Expert Advice: What to Know About Planning a Summer Wedding in Florida | Wedding Planning Advice

Expert Advice: What to Know About Planning a Summer Wedding in Florida

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Choosing a date is one of the most important things you’ll do during the planning process for your Tampa Bay wedding. While summer is often an ideal time to get married in more northern parts of the country, the same considerations don’t apply to Florida weddings.

“Florida is hot in the summer, like chill out in the a/c and in the pool hot! So we really urge couples considering a Florida wedding in the summer to look at an indoor wedding venue with floor-to-ceiling windows and great views. Your family and friends will thank you later,” wedding planner Tammy Waterman of Special Moments Event Planning advises.

To help you make your wedding as comfortable as possible, we asked our Marry Me Tampa Bay preferred wedding pros to share their best advice for couples considering a summer wedding.

How Does the Heat Effect Your Ceremony?

“There are a number of ways the heat can affect your wedding ceremony. You should stick with early morning or late evening but don’t forget about afternoon showers. If you are planning an outdoor ceremony, it is essential to have a Plan B. The heat may affect your wedding dress options, your bridesmaid dresses, and the selection of men’s formalwear. You need to choose hardier flowers that can stand up to the heat and not wilt, and you should think about the comfort of your guest by making cold drinks, fans, umbrellas, and shade available. I’ve had a bride pass out on me from being overheated during the wedding portraits. You don’t want that happening!” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

“When planning a summer wedding in Florida, remember it is also considered our rainy season! Summertime comes with gorgeous sunsets and warm nights but also humidity and unpredictable storms. I recommend having your summer wedding indoors in air conditioning; however, if you are having an outdoor ceremony, there are lots of ways to keep your guests cool. Umbrellas and sailcloth covering are very popular, as well as a ceremony program that has a dual purpose as a fan! Sailcloths can be hung over your ceremony; just remember the sun will move, so not all guests will get shade. Make sure to include on your wedding website or invitation that the event will be taking place outside and to dress accordingly. Before the ceremony, offer your guests a cool place to stay and maybe even a glass of something cold or an alcoholic freeze pop! Most importantly, make sure you as the couple, your bridal party, and your family who are taking part in the ceremony have somewhere with air that is separate from the guests to be able to hide before you walk down the aisle!” -Lauren Gertz, owner of MDP Events

“Some décor options will not be available to you. Be prepared to hear not ideal news. Summer weather can bring about limitations with décor. A completely white floral arch becomes less practical in the heat since the construction limits what a florist can use as a water source and how much water will get to the flower. White flowers easily brown and there’s no hiding those flaws. Either save the white for cooler weather or for the indoors, or take the opportunity to bring in a bright and colorful palette. As professionals in the field, trust your vendors when they forewarn you. They’re only looking out for you and want to be upfront and honest. If they tell you something isn’t viable because of the weather, trust their opinion and ask what they recommend.” -Melanie Eubanks, owner of Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“The summer is hurricane season and very hot. I highly advise having everything indoors at this time of year to avoid the rain and extreme heat. If you do plan to have an outdoor portion, make sure you have a backup plan in place and shade for your guests. You can bring out umbrellas, tents, etc to keep the direct sun off the guests. I would also have a water station provided and personal fans so that you can keep your guests as comfortable as possible!” -Delaney Driver, Wilder Mind Events

Neutral Cream Mismatching Bridesmaids Dress Inspiration | Tropical White Orchid, Palm Leaf, Monstera, and Garden Rose Wedding Bouquet | Sarasota Florist Beneva Weddings and Events

How Does the Heat Effect Your Decor?

“It’s a known fact that flowers need water to survive, even in ideal conditions. This is even more true in the Florida heat. If you’re getting married outdoors, flowers and decor won’t be able to endure the Florida sunshine as well as they would during the rest of the year. Flowers are prone to wilting quicker than usual and may not last as long as they normally would, which means repurposing ceremony flowers for the reception will not be a viable option. Hydrangeas, lilies, and stock need a lot of water and easily wilt if they’re not kept cool; we would recommend you stay away from those if you’re set on having an outdoor summer wedding. Things melt: glue, frosting, wax, etc. If you have anything susceptible to the heat and are set on your date being in the summer, try going indoors where the a/c will help your decor (and your guests) beat the heat!” -Melanie Eubanks, owner of Lemon Drops Weddings and Events

“Choosing the right florals can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your wedding. It’s important to choose florals that are in season in Florida during the summer months. This will not only ensure that the florals are readily available but they will also be more affordable. Talk to your florist about which florals are in season and which ones will work best for your wedding theme.” -Claire Augello, Marketing Coordinator of Beneva

“Most desserts need to be kept at room temperature, so plan to keep everything indoors. If you have your heart set on outdoor treats, keep them indoors until right before serving!” -Brandi Becker-Matiyak, owner of Sweetly Dipped Confections

“The Florida heat can be brutal. If you are having an outdoor summer wedding, keep that in mind when making your decor decisions. When it comes to flowers, don’t choose delicate flowers that might wilt in the heat, choose tough, luscious greens that can withstand the weather. For your centerpieces and guest gifts, don’t pick something that could potentially soften or melt; choose something that can survive in warm, humid conditions.” -Amber McWhorter, owner of Amber McWhorter Photography

How Can the Heat Effect Your Hair/Makeup and Attire Choices?

“Forget the heat; it’s our lovely Florida humidity that has a huge impact on hair and makeup. Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, so when we have high humidity, it’s like standing in a steamy bathroom. The best way to ensure your hair and makeup will last all night is to find a hair and makeup company that uses water-resistant makeup and anti-humectant hair products. Anti-humectant hair products are essentially products with moisture blockers that prevent the hair from trying to absorb the moisture in the air. This will minimize frizzing. If you are getting married in some of our hotter months (June-September), it is best to opt for a hairstyle that is up and off your neck. All the hair products in the world will not hold up if you are drenched in sweat. If you sweat easily, a boho crown braid or glam up style is a great choice to keep you cool, feeling comfortable, and looking flawless. For makeup, we use a secret weapon skin prep product on our brides that prevent their face from sweating. I know sounds too good to be true, but it works wonders! The best pro tip is to make sure the products are up to par to combat the humidity.” -Kelcey Yaeger, owner of Adore Bridal Hair and Makeup

“If you are planning on a first look or bridal portraits before your actual ceremony and these moments are going to be photographed in an outdoor area, plan for shorter periods of time outdoors in the heat followed by a little time for makeup touchups and cool down moments as needed. Florida heat is no joke, so building in times to freshen up from the heat between photo opportunities can help.” -Amber McWhorter, owner of Amber McWhorter Photography

“Pay special attention to your attire and your hair and makeup. A long lace-embellished wedding gown with a sweeping train is heavy and hot. Carrying a train across the beach anytime is hot, so consider something lightweight and maybe a little shorter. Your hair will struggle to hold its curl, and makeup will need a touch-up. Think about very light natural makeup and wearing your hair down or pulled to one side. Think about the guys too! Dark suits or suits of any kind will be hot. So instead, think of light, breathable fabrics such as khaki slacks, linen shirts, and maybe skip the tie.” -Tammy Waterman, owner of Special Moments Event Planning

“Sunset is the latest in the summer; from the end of June to the beginning of July it’s at 8:30 p.m. Typically, that hour before sunset is the prettiest and coolest part of the day for photos. If you are doing a first look before the ceremony, sometimes it’s better to just do the first look and still do the wedding party and bride and groom photos after the ceremony to break it up and also keep the heat to a minimum. Fun fact, even if it is really hot, you generally can’t tell in photos!” -Carrie Wildes, Carrie Wildes Photography

“If you are having a summer wedding in Florida, you need to choose a lightweight wedding dress, preferably strapless or thin-strapped. Stay away from long sleeves and heavy fabrics. The same holds true for your bridesmaids. Your groom and the groomsmen may want to consider a lighter-weight suit, such as linen, over a traditional suit or tuxedo. The summer heat is more friendly to casual or beach festive attire for your guests than formal clothing. I definitely suggest brides and bridesmaids wear their hair up for comfort as the curls don’t hold well in the summer humidity.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

Bride and Groom Exchanging Wedding Vows During Waterfront Tropical Wedding Ceremony Decor, Circular Colorful Floral Arch | Tampa Bay Wedding Photographer Amber McWhorter Photography

How Can the Heat Effect Your Reception?

“Receptions in the summer heat should be indoors if at all possible. Florida is known for afternoon showers, which only makes it hotter and muggier. If you are outside, choose florals that can stand up to the heat and last all night without wilting. Choose a lighter menu for your guests. Be prepared to sweat a lot on the dance floor, and watch out that the cake doesn’t melt! Also, have a Plan B because it could very possibly rain.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

“Florida can be windy during the summer months, so it’s important to take this into consideration when planning your wedding. Anywhere near the coast will be very windy. Consider using heavy decor items that won’t blow away. Also, consider using heavier linens on tables and securing them in place to prevent them from blowing away.” -Claire Augello, Marketing Coordinator of Beneva

“If you are having your wedding outdoors, keep in mind most venues do not do tented weddings in the summer, so always have a rain backup plan. As a planner, I also keep a little bottle of water that I can spray on the fresh flowers that are sitting in the heat! This keeps them open and fresh!” -Katy Martin, owner of Coastal Coordinating

What Do You Need to Know about Summer Rain?

“Always…and I do mean, always have a backup plan for the weather. Those rain showers come fast and furious, and you have about a five-minute warning before they hit. Get a tent, hand out umbrellas, have an indoor option, and have some sort of plan. Understand that tents are expensive and require permits. You can’t just ‘throw up a tent’ at the last minute if you’re on certain properties.” -Leigh Wilson-Arwood, Events Manager at Red Mesa Events

“Any Floridian knows that we are known for our summer showers. They come in quickly, sometimes without warning, are intense, and are gone before you know it. Then, the sun comes out and heats up all that water on the ground, creating a humidity that will melt any makeup application! Having a solid rain backup plan and being willing to pull the trigger even if that means that it doesn’t actually rain at your ceremony start time. Sometimes, that means reverting to that rain backup plan if it rains or the threat is too high.” -Staci Mandikas, UNIQUE Weddings + Events

“Summer rain is not predictable. The forecast might say that it will rain and it never rains, and on the other hand, it might say there is a zero chance of rain and pour. Not only that but if it is a small storm, the rain typically moves fast. Keeping up with an actual rain radar is what has saved me from making calls as the photographer. Flexibility is key here. If your photos are planned at 5 p.m., and it is supposed to rain, bump up the time to get photos done. Know that your schedule and timing might change. One other important part when planning an outdoor summer wedding is to have a backup plan just in case it does rain.” -Amber McWhorter, owner of Amber McWhorter Photography

“Be educated on the weather, sunset time, and locations here in Florida, but most important is attitude and expectations. It could rain all day and be the best wedding ever because of how the couple’s attitude going into the situation is.” -Carrie Wildes, owner of Carrie Wildes Photography

“The rain in summer is very unpredictable. Good planning is very necessary. A backup indoor or tent location for your ceremony, umbrellas for guests, or even a little extra room in your timeline to shift things around is extremely helpful. You also have to trust your vendors and find vendors you trust. Many of us have worked in every scenario of bad weather, and we have ways to work around it. I tell my couples that they’re still going to get beautiful photos. just a different kind of feel. Sometimes the misty couple portraits have a romantic vibe you just can’t get on a sunny day.” -Joy Hmielewski, owner of Joyelan Photography

“As a lifelong Tampa Bay resident and twenty-year wedding veteran, consider an early morning wedding if you are brave enough for an outdoor wedding or start around sunset when it cools down a little. Our Florida summer weather is very unpredictable! It can go from sunny and hot to thunderstorms and pouring rain in no time. Rule #1 is that an outdoor tented wedding is NEVER a good idea for a summer wedding, regardless of what anyone may tell you. Hurricane season begins in June, and August is one of the most active months. Anything can happen! If you are set on an outdoor wedding, you absolutely want to have a Plan B indoors with air conditioning.” -Tammy Waterman, owner of Special Moments Event Planning

“We are sort of mini-meteorologists and constantly monitoring the weather in anticipation of your wedding day! By using the most advanced radar possible, the same resources pilots use to navigate weather, we are able to calculate down to the hour the percentage chance of rain and directional movement of the storm (cell, band, etc.). This is depicted on our weather page for all the locations we service. It’s always a great idea to have some sort of ‘Plan B’ in the case of inclement weather; this could be a covered courtyard, pavilion, or some type of overhang if worst comes to worst. In Florida, the 10-day forecast is more of a guesstimate and is highly inaccurate. We will not have a predictable forecast until 12-24 hours before the event, so save yourself the hassle of worrying a week out. Stick to the game plan, and if you are working with professionals, they will assist in this regard. Besides, it’s good luck if it does rain on your wedding day! The most incredible pictures ever taken on the beach are followed shortly after an armageddon-like rain shower. Rainbows come out shortly after a rainstorm too.” -Brandon Wheeler, owner of Gulf Beach Weddings

Bride and Groom First Kiss Portrait | Elegant Ceremony Arch White Floral and Greenery Ideas | St. Pete Beach Rooftop Venue Wedding Hotel Zamora | Florist Lemon Drops Wedding & Events

What Are the Best Ways to Keep Your Guests Cool?

“There are several fun and trendy options couples can incorporate in their decor to keep their guests cool during their wedding day! We love including umbrellas as an added decor element since these are also helpful when it comes to shading your guests during your ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception. Umbrellas enhance the setting by also keeping everyone comfortable! Another trend we see couples utilize is ceremony fans for each attendee. Sometimes these are branded with the couples names or even include the program on the fan.” -Jessica Ralph, owner of Parties A’La Carte

“If your wedding ceremony is outside, your wedding guests could be sitting in the sun for 15-20 minutes before you arrive. By the end of your ceremony, they will be super uncomfortable and ready to be inside, cooling off. Think about a water station, fans, and sunscreen, and keep the wedding ceremony really short.” -Tammy Waterman, owner of Special Moments Event Planning

“Don’t underestimate the heat. Have a water or drink station for guests, use fans as favors, have bug wipes handy, and make sure you adequately communicate the weather expectations to your guests. Make sure to include an appropriate dress code on your invitations or wedding website. Let guests know that sundresses, guayaberas, and sparkly flip-flops are A-OK! Lean into the summer theme! Go for spiked lemonade, lots of fun and colorful florals, bright and brilliant bridesmaid’s dresses, and yummy summertime foods like BBQ and tacos!” -Leigh Wilson-Arwood, Events Manager at Red Mesa Events

“Choose either early morning or better yet, late afternoon for your event. If you’re adamant about being outside for your Florida summer wedding, try to adjust the times of your event so guests aren’t stuck in the sun during the hottest points of the day. If you and your guests are early risers, why not have a sunrise wedding on the beach followed by a brunch reception inside a hotel ballroom? If being up before dawn isn’t your cup of tea, try to aim for a late afternoon/evening wedding when the sun will be starting to set. This will make for perfect lighting for photos and will help keep you and your guests out of the blazing sun.” -Melanie Eubanks, owner of Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“We’re so lucky in Florida to have beautiful weather all year long, but that’s not to say each season won’t come with its considerations, especially if you are including your pet in your celebration. In the heat of the summer, it is particularly important to think of your pet’s well-being and limitations. When planning our “Dog of Honor’s” special days in the summer months, we first determine the venue’s pet policies and whether or not they will be allowed indoors. If they are not, it is very important to take into account the amount of shade available and the ground we’ll be walking the pup on (pavement is a serious concern in the Florida heat), and how long we’ll be on-site. We manage the pet’s energy levels to ensure they won’t overdo it and plan the day with plenty of water and a/c breaks. This advice is crucial for couples and their pets when traveling to Florida for a summer wedding as they may not be used to the intensity of the heat and powerful sunshine.” -Kelly Maronpot, owner of FairyTail Pet Care

“If you are having a summer wedding, you can have it all indoors to keep everyone cool. If you want to have the ceremony outside, make sure to let guests know to dress accordingly and also provide them with fans. Also, make sure they are not waiting in the heat for the ceremony to start. They should be able to wait in an air-conditioned area just until the ceremony is about to start to get everyone seated.” -Amber McWhorter, owner of Amber McWhorter Photography

“The best ways to keep your guests cool are to choose the coolest part of the day to hold the wedding, hold your festivities indoors in the air conditioning, and if outdoors, have a more casual dress code. Be sure to have access to water, offer ‘boozie’ popsicles during cocktail hour, and ice cream for dessert. If you are having the reception in a tent, be sure to have a/c units and/or misters to help keep the space cool.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

“Any choices you can make to combat the heat…do it! Having a water or lemonade station at the ceremony, incorporating cold hors d’oeuvres into cocktail hour, and having a/c for your reception are all ways to help your guests not melt in the Florida sun!” -Staci Mandikas, owner of UNIQUE Weddings + Events

Floral Filled Wedding Reception with Teal Linens and Modern White and Gold Chairs | Cherry Blossom Tree Centerpieces | St. Petersburg Wedding Reception the Vinoy Renaissance | Planner Parties a la Carte

Are There Any Benefits to Hosting a Summer Wedding?

“Surprisingly, there is a benefit to hosting a wedding in the Summer! I know, crazy right? Venues are used to being slower in the summer, so they are more willing to offer incentives and discounts to weddings hosted in June, July, and August. This may also apply to other vendors, as long as they aren’t temporarily closed for the off-season or are on skeleton hours, due to the off-season.” -Staci Mandikas, UNIQUE Weddings + Events

“One benefit to hosting a summer wedding is that more of your guests would be available to attend. Kids are out of school, and the summertime is considered to be a slower season in various fields of work! This can be really helpful if you have essential family members who you want to attend. ” -Heather Lorenz, The Birchwood

“Having a summer wedding in Florida is a great option for the budget-conscious couple. Vendors are typically slower and would love the additional business. You can also opt for an off-peak weekday like Wednesdays or Thursdays, which would lower your spending, and most guests will turn it into their summer vacation if they’re traveling.” -Leigh Wilson-Arwood, Event Manager at Red Mesa Events

“Florida is typically the “off-season” for weddings. With venues specifically, there are a lot of places that will offer off-season discounts instead of their regular rates. This could be a great way to get your dream venue and stay within budget by booking in their non-peak months.” -Delaney Driver, Wilder Mind Events

What Would Couples Be Surprised to Know About Summer Weddings in Florida?

“Couples from northern states may be surprised to discover that Florida doesn’t necessarily ‘cool off’ once the sun sets in the summertime. It certainly takes the edge off, but the humidity remains constant throughout the evening. If you are planning a summer wedding in Florida, I would definitely recommend having it fully indoors!” -Heather Lorenz, The Birchwood

“The Tampa Bay area is an amazing destination hot spot for summer weddings! A beach vacation paired with your wedding day is a win-win! Our advice is not to underestimate the power of the Florida sun. In the weeks leading up to the big day, wear high SPF, find shade, and be mindful of bathing suits that will not leave unsightly tan lines or gasp…a red and painful sunburn! Not only will it dehydrate your skin which can cause blisters, peeling, and flakey skin, but it also affects your makeup application. Trust us; you will still get that summer glow with SPF! Lastly, once your hair and makeup are complete on your wedding day, stay inside until the last possible moment. This will preserve your hair and makeup from the heat and humidity.” -Kelcey Yeager, Adore Bridal Services

“Florida is a summer vacation destination. People are traveling here from all over the globe. Those beautiful beach photos you had in mind might be filled with beach chairs, umbrellas, and people in swimsuits.” -Tammy Waterman, owner of Special Moments Event Planning

“Summer is the busy season for tourism so prices for hotels, transportation, etc. may be more expensive depending on the area. While your vendors and venue may be offering discounts and special rates, that doesn’t mean the rest of the world is on that same schedule. Summer is prime time for tourism in Florida, with families visiting during summer break to take advantage of kids being out of school. What you’re saving with off-season pricing for your venue might be used to cover your hotel stay or rental car. If you’re getting married on the beach, be prepared for there to be people everywhere, and it might be smart to book your wedding at a hotel with a private sector of the beach where they can use security to clear out space. Research the area you’re looking into and be prepared. Also, while a venue/vendor’s summer minimum may be lower, if you’re having 200 guests at $100 a person, that doesn’t change the fact that you’ll be paying quite a bit. Make sure you understand when an offer is beneficial to you and when an offer doesn’t actually affect what you’re spending. Just because a minimum is lower doesn’t mean you’ll be getting a discount or saving money. It only means that you don’t need to spend as much to book their services for your day.” -Melanie Eubanks, owner of Lemon Drops Weddings & Events


About the Author

Anna Coats

Marry Me Tampa Bay editor Anna Coats created Marry Me Tampa Bay in 2012 to showcase the area’s best local weddings and vendors. She has been featured as a wedding expert on the national talk show Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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