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11 Tips You Need to Know if You're Hosting a Summer Wedding

Number one: start planning early.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated May 14, 2021

Summertime is often considered peak wedding season, and for good reason. With warm weather, blooming flowers and plenty of theme inspiration, it's a great time to say "I do." Summer weddings are notorious for including bright colors, airy fabrics and fresh, farm-to-table inspired food. Whether you're envisioning a rustic country wedding or a casual gathering in your backyard, we're here to help you bring your dream day to life. 

When planning a summer wedding, there are a few things you need to know. Since it is a popular season, you'll want to stay on top of your planning schedule to get your preferred selection of dates and vendors. Plus, potentially hot weather and holiday travel schedules are important considerations to keep in mind throughout your planning process. Not to worry, though—we're here to help you every step of the way. Below, we're sharing 11 tips you need to know to have the best summer wedding ever.  

Start Planning Early 

You don't have to start planning your wedding as soon as you get engaged. In fact, we recommend taking time to soak in the experience with your S.O. before jumping into the details. But, if you want to have a summer wedding, be prepared to start planning at least one year before your preferred date. "We recommend that couples begin their venue searching process 16 to 18 months prior to the big day," says Clarissa Davis, Director of Catering at Chatham Bars Inn

Summer is generally one of the most popular times to get married. As a result, it's important to start planning as early as possible to get the best selection of wedding venues, dates and vendors. "Summer is our busiest time for weddings, and our peak season spans from May through September," says Lesley Blackburn, Area Director of Catering & Conference Services for Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa and Gurney's Star Island, confirming that having at least one-year lead time is generally encouraged. To get started, search for vendors using The Knot Marketplace to solidify your team of pros as early as possible. 

Set a Realistic Budget 

Creating a wedding budget is the first official planning task to complete because this will guide every subsequent decision. The average cost of a wedding fluctuates based on a variety of factors including your location in the US, as well as the style of your event. The time of year may also have an impact on the cost. Since wedding services are more in demand during the summer, some costs may be higher as compared to other seasons. 

With this in mind, be prepared to allocate more money in your budget for your venue and some vendor services. Pricing is often subject to change and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but there is a chance you might have to pay more for a summer wedding. Work with your S.O. (and anyone else who might be contributing to your wedding, like your parents or in-laws) to set a budget that's realistic for what you can afford. 

Be Flexible With Your Date 

Summer wedding dates are highly sought-after, so prepare to be flexible with your preferred timing. While you might want a Saturday afternoon wedding in June, you may be able to book more of your preferred vendors on a Friday evening or a Sunday morning—weekday weddings are also another option to consider. 

Be thoughtful about selecting holiday dates as well. You certainly can host your nuptials on a big summer holiday like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, but this may impact the number of guests who can attend. Take these factors into consideration when selecting potential wedding dates. It is your day, after all, so feel empowered to make the decisions that best fit your vision. However, it's helpful to be aware of potential roadblocks you might encounter during the planning process. 

Choose a Summery Wedding Color Palette 

Flex your creative muscles by picking an appropriate theme for your big day. Summertime is the perfect season to experiment with bright pastel wedding colors or gauzy, airy fabrics like linen or tulle. While you can choose any color palette that speaks to you, darker, warm tones are generally best fit for winter weddings as they complement cooler settings.

You can also pick a specific summer wedding theme for your nuptials. You might want to go with a classic nautical style for a beach wedding or a waterfront celebration. Or, perhaps you'd prefer a bucolic country theme for an outdoor summer wedding in a barn or your backyard. Regardless of your personal style, consider using a color scheme or theme that amplifies the season—it'll make your big day feel much more intentionally designed. 

Invest in Durable Decor and Food 

While you shouldn't skimp on your wedding vision, it's important to be realistic about certain elements that will (and won't) work during the summer season—specifically flowers and food. Some blooms are known to wilt in hotter temperatures, like hydrangeas or gardenias. This doesn't mean you can't include them in your floral arrangements or centerpieces, but you might want to pair them with a few heat-resistant plants too so that your flowers don't look too withered. 

To avoid this completely, consider using durable summer wedding flowers like succulents or tropical florals like anthurium, orchids, protea or palm leaves and leafy greenery. Work with your florist to identify in-season blooms that fit your theme and overall vision. Plus, when your photographer isn't snapping wedding photos, ask a bridesmaid to hold your bouquet in a shady spot or place it in a vase of cool water. If your blooms will be exposed to the summer heat for an extended amount of time, keep a spray water bottle on hand and give them a light mist every hour or so.

Warm weather should also be taken into consideration when planning your food and desserts too, because the last thing you want is a melted buttercream cake or ice cream bar. Collaborate with your caterer to plan a summery menu, and ask your venue to store your summer wedding cake (and other food offerings) in a cool place until it's time for them to be served. This will save you from any wedding day stress about your food holding up in the heat of a summer wedding.

Have a Backup Venue Plan 

An old wedding superstition claims that rain on your wedding day is good luck. If you do encounter sprinkles on the big day, you'll want to have a backup venue plan. Most locations will have an indoor space reserved in case of inclement weather, or they may have rentals onsite to put up if needed. When hiring vendors, ask venue staff members about different options they have in case you need to move the party under cover for weather-related concerns, as this will help you choose a location that's right for your vision.

If you're hosting an outdoor wedding in the summer, though, consider renting a tent to protect against the hot sun or unexpected rain clouds. Working directly with a rental company is recommended, especially if you're hosting a backyard wedding at your own home or if your venue doesn't have onsite rental options. "Tents give you the ability to have a one-of-a-kind wedding nobody else can replicate," says Carey Bisonet, President of Alpine Events, an event rental company based in Michigan. "They can work at virtually any location, and they can be customized to be nearly any shape and size. The best part, though, is that they give you a blank canvas to create the exact, unique look you've always dreamed of." 

And, while summer is notorious for high temperatures, evenings can get breezy too, especially if your wedding will be near the water. For late-night events near the beginning or end of the season, Bisonet also recommends renting outdoor heat sources as well. "Reserving items like patio heaters and sidewalls is highly recommended, especially for cool summer nights," he explains. "They'll be the perfect addition to keep your guests comfortable." 

Prepare for the Elements 

In addition to summer rainstorms, be prepared for additional weather-related complications. Confirm that your venue has shaded areas for guests to relax under in case there are sweltering temperatures on your date. If you're hosting any events outside, like the ceremony, cocktail hour or wedding reception, consider purchasing items for guests that protect against the sun. Sunglasses, sunscreen and parasols are all handy products to have nearby in case the temperatures get high. You might even want to supply bug spray for an outdoor ceremony.

It's impossible to plan for all potential weather mishaps, so don't spend too much time stressing about the elements you can't control. However, taking time before the wedding to prepare for a few common weather scenarios will eliminate unnecessary day-of stress.

Buy Versatile Favors 

Since summer weddings can be on the pricier side, be smart with your budget. We recommend finding creative ways to make the most out of your investments. One of the best ways to do this, especially for a summer wedding, is to buy versatile favors. While wedding favors aren't required, some couples choose to give guests a thoughtful gift as a thank-you for attending. To get the most bang for your buck, look for favors that guests can use on your wedding day, like sunglasses, DIY personal fans, parasols or custom drink koozies. 

Welcome bags are also an option that may be preferred by out-of-town wedding guests. For a summer wedding, consider giving guests a small goody bag that includes helpful products like a small water bottle, travel-sized sunscreen or bug spray if you'll be in a muggy area. Guests will appreciate your attention to detail, and you can be sure that your money won't go to waste. 

Dress for the Weather 

Fashion is a key component of your wedding day. Feeling confident in your wedding dress or suit is of the utmost importance, so don't feel confined to traditional style rules. But, if you're saying "I do" in the midst of summer, know some fabrics and styles will be more comfortable than others. As you shop for your wedding outfit, look for breathable fabrics that won't feel too hot or stuffy outdoors, like chiffon, silk, linen, cotton or Merino wool. Functional silhouettes like short sleeves, a convertible dress skirt or a relaxed-fit suit jacket will provide maximum comfort. (You can also use this opportunity to change into a comfortable second look after the wedding ceremony.) While you can opt for a sleek long-sleeve dress or a velvet tux if that's what you envision, think about how you'll feel in your outfit when it's time to party on the dance floor during the reception and make your fashion choices accordingly. 

Follow these guidelines when searching for bridesmaid dresses and groomsmen suits as well. It's important to make sure your crew feels comfortable in their wedding outfits, so keep the weather in mind as you look for attire options. (Trust us, they'll thank you for it.)

Take the weather forecast into account when planning your wedding hairstyles and makeup looks too. Your glam squad will help you choose a look that'll make you feel confident and comfortable in warm summer temps. 

Plan a Seasonal Menu 

Summertime is synonymous with fresh, light dishes, seafood and backyard barbeques. If you're looking for creative summer wedding ideas, lean into seasonal trends—especially when planning your menu. "Look to the local and seasonal offerings for food and beverage ideas," says Blackburn. "Local produce, fresh herbs and wildflowers will add a wonderful touch to your menu, and they'll bring your location to life through the small details." 

Plus, planning your menu around local influences will give your wedding day a personal touch that can't be replicated. "Highlighting food that represents a couple's hometown or venue location is a delicious way to add meaning to a wedding," says Tamara Keefe, owner of Clementine's Naughty & Nice Creamery in St. Louis, Missouri. "Adding bits of history and tradition are what make a wedding memorable and extremely personal to the couple—and the easiest way to do so is to offer the most popular menu items from the city's most iconic restaurants." 

There are plenty of meal options that'll amplify the season, from a nautical clambake to a casual barbeque. We also suggest offering a few summery signature cocktails too. You can't go wrong with fruity sangria, popsicles in champagne, wine spritzers or citrusy mojitos. Summer is also unofficially known as "rosé season," meaning it's the best time of year to serve guests this popular pink wine—or even better, a summery rosé cocktail. "Since many people choose to host summer weddings outdoors, chilled rosé is one of the most refreshing beverage options you can choose," says François Matton, third-generation co-owner of Château Minuty. "It's an extremely versatile wine that can transition beautifully from aperitifs to the dinner table, and it's even a great option to enjoy on the dance floor. My favorite way to enjoy rosé is as it is, but it can also make a refreshing signature cocktail inspired by its own flavor profile and aromas."

Your caterer and venue staff will have a robust understanding of local dishes and seasonal flavors worth highlighting on your wedding menu, so rely on their expertise to create a list of beverages, snacks, entrées and desserts that'll leave guests raving about their meals.  

Consider Hosting Additional Wedding Events 

It's no secret that summer is prime travel season. If you're hosting a destination wedding (or your nuptials are in a scenic location), consider planning additional events throughout the weekend so guests can turn your wedding into a small getaway. "In the summer, guests tend to be open to taking more days off to create a vacation around an event they're attending," says Davis. "Organizing additional activities in advance is a thoughtful option for them." 

You might want to kick off your wedding weekend with a special happy hour event the night before you're wedding. Or, you can never go wrong with a Sunday brunch send-off. If you're familiar with the area surrounding your venue, share local sightseeing and activity recommendations to help guests get the most out of their travels. By encouraging guests to turn your wedding into a small trip, you'll get to spend more time with those you love most. "If guests turn your wedding into a mini-vacation, you'll have more time to interact with them on your big day," Davis adds.

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