Last summer, my fiancé and I attended a friend’s wedding in upstate New York. When we arrived at the park where the couple would exchange vows, it was evident why they had chosen this location. A rustic flower-wrapped arbor sat in a wide open field surrounded by circular rows of delicate white chairs; it was absolutely stunning. As we waited for the notoriously late bride to arrive, however, I quickly realized one major flaw with this setup. The sun was beating down and, short of hiding out in a porta-potty, there was no shade to be found. I immediately regretted not making room in my clutch for sunscreen and braced myself for a burn.
Now that I’m planning my own outdoor wedding, I’ve made it my mission to make sure my guests will be comfortable. If you, too, are a bride-to-be hoping to make sure you don’t miss a single detail, consider the following simple steps to keep your loved ones safe from the sun:
Prepare Your Guests Ahead of Time
Let your guests know what to expect before they arrive at the venue. Many wedding websites now have dedicated pages where you can suggest attire and provide additional details on the design of the ceremony space. You might also place a note on an insert in your invitation. If your guests will be sitting outside, recommend that they wear sun-protective clothing, bring a wide-brimmed hat and apply sunscreen 30 minutes before the ceremony.
Add Draping, Draping and More Draping
If your outdoor wedding venue doesn’t provide an elegant shade structure, or natural shade from trees, a tent is always a safe bet. It protects against most of the elements, including the sun. But many brides, myself included, think that tents take away from the outdoor vibe. Draping is a great way to provide some of the benefits of a tent (mainly shade) without fully enclosing the space. Thick material, selected to match your colors, can strategically hang above each row (or table) of guests, creating a romantic feel while providing reprieve from the sun’s harmful rays. Drapes are versatile and can easily be incorporated into just about any theme for a reasonable price.
Image by Lin & Jirsa
Provide Some Portable Shade
If your event space won’t allow for drapes, provide parasols for guests. These serve as great favors and make for pretty spectacular photo props.
Image by Katie Day Photography
Serve up Some Sunscreen
Many couples provide ice water or Champagne for guests as they enter the event space. Consider adding a basket filled with different sunscreen options to this entrance area. It’s a good reminder to your friends and loved ones that they should reapply.
Share Some Shades
Provide your guests with sunglasses that have been branded for your big event. Many craft sites offer them at reasonable rates, or you can buy these in bulk from a wholesale outlet. In selecting your shades, make sure the product can absorb and block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays.
Image by Kandid Weddings
Skip the Favor and Make a Donation
Many couples are forgoing traditional favors and choosing instead to make a charitable donation on behalf of guests. While you will be protecting your guests from the sun on your wedding day, you can also help to protect future generations by making a charitable gift to The Skin Cancer Foundation, the only international organization devoted solely to combating the world’s most common cancer. You can let your guests know about this gift by including a note on each table.
I’ve heard that it’s good luck if the sun makes an appearance on your wedding day, and I sure hope that is the case when we say our “I do’s” this spring. With the details above all squared away, I have peace of mind knowing that our loved ones will walk away from our special day with fond memories (and not a single sunburn). I think that is the best luck of all.