes to your hair, choose a structured updo that can be secured with pins and spray so it doesn’t get blown around in the bad weather.