If you are planning a summer wedding or an outdoor event in the Washington, DC area, you know it’ll be hot and humid. The obvious way to combat the heat is to host your events indoors where you have air-conditioning or if your event it’s in a tent, you can also provide air-conditioning. My own wedding was in July and our ceremony, cocktail and dinner reception were all held indoors. Because our photos were taken outdoors, my husband will never let me forget how hot it was that day and how miserable he was!
But if you are hosting an outdoor event, here are some tips to considering as you plan.
Welcome Your Guests with Cold Beverages
One of the first things you can do is offer your guests some cold beverages as they arrive for your ceremony. This will help keep them cool and hydrated. The drinks can be self served or passed around by servers.
These beverages look refreshing, don’t they? Photo: Ralph Alswang
Keep Your Guests in Shade
In the photo below, see how the majority of the guests are seated in shade? During the ceremony rehearsal the day before the wedding, we checked out where the sunny areas would be before deciding on exactly where to set up the chairs in an effort to keep as many guests in the shade as possible.
Also, consider a later start time for the parts of your wedding that will be outdoors, preferably just before or around sunset to ensure lower temperatures and less direct, intense sunlight. For example, the cocktail hour for the wedding we coordinate last week started at 7:30pm outside, with sunset around 8:30pm.
If none of the above is possible, consider renting a tent or some large market umbrellas.
Give Out Practical Items
Handheld fans like the ones in the photo below are practical, and they even smell good if you get the sandalwood fans. Another idea is to print your wedding ceremony programs in a fan shape where it can do double duty of keeping guests cool while being informative! We also like parasols for providing additional shade or some cooling towels.
A bucket of sandalwood fans for guests.
Please don’t Forget about your Vendors
Please also be considerate of your vendors, especially musicians. Keep them in the shade too as they are often in formal attire. The heat can sometimes affect their instruments. Bring them lots of water also. This applies to bartenders too.
A string quartet playing underneath the shade of a large tree. Photo: Rodney Bailey
If you don’t have air-conditioning in your tent, order fans.
Several industrial size fans on each side of the tent can help create a cross breeze. Just be careful of items being blown over though.
Serve Cooling Food Items
Choose light menu items like cold soups, vegetables or fruit.
Gazapacho shooters for passed hors d’oeuvres from Occasions Caterers. Photo: Kurstin Roe
Mini Caesar Salads from Occasions Caterers. Photo: Kurstin Roe
Watermelon cups from Main Event Caterers. Photo: Ken Luallen
End with Ice Cream!
Nothing tastes better than ice cream on a hot summer day (and night)! Serve mini ice cream cones or a gelato cart as dessert. Milkshakes (maybe a boozy version) or any summer time favorites would be popular. Your guests will love you!
Mini ice cream cones dessert at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel. Photo: Regetis
Gelato cart! Yummy! From Design Cuisine. Photo: Paul Morse
The wedding we coordinated in Alexandria, Virginia, on the first weekend of July this year had temperatures in the 90s and high humidity. With that in mind, we thought a blog post like this would be helpful. Check out our blog for more summer weddings.
2 thoughts on “How to Keep Cool for Summer Events”
I love how you said that a great way to end a hot summer wedding reception is to serve ice cream to cool people down. My younger sister is getting married in June and she wants to make sure that her wedding is memorable and comfortable. I will be sure to suggest that she chooses ice cream for her deserts and find amazing toppings to put on it to make her reception be memorable and enjoyable for her guests.
Hi Charlotte, congratulations to your sister and your family! Ice cream for dessert would be so much fun and perfect for summer. There are also some ice cream food trucks that will come to your event. You can have them be parked outside her venue at the end of the night and guests can get ice cream to-go to enjoy on the way home. Vicky