Come rain or shine, you’ll have the perfect
wedding with the help of our experts
Let the sunshine in
Q. We're getting married next July and are planning a summer do. We'd like to spend most of the day outside in the grounds of our venue, but are having a marquee just in case the weather's bad. How can we decorate the marquee to reflect our summer theme?
A. Andri Benson says: For any summer wedding it's always a good plan to have a wet weather back-up and a marquee is the perfect solution. There will be different areas you need to consider in the marquee; the ceiling, the walls and your tables. For a vibrant summer theme hang colourful props of different sizes, such as tissue paper pom poms, paper lanterns and honeycomb balls. If you're feeling creative, how about making your own hanging ribbon chandeliers by securing different coloured lengths to hoops that can be hung from the ceiling?
Find out whether your marquee company can do decorative linings for the walls or get some lengths of patterned fabric and use them to create a focal point behind the top table or to make themed corners for the dessert or gift tables.
Bring the outside in with flowering garden plants on your tables. Then, at the end of the night, the guests can take the pots away with them. Finally don't forget lighting, even on a summer's day it will get dark at some point so have plenty of candles in coloured glass holders dotted around and hang lots of fairylights from the ceiling.
Worried about wilting
Q. Our August wedding has a country garden theme so there will be flowers in abundance. While I'm hoping for warm weather, I'm concerned that if it's too hot the displays won't look fresh by the time the evening guests arrive. I love real flowers, and would prefer not to use artificial ones. What can you suggest?
A. Liz Inigo Jones says: If you're lucky enough to get married on a very hot day, I suggest you make sure all flowers are in vases with water rather than oasis-based displays. Talk to your florist about the type of flowers you will be using – strong, well conditioned flowers are able to take the heat, even in a marquee, and will look absolutely fine in the evening. If you want a bright country garden look, you could use sunflowers, delphiniums, gerberas, daisies and alchemilla mollis, or for a more romantic feel, try pink and ivory roses, sedums, astrantia, scabious and snowberries. It would be a good idea to get a couple of extra vases of water lined up to pop the bouquets in too.
Q. My fiancé and I have just got engaged and are hoping to have a festival-style weekend wedding. How can we make sure everyone enjoys the experience whatever the weather?
A. Andri Benson says: In the spirit of a music festival, set up lots of different, clearly signposted areas, both inside and out. Have a comfort corner full of helpful items whatever the weather: baskets of blankets if it's chilly, a wellie boot station with umbrellas and disposable ponchos should it rain and flip flops and parasols if it's very hot. There are lots of companies you can hire these items from.
As well as your music area for dancing, set up a quieter lounge area for older guests and use it as a chance to get creative with the décor, adding lots of personal touches. Food and drink will play a big part too, so have ample for all. Street food is going to be a big trend this year and is perfect for a festival wedding: think burger vans, American-style hot dogs, taco trucks and curry carts. Have lots of soft drinks and water on hand in large ice-filled buckets and a hot drink station too for when it gets colder at night. With all your guests well fed, having fun and comfortable whatever the weather, they're sure to have a great time.
Q. I've got my heart set on a naked cake – filled with delicious cream and jam – for our al fresco summer celebration but am worried about how it will survive a hot day. Do you have any advice on how to keep it looking and tasting fresh? Or are there cake alternatives that will work better in hot weather?
A. Rosalind Miller says: Naked cakes have become very popular lately, but there are a few issues you need to be aware of. A wedding cake can usually be on display for quite a few hours as the icing helps to keep it fresh and moist. However, a naked cake on display in summer heat for hours would get dry and be unpleasant to eat. Ideally it should be baked the same morning and assembled and brought out just before it's due to be served.
Fresh cream used as a filling should only be out of the fridge for a maximum of four hours, though use your judgement, and, if it's a hot day, play safe and keep it to half-an-hour or less. A Swiss meringue buttercream would be a good alternative. It's a silky smooth, mousselike filling which can be flavoured with fruit purées or vanilla, and adds an extra level of texture and delicious flavour to your cake.
Rain, rain, go away
Q. My fiancé and I are worried about how the weather will affect our wedding photographs. Though we're tying the knot in May, there were so many dull and dreary days last summer – how can we weather-proof our pics?
A. Helena Amor says: I always advise my clients to buy a nice umbrella just in case it rains on the day, that way you can protect yourselves from the weather and it's a great prop for the photos.
A good photographer will know how to deal with all conditions and professional equipment is weather-sealed, so it's really about embracing the rain. The time you spend having outdoor shots will be shorter, but if you have a beautiful venue you can get bride and groom portraits taken indoors too. Rain doesn't have to affect the quality of the photos, just where they are taken.
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