What's more romantic than a summertime wedding? You and your beloved exchange vows while the sun's rays shine gently on your back, the warm breeze blows your hair (but not too much) and the lush trees whisper their congratulations. The biting swarms of insects buzz their approval, too, while the sweat merrily glides down your gorgeous gown, and the sun stamps a bright-red sunburn on your smooth shoulders.
OK, so the season may be as troublesome as it is beautiful. So what? With a little planning, some attention to detail and a willingness to take advantage of summer's bounty, your nuptials can be an absolute dream -- the kind you don't want to wake up from.
From the guests to the food to the dress, these five tips will help you to conquer summer and focus on building wedding memories that will last you a lifetime.
Check the Calendar
Booking a wedding on a weekend falling near a U.S. federal holiday, like Independence Day or Labor Day, poses a simple way to ease up on your guests' vacation time. An extra day off might lessen the burden of long-distance travel, allow your guests to explore your fair city or give you more time to spend with long-lost friends or relatives.
However, these weekends often come with familial obligations or long-standing traditions, or your guests may just balk at spending a holiday weekend away from home. Toe the line between convenience and irritation by planning far ahead and giving your guests the chance to decline -- or to book flights and hotels in order to beat the holiday rush. Send your save-the-date cards as soon as you mark your own calendar.
Make It a Vacation
The RSVP cards have started pouring in, and your nuptials have made a lot of people's summer to-do lists. Why not make your wedding only one part of a fun vacation for them? They might want to take advantage of the warm weather to see some sights in your city. Make it easy for them and do some legwork ahead of time. Put together a welcome kit for your out-of-towners: fill up a gift bag with a local magazine, a transit or road map, and a list of your favorite al fresco dining recommendations.
You also might want to add information on activities and attractions geared toward your guests' interests. Got a few kids coming? Tell them (and their parents) about a cool playground or children's museum -- unless you perhaps want them saving up all that energy for your wedding. Is your uncle a big baseball fan? See if the local team's in town. Tailor your recommendations and give your guests a wedding weekend to remember.
While planning your wedding may be unbelievably stressful, the process also provides a great opportunity to support your local economy and give a nod to the environment. Local eating offers a great way to help nearby farmers and do some good. Winter brides may have a little trouble sourcing fresh and wedding-appropriate produce from local growers, but your summer date gives you a great range of choices.
Take advantage of summer's bounty and try to incorporate some seasonal, locally grown items into your menu. During the summer, vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, and corn are at their peak -- perfect for a fresh salad. Berries are abundant and ready to add a warm-weather touch to a beautiful cake.
Local eating has grown in popularity these days, so a simple Internet search or a call to your wedding planner should turn up a catering company with an eye to locavores' needs. Although sourcing from local growers might be more expensive, a good caterer will provide suggestions on how to keep your feast within budget.
Be Beautiful, Whether the Weather
An outdoor wedding can be gorgeous -- and incredibly risky. Have some common sense and always have a backup plan. Whether it's a banquet hall nearby, a ready-to-go tent or a gazebo, be sure to keep a secondary venue on hand in case of downpour or hail.
But don't think you're off the hook if the sun is shining on your big day! Even in the most beautiful weather, outdoor weddings have their own sets of hazards. For the sake of your guests' comfort, try to time your outdoor ceremony in order to miss the hottest hours of the day (roughly 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). If you must say "I do" at noon, see if you can book a venue with a bit of shade.
Be aware of insects and sun, and consider keeping sunscreen and bugspray on hand in case someone comes unprepared.
Dress the Part
An outdoor summer wedding may provide a beautiful setting for vows, but it can also be a makeup-melting, suit-ruining fiasco. Be sure to invest in some no-melt makeup, like waterproof mascara, eye shadow primer to prevent creasing or pressed powder to make a glistening forehead picture-perfectly matte.
In addition, look for products with SPF to protect your skin from the sun's rays. Don't lose sight of your groom. Make sure he slathers on the sunscreen, too, before stepping down the aisle. Consider products from brands like Neutrogena or Aveeno, which specialize in sunscreen that's a bit lighter than the stuff you typically throw into your beach bag.
And the dress? Think about going a little short. Tea-length dresses, which hit around the calf, are on trend and oh-so-comfortable on muggy days. Instead of a veil, which might feel heavier than it looks after an hour in the sun, look for a festive, feathered headpiece or an ornate hair clip. And if you'll be walking across the grass toward your beloved, trade the basic bridal pumps for flats, maybe in a bright blue shade.
Men should consider ditching the wool tuxedos in favor of more lightweight materials, like linen or cotton. Outdoor weddings tend to be less formal than your average church ceremony, so take advantage of the relaxed dress code and opt for comfort in the summer heat.
Some wedding traditions are lovely and others don't make much sense. Test your knowledge of wedding traditions with our HowStuffWorks quiz.
- Sustainable Table. "Eat Seasonal." (April 12, 2010)http://www.sustainabletable.org/shop/eatseasonal/
- Morrill, Hannah. Allure Magazine. "Calm, Cool and Protected." (April 13, 2010)http://www.allure.com/beauty/2008/05/sunscreens_slideshow#slide=1