As you may have noticed, it is hot. Not slightly warm, not balmy British summer with a healthy smattering of torrential rain the second you dare to leave the house without a jacket. It is H.O.T. Now, I'm Scottish and love the sun so you're never going to find me complaining about a heatwave, but there's no doubt that this country isn't really used to, or designed for, long periods of seriously hot weather. And with the heatwave predicted to last until the end of August, there are definitely some things to consider if you have a wedding (or really any event) coming up over the next few weeks.
This isn't about planning a summer wedding in advance (that's another post for another day). This is for those of you who have done all the planning and are into the home straight. Planning a summer wedding in the UK usually means being ready for any eventuality - choosing those gorgeous natural fabrics to keep you cool, but always having that bucket of umbrellas ready and a wet weather contingency plan up your sleeve. But here we are, you've probably spent months checking those long-range weather forecasts and worrying about rain, only to realise that this heat ain't going anywhere and your wedding day is probably gonna be a scorcher.
If you're getting married over the next 6 weeks - here are all the last-minute things you need to consider to ensure you and your guests keep your cool and enjoy a gloriously hot and sunny wedding day.
LET'S GO OUTSIDE
This isn't all doom and gloom and boring practicalities. It's so rare to have a summer wedding in the UK without the constant fear of rain - so make the most of it! Don't stay cooped up indoors all day - why not think about elements of your wedding that you can take outside? Speak to your venue about the possibilities - drinks receptions are an easy way to spend a couple of hours basking in the sun, but why not consider a gorgeous outdoor ceremony as well?
A QUICK WORD ON OUTDOOR CEREMONIES - if you're getting married in Northern Ireland or Scotland , you lucky thing, then you can have your ceremony wherever you like, as long as your officiant is happy with your choice. If your wedding is in Wales or England, then you can only have a legal outdoor ceremony in a licensed, fixed structure - otherwise you'll have to do the legal bit separately and can have an unofficial ceremony or blessing wherever you like!
KEEPING COOL INDOORS
If you're having an indoor ceremony or reception, then don't think it means you don't have to think about the weather! It can get pretty stifling indoors at the moment - especially when you're drinking, dancing and dressed up to the nines. Speak to your venue about how to keep things nice and airy inside - whether that's throwing open the windows or thinking about a few strategically placed fans.
If you're having a marquee wedding, then it's super easy to keep cool - but make sure to tell your marquee company in advance if you want all the sides rolled up to let air circulate and really bring the outdoors in.
WARN YOUR GUESTS
Ok, so I know that guests should be autonomous, independent adults who can work out how to get ready for an event all by themselves. I know. The thing is, when it comes to weddings, that tends to go out the window. You're probably already dealing with some of the questions that inevitably come your way (seriously Margaret, haven't you heard of Google?).
But, this heatwave is fairly extraordinary and it's important to remember that your guests don't necessarily know your plans for the day. If they are going to be spending a lot of time outside, for example, it is really important to give them a wee heads up in advance, just so they can be prepared. After all, we don't want Margaret passing out in a field with heatstroke because she dressed for a formal church wedding, do we?
A simple group email a week or so before the wedding, just giving them a brief outline of what to expect and some basic advice (wear sunscreen, bring sunglasses etc) will be really appreciated by your guests.
I can't be the only person who is religious about sun cream when I'm abroad - but is guilty of being a bit more forgetful when it comes to the good ol' British sun? Oh yes, the pub garden sunburn is real.
Whatever your skin type, it's so important to slap on that factor 30 if you're going to be out in the sun - and that includes on your wedding day. You don't want to look back at the photos and see yourself gradually turning into the lobster bride after all. Get that sunscreen on and make sure the rest of your wedding party do too. And tell one of your bridesmaids to keep a little eye on your shoulders, forehead, and anywhere else likely to go a bit pink so you can top up or head for some shade.
STOCK UP THE LOOS
Lots of couples provide toiletries baskets in the loos for their guests and adding in a few items to help guests deal with the heat and sun is an easy, thoughtful touch that will be really appreciated. Some factor 30, a bit of insect repellent, a couple of those mineral water face mists and some hair bobbles to help long haired guests suffering from the unbearable sweaty neck are a cheap and easy way to keep everyone happy and comfortable.
WATER, WATER, WATER
Boring, I know, but seriously, you cannot underestimate how much water people will need to drink in the heat. Make sure there is plenty available at all times. If you can, it's a nice touch to offer people some water on arrival - after a hot and sweaty taxi journey it will go down a storm.
Talk to your caterers about water during your meal - it needs to be topped up regularly so make sure you are clear on whose responsibility that is.
During your reception, the easiest thing to do is have plenty of water available that guests can just help themselves to. If you're having a DIY wedding then buy a couple of cheap Kilner-style water dispensers (currently under £12 at The Range, but widely available) which can be set up either on the bar or on tables outside with a stack of glasses or paper cups. Again make sure someone knows to keep them topped up, and add in some oranges, cucumber or mint if you want to make it a bit fancier.
ICE ICE BABY
(Sorry, couldn't resist.) Right, let's talk about ice. You are gonna need it. If you're getting married in a fully catered venue, just check with them in advance that they are prepared and will have plenty of ice on hand. If your caterers are providing your bar service, then check with them whose responsibility it is to provide ice - you may find it's up to you and you need to know that in advance. And if you're going DIY you definitely need to get this sorted ahead of time.
Obviously you need it for drinks if you're providing spirits and mixers, but it's also great for adding to water, soft drinks and to rosé for a real summer vibe. You're also going to need to to cool wine and fizz (please make sure to do this - no-one wants to drink warm wine on a hot day) and it's a great idea to have bins/buckets/wheelbarrows filled with ice cold drinks like beer and cider that guests can help themselves to.
The thing is, you always need more ice than you think you do - and in the middle of a heatwave you're not the only one. Please don't think you can just pop to the supermarket the day before and grab a few bags of ice. Seriously - this stuff sells out! If you're having a wedding at home and have a big enough freezer you could stock up in advance but by far the best thing to do is book a delivery from a professional ice supplier (such as Eskimo, but there are loads out there) - who will also be able to advise you on quantities and storage. Make sure to do this as far in advance as you can though - these guys are BUSY during the summer!
It's such a wonderful novelty being able to have your drinks reception in the glorious sunshine, but it's so important to think about providing shade and seating for your guests. Older guests, children and pregnant women in particular will really need this to get through a long, hot day.
Rather than banishing them inside to cool off, incorporate cute chill-out areas into the outdoor space. A few large parasols, or a pop-up gazebo would be ideal. Even just popping some chairs or a couple of benches in the shade of a lovely tree would be really appreciated by wilting guests.
As we've discussed, it's mega important to provide plenty of water for your guests - but don't forget to drink it yourself either! It's so easy to get carried away with the excitement of the day and drink nothing but champagne, but fainting from dehydration is not a good look. If, like me, you tend to forget then tell a bridesmaid to bring you a glass of water every half hour or so and make sure you drink it!
On really hot days, water alone isn't always enough as we sweat out salts and sugars too. Rehydration sachets are a great way to balance out those electrolytes - have one in the morning and pop a couple in your make-up bag in case you feel yourself flagging during the day. You could also put some in the toiletries baskets for guests.
High heels can really rub in the heat so those baskets of cheap flip-flops really will be appreciated on a hot day. You may also want to offer your guests some ways to keep cool during the day - little electric fans are great, but in my opinion the best way to cool down is with an old fashioned paper fan. One of our lovely guests was in Spain just before our wedding and was able to source them for us - if you know anyone on holiday there get them on the case! Otherwise they are easy to find cheaply online and your guests will LOVE you for it! Pop one on every chair, or leave a little basket of them at the entrance to your ceremony. If you're really worried about a lack of shade at an outdoor wedding you could even think about buying some cute parasols for guests.
QUICK COOL DOWN TRICK
On the day, don't panic if you do find yourself getting a bit hot and bothered - if anything, stressing out will only make it worse. Head to the loo for 5 minutes to get some shade and run some cold water on the inside of your wrists for 30 seconds. It lowers the temperature of the blood in your arms, which then circulates around your body and keeps you cool for up to an hour, easy!
If it's not too late, why not talk to your caterer about any fun ways they can embrace the weather? Ice lollies would go down a storm during your drinks reception (what about these cute Bellini ones for the grown ups?) or if you're super lucky you might be able to organise a last minute ice cream van?!
BEAT THE FRIZZ
If, like me, you tend to turn into Barbados Monica in the heat then you may want to give your hairdresser the heads up and see if there's anything they can do to fight the frizz. Finer hair tends to fall flat in the hot weather so again, just let them know and if you're curling your hair or having an up-do they can use a bit of extra hairspray to try and give it added staying power. In general, it's best to try and go with the flow when it comes to hair - anything too fussy or over-styled won't last in the heat so keep things as simple and relaxed as possible, and embrace those carefree summer vibes!
And of course, have those bridesmaids on hair watch, with a brush, some hair grips and emergency hairspray ready for action.
One of the biggest worries brides have on a hot day is their make-up melting down their face. But don't worry! Talk to your MUA in advance if you're worried but they will know how to deal with hot summer days. If you're doing your own make-up just make sure to use a good primer (and sunscreen!) and consider a setting spray. And, of course, waterproof mascara!
Pack a little bag with blotting papers, a misting spray and your make-up essentials and just tell your bridesmaids to keep an eye on your make-up and give you a little top-up if needed. (You may have noticed, bridesmaids have a lot to do! Of course, these jobs can be given to anyone you trust but do give them to someone so you're not stressing out trying to remember it all on the day!)
As with hair, the best thing to do is relax and keep everything as un-fussy and natural as possible so even if things do get a little smudgy, no-one will notice!
Unfortunately, a lot of flowers aren't the biggest fans of the heat and can start to wilt pretty quickly. While there's not a huge amount you can do about this, and if you're having an outdoor wedding your florist will probably have avoided particularly wilt-prone flowers anyway) it's worth having another of those last minute chats with them to see what they advise - it may be worth having a little bucket of water or a mister available to give your bouquet a little boost during the day.
Flower crowns are super popular for summer weddings, but again they do tend to give up the ghost in extreme heat. If you're worried, and you have time, it might be worth looking into faux alternatives - I got my pink number from the wonderful Nadia diTullo.
Guys, here's the thing about buttercream. It's made from butter. Leave any kind of buttercream iced cake (naked cakes, semi-naked, whatever) out in the sun or in a boiling hot room for too long and you are going to end up with one hot mess of a wedding cake.
Talk to your cake maker and your venue/caterers in advance and find a cool, dark space to store your cake for most of the day - and work out the logistics of bringing it out at just the right time.
It goes without saying, you are going to want to get outside to get some gorgeous photos. Your photographer will definitely want to make the most of the dramatic summer 'Golden Hour' so check your timings to make sure you can take full advantage of it.
Hot summer days are lovely but balmy summer evenings are a dream! Definitely think about moving some of your evening reception outside as the sun goes down. Marquee weddings make this easy - keep those sides rolled up so your guests can mill outside drinking and dancing. Whatever your venue, though, it's worth thinking about getting outside in the evening.
For a really romantic summer vibe, why not ask your band/DJ/venue about having your first dance outdoors? Remember to make sure there's plenty of outdoor lighting for when the sun goes down (festoon lights look incredible but you can also pick up cheap solar lights on line and create a really gorgeous atmosphere with minimal effort) and if you're worried about bugs then a few citronella candles keep them at bay, smell delish and add to the romance.
Are you getting married in the next 6 weeks? What are your top tips for managing the heatwave? Let us know!
All photography by the amazing Lisa Carpenter at my very own hot outdoor summer wedding!