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Sun-soaked outdoor venues blooming with natural decorations. Summer weddings evoke the warmest images in our minds. What’s not to love? Well…Heat, UV rays and buzzing insects can  be less than desirable experiences. For planning purposes, it’s important to be mindful of protecting your guests from the elements. Below, we have provided some dos and don’ts to help make your summer wedding experience more cool.

Do provide heat relief.

Make sure your outdoor venue offers some form of shade or air-conditioning. Prevent guests from overheating during the ceremony and have an usher pass out small ice-cold hand towels across the rows before it starts. Scatter decorative ice buckets 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 refreshments as well.

Do serve lighter fare.

Heavy food and heat don’t mix. Choose a seasonal menu that includes grilled entrées and local, fresh produce. Gazpacho shooters and grilled fruit skewers make tempting appetizers, and for dessert, consider fruit pies or tarts in lieu of (or in addition to) cake. If you do serve cake, provide it à la mode— consider fresh flavors like strawberry or lavender-infused ice cream. To cool off dancing guests, you can serve fresh-fruit ice pops (use the sticks that catch drips).

Don’t begin your outdoor wedding midday. 

With the sun at its strongest, sweltering guests won’t be in the mood to party. 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. This way you’ll also guarantee the ideal lighting for photos.

Do wear cool, breathable attire. 

You should feel comfortable and confident—not stifling and sticky. For brides, choose a wedding dress made of light fabric that breathes, such as silk. You could also opt for a shorter skirt if you’re feeling modern and adventurous. If you can’t resist the heavy traditional ball gown, wear it during the ceremony, then change into a lightweight sheath or cocktail dress for dancing. Grooms will look dapper in a fair-toned suit (think: light gray or beige), a crisp linen suit or, for the ultimate beach-casual look, khakis and a button-down.

Don’t forget sun and bug protection. 

Sunburn can give the term “blushing bride” a whole new meaning. Prior to getting dressed, the couple and attendants should apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Consider wearing a moisturizer and foundation or powder that contains SPF (just give it a test-drive for allergies weeks beforehand, either on your own or with your makeup artist). In the guest bathroom, include a basket with sunblock wipes as well as bug spray (which should also be available at the ceremony site).

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