5 Ideas for Planning a Summer Wedding

September 19, 2019
Shaunte Dittmar, of California, is a wedding photographer for West Shore Cafe

Photo by: Shaunte Dittmar, California, United States

Picture this: It's mid-summer, with temps in the low-80s, a cloudless sky, and oh-so-light gusts keeping everyone just cool enough. Maybe you're out on a bluff, overlooking the ocean, or in a fragrant, blooming garden. A scene is set for the ideal summer wedding.

But—back in reality here—there's no way that six to eight months or more down the road any couple can forecast such pristine conditions for their wedding day. Despite their idealized image, summer weddings can throw a number of curveballs your way.

Stifling heat, flash thunderstorms and swarms of mosquitoes are just some of the things that neither you nor anyone else has any control over. Making sure your festivities have the greatest chance of proceeding smoothly requires some special planning and preparation. Thinking ahead will keep your guests, vendors and certainly your wedding photojournalist at ease and comfortable so they, and you, can enjoy the day.

Jacob Hannah, of Vermont, is a wedding photographer for

Photo by: Jacob Hannah, Vermont, United States

Regardless of what ultimately transpires, and even if the day does not turn out exactly as it did in your dreams, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you at least covered all of the manageable factors.

1. BACK IT UP

While you may have found the perfect meadow, beach or vineyard to stage your wedding, or maybe a few moments to slip away for a portrait session, it's a good idea to have a backup in mind in case brutal heat, torrential rain or other unforeseen conditions disrupt your plan.

Our award-winning wedding photojournalists recommend always having a Plan B, but ducking into just any air-conditioned hall may not be enough.

Rich Calver, of County Antrim, is a wedding photographer for Lissanoure Castle, Glens of Antrim

Photo by: Rich Calver, County Antrim, United Kingdom

WPJA members say that you should make sure your backup plan is one you’re happy with. Otherwise, if you end up having to go with a plan that you don’t like, you aren’t going to have the wedding experience that you wanted.

David Clumpner, of Montana, is a wedding photographer for Mountain Top near Bozeman, MT

Photo by: David Clumpner, Montana, United States

If that 118-degree day rolls in during your summer wedding, your plans for taking pictures outside might not be realistic anymore. If continuous rain is pouring down on your wedding day, you might need to find a new way to make the situation work. Instead of being unprepared, a decorated archway can save the day and protect the ceremony from the rain.

2. WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE

On a summer wedding day, water can be a foe if it falls from the sky, but a welcome friend when it hits your lips. Battle-hardened WPJA members—and any doctor, no doubt—would recommend keeping plenty of water on hand to keep guests, caterers, DJs and wedding photographers hydrated throughout the event.

Tsvetelina Deliyska, of Sofia, is a wedding photographer for Grand Hotel Sofia

Photo by: Tsvetelina Deliyska, Sofia, Bulgaria

It’s a small point that could be overlooked. After all, making sure that a cooler full of bottled water is nearby often tends to be low on the priority chain when such big-ticket items such as caterers, dresses and rings have been pored over endlessly.

Pasquale Minniti, of Reggio Calabria, is a wedding photographer for india

Photo by: Pasquale Minniti, Reggio Calabria, Italy

But it can make a huge difference. Some of our WPJA members have recalled times when they worked at weddings in 100-plus degree weather in locations where, while picturesque, the old buildings did not have air conditioning. Heat like this can quickly ruin a wedding. A good solution for a situation like this would be to have one member of the wedding party remain on call to make quick runs for cold water bottles if necessary. This way, your guests will stay hydrated and your photography team can continue focusing on taking great pictures.

Tara Theilen, of Nevada, is a wedding photographer for Valhalla, South Lake Tahoe, California

Photo by: Tara Theilen, Nevada, United States

Some of our members mentioned that, in addition to water for drinking, some couples choose to have water misters at their weddings to keep guests cooled down. What’s the takeaway from all this? Essentially, plan ahead. Be prepared and assume that your summer wedding day will be hot, even if that’s not what ends up happening.

Pasquale Minniti, of Reggio Calabria, is a wedding photographer for puglia

Photo by: Pasquale Minniti, Reggio Calabria, Italy

3. SHADY BUSINESS

Besides the heat, the light of the sun beating down can also wreak some havoc at an event if you are not prepared with shady areas for guests to cool down. Often, it's in the form of a tent for your wedding ceremony and/or reception.

Tobias Löhr, of Hessen, is a wedding photographer for Standesamt Schliersee

Photo by: Tobias Löhr, Hessen, Germany

Some of our award-winning members have also suggested that classy umbrellas can offer shade to guests while also making sure that guests aren’t blocking their faces in photos by trying to use their hands or programs to keep the sun out of their eyes during the ceremony. In fact, many venues may even offer either umbrellas or tents to lend to guests.

Lauren Lindley, of California, is a wedding photographer for Meadow outside South Lake Tahoe, CA

Photo by: Lauren Lindley, California, United States

Another thing to keep in mind is how a lack of shade might affect your photography team. If the sun is too strong and there is no shade, this could pose a significant problem not only to your guests but to your photographer as well.

4. TIMING AND PLACEMENT

The sun’s position can also lead to tough set-ups to get pictures, especially when it is shining from directly behind the ceremony. So, if you're planning on holding an outdoor wedding in a shade-less spot, such as a beach, keep this in mind. Our members agree, saying that it’s important to have a preliminary discussion with your photographer to make sure that nothing is going to pose an adverse situation for photographing.

Juan Carlos Calderon, of Jalisco, is a wedding photographer for

Photo by: Juan Carlos Calderon, Jalisco, Mexico

There have been times when our members have found themselves shooting summer weddings with tricky lighting situations. For instance, perhaps the location is situated in such a way that, while the lighting is good in one direction, there is a harsh backlight in the other. Fortunately, your wedding photojournalist will have the skills and experience to be able to think on their toes.

Alex Paul, of Massachusetts, is a wedding photographer for Ocean Edge Resort, Brewster, MA

Photo by: Alex Paul, Massachusetts, United States

Also, while a sunset wedding may be a dream and may provide beautiful wedding photos, such ceremonies are tied into a specific time window that, if missed, can mean a nighttime wedding, shot under harsh lights. So, either be extremely punctual or start early before the sunset, since so many variables exist throughout the day that can cause you to be even a half-hour late. Even that relatively modest delay could mean a difference between a gorgeous sunset and no light.

Vinicius Fadul, of São Paulo, is a wedding photographer for plantarum - nova odessa

Photo by: Vinicius Fadul, São Paulo, Brazil

Summer can be a time for bugs too, though bug spray or citronella candles can keep them at bay—if you have them on hand.

Sylvain Bouzat, of , is a wedding photographer for

Photo by: Sylvain Bouzat, France

5. KEEP A SMILE ON YOUR FACE

Many couples pick summer for their weddings for a reason. Most of the time, you'll have beautiful, warm weather that makes it conducive to slip outdoors for the reception, ceremony or somewhere in between. But obviously, not always.

WPJA members have noted that in order to avoid all of the situations above that may cause less-than-ideal photography situations, it’s best to prepare for anything. Beyond helping your wedding photojournalist to remain to stand, you also want to make sure that your guests are full of energy and are able to enjoy the festivities rather than being lethargic and exhausted.

Jonathan Sylvoz, of , is a wedding photographer for -

Photo by: Jonathan Sylvoz, France

All things considered, try to keep a good attitude during the day and cheerfully be prepared for some unanticipated surprises. The conditions can also produce some wonderfully original shots, perhaps capturing the bridesmaids helping to cool down the bride with a fan.

Nadine Lotze, of Nordrhein-Westfalen, is a wedding photographer for -

Photo by: Nadine Lotze, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

You'll be able to look back on shots like those and remember not only the significance of the day but also what it felt like. Our members remind us that while you may not be able to anticipate everything, sometimes these little mishaps or unexpected turn of events can actually make for something wonderful—either way, you will get great pictures, and maybe you’ll get a few that, while not what you expected, capture the day perfectly. So, don’t get too caught up in a fantasy that may not come true and just remember that whatever happens, even the unplanned events can make for an unexpectedly wonderful time.

Sarah V. Martinez, of New Hampshire, is a wedding photographer for

Photo by: Sarah V. Martinez, New Hampshire, United States