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Summer Weddings: Dos and Don'ts

Planning a summer wedding? Follow these summer wedding dos and don'ts for a celebration that goes off without a hitch.

Photo: Rodney Bailey

Do provide heat relief. No matter how much you love the sun, your guests will probably want 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 sweat it out through the ceremony, just before it starts, have an usher pass out small ice-cold hand towels across the rows. Scatter decorative tubs 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 beverages as well.

Don't forgo save-the-dates. Summer is the prime time for vacays, especially when it comes to families with school-age kids. Send out an announcement in advance to get your wedding marked on everyone's calendar early.

Do serve lighter fare. Heavy food and heat don't mix. Follow the farm-to-table trend and choose a seasonal menu that includes grilled entrees and local, fresh produce. Gazpacho shooters and grilled fruit skewers make tempting appetizers, and for dessert, consider fruit pies or tarts in lieu of cake. Frozen cocktails (mint, cucumber, or watermelon are popular flavors) or even Popsicles (use the sticks that catch drips) can be festive touches too.

Don't time your outdoor wedding to begin midday. With the sun at its strongest, overheated guests won't be in a party mood. It can also be tricky to get folks to enjoy adult beverages and sit down to a big meal when they're baking. 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.

Do consider stay-cool attire. A bride should feel comfortable and confident -- not sticky. For your wedding dress, choose a light fabric that breathes, such as silk. Or follow the example of many modern brides who are opting for shorter skirts. If you can't resist the heavy traditional ball gown, wear it during the ceremony and then change into an elegant sheath for dancing. A groom can look dapper in a crisp linen suit and leather sandals, or for the ultimate in beach-casual, khakis and a button-down are perfect.

Don't overlook sun and bug protection. Sunburn can give the term "blushing bride" a whole new meaning. Prior to getting dressed, the bride, groom, and attendants should apply sunscreen to skin that will be exposed. Consider wearing a moisturizer and foundation or powder that contains SPF (just give it a test-drive for allergies weeks beforehand). In the guest bathroom, include a basket with sunblock wipes as well as bug spray (which should also be available at the ceremony site).

Special thanks to: Alison Hotchkiss, creative director of Alison Events in San Francisco, California

-- Nancy Rones

See More: Summer Weddings