Wedding Day Advice | Wedding Planning

The Ultimate Summer Wedding Survival Guide

Summer is the most popular season to wed in the temperate Northern Hemisphere – with welcome sunshine after harsh winters and pleasantly warm days.  But here in subtropical South Africa, marrying in the height of summer can bring serious challenges – hot, clammy weather, lightning storms, torrential rain and a scorching sun can wreak havoc with your big day. Here’s how to make the most if it…

1.       When is Summer in South Africa?

For overseas brides thinking of a destination wedding, be aware that South Africa experiences long summers, generally from October to March, with the hottest months being December, January and February. Other than the Western Cape, South Africa has summer rainfall. Many areas also experience dramatic thunderstorms in the afternoon.

2.      What Should I Think About When Planning a Summer Wedding?

Anyone who’s ever attending a summer wedding in South Africa knows just how unpleasant it can be sitting around in the sweltering heat, swatting at mosquitos over wilted flower arrangements whilst you wait for the bride and groom to re-appear from their (lengthy) wedding photo session. When organising your wedding, do think about your guests and be considerate towards their needs!

  • Check the average minimum and maximum summer temperatures of the wedding destinations you’re considering before deciding on one
  • Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun! Rather have the service and reception in the cooler hours of the late afternoon or early evening
  • Find a wedding venue which offers plenty of shade and a stiff breeze. If possible, select a venue which also has an inside air-conditioned area (perhaps a bar or cocktail lounge) where guests can retreat if the heat gets too much. If it’s a room with a view, so much the better!
  • Discuss a backup plan with your wedding co-ordinator for inclement weather – you’ll need to shift indoors or at least have adequate overhead shelter to keep everyone dry in the event of a downpour
  • Providing sun hats, sunscreen and hand fans for guests is a nice touch – place these in a basket in the bathrooms or on a table (remember, you can colour co-ordinate these to fit in with your wedding décor theme)
  • Place citronella candles on tables to keep mozzies and other insects at bay
  • Serve tall, refreshing drinks – provide alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, like chilled cocktails and homemade iced lemonade or ginger-beer
  • Place pitchers of iced lemon or mint water on tables – ensure they’re constantly refreshed
  • Nobody wants to eat a heavy meal on a hot day – keep the food light (sushi, salads, gazpacho, seafood and ice-cream sounds perfect!)

3.      What Should I Wear to a Summer Wedding?

Here’s a roundup of the coming season’s key trends for summer wedding dresses:

  • For accents on a white wedding dress and for bridesmaid dresses, now colours include pretty pastels like lemon yellow, mint green, strawberry, melon and turquoise
  • Following on from the wedding dress trend of 2013 – the Lady Mary Wedding Dress, summer wedding dresses are boasting sleeves or lace or sheer ‘illusion necklines’. To be totally on-trend, think classic and discreet vintage rather than on bearing a lot of skin.
  • Bows and keyhole backs – in, you guessed it, lace! – are trending
  • If you’re marrying outdoors, go for wedge heels rather than stilettos – fashionable and practical
  • Bridesmaids are rocking ballet pumps this year – all the easier to dance around after you, my dear!

4.      How Do I Avoid a Summer Makeup Meltdown?

 You know it’s summer in South Africa when the makeup melts off your face as soon as you’ve applied it! Panda eyes and globs of foundation running down your cheeks isn’t a good look, but you can’t go bare-faced to your own wedding, so what’s a girl to do? Keep these tips top of mind:

  • Speak to your makeup artist about light, sheer, ‘colour fast’ summer makeup solutions
  • Have a few trial runs on hot days to see how your selected products perform
  • Lightly dust mineral powder over your face after applying foundation – keep a compact on hand to dab away any beads of perspiration
  • Choose a waterproof mascara to avoid looking like the Bride of Chucky…

5.      And How Do I Keep My Hairdo Together?!

Apart from the Western Cape – where it gets hot and dry – South African summers mean increased humidity, particularly in the Lowveld and on the East Coast. High humidity means high-frizz…eek! For those marrying in the Fair Cape, the opposite problem – static!

  • Experiment with a few sleek up-do’s – this’ll keep hair nice and tidy and off your neck, helping you stay cool
  • If you have curly, unruly hair, go for messy, deconstructed up-do’s – this way, you don’t have to worry about having every hair perfectly in place
  • The secret to frizz-free and static-free hair? Moisture! Book yourself in for a deep conditioning treatment prior to your big day.

6.      What About Summer Wedding Flowers?

Nothing more depressing than wedding flowers which are keeling over from heat! Keep your bridal bouquet and floral arrangements fresh as a daisy by:

  • Ensuring flowers are cut early in the morning, not in the heat of the day, and that the stems are cut at an angle
  • Storing them in a refrigerated or air-conditioned environment
  • Making sure water levels in vases and containers are topped up
  • A teaspoon of sugar in the water will help pep up your flowers
  • An extra duty for your bridesmaids – ask them to carry around a spritz bottle of chilled water to lightly spray flower arrangements to refresh them.

7.      What Are the Best Summer Wedding Destinations in South Africa

Many places in South Africa can get as hot as Hades during the summer months, with temperatures soaring into the thirties and even forties (degrees Celsius). Fortunately, though, there are still some considerably cooler spots to tie the knot:

  • The KZN Midlands (KwaZulu-Natal) – with rolling green hills and rambling roses, this little piece of the English countryside in Africa lacks the intense humidity of the KZN coast
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