The Biggest Mistakes Couples Make When Planning A Summer Wedding
Soaring temperatures, pesky mosquitoes, high humidity—warm weather weddings are rife with potential pitfalls. To make the most of your summer wedding, we went to wedding experts based in high-heat states like Florida, California, and Tennessee, for tips on how to keep things cool when things heat up. Follow their advice and dodge the following wedding mistakes so you can stay chill on your big day.
Mistake: Not Keeping Guests Hydrated
“Make sure guests have access to bottled water if you’re transporting them via a shuttle or bus, as there’s often a gap between the ceremony and when they get their hands on a cold drink at the reception. You don’t want to risk anyone fainting,” says Alison Rinderknecht. “Once at the reception, offer guests water in decanters so they can self-serve. Cucumber water looks pretty and is refreshing on a hot summer day, while orange water with mint is also lovely,” adds Courtney Spencer, owner of Merriment Events, Richmond, Virginia.
Mistake: Renting Clear Tents
“Translucent tents are popular because of their clean, architectural lines, but during summer weddings, the ceiling acts like a magnifying glass for overhead sun, trapping heat and humidity and making temperatures unbearable even on days that aren’t particularly hot,” says Allison Jackson, owner and event planner, Pineapple Productions in Washington, DC.
Mistake: Not Knowing the Location of the Sun
“Many ceremonies start mid-afternoon, when the sun is still high, which can blind the bride and groom or leave guests sweating without shade. Use an app like Sun Surveyor to figure out where the sun will be for the 30 minutes prior to your ceremony and all the way through,” suggests Jenna Lam, creative director of Jenna Lam Events in San Francisco, California.
Mistake: Heavy Food at the Cocktail Hour
“I prefer lighter hors d’oeuvres for summer weddings—like cold cucumber or gazpacho soup in a shooter, compressed watermelon, and oysters on ice,” notes Alison Rinderknecht. “Think vichyssoise, cucumber canapés, and sorbet,” adds Courtney Spencer.
Mistake: Using Scented Candles Around Food
“In summer, the air can be stagnant and hold onto odors so you never want to burn scents that will do battle with your guests’ dining experience. That includes pretty much every fragrance category—with a few exceptions like tarragon, rosemary, and sage as herbaceous notes will complement rather than clash with your menu,” notes Laura Slatkin, Founder of NEST Fragrances.
Mistake: Forgetting to Apply SPF in the Morning
“Photo taking can be a long process and result in a lot of direct sun exposure during the summer months, so I advise my couples to apply sunscreen early in the morning. There’s nothing worse than a painful sunburn on your wedding night!” says Allison Jackson.
Mistake: Displaying the Wedding Cake
“To prevent a cake meltdown, make sure you have a cool, climate-controlled space for storing your cake until it’s time for the big reveal. If not, consider a ‘dummy cake’, which includes a small section of real cake for cutting and sheet cakes for slicing,” says Allison Jackson. “Try negotiating a special delivery time with your baker. You’ll incur an up-charge but it’s worth every penny!” adds Courtney Spencer.
Mistake: Not Having a Backup Bouquet and Boutonniere
“Brides often forget their bouquet will be out of water all day and that it’s important to have a backup flower arrangement for photos (toss the original wilted one at the reception). Also, ask your florist to make a second boutonniere for the groom, as hugs and heat can result in crushed flowers,” notes Kasie Swisher, floral sales manager at Sonny Alexander Flowers in Los Angeles, California.
Mistake: Assuming the Temperature is Going to Stay Warm Throughout the Evening
“Even if you’re getting married in a hot climate, don't rule out heaters for outdoors spaces, as temperatures could drop drastically in the evening. If there’s no room for space heaters in your budget, prepare guests by reminding them to bring a sweater or shawl,” says Alison Rinderknecht, owner of Alison Events in San Francisco, California.
Mistake: Choosing Flowers That Wilt
“Delicate flowers like poppies can be temping for a summer wedding, but sadly they'll droop very quickly if overheated. Instead, I recommend sturdier choices like garden roses, spray rose, berries, lisianthus, zinnia, cosmos and carnations—yes, there are actually some really beautiful varieties out there!” says Teissia Treynet, founder and CEO of Events in Laguna Beach, California and New York City.
Mistake: Waiting Too Long to Send Out Invites
“People make vacation plans during the summer so you’ll want to get your wedding date on their calendars ASAP. I suggest mailing a save-the-date card as soon as you solidify your date, and then send invites eight weeks in advance,” says Teissia Treynet.
Mistake: Sticking to an All-White Theme
“The summer season provides such a wonderful opportunity to work with soft pops of color. When building a palette, I ask my clients what summer means to them: I once drew inspiration from a client’s love of her grandmother’s rose garden and worked with a mix of pink, peach and brighter coral hues. Another client associated summer with travel to the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, so I built a bold palette around all the beautiful colors of bougainvillea—magenta, purple, orange, pink and yellow,” says Allison Jackson.
Mistake: Repurposing Flower Arrangement
“When brides ask if they can repurpose their ceremony flowers for use as table centerpieces at the reception, I always try to dissuade them. Floral arrangements rarely look fresh after being out of water for hours,” says Amy Marella, owner The Hidden Garden Floral Designs, in Los Angeles, California.
Mistake: Turning Your Wedding Day Into a Fashion Show
“A lot of brides have their hearts set on several outfit changes throughout the course of the day and evening. While I'm a big fan of the bride changing into something fun and reflective of her personality for the after-party, I always remind them this is their one day to wear this amazing gown,” says Bryan Rafanelli, president and chief creative officer, Rafanelli Events in Palm Beach, New York City and Boston.
Mistake: Allowing for Dessert Meltdowns
“Ice cream and popsicles are popular dessert options at summer weddings, but they won’t cool down your guests if they’re melting and messy. Make sure you have a way to keep them frozen on site, like utilizing a freezer push cart,” says Jessica Sloane, owner of Jessica Sloane Event Styling + Design in Nashville, Tennessee. “Or opt instead for seasonal ingredients, like fresh berries, that are at their peak during this time of the year,” says Catherine Johnson, associate director of catering, The Beverly Hills Hotel in California.
Mistake: Forgetting to Do a Weather Check
“It might be hard to imagine, but some couples don’t do their homework when it comes to researching what the weather is like during the summer at their chosen venue. Before settling on a warm locale, do some Googling, like ‘average temperature in Charleston, South Carolina in August’ so there are no surprises,” suggests Teissia Treynet.
Mistake: Overdressing in the Heat
“For a summer wedding, you’ll want fabrics to keep you cool, like lace and chiffon. Embellishments are pretty but a dress with lots of beading can weigh you down,” notes celebrity stylist Zerina Akers. “For grooms, a suit made in a lightweight fabric like linen may be a better choice than a tuxedo,” adds Teissia Treynet.
Mistake: Not Having Enough Bartenders
“You don't want your guests standing around waiting for a drink when it’s piping hot outside. Make sure you book enough servers to keep your guests hydrated and be sure to set up a water station near the bar,” says Kasie Swisher.
Mistake: Not Knowing This Little Secret About Hydrangeas
“Hydrangeas, one of the most popular summer wedding flowers, are named after their need for hydration! An industry tip is to dip the end of their stems in powdered alum (a pickling spice that keeps the hydrangea fresh and firm and helps prevent wilting), before inserting the stem into water,” says Kasie Swisher.
Mistake: A Heavy Veil
“Always consider the amount of layers in your veil. One layer will be lightweight and cool, but a veil with multiple layers—even in a lightweight fabric like tulle—will end up feeling heavy,” notes Zerina Akers.
Mistake: Choosing Spring Flowers for a Summer Wedding
“Brides often forget many of their favorite springtime blooms—like peonies, ranunculus, anemones, and sweet pea—are not in season during the summer months. You’ll pay a hefty price to have these flowers on your summer wedding day,” says Amy Marella.
Mistake: Ignoring Bugs or Bee
“Keep mosquito spray and wipes on hand for guests and consider spritzing orange oil wherever guests will linger to keep mosquitos at bay. Yellow jackets love to be around protein-enriched foods like seafood, meat, and cheese. It might sound crazy, but if they’re a problem and you’re planning an outdoor reception, try placing raw meat on the perimeter of the property to draw them away from the crowds,” says Jenna Lam, creative director, Jenna Lam Events in San Francisco, California. “Displaying flowers that repel bugs like lavender, marigolds, and lemon balm, and incorporating chemical-free bug traps that use UV to attract bugs, are also good ideas,” notes Juan Rocha, president of Dynatrap.
Mistake: Serving Salad Green
“Heat will wilt greens. Instead, try a mixed bean or raw vegetable salad. Include a vinaigrette dressing which will ‘cook’ the vegetables and make them softer to the bite,” suggests Nancy Fuller, host of Food Network’s Farmhouse Rules.
Mistake: Choosing the Wrong Cake Frosting
“If the weather is going to be hot, be sure to consider the frosting that will be used on the wedding cake. Choose a buttercream stabilized with some corn starch or opt for a fondant,” says Nancy Fuller.