Planning an outdoor summer wedding? Here's what you need to do to ensure everyone is comfortable and happy when it's hot and humid out.
The first important task is to assess your venue for its direct sunlight pattern, says Sharon Naylor, author of "The Complete Outdoor Wedding Planner" (Three Rivers Press, 2001). Try to tour the site a few weeks before the big day during the time when your event will take place and request that the seating and/or tent be set up in the section that gets shady first. If you opt for a tent, avoid clear tops that can magnify heat, and ask if you can get one with oscillating fans, air-conditioning and/or misters, says Lisa Morales, owner of event planning company Haute Weddings, San Antonio. "You can also rent free-standing misters which will make the surrounding area feel up to 10 degrees cooler," Morales adds. If your seating is otherwise unprotected, make sure the tables are equipped with large umbrellas, and consider providing fun parasols so that guests can wander with their own shade, says Naylor. Customized hand fans also come in handy during a steamy party. "They look so cute hanging off the ceremony or reception chairs," says Morales, "And they make for a cute favor."
To help keep guests cool, you'll also want to have plenty of ice-cold drinks. Morales suggests kicking off the festivities with a pre-ceremony bar that features fun agua frescas or Italian ices, as well as filling metal or other decorative containers with chilled bottled water that guests can grab as needed. As refreshing as a beer or margarita might feel, the truth is that alcohol is dehydrating, so have plenty of booze-free beverages (such as fresh lemonade, herbal iced tea and virgin sangria) available throughout the event, Naylor says.
Regardless of what guests imbibe, if the ceremony won't be under cover, have your ushers hand out mini tubes of sunscreen. Or if the reception is a bigger concern, Naylor advises placing bottles of SPF on each table. "Opt for lotion rather than sprays since you don't want guests accidentally spraying each other, food or open candle flames," she says.
Another thing to keep in mind is that annoying and potentially painful insects will be attracted to humans, water and any food displays, including the cake. In addition to keeping the cake indoors until the cutting (this also will prevent melting), ask your venue to spray for insects 48 hours prior to your wedding, says Naylor, or stock the bathrooms with repellent.
As for apparel, make sure guests are aware of what kind of temperatures to expect by including a note on your wedding website. Dress-code categories like "Summer Cocktail Attire," "Casual Outdoors Dress" or "Outdoor/Garden Attire" would all suffice, says Morales. But feel free to be more specific, says Naylor e.g. "Dress is summer-cool and summer-casual - ladies are welcome to wear sundresses and men are welcome to wear button-down shirts and khakis."
Plan ahead for hot weather and there will be nothing left for you to do on your wedding day but chill out.
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