Plan a Summer Wedding

Ten Tips for an Average Outdoor Arizona Wedding

Setting up for a wedding in Fountain Hills
••• Setting up for a wedding in Fountain Hills. Judy Hedding

Maybe there isn't an "average" Arizona summer wedding. One thing that is average is the daytime temperature from about May 15 until November 1. It's hot here! Here includes Scottsdale, Sedona, Apache Junction and most points in between.

Many visitors come to the Valley of the Sun from November through April. Big business schedules conventions and training seminars during that time. Winter visitors, also known locally as snowbirds, arrive in October/November and stay until spring.

The splendid weather causes scores of visitors to plan their vacations during this "peak" travel season. Golf, hiking, shopping and weddings are wonderful experiences during the winter and spring months. When high season is over, in April and May, the rates begin to drop. The pleasant weather that they enjoyed in February is only temporary. Preparing to come down the aisle on a 111-degree August day, many a bride has remarked, "It was so beautiful when we visited here in December!"

In full sun, at 100+ degrees and a 55 degree dew point, a mid-July afternoon wedding might bring challenges. Flowers and guests begin to wilt at outdoor weddings. Children are crabby and fidgety, and a photographer might find it an onerous task to capture smiles on the guests' faces. 

A hot weather wedding speeds up the minister. However, it slows down the dancing at the reception, if anyone can even muster the energy to dance.

Heed this warning: the only break in Arizona weather during our hot season (May - September) is above the 7500' elevation.

Ten Tips for a Summer Outdoor Wedding in Arizona

1. Shade. Find some shade. Make some shade. Get under some trees, rent some lawn umbrellas, or offer the elderly some hand-held umbrellas.

Don't face the sun, don't have the officiate face the sun, and don't make your guests face the sun. Direct sun will take the celebration out of anyone.

2. Bring sunscreen. Is this a wedding or a trip to the beach? If you must have a wedding with anyone facing the sun, make sure ample sunscreen and UV protection sunglasses are available. Fair skinned people can burn in a matter of minutes and suffer for days afterward.

3. Avoid strenuous activity. Don't try to do everything the day of the wedding. Set up tables early in the morning or the night before. Get help setting up chairs. (No metal chairs; after ten minutes in the sun they will sear any flesh they come into contact with.)

4. Just add water. Provide lots of ice-cold drinking water at one or more locations. Just like having a guest book attendant stop people for signatures, have someone dispensing water. No, not beer. or wine. Water.

5. Evaporative Coolers. Fans sometimes turn hot air into hot air with friction. Misters on fans are like spraying your guests with a garden hose and are noisy enough to drown-out your harpist. Big rental companies rent authentic portable evaporative coolers. Spend the extra few dollars to provide this source of quiet cool air when the dew point is low enough.

6. Bring a handkerchief. This elegant, and often over-looked item is the perfect complement to any hot-weather wedding ensemble. From the breast pocket of a stylish tuxedo or the hand of the beautiful bride, the discrete patting of a handkerchief can be a relief on one's face. Hand-held paper fans, with the wedding program printed on them, are popular.

7. Be Sure. If your antiperspirant doesn't work cutting the lawn in July, it probably won't work at your wedding either. Shop around for an upgrade. Since you will be soaked with perspiration during the ceremony and photos, you might also consider bringing at least a change of underclothing for the reception.

8. Call 9-1-1. If anyone suffers the symptoms of heat exhaustion, don't wait. Place cold cloths on wrists and the forehead and get medical attention immediately.

9. Plan. Make a detailed schedule of the day and try to follow it. Make sure you have time for everything. Don't add stress and rushing to a hot summer day's schedule. Stay inside with air-conditioning as long as you can and get back inside frequently as your wedding day progresses.

10. Plan B. Your minister, DJ or musicians, florist, parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, vocalist, and all your guests are praying you have an indoor Plan B. Can you take the wedding inside?

If you have planned your wedding in Arizona's hot weather, be prepared. Be sensitive to your guests and be wise about your plans.

Most of the concepts on this page were provided by Minister Phillip Waring.