Wedding Planners Dish on the Best Summer Wedding Ideas
Long, lazy, sunshiny summer—has there ever been a sweeter season? Those who share our affinity for the warmest months have likely considered getting married during the dog days. With friends and family on summertime schedules and itching to enjoy the golden weather, a nuptial ceremony from June to September will surely capture your wedding guests' hearts.
To help you capitalize on seasonal potential, we've gone to the experts for summertime tips. Here, top wedding planners dish on the details they love to see at summer celebrations. Food, fashion, entertainment, décor—these summery ideas will sway you toward the season. Beat the heat and embrace the forecast with this summer wedding inspiration.
"Serve cold appetizers on a hot summer day that are light and refreshing," shares Jesse Tombs of Alison Events. "This is a cold piece of compressed watermelon with sesame seeds and watercress," he shares, calling the Paula LeDuc Fine Catering concoction "unique, colorful, and bright."
"With summer brings a bounty of plants and flowers that are in season," says planner Bronson Van Wyck of Van Wyck & Van Wyck. "I like to tap into the local harvest and incorporate greenery that is native to the area. For a wedding in Water Mill, New York, we tied fresh lavender from a lavender farm on Long Island on each escort card."
Beth Helmstetter suggests lavender cocktails and Mindy Weiss suggests lavender lemonade, while Calder Clark loves lavender tea towels. "Our favorite trick is to offer chilled, lavender-scented rolled tea towels to guests during cocktails and dancing; it's a favorite way to refresh and delight," she shares.
"Nautical weddings are popular in summer so if you have a seaside setting, consider hosting your cocktail hour on a pier overlooking the water. Add a modern twist to this classic theme with elements of driftwood and cool brass lanterns," advises Laurie Arons of Laurie Arons Special Events, who designed this wedding.
"Beat the heat and amplify style with oversized scalloped patio umbrellas. We love to pop them over ceremony seating and cocktail seating for ultimate comfort. Extra credit: Train garden-grown blooms—like clematis—to climb up the poles for an extra layer of pretty," says Clark, who worked on this venue.
"Give guests (in their hotel room or welcome bag) stamped and addressed vintage postcards so they can send a personal note to the bride and groom from the destination wedding location; then when they arrive home, they will have lots of love letters from friends and family members," says Tombs of this stationery.
Meyer recommends "creative wedding party photos outside of the reception space." This wedding of his utilized a moody pond.
"Fans that double as ceremony programs are a summer wedding idea we adore!" says Lynn Easton, founder of Easton Events and the mastermind behind this wedding. "They are especially lovely for outdoor ceremonies under the heat of summer, and something your guests will surely appreciate! Have fun with your program design, adding personality and whimsy while maintaining your wedding aesthetic."
"I love being able to incorporate fruits and vegetables into our design. We've done an entire escort card installation with beautiful summer peaches and it was such a lovely enhancement to elevate the event," shares Lyndsey Hamilton of Lyndsey Hamilton Events.
Helmstetter loves fresh peach cocktails, and Shannon Leahy thinks "gorgeous fresh fruit" epitomizes summer. Both she and Helmstetter also adore the produce when used for tablescapes.
"Layer table linens in different weights to add texture and visual interest," recommends Tombs, who planned the seating area seen here.
"I'm really loving how the furniture groupings for many summer weddings have taken on a warm 'Havana Nights' theme," adds Weiss. "Things are very Cuban-inspired with fans moving above the bars and white couches accented with weathered leather accessories."
Most planners agree on a vibrant color scheme, supplemented by summertime flowers. "There are so many stunning flowers to choose from! The palettes feel even more bright, lush, and bold. Mixing a beautifully rich color palette with deep toned tabletop items is stunning. We loved these Cobalt blue water goblets, yellow candles, and a hint of yellow in the napkin, paired with the reds, yellows, and deep fuchsia blooms," says Hamilton.
"Summer salads with fresh produce are simple but spectacular. Instead of a traditional green salad, take advantage of the season and use stone fruits and berries to awaken the palette," says Arons of this plate.
Jung Lee of Fête adds that "unique and health conscious options are very popular for summer." "Rather than offering starchy pastas, couples are opting to serve dishes such as legume pastas, zucchini pastas, and cauliflower rice or steak," she says. "Food that is lighter will allow guests to keep dancing into the summer night's late hours."
Maximize sun time with "lawn games during cocktail hour," says Leahy. Her recommendations: bocce or croquet.
"Gin-based cocktails make for fabulous summer sipping! At a recent wedding, we created a drink called the Royal Rose, with gin, lime, cucumber, and rosewater, garnished with an edible flower," says Allison Jackson, owner of Pineapple Productions.
Other planners also recommended light, refreshing cocktails. "Since daylight is so much longer during the summer months, one summer detail that I love is to start your wedding with wonderful cocktails, to let the temperature cool off a little," says Lee, for example.
The booze doesn't stop at cocktails, though. "The best part about summer weddings? The drinks of course! Summer lends itself to such fun and trendy libations," says Weiss, who suggests "lemon shandies and apricot ale."
"Summer is the perfect time to go big and bold with your florals. Large, lush floral centerpieces overflowing with a mix of natural earth tones, as well as fresh peach and soft pink florals, create a gorgeous setting for any event. Include a hanging floral installation that ties in with the centerpieces to create a memorable setting that is sure to wow," says Easton. For inspiration, see her vision here.
Arons loves a groovy getaway, like this one she helped plan. "We love a convertible getaway car in the summer, where guests can see the couple as they head off for the first time as husband and wife."
"Bright pops of flowers for your bouquet give a totally summery vibe," says Leahy of this clutch.
"In the heat of summer, unfussy, cleanly-styled bouquets celebrating the best blooms of the season are perfection. Summer is a time of simple abundance and your wedding details, especially your choice of flowers, should reflect that," adds Jackson.
"For cocktail hour, a big bountiful basket of cheese, baguettes, and stone fruits is such a fun display for summer," says Leahy, who worked on this bundle's wedding.
"Summer is a perfect time to choose bold, citrusy colors for your bridesmaids," says Arons. Cue these vibrant bridesmaids at one of her weddings.
Also executed by Arons was this one-of-a-kind show. "If your summer venue has a pool, surprise the guests with a fun performance by synchronized swimmers," she shares.
Pops of Color
"We have done colorful name card placemats that matched the bright summer flower arrangements," says Meyer of this table setting.
"As a refreshing treat during cocktail hour or as a late night snack to cool down guests, passed popsicles are a great summer treat and are much cleaner to serve than ice cream cones," says Easton of these desserts.
"Our favorite summer wedding details include all those childhood memories elevated into fun and festive touches," adds Elizabeth McKellar from the Nouveau Romantics. "Think: boozy popsicles alone, or added to cocktails. Wouldn't a black tie event with beautifully presented childhood favorites be a fun twist? I think so!"
"Whether your wedding is formal or informal, consider whimsical calligraphy and typeface for a summer wedding. People think of summer as a carefree, joyful time. Why shouldn't your choice of fonts reflect that?" notes Jackson.