It’s probably the LAST word you want to hear when you’re talking about your wedding. But mistakes, mishaps, miscalculations—they all happen when you’re planning summer event (I should know, I had one). Blame it on the weather but summer weddings can be somewhat unpredictable. I can see you now, picturing your special day in your head—you in all your gorgeousness saying yours ‘I Dos’ beneath your favorite oak tree, sipping champagne, laughing with friends while the sun sets behind you. Skiwit. Record scratch. Snap back to reality. Your centerpieces are looking sad and tired and so is your grandfather who’s being attended to in the corner with half your family placing cool compresses on his head. The truth about summer weddings is this: they have the appearance of simplicity. But that’s oftentimes a facade. Just because summer weddings have a natural ease about them doesn’t mean they’re always easy to plan. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.) Yet if I had to do it all over again, I would still insist upon summer nuptials. A girl wants what a girl wants, right? It IS possible to pull off that perfect plan if you know what NOT to do. Start your summer wedding planning with this mini survival guide. Here are the 10 biggest mistakes couples make when planning a summer wedding.
1. Not getting a backup boutonniere. This is true whether you’ve chosen to take pictures before of after the ceremony—a single bloom will wilt or at least start to look less, um, perky after a few hours. Your bouquet can be periodically placed in water but his boutonniere stays pinned to his jacket where it gets heated, hugged, fussed with. Having a backup boutonniere on hand will ensure his ensemble is in impeccable shape (until after the first dance at least!) and will keep your bridal portraits looking fresh.
2. Choosing a loud ceremony site. Beach weddings are stunning—no doubt about it. But be careful when selecting the ceremony site. It has to be more than just picturesque. You really want your wedding guests to be able to sit comfortably and actually hear your vows. This just aint gonna happen if the wind is whipping through and the waves are crashing in. Plus, nothing sucks more than having your veil blown in front of your face only to become permistuck to your lipstick. Where’s the best place to say ‘I Do’? Lakeside (so long as it’s private and you won’t have to worry about unwanted guests). A wedding on a farm or a vineyard. Or on a patio at your favorite French restaurant. Bottom line: If it’s private, and it’s quiet, it’s a winner.
3. Not providing enough shade. Shade is required at summer weddings. Even if most of your wedding takes place indoors, your guests will be drawn to the outdoors. Set up some seating under large trees where people can hang with cocktails firmly in hand. Set up an additional tented “lounge” with couches and cocktail table and chairs. Add a mini bar and some music (bluegrass band, pianist) so guests can comfortably take a reprieve from the heat without having to escape all the fun. PS—If it’s gonna be a scorcher, place small bottled waters and handheld fans on every seat at the ceremony so guests have a way to keep themselves cool. (No one likes an irritable crowd.)
4. Offering alcohol before the ceremony starts. The party doesn’t have to start after you’re pronounced husband and wife. Set the time on your invitations for an hour before the ceremony really starts and have a pre-ceremony cocktail hour. Let guests mingle to filtered sounds of reggae through your own iPod or hire violinists to stroll through the gardens. Anything that sets the right mood. Have waiters pass around signature NON-ALCOHOLIC drinks such as lemonade and iced tea in fun tumblers with straws. Or have a selection of vintage-style sodas (Izze, GuS, etc.) on hand for guests to help themselves. Let us just repeat these words: non-alcoholic drinks. There’s time to get to the good stuff later and you don’t need a pair of loose lips on hand for the ceremony you’ve been waiting all your life for.
5. Scheduling your portraits for high noon. Unless you’re going for that vintage silhouette look (we’re kidding of course), you definitely don’t want to take bridal portraits (or any pictures outside for that matter) at noon when the sun is directly overhead. If you don’t believe me, listen to an expert. “Direct sun causes deep unflattering shadows and very harsh light,” says Lara Robby of Lara Robby Photography. “Morning light is beautiful and so is twilight.” Whenever possible, take your portraits in indirect light or in the shade. And if you’re cool with bucking tradition, schedule your coupledom portraits for before the start to the ceremony when your timeframe may be a bit more flexible.
6. Forgoing a rain plan. Don’t put all your eggs in your weatherman’s basket. The last thing you want to be unprepared for is rain. Better safe than sorry. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. However you want to think about it, just do it. Spend a little extra to rent tents—just in case. Have a fully scouted, equipped, and planned-to-perfection indoor option—just in case. If everything is well thought-out, you can make a decision an hour ahead of time based on the hour-by-hour forecast and your guests will never know the difference. Love both your outdoor and indoor plan so you won’t be disappointed either way.
7. Choosing the wrong icing on the cake. Don’t worry, your cake’s not gonna melt like the Wicked Witch in Wizard of Oz. Most cakes will hold up well in the summer so long as you don’t keep them in direct sunlight (which could melt icings like buttercreams and ganaches). We asked Cheryl Kleinman of Cheryl Kleinman Cakes what she suggests for summer wedding cakes: “Rolled fondant- and marzipan-iced cakes are perfect and preferred in the summer,” she says. And if you want to display your cake during the reception (yes, yes, of course you do): “Avoid icings and fillings that require refrigeration such as cream cheese icings, whipped cream, pastry cream, and fresh fruit fillings.” If you hate to part with the idea of pastry creams and fresh fruit, you can always have a small-sized “trophy” cake (a mini showstopper that’s great to admire) and choose an alternative “summery” dessert instead.
8. Allowing an open bar too soon. I think by now we all have “been there” and know that the hot summer sun and alcohol don’t always mix. A little goes a long way so instead of going all out with a top shelf liquor-stocked bar immediately following the ceremony, consider offering a lighter selection of cocktails—at least for the cocktail hour. White wine spritzers, sangria, a selection of local beer, mango martini. There are a lot of ways to be smart with your selection without sucking the life out of the party. Once the party moves indoors for dinner (or even if you’re outside for the duration of the night), you can progress to stiffer drinks as dinner winds down.
9. Forgetting to stock a bathroom basket. Guests feeling sweaty? Hot? Flushed? Make sure everyone has a way to freshen up. Find containers that match your wedding-day decor—galvanized tin buckets, vintage wooden crates, ornate ceramic boxes—and use them to house freshen-up essentials: mini deodorants, sunscreen, blotters, bug spray, mints, mini water bottles, and so on. A little refreshment will go a long way in the hot summer sun!
10. Expecting the reception to be too formal. Sometimes summer soirees lend themselves to a more kick-your-shoes-off, kick-back vibe. Don’t be afraid of more mingling than dancing. This is especially true if you’ve chosen a destination wedding or a fabulous one-of-a-kind location. The seaside. A vineyard. Guests may want to roam and check out the scene. After all, the days are longer and guests will want to take advantage of that. Plan for a longer cocktail hour (more drinks, more food) and a longer dinner (even more drinks and even more food). But don’t fret—just because the days are longer doesn’t mean the nights have to be shorter. Consider stretching the party into the wee-hours with a DJ starting only after dinner and ringing in the after party. For late-night snack ideas, check out 8 Late-Night Food Ideas For Your Wedding After Party.
For more wedding planning tips, don’t miss 10 Things No Bride Should Worry About On Her Wedding Day, 5 Simple Tips For Making Your Wedding Run Smoothly, and How To Be The Happiest Bride Ever.