10 Steps to the Perfect Summer Wedding

From your wedding dress to décor, get tips for your warm-weather nuptials.

It’s summer! If you’re planning to celebrate your big day during the summer season, discover inspiration, ideas, and advice for hosting a warm-weather wedding.

Photo: Bryan N. Miller Photography

It’s summer! If you’re planning to celebrate your big day during the summer season, you’re likely looking for advice related to warm-weather summer weddings. From your bridal gown to your reception décor, we’ve put together 10 steps to the perfect summer wedding. Whether you’ll be saying “I do” on the beach or in a ballroom by the lake, gather inspiration from the images and ideas below.

1. Summery Bridal Bouquet

Whether you go with a muted color palette or a vibrant arrangement, we recommend using seasonal blooms accented with lush greenery for a summer wedding bouquet. This bride, who said “I do” overlooking the ocean, carried an elegant collection of garden roses, quicksand roses, and café au lait dahlias in soft, muted hues.

summer wedding ideas summer bridal bouquet light colors garden roses dahlias

Photo by Ether & Smith; Linens by Luxe Linen; From Real Wedding: Organic, Glam & Vintage-Inspired Real Wedding in California

2. Beach Wedding Dress

If you’re getting married on the beach or near the ocean, an elegant gown with flowing fabric that keeps you cool and flows gracefully in the wind is a must. This gorgeous wedding dress from Pronovias US is the perfect casual beach wedding gown. The blush tone will blend beautifully with the sunset and sand, and we love the floral placements, summery spaghetti straps, and open leg slit.

summer wedding ideas casual beach wedding gown Pronovias US bridal wedding dresses

Photo courtesy of Pronovias

3. Open-Toe Wedding Shoes

If you’re exchanging vows on the beach, you may choose to go barefoot or wear sandals; however, any other venue will likely require shoes. To ensure you’re comfortable and avoid feeling overheated, wear a pair of stunning open-toe wedding heels with ankle straps to stay both cool and chic.

Looped Sandal Straps

Photo by Rene Zadori Photography; Floral & Event Design by Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle and Design; From Real Wedding: Opulent Wedding with Classic Winter-White Color Scheme

4. Light-Toned Bridesmaid Gowns

You’ll most likely be wearing a shade of white, but we also recommend having your bridesmaids wear bridesmaid dresses in lighter tones to ensure they’re not too warm. If you’ll be having an alfresco ceremony, choose soft blush or pastel hues of your favorite colors in lieu of a darker color such as navy or black.

summer wedding ideas light colored bridesmaid dresses gowns light colors

Photo by Elizabeth Fogarty; From Real Wedding: Destination Wedding with Lush Garden-Inspired Details in Colombia

5. Hydration Station

Especially ideal for outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions, it will be much appreciated by your loved ones if you offer them ice water, iced tea, lemonade, and other beverages that are sure to cool them down no matter how hot the day. For an elevated display, infuse water with your favorite fruits and herbs.

summer wedding ideas ice water iced tea lemonade hydration station beverages outdoor ceremony

Photo by Ryan Ray Photography; From Real Wedding: Outdoor Wedding with Vibrant Pink & Orange Décor in California

6. Shade for Outdoor Events

Should you be hosting an alfresco celebration, it’s important that you provide shade at a summer wedding. From natural shade provided by trees to flowing drapery suspended from pergolas, just make sure to have some parts of the space – even if it’s just a lounge area – where guests can go to take a break from the sun.

summer wedding ideas outdoor wedding venue with natural shade and drapery pergola

Photo by Bryan Miller Photography; From Real Wedding: Dreamy Alfresco Wedding with Textured Florals and Lavender Accents

7. Iced & Frozen Drinks

The cocktail hour and reception will be made much more comfortable with ice-cold cocktails and frozen drinks – some couples even choose to have martinis served from an ice luge sculpted with their monogram. For the below summer wedding, the entire color palette was inspired by the bride’s love of rosé wine, so guests were kept cool with frozen rosé cocktails throughout the alfresco dinner service.

summer wedding ideas frozen cocktails iced drinks frose frozen rose wine

Photo by Michael Segal Photography; Planning & Design by Tessa Lyn Events; From Real Wedding: Alfresco Wedding with a Rosé-Inspired Palette at a Ranch in Malibu

8. Light Hors d’Oeuvres

We find that bite-sized appetizers ideal for summer entertaining work best for weddings as well – nothing too hot and nothing too cold that it won’t stay chilled throughout cocktail hour. Lightly toasted crostinis, like those pictured below, can be wonderful options – just top with your favorite spread as well as fresh fruit, heirloom tomatoes, meats, and more.

summer wedding ideas light hors doeuvres passed appetizer crostini

Photo by Ryan Phillips Photography; Planning & Design by Sterling Engagements; From Real Wedding: Outdoor Ranch Wedding with Neutral Sparkling Décor in California

9. Bright, Cheery Centerpieces

Summer weddings offer a wonderful opportunity to have fun with color! This destination wedding event in Hawaii, for example, featured centerpieces with coral shells surrounded by anthuriums, orchids, peonies, and ginger in shades of pink and coral – plus a sprinkling of sea shells (an added bonus for tropical fêtes).

summer wedding ideas colorful tropical centerpiece wedding table hot pink coral peony flowers

Photo by Steve Steinhardt; Planning & Design by Beth Helmstetter Events; From Real Wedding: Tropical & Romantic Destination Wedding in Hawaii

10. Ice Cream Desserts & Favors

Bring a sense of nostalgia to your summer wedding with a dessert guests of all ages will love: ice cream! We’ve seen couples have sundae stations with multiple flavors for attendees to choose from, unique nitrogen ice cream carts that provide an entertainment factor, and even take-home cartons of the newlyweds’ favorite ice cream as favors.

summer wedding ideas ice cream dessert and favor options

Photo by Steve Steinhardt; Planning & Design by Beth Helmstetter Events; From Real Event: Tea Party Bridal Shower: The Definition of Elegant Charm

For more wedding ideas, discover expert wedding tips and trends from the nation's top event professionals, get ideas on how to make your life easier while wedding planning, and gather must-have advice for a destination wedding.