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Heat, Sun and Bugs: Tips for Planning an Outdoor Wedding

outdoorwedding-01By Cori S. Meloney

Southern Maryland brides are lucky: The climate here means that the weather is warm enough for outdoor weddings in spring, summer, and fall. And we don’t blame them! With so many gorgeous historic and natural locations in Southern Maryland, couples would be silly if they didn’t take advantage of them during the warmer months of the year.

But planning an outdoor wedding means you’ll have to take a few things into consideration that those planning indoor celebrations do not. Here are some tips for coping with the great outdoors on your big day.

Bug Off

Bugs are a fact of life on warm spring, summer and early fall nights, but you don’t have to let your guests become a buffet for mosquitos, no-see-ums, black flies, and other biting things. Before you decide which method of repellant to use, visit your reception location at the same time of day and season you’re planning to marry. This will give you an idea of how bad the bugs might be and what’s biting. Here are several options:

Citronella candles – These bug-repellent candles are traditionally bright yellow, which may or may not coordinate with your wedding décor. Luckily for brides who aren’t using yellow, citronella candles are now available in white and other colors. Place candles throughout your reception area – work them into your centerpieces, even – to help keep the bugs at bay.

Bug spray – Make bug repellent available to your guests, either in a common location like your guest book table or escort card table or in the bathrooms. If you’re expecting kids, make sure the bug spray you choose is kid-friendly. Natural oils like eucalyptus and lemongrass are natural bug repellents that are safe for most people.

Outdoor lanterns – The folks at ThermaCELL have created these attractive lanterns that create a bug-free zone for 12 hours per cartridge. The simple design means you can easily work the lanterns into your décor.

No matter which option you choose, be sure to talk with your reception site before you spend any money. They may have plans to spray the site for insects throughout the busy wedding season or be able to offer tips that have worked for past brides.

outdoorwedding-02Rain, Rain Go Away

An old saying says rain on your wedding day is good luck, but even so, most brides would rather the dark clouds stay away. If you’re worried about rain – and sun, too – on your wedding day, the easiest solution is to rent a tent. If you want to keep the elements out, ask your rental company about sides. Many have attractive tent walls that have faux windows in them.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

Temperatures can be a problem on your wedding day if they’re too hot or too cold. Keep an eye on the forecast so you know what’s coming; The Weather Channel lets you check historic forecasts on its website so you know what to expect. Short of moving inside, ask your rental company about air conditioners or heaters for your tent. Renting these units will add to your budget, so weigh the cost against your budget and how badly you want to celebrate outside.

Other heat busters:

  • Hand out umbrellas and hand fans to your guests
  • Make plenty of water available
  • Include a note in your invitations warning guests of the heat and encouraging them to dress comfortably
  • Plan your start time for late afternoon or early evening when the sun goes down and the temperatures fall

When it comes to attire, be kind to yourself, your bridesmaids, and the men in the wedding party. Light fabrics like linen, chiffon, organdy, crepe, or lightweight silks are great choices for women; stay away from heavy taffetas and satins. Bridesmaids will appreciate short or cocktail-length dresses. For the men, opt for suits rather than tuxedos if you’re going informal — linen or dress jackets with khakis. If you’re going the tuxedo route, white dinner jackets are more seasonal than the traditional black jacket.

Here Comes the Sun

The tents and umbrellas you’ve provided to help with the heat will also help keep guests out of the sun. It’s kind to provide sunscreen for guests who are concerned about getting sunburned. If kids are coming to your wedding, put out a kid-safe sunscreen, too.

Other Considerations

Cake: Heat can wreak havoc on your cake. Avoid disaster by choosing icing and filling that can withstand the heat. Whipped cream, fondant and cheesecake will not stand up to the heat; only choose these if your reception is indoors where it’s air conditioned. If your reception is outside, consider a butter cream frosting and a fruit filling; these can take the heat better. As always, talk with your cake baker about your plans. He or she can help you design a cake that stands up to the weather.

Your hair and makeup: Heat and humidity do funny things to hair and make up. If you’re worried about the effects of the weather on your wedding day ‘do, be sure to address the issue with your stylist. She or he can help you make sure your hair looks perfect on your wedding day. If rain is forecast, carry an umbrella!