School's out and weddings are in come summer. Fill your fete with season-appropriate favors, original ideas from summer real weddings, and our tried-and-true Good Things that are perfect for the steamiest months of the year.
Lemon leaves are lush, freshly scented, and a total bargain (or free if you happen to have a tree in your backyard). Wrap their stems in floral wire, and twist each around a separate piece of wire thatâ€™s about 5 inches longer than the width of your chairs. Bend the completed "branches" slightly to give them an organic feel, wire each to your seats, and finish with a bow.
If youâ€™re throwing a nautical-themed event or just love the symbolism, say ahoy to a pair of double figure eights. Start with more rope than you need (we used two 5-foot pieces for each), tie knots (get the how-to below), and drape them around your chair. Trim the excess, and sew ends together or bind them with white gafferâ€™s tape.
Why not say your vows in front of a splash of flowers? Just tape vertical rows of long-stemmed varieties to a wall (use blooms less prone to wilting, like peonies, carnations, orchids, and lilies) and let the strips show -- or hide them under petals and leaves.
Shurtape masking tape (amazon.com). She is wearing Temperley London's "Long Mirage" dress (323-782-8000), Cathy Waterman's "Falling Leaf" earrings and "Geo Flower" bracelet (cathywaterman.com), and a Ritani ring (ritani.com).
This classic refreshment is all grown up. During the reception, adults can help themselves at a station stocked with cups, crushed ice, and mojito, peach daiquiri, cosmo, and margarita cocktail syrups. Use glasses to catch drips and straws to slurp up every last drop. Sur La Table olive oil cruets with pourers.
These lively flags turn libations into signature drinks. To create them, cut a piece of tape that's twice as long as you want your banner to be, place the top of a skewer in the center, and fold the tape onto itself. Snip the ends into tails (or not), and repeat with a few different styles.
Cute Tape washi tapes in assorted colors and patterns (cutetape.com).
Just don't call them Jell-O shots. These sangria-inspired gelees, infused with sweet wines and subtly undercut with citrus flavors, are for sophisticated palates. The glistening, gemlike squares make a refreshing dessert and add fetching sunset hues to a reception table.
These mini terrariums make chic table decor when grouped en masse -- and they double as favors, too! Just place sand and rocks in the bottom of a fishbowl votive holder. Carefully set small succulents among the rocks -- securing them, if necessary, with toothpicks -- and quench their thirst with a dropper.
"Bubbleball" 4 3/4" vase, Save-On-Crafts.com.
Sure, the bride is supposed to be blushing, but no one wants her guests to start turning pink at an outdoor ceremony. The solution? Sunblock wipes. These cleverly packaged towelettes can be placed outside, and since they're not liquid, they won't cause a mess. Set them on the program table, or in a compote or candy dish tied with ribbon. To let people know they've got it made in the shade, write sunscreen on a scalloped card and prop it up amongst the packets.
Calligraphy by Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls.
The hostess with the mostest (that's you) always has her guests' comfort in mind. Help loved ones beat the heat before a sun-drenched ceremony. Set up a self-serve station in the shade, and stock it with refreshing amenities.
Dip towels in ice water, wring them out, and roll them up. For extra credit, scent them with a spritz of Lothantique Linen Water in lavender or grapefruit. Hydrate guests with water flavored with lemon, cucumber, or fruit slices. And so no one gets burned, set out paper parasols and sunscreen wipes like these shown, from La Fresh. Organize everything in simple square bamboo trays, and add a sign.
Serve classic picnic staples at an outdoor summer recepition, dialed up a notch. Package everything separately, in glass, glassine, or paper, so it will stay fresh for several hours; this also lets guests eat neatly out of hand.
Choose a crusty bread for the sandwiches that won't get soggy, and use leakproof canning jars for a tomato and mozzarella salad. Tie disposable bamboo utensils for your hungry guests to a linen napkin with ribbon.
These three-dimensional escort cards are as easy to make as they are refreshing to look at. At first glance, they appear to have been blown onto the table by a warm summer breeze. Following the instructions, make them using a heart-shape craft punch, bright-white ink, scissors, glue, and paper in a range of hues that complements your palette.
These bite-size desserts satisfy sugar cravings without any of the heaviness normally associated with chocolate.
To make the shells, paint melted chocolate inside paper candy cups. Once set, peel the paper away. (Or simply buy premade cups; try Belgian Victoria chocolate dessert cups, sephra.com.) Spoon or pipe a mixture of whipped cream and creme fraiche into each cup, top with a berry of your choice, and serve.
To create these bold yellow-and-white centerpieces, New York City floral designer Naomi deManana combined jonquils, ranunculus, tulips, and sweetpeas, placing flowers in single-variety mini bunches before combining; this highlights the lush textures of each type. Opaque vases mean no stressing about the look of the stems. A band of thick yellow ribbon around each vase, plus lengths of it across each place setting, extend the crisp color scheme.
Transform inexpensive silk flowers into delicate garlands. Just dismantle the blooms to separate the layers of petals, removing any greenery. Overlap edges of petals slightly, and join them using dabs of hot glue. Then glue beads in centers to cover stem holes. String garlands along aisles, at the altar, or across chair backs.
For a finger-friendly take on classic beet-and-goat-cheese salad, serve fried beet chips topped with a dollop of the tangy cheese and vinaigrette-laced microgreens. They make perfect hors d'oeuvres -- crispy instead of juicy beets means no one will be caught red-handed.
A little goes a long way with this table decoration. Fresh German chamomile is placed in a jar, then enclosed in a white paper bag for an exuberant centerpiece that is also economical. The top of the bag is trimmed with scalloping scissors, folded, punched with holes, and laced with yellow ribbon. Thread a tag with the table number onto ribbon before tying.
As a prelude to the wedding cake, give each guest a miniature version molded from sorbet, a palate cleanser. For a sweet decoration, the bride's and groom's initials are piped in chocolate along the edge of each plate, and the sorbet cake is garnished with raspberries.
Cast a warm glow from above. A midsummer night's meal at an outdoor reception is served on the lawn under tall maple trees strung with lanterns hanging on chains from strong branches. Small and large, these lamps hold ivory tapers, their bases disappearing in a thick layer of fresh, fragrant rose petals.
As the reception dinner winds down with coffee, give your guests one last delicious treat -- fresh cherries dipped in melted white chocolate. This fruit is at its best during the summertime, making it a perfect choice for a warm-weather wedding. A pair of cherries with the stems attached will perch daintily on a saucer.
For the reception, re-create the beauty of etching with ease. All you need is a rubber stamp, white ink, and glass candleholders -- frosted glass holds ink best. One stamp can form a single motif or an allover pattern. (For a custom design, such as your monogram, have a stamp made at an office-supply store.) To use a large stamp on a cylindrical container, carefully roll it from side to side. Allow a day or two for ink to fully dry.
Ice cream molded into the shape of a strawberry makes a lovely accompaniment to slices of wedding cake or a sweet passed dessert on its own. We found these little gems at a specialty ice cream supplier -- easy to order, they are shipped in dry ice. Here's a tip for the caterer: A sprinkling of finely crushed nuts or cake crumbs on each plate will prevent the strawberry from sliding.
A pouch folded from colorful paper is a pretty alternative to a traditional basket -- add a ribbon handle and bow, and it's ready for the flower girl's important role. We used vellum, so any moisture on flower petals won't damage the basket. It's so easy, your young attendant might like to help you make it.
Your appetizer will feel right at home served in a seashell, at least if you're serving ceviche -- a dish made with marinated raw fish (we added pink grapefruit in this version). You'll feel secure knowing that these particular shells are oven- and food-safe.
White Irish scallop shells, Conch King.
Refresh your guests with layer after colorful layer of icy treats. Creating this stacked confection is simpler than making a sundae -- just spoon the slightly softened ice cream into a loaf pan (line the pan with plastic wrap first, and freeze one layer before adding the next). Our stripes, from top, are cantaloupe sorbet, peach frozen yogurt, strawberry ice cream, and raspberry sorbet.
Grouped serenely on a bed of sugar-soft sand, sea urchins prop up skinny candles that light the way for guests at an evening beach wedding. To secure the tapers inside the urchins, use a small drop of wax. Then nestle them into a mound of sand.
For the discerning flower girl who walks to a fresh beat, a basket simply will not do, thank you very much. In contrast, this pretty pinafore possesses the virtue of being both distinctive and basically free -- it can be constructed from table linens you already own, like an old-but-lovely fabric place mat or, in our example, a charming table runner. To add a touch of sentiment, use antique family linens (ask Grandma to let you have a peek at her treasure trove) and pass the pinafore down to generations to come.
Outdoor weddings are especially beautiful, but they can also be uncomfortably steamy. To keep your guests from overheating, pass out handmade fans -- trust us, they'll be grateful. Ours features a floral motif on one side and a quote from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" on the other: "My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep."
Download the template (have a calligrapher add a monogram), then print onto medium-weight paper and cut out. Sandwich a wooden ice-cream spoon between the two sides, and secure with glue.
Salt and seashells are a match made in the ocean. To make this pretty dish, press the shell edges into a gold stamp pad, and then fill the shell with sea salt. Here, we used black-lip oyster shells; you should clean them, of course, before using.
Polished black-lip oyster, Conch King.
Planning a summer soiree around July 4? Consider this patriotic palette. In this display, winged insects are attached to wire so they can easily be added to floral arrangements, plants, and party decorations. Because they're so delicate, it will look as though they're fluttering about, no matter where you put them.
This escort-card display is clever and inexpensive. To create it, purchase a miniature cork-topped vial for every guest (steer clear of tapered necks, since they make note-removal difficult).
Write the name on one side of a 2-by-3-inch piece of paper and the table number on the other. Roll up the paper and slide it into a bottle with the name facing outward, and cork it. Then fill a shallow glass dish with sand, and arrange the bottles so that the writing is visible.
Specialty Bottle glass vial VC4C. Jamali Floral & Garden Supplies low glass cylinder KF801100.