Wedding Planning Guide

summer wedding ideas

Creative details that will make a splash at your summertime celebration.

Ahhhh, summer. Warm weather, pool parties, backyard barbecues, and weddings! Summertime is the perfect time to tie the knot. The sun stays out longer, you can exchange vows outdoors, and everyone is relaxed and already in vacation-mode. If you've decided on a summertime wedding, we've put together a comprehensive guide to the most creative summer wedding ideas. They are sure to inspire every aspect of your warm-weather celebration.

Summer Wedding Venues

Take advantage of the warm weather by having at least a portion of your wedding celebration outdoors. Here are some of our favorite summer wedding venue types to consider for your nuptials:

  • Hotel rooftop: Host your ceremony and reception on the roof of a chic downtown hotel so guests can enjoy the weather and admire the breathtaking views. Bonus points if there's a rooftop pool!
  • Beach: Nothing says summer like a wedding at the beach. Go barefoot for your ceremony and encourage guests to do the same! Then set up the dinner reception either directly on the sand or as close to the water as you can get. For more ideas on planning the ultimate wedding by the water, see our guide to beach weddings.
summer wedding

Photo: Jose Villa

  • Golf course: If what you're looking for are pristine outdoor areas and elegant indoor spaces, then a golf course might be the perfect site for your summertime wedding. Golf and country clubs are known for their upscale interiors and stylish ballrooms, along with many outdoor spaces to choose from. Take advantage of the green fairways and beautiful water features.
  • Winery/vineyard: It doesn't get more romantic than exchanging vows amid a backdrop of rolling hills and lush grapevines. And summer is the perfect time to tie the knot at your favorite winery because the grapevines will be at their peak and most vibrant.
  • Garden: Another wonderful outdoor option is a local botanical garden. And since many flowers will be blooming during the summer, you won't need to spend much on additional decorations.
  • Backyard: If your wedding style is simple, relaxed, and down-home, then we love the idea of a backyard wedding in the summertime. Just keep in mind that even though you won't have to pay a venue-rental fee, you'll likely need to spend on rentals like tables, chairs, tenting, makeshift kitchen, and restrooms.
  • Barn/farm/ranch: If your wedding style is elegant yet rustic, consider hosting your nuptials at a private farm or barn. Have the ceremony outdoors on the grassy lawn, then move the party into the barn that's been decorated with string lights.
  • Summer camp: Relive your childhood summers spent at sleepaway camp by booking a campground, nature preserve, or camp-style resort for your wedding. Stay on theme by inviting guests to stay on the property. Some venues might offer rustic cabins while others feature more luxe, glamping-style accommodations. Round out the weekend with stargazing, campfires, group hikes, and morning swims in the lake.

Summer Wedding Ceremony Ideas

Celebrate summer during your ceremony with these season-inspired ideas.

  • Having an afternoon ceremony? The sun might be scorching so provide guests with amenities to offer relief like sunglasses, fans, parasols, hats, face mists, bug spray, etc.
  • Rent umbrellas and place them strategically to offer shade. This is especially important if you have elderly guests. Reserve seats beneath the umbrellas specifically for them.
  • Be sure to have a beverage station stocked with ice water, lemonade, or iced tea at the ceremony. Ask your catering staff to keep the drinks ice-cold and frequently replenished.
  • Here’s another refreshing idea. As guests arrive at the ceremony, serve them champagne or prosecco with a fruit popsicle in the glass.
  • Instead of exchanging vows amid an arch of flowers, choose palm fronds and other tropical leaves that won't wilt in the heat.
  • If your ceremony will be outdoors, consider starting the ceremony at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. to avoid the peak mid-afternoon heat. And keep the ceremony on the shorter side (20-25 minutes is ideal), if possible. We suggest providing ceremony programs to guests so they can easily follow along and know what to expect.
  • For a beach ceremony, provide guests with miniature beach balls to toss during the recessional. Your ceremony exit photos will be so fun and whimsical! Also, for more unique wedding ideas for your beach wedding, be sure to read our beach weddings guide, which details everything you need to know about having a waterside wedding.
  • Instead of a traditional limo, book a convertible for your ceremony exit and pose for photos with the top down. Or, if bicycles are more your speed, then be sure to pedal away from the ceremony on your bikes. Bonus points if it's a tandem bicycle!
wedding ceremony with beach balls

Photo: Lexi Hoebing

Summer Wedding Reception Decor and Ideas

On the hunt for some outdoor wedding ideas for summer? Keep the summer lovin' going all night long with these creative reception ideas.

  • Tenting your reception will provide respite from the heat but consider a style without sides to let the breeze flow through.
  • Hosting a waterside reception? Surprise guests by arriving to the party by boat!
  • Choose summery dishes for your wedding menu, like gazpacho, a raw bar, paella, caprese salad,or a clambake.
  • Serve carnival-inspired fare during cocktail hour and for dessert to evoke some summertime fairgrounds nostalgia. Menu ideas could include miniature corn dogs, churros, small paper bags filled with popcorn, mini pies, soft pretzels, funnel cakes, snow cones, cotton candy, and miniature milkshakes (spiked of course).
  • This is one of our favorite outdoor wedding ideas for summer. Hang simple strands of string lights around your venue to provide an instant ambiance to your reception space.
  • For an affordable lounge-seating idea, consider Adirondack chairs. This style of seating is synonymous with summer and also makes excellent props for a post-ceremony portrait session.
  • Nothing says summer like lawn games. Have a variety on hand for guests to play during cocktail hour and the reception, like croquet, cornhole, and giant Jenga.
  • If your reception venue features a swimming pool, don't miss the opportunity to decorate. Line the edge of the pool with dozens of candle lit lanterns, float fresh flowers on the water, and blow up giant helium balloons (either in your color scheme or opt for white or clear for a modern look) and weigh them down from the bottom of the pool so they float above the water).
  • Another one of our favorite outdoor wedding ideas for summer is an outdoor dance floor. Instead of dancing the night away in a ballroom, take the dance party outside. Rent a simple wooden dance floor and set it up outdoors so guests can enjoy the balmy summertime weather.
  • For a fun camp-themed vibe, get a bonfire going towards the end of the reception (if your venue allows) and set up a s'mores station so guests can make their own sweet treat.
  • Have a basket of flip flops handy so female guests can kick off their heels and dance comfortably.
palm trees

Photo: Plum & Oak

Summer Wedding Invitation Ideas

Your invitation is your guests' first glimpse into your wedding's look and feel, so choose a design that conveys the chic, summery vibe you're going for. Here are some of our favorite summer wedding ideas for your stationery.

  • Florals are a classic wedding invitation motif that work year-round, but you can take it one step further by featuring flowers that are peaking in the summer, such as garden roses, peonies, dahlias, and zinnias.
  • Not into flowers? Go botanical. Elements like leaves, palm fronds, branches, and berries will give your wedding invitation a balmy and breezy feel, even if you're not tying the knot outdoors. Pair the design with sans-serif fonts for a modern look.
  • Colors-wise, think light or bright. Soft, pastel shades like blush, seafoam, and lavender are ethereal and airy, while bolder hues like teal, marigold, fuschia, cornflower blue, and lemon yellow will give your stationery a festive, cheerful feel. For more ideas on summer wedding colors, be sure to check out our guide to summer wedding colors.
  • Love all things nautical? This is your moment to celebrate that theme! Stabilize your sea legs and opt for wedding invitation designs that feature sailor stripes, oceanic maps, or rope and anchor motifs.
  • If you prefer a stationery look that's not overtly summer-themed, consider cacti. Known for thriving in hot, desert climates, cacti have become practically synonymous with summertime weddings, particularly if you're tying the knot in arid locations like Palm Springs or Joshua Tree. Look for an invitation with hand-drawn illustrations of a cactus and succulents.
Paradise wedding invitation

“Paradise" invitation by Joanna Griffin

Summer Wedding Attire Ideas

If you're getting married in the summertime, choose fabrics, colors, and patterns that will complement the warmer temps. Here are some of our top fashion-related summer wedding ideas.

  • As you're wedding-dress shopping, ask for lightweight, breathable fabrics like chiffon, silk charmeuse, organza, and tulle to keep you cool.
  • If your wedding is more casual, consider a wedding dress with a shorter hemline. A style that's mid length or a dress with a high-low hem are sophisticated but also convey an effortless, easy-going vibe.
  • If you're exchanging vows on the beach, look for a dress with a fluid, flowy shape. Can you imagine your dress gently billowing with the ocean breeze?
  • For the groom, opt for lightweight suit fabrics like linen, linen-wool blends, cotton, and seersucker.
  • Patterned dress shirts, like gingham, are a playful alternative to a basic white shirt. Floral prints, stripes, checks, or chambray are all additional summer-appropriate choices. You may even consider ditching the tie!
  • Pastel shades like blush and dusty blue are lovely for bridesmaids, but summer is also the perfect time for a splash of unexpected color. Mix things up with bridesmaid dresses in bright shades of orange, coral pink, or lemon yellow.
  • If you prefer patterned bridesmaid dresses, skip the typical floral patterns in favor of gingham, polka dots, or even palm prints.

Summer Wedding Flower Ideas

Here are the prettiest floral (and non-floral!) decoration ideas for warm-weather weddings.

  • An all-white or blush bouquet is pretty, but summer is the time to go bold. Carry a bouquet in bright, happy colors like sunshine yellow, orange, and bright pink to set a festive tone for the rest of the celebration.
  • For the biggest bang for your floral buck, choose in-season summer flowers like dahlias, zinnias, and hydrangeas.
  • Or, you could skip the flowers altogether and decorate reception tables with potted succulents and cactus, which will stand up to the heat. You could even encourage guests to take one home at the end of the night as a parting gift.
  • Another warm-weather choice is tropical flowers, which naturally thrive in hot temperatures. Ask your florist about sourcing blooms like orchids, anthurium, ginger flowers, and bromeliads.
  • For a more casual, unfussy look to your summer wedding florals, opt for arrangements with a "just picked from the garden" feel. Your florist will translate that into wildflower-inspired bouquets and centerpieces that feel lush and organic, as if you picked them that morning from your garden. Some of our favorite flowers with a wildflower feel include chamomile, dahlias, rudbeckia, foxglove, zinnias, phlox, and echinacea.
  • For more summer wedding ideas, including our comprehensive list of flowers that are available in the summertime, be sure to read our complete guide to wedding flowers.

Summer Wedding Cake Ideas

Fresh, delicious ways to give your wedding dessert some summer flair.

  • Go for a "taste of the tropics" look by embellishing the cake tiers with sugar or gumpaste palm fronds.
  • Decorate your wedding cake with sugar flowers that mimic the summer blooms in your bridal bouquet.
  • For an ocean-inspired look, have your cake designer tint buttercream frosting in ombré shades of blue. Frost each cake tier beginning with the darkest shade at the bottom, ending with the lightest on top.
  • Partially frosted cakes, a.k.a. "naked cakes," are perfect for a more casual summertime celebration. Decorate the tiers with fresh seasonal fruit, like strawberries and blueberries, for a sweet, downhome look. For additional inspiration, you may want to read up on our post dedicated to all the latest trends when it comes to wedding cake ideas.
  • If your wedding style is simple yet rustic, we love decorating the base of each cake tier with fresh olive sprigs or other greenery.
  • Or, you could skip the wedding cake entirely and opt for pie or collection of individual pies in various flavors .
  • For a nostalgic throwback, hire an ice cream or soft-serve truck to post up at the reception once it's time for dessert.
  • In addition to wedding cake, serve individual strawberry shortcakes in glass mason jars.
wedding cake with painted leaves

Photo: Christopher Testani

Summer Wedding Favor Ideas

Not sure what wedding favors to give your guests? Embrace the warm weather with these season-inspired wedding ideas for summer.

  • Accordion fans, plastic sunglasses, and paper parasols will assist guest’s in beating the heat during the wedding. Guests can take them home to use throughout the rest of the summer as well!
  • Send guests home with potted succulents for them to plant. These hardy plants are sure to withstand the summer temps.
  • Enamel camp mugs personalized with your wedding details are the perfect favor if you're hosting a summer camp-themed wedding.
  • Bottle openers are a classic wedding favor and are sure to come in handy all summer long.
  • Famous for your secret barbecue sauce? Make a giant batch and bottle as take-home favors for guests to enjoy during their summer barbecues. Same goes for any homemade treats like salsa, hot sauce, spice rub mix, and pickles.
  • Travel accessories will be useful for your guests' upcoming summer vacations, like personalized luggage tags or travel-size candles in your favorite fragrances.
  • Jars of locally sourced honey make for a sweet take-home favor. Fun fact: beehives tend to be the most productive during the summertime.
  • Package your favorite sweets in watercolor favor boxes and seal them with a personalized floral-patterned sticker.