This is a true story. My parents went to a wedding last weekend. It was the middle of June so you can imagine how sunny, hot and steamy it was here in the Washington DC area. The wedding ceremony was outside in the sun with no shade. The wedding ceremony was supposed to start at noon and all of the guests were seated by noon. However, the guitar player for the ceremony was late, so they waited an extra 40 minutes for him to arrive and set up the sound system. Once he was settled the ceremony began and the ceremony lasted 45 minutes. When the wedding ceremony was over, the just-married-couple stood at the end of the aisle and held a receiving line for 150 guests. The wedding guests had to wait while each guest went through the receiving line. It was a formal wedding, so the men were dressed in suits and the ladies were in fancy dresses. By the time the wedding guests made it inside after several hours in the blazing sun, everyone was dripping, soaking wet with sweat and sunburnt.
This is no way to treat your wedding guests. Maybe you’ve had your heart set on a wedding ceremony outside, but there are few things – many that don’t cost extra money – that you can do at the very last minute to take care of your guests and be mindful of their comfort. No one likes to be outside in a full suit in the heat. No one likes to be dehydrated and sunburnt. You wouldn’t like that and you shouldn’t want that for your guests.
I’ve talked before about advice for having a wedding in the summer in the Washington DC area. That post was full of great advice for planning ahead for a summer wedding with things like menu planning and beverage stations. Today, I’m talking about how you can deal with the heat and sun when you are getting down to the wire on your wedding day. Here are a few things that you can do to take care of your wedding guests during the hot summer months when you weren’t prepared for it to be quite so hot! Because, let’s face it – it is hot here in the Washington DC area. Making it even worse, the weather in the DMV in unpredictable to say the least. It can be cold in May and blazing hot in October, you just never know what weather you are going to get!
Let Your Guests Know
If any part of your wedding is outside, let your guests know before they arrive. Ideally, you can put it on your invitation or your website. But, if it is last minute, an e-mail or text to friends and family asking them to spread the word will go a long way. If your guests know in advance that your wedding will be outside, they can come prepared with appropriate shoes, sunscreen, hats and more.
Adjust On The Fly
When the weather is unpredictable, you’ll have to be prepared to make changes to your wedding schedule. Like I said, maybe you really want your wedding ceremony to be outside. That’s OK. But, if it is really hot, limit the time outside and quickly get everyone inside to the A/C. Even just moving things like a receiving line to the shade will be a huge improvement. Adjusting your schedule, even just a little bit, to consider the comfort of your guests will give you what you want, but also keep your guests happy.
There are lots of things you can do fast and cheap to take care of your guests. If it is really hot outside and there is no shade for your wedding, consider providing small comfort items like sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, fans and umbrellas. You can print fans off of the Internet for free, like this wedding fan printable that we made. For these last minute item, this is were a wedding planner or a really great friend can help you out and make a last-minute trip to the near- by store to pick up these items on the day of your wedding.
A beverage station for your wedding guests is always appreciated at outdoor weddings. Drinks like hot cocoa in the winter and lemonade in the summer are great touches that your guests will really enjoy, but they do require a bit of planning. If it is really hot and you haven’t planned for a beverage station, you could ask your venue or caterer to put out pitchers of water and ice for guests, especially if there are any unexpected delays in the schedule. It doesn’t have to be fancy at this point! (Again, this is an instance of where a wedding planner could really help you.)
Go To Plan B
Just like with the rain, sun and heat are also considerations for moving to your “plan b” wedding location. If you are having a wedding ceremony outside, hopefully you also have a back up indoor option. The weather in the Washington DC area is just too unpredictable not to have one! However, rain and lighting aren’t the only reasons to move your wedding indoors. Heat and sun are also factors for going with your indoor option. This is why you should love your plan B option as much as your outdoor option! Unlike other parts of the county, Washington DC area couples actually need to use their back up wedding plan quite often.
That’s my list for last minute things that you can to do take care of your wedding guests when it is so hot and humid outside here in the Washington DC area. What did I miss? What your ideas for protecting your guest from the elements in a fast and cheap way? In the meantime, be sure to check out all of the other DC area wedding advice that we have put together for you or look through our list of the best Washington DC area wedding vendors!