Planning a small engagement party at home or a backyard rehearsal dinner? Read this.
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If you're planning an outdoor pre-wedding party this summer, you've likely considered all of the potentially-tricky roadblocks. The sun, bugs, and oppressive humidity often feel like deterrents-they might even make you contemplate moving the entire celebration indoors. There is, however, a way to make warm-weather entertaining work for you, says Jung Lee, the owner of Jung Lee NY and the event production company Fête. Here, Lee walks you through everything you need to prep a cool, casual, and comfortable outdoor engagement party, bridal shower, or rehearsal dinner.

Need supplies for the festivities? Check out Lee's latest endeavor, Slowdance, a registry tool that helps couples choose gifts based on their lifestyle-all thanks to a personal Registry Designer, who guides the process. Consult this gift stylist ahead of time to pop anything you'd think you need for this fête onto your wish list. When the big day arrives, you'll be ready.

Comfort is key.

With any summer party, the heat is enemy number one. Beat it by preparing appropriately, which means stocking up on items like parasols, fans, and cold water, says Lee. You'll want to tackle this first. The reason? "Uncomfortable guests are usually not enjoying themselves," she explains. This also means combatting another summer ailment-pests. "When possible, it is always better to locate your event away from wooded areas, where insects tend to aggregate," Lee continues. "For larger events, it may make sense to have a professional spray your property." Pro tip: don't use DEET-based products, especially when children are around.

Make the most of seasonal offerings.

Utilizing fresh, in-season flowers, fruits, and design elements won't just up your party's pretty factor-it'll make sourcing materials a whole lot easier. "The most abundant products are usually the freshest and least expensive, too," says Lee.

Keep the menu light.

"Rather than offering starch pastas, couples should serve unique and health conscious dishes such as legume pastas, zucchini pastas, and cauliflower rice or steak," she suggests. As for dessert? "Customized popsicles and shaved ice in vibrant, bold hues are big this summer-as are unique offerings such as macaroon ice cream." You'll want to take the same approach when planning out the cocktail menu. While a fully-stocked bar and a few celebratory signature sips are a must (you're celebrating your upcoming union after all!), be sure to keep the water flowing.

Choose your party's start time wisely.

This comes down to determining, first, whether you want to throw a daytime or evening celebration. If you're leaning towards the latter, "consider the sunlight path and sunset time when developing the flow of your party," says Lee. Dreaming of a candlelit dinner? You can't invite guests too early (in some parts of the country, the sun doesn't set until well after 9 p.m.). If you've envisioned a daytime celebration, it's important to know where the sun will be at all moments of your party. This way, you can find shaded areas for guests' tables and food stations. "Make sure that the sun won't be shining directly in the face of guests," says Lee. "Ideally, it is off to one side or best, blocked by trees."

Opt for a casual set up.

One that encourages movement and mingling, explains Lee. "Allow your guests room and time to mix and mingle," she suggests. "Have an hors d'oeuvre table in one location, the bar across the room, and a dessert station elsewhere to encourage a sense of movement, liveliness, and energy."


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