Summer weddings mean keeping it cool

Special Advertising Sections Writer

Sunny skies, garden roses in full bloom, lemonade stands and bare feet: Summer is your favorite season, which is why you chose it for your wedding day. But though some like it hot, no one likes it sweltering.

“The last thing you want is for you and your guests to be sticky and uncomfortable,” said Alyson Fox of Los Angeles-based Levine Fox Events, “so you have to plan ahead.” She should know. Four years ago, a wedding she planned landed on a mercury-soaring 120-degree day in Beverly Hills and the air conditioning at the hotel suddenly broke down. “It was a nightmare,” reflected Fox, “but the weather is the one thing you can’t control.”

Here, she and other wedding experts weigh in with tips on how to help you and your guests stay cool on your special day.Get things covered

For a daytime outdoor wedding, it’s crucial to have plenty of shade, especially if elderly guests are attending. Claudia Hoste, catering manager at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, where temperatures can reach into the 100s, said in a phone interview that location is key. “A vine-covered pergola or expansive oak tree will keep everyone naturally cool,” she said. If you don’t have natural shade, canvas awnings or umbrellas can do the trick.Mary Dann of Manhattan Beach’s Mary Dann Wedding and Party Coordinators, who has planned many warm-weather weddings in Palm Springs, recommended umbrellas. “I scatter them around the ceremony and reception for shade,” she said. Her other tricks? Misting systems, which blow a super-fine mist that cools the surrounding air, and fountains, because of what Dann called their “psychologically cooling effect.”


“When the ceremony is over,” she said, “the newlyweds can put the fountain in their backyard.”

Parasols are both lovely and practical for shielding the couple and guests from the sun. Customized Wedding Creations is an online company that personalizes rice paper and bamboo umbrellas with hand-painted monograms. According to owner Cherin Szul, “they make great gifts to family members after the wedding.”

For a tented reception, stylish vintage standing fans or ceiling fans can offer a welcome cool breeze, and delicate hand fans can double as favors. Hoste suggested putting out baskets of Evian face spritzers or iced lavender-scented hand towels to help guests freshen up on a hot day.

Quench their thirst

Whether it’s French lemonade or French 75 cocktails, beverages at a warm weather wedding should be icy and refreshing.

L.A. mixologist D. “Max” Maxey, who mixes cocktails for weddings and private events, as well as at his regular gigs at downtown landmarks Cicada Restaurant and Cole’s, recommended “something spritzy or botanical, with mint or basil, on a hot day.”

He is partial to the Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, made with crushed limes, sugar and Cachaça, a sugar cane-based spirit. “It’s refreshing,” he said, “and gorgeous when muddled with fresh blackberries or strawberries.”

Among other cool libations, he suggested the “original Daiquiri,” made with lime, rum and ice, or a Corpse Reviver, a 1930s cocktail with white Lillet Blanc, lemon and Cointreau, served in a frosty coupe glass that was rinsed in absinthe.

Stressing the importance of offering non-alcoholic drinks as well, he suggested ginger beer with lime juice, or a mojito bar where guests can build drinks with or without alcohol and an assortment of berries.

While it might seem obvious, one essential that is sometimes overlooked is water — not just during the reception but the ceremony, too, which can take place during the hottest part of the day. Fox likes to hand out chilled water infused with strawberries or oranges for guests to enjoy during outdoor ceremonies, and Maxey finds that setting up stations with colorful fruit-infused waters at the reception encourages guests to stay hydrated. “If you make water a focus, they’ll drink more than if you just put a bucket of bottled water near the bar,” he said.

For after-dinner drinks, also think frosty. “An ice-blended [coffee] is perfect after you’ve been dancing,” said Fox, who likes to have coffee stations at the weddings she plans.

Go light on food

A sizzling day isn’t the time to serve slow-braised short ribs with polenta, no matter how much you love them. Hot weather begs for lighter, cooler fare. But can food really help cool people off ?

“Absolutely,” said Beverly Hills Hotel Executive Chef Alex Chen. Summer is the peak season for weddings at the hotel, so he does a lot of chilled soups such as gazpacho with fresh crab and avocado, heirloom tomato “tastings” and fruit purees.

For the main course, Chen suggested fish such as halibut or Copper River salmon, though beef tenderloin can be a great option. “It’s about the preparation,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be heavy.”

Icy desserts are the rage these days, from Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches to Nola Ice’s New Orleans-style “snoballs,” both of which have become popular at Los Angeles-area weddings. However, the new kid in town, according to Fox, is Los Angeles-based Sweet Lucie’s Handmade Ice Cream, which uses organic ingredients and toppings and offers flavors such as vanilla bean ice cream and Mint Lemonade Sorbet all served from a vintage truck or cart. “We like to pass around mini ice cream cones while people are dancing,” Fox said.

As for the wedding cake, it should always be placed in the coolest spot possible, but butter cream is more sensitive to heat than other frostings, according to Amy Berman of Santa Monica’s Vanilla Bake Shop. Berman, who has created cakes for the likes of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and actress Reese Witherspoon, noted that “putting a butter-cream cake outside on a hot day is like putting a stick of butter in the sun.” Instead, she suggests covering the exterior of the cake in fondant, a rolled sugar dough that keeps it cooler and looking prettier longer.

No matter how hot it gets, remember to keep your cool, and hope that the heat between you and your beloved never wears off.