6 Summer Wedding Planning Dos and Don'ts

Planning a summer wedding? Follow these tips for fabulous warm-weather nuptials, guaranteed.
by Nancy Rones
Summer wedding ceremony by lake
photo by Jeremy Hess Photographers

There's nothing more idyllic than a summer wedding. With days so long and the weather so spectacular, why wouldn't you want to host your nuptials in the sun-soaked outdoors? But don't forget, when it comes to heat, UV rays and insects, you and your guests have limits (we all do!). Read these essential dos and don'ts to make planning and enjoying your summer wedding as easy as sipping on a chilled signature cocktail. 

1. Do provide heat relief.

No matter how much you love the sun, your guests will appreciate a few ways to escape the heat. Make sure an outdoor venue offers some shade or air-conditioning (tent rentals can include portable air-conditioning systems). Instead of having guests overheat during the ceremony, have an usher pass out small ice-cold hand towels across the rows before it starts. Scatter decorative ice buckets or baskets filled with bottles of water near the ceremony site—and once the dancing begins, place water in close proximity to the action. And don't forget your vendors: Set up an area where they can grab cold refreshments as well.

2. Don't forgo save-the-dates.

Summer is prime vacation time, especially when it comes to families with school-age kids. Send an announcement in advance so everyone can mark your wedding on their calendars early and plan accordingly.

3. Do serve lighter fare.

Heavy food and heat don't mix. Choose a seasonal menu that includes grilled entrées and local, fresh produce. Gazpacho shooters and grilled fruit skewers make tempting appetizers, and for dessert, consider fruit pies or tarts in lieu of (or in addition to) cake. Frozen cocktails (mint, cucumber or watermelon are popular flavors) or even ice pops (use the sticks that catch drips) can be festive touches too.

4. Don't begin your outdoor wedding midday. 

With the sun at its strongest, sweltering guests won't be in the mood to party. Shoot for a late afternoon or early evening start time. The ideal plan: Schedule dinner for sunset (provided the sun isn't setting too late on your date), then work the rest of the event around that timing. This way you'll also guarantee the ideal lighting for photos.

5. Do wear cool, breathable attire. 

A bride should feel comfortable and confident—not stifling and sticky. For brides, choose a wedding dress made of light fabric that breathes, such as silk. You could also opt for a shorter skirt if you're feeling modern and adventurous. If you can't resist the heavy traditional ball gown, wear it during the ceremony, then change into a lightweight sheath or cocktail dress for dancing. Grooms will look dapper in a fair-toned suit (think: light gray or beige), a crisp linen suit or, for the ultimate beach-casual look, khakis and a button-down.

6. Don't forget sun and bug protection. 

Sunburn can give the term "blushing bride" a whole new meaning. Prior to getting dressed, the couple and attendants should apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Consider wearing a moisturizer and foundation or powder that contains SPF (just give it a test-drive for allergies weeks beforehand, either on your own or with your makeup artist). In the guest bathroom, include a basket with sunblock wipes as well as bug spray (which should also be available at the ceremony site).

Want more? Read last-minute tips for plannning a summer wedding.

Read 13 tricks for planning a flawless outdoor wedding.

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