Good Things for Summer Weddings
Plan a Summer Soiree
School's out and weddings are in come summer. Fill your fete with season-appropriate favors, original ideas from summer real weddings, and our tried-and-true Good Things that are perfect for the steamiest months of the year.
Lemon leaves are lush, freshly scented, and a total bargain (or free if you happen to have a tree in your backyard). Wrap their stems in floral wire, and twist each around a separate piece of wire that's about 5 inches longer than the width of your chairs. Bend the completed "branches" slightly to give them an organic feel, wire each to your seats, and finish with a bow.
Rope Knot Chair Backs
If you're throwing a nautical-themed event or just love the symbolism, say ahoy to a pair of double figure eights. Start with more rope than you need (we used two 5-foot pieces for each), tie knots (get the how-to below), and drape them around your chair. Trim the excess, and sew ends together or bind them with white gaffer's tape.
Why not say your vows in front of a splash of flowers? Just tape vertical rows of long-stemmed varieties to a wall (use blooms less prone to wilting, like peonies, carnations, orchids, and lilies) and let the strips show -- or hide them under petals and leaves.
Shurtape masking tape (amazon.com). She is wearing Temperley London's "Long Mirage" dress (323-782-8000), Cathy Waterman's "Falling Leaf" earrings and "Geo Flower" bracelet (cathywaterman.com), and a Ritani ring (ritani.com).
Sweet Snow Cone Station
This classic refreshment is all grown up. During the reception, adults can help themselves at a station stocked with cups, crushed ice, and mojito, peach daiquiri, cosmo, and margarita cocktail syrups. Use glasses to catch drips and straws to slurp up every last drop. Sur La Table olive oil cruets with pourers.
Washi Tape Cocktail Stirrers
These lively flags turn libations into signature drinks. To create them, cut a piece of tape that's twice as long as you want your banner to be, place the top of a skewer in the center, and fold the tape onto itself. Snip the ends into tails (or not), and repeat with a few different styles.
Cute Tape washi tapes in assorted colors and patterns (cutetape.com).
Wrap favors in brightly colored tissue paper and top them off with a paper flower -- a low-cost alternative to the real thing.
Just don't call them Jell-O shots. These sangria-inspired gelees, infused with sweet wines and subtly undercut with citrus flavors, are for sophisticated palates. The glistening, gemlike squares make a refreshing dessert and add fetching sunset hues to a reception table.
These mini terrariums make chic table decor when grouped en masse -- and they double as favors, too! Just place sand and rocks in the bottom of a fishbowl votive holder. Carefully set small succulents among the rocks -- securing them, if necessary, with toothpicks -- and quench their thirst with a dropper.
"Bubbleball" 4 3/4" vase, Save-On-Crafts.com.
Sunscreen for Outdoor Weddings
Sure, the bride is supposed to be blushing, but no one wants her guests to start turning pink at an outdoor ceremony. The solution? Sunblock wipes. These cleverly packaged towelettes can be placed outside, and since they're not liquid, they won't cause a mess. Set them on the program table, or in a compote or candy dish tied with ribbon. To let people know they've got it made in the shade, write sunscreen on a scalloped card and prop it up amongst the packets.
Calligraphy by Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls.
A bottle of icy vodka makes a dramatic bar decoration when it's encased in a frozen layer of colorful flowers and fruit.
Seashell Wedding Bouquet
Walk down the aisle with this cluster of bivalve blooms and your wedding will go swimmingly. The breathtaking posy is easier to construct than you'd think -- it's simpler than making a flower out of silk.
Noble pectin singles, Caribbean Imports.
Keep Them Cool
The hostess with the mostest (that's you) always has her guests' comfort in mind. Help loved ones beat the heat before a sun-drenched ceremony. Set up a self-serve station in the shade, and stock it with refreshing amenities.
Dip towels in ice water, wring them out, and roll them up. For extra credit, scent them with a spritz of Lothantique Linen Water in lavender or grapefruit. Hydrate guests with water flavored with lemon, cucumber, or fruit slices. And so no one gets burned, set out paper parasols and sunscreen wipes like these shown, from La Fresh. Organize everything in simple square bamboo trays, and add a sign.
Tea for One
Come summer, few things look (or smell) fresher than sprigs of aromatic herbs. Display a variety of them at a tea station after dinner so loved ones can select their favorites, then have a server infuse their picks in hot water.
Consider this small but sassy dessert the love child of two classic sweets: cupcakes and ice cream cones. Bake cupcake batter in store-bought cones, pipe on buttercream, and add edible glitter; they're kid tested and adult approved.
Mini cones (homechefmarketplace.com).
Serve classic picnic staples at an outdoor summer recepition, dialed up a notch. Package everything separately, in glass, glassine, or paper, so it will stay fresh for several hours; this also lets guests eat neatly out of hand.
Choose a crusty bread for the sandwiches that won't get soggy, and use leakproof canning jars for a tomato and mozzarella salad. Tie disposable bamboo utensils for your hungry guests to a linen napkin with ribbon.
You've heard of macarons for dessert, but as an appetizer? Your friends will be every bit as intrigued. This savory take on the traditionally sugary recipe combines sesame seed-spiked batter with a center of smoked salmon, shallots, and creme fraiche.
Flower Girl Headbands
Heart Escort Cards
These three-dimensional escort cards are as easy to make as they are refreshing to look at. At first glance, they appear to have been blown onto the table by a warm summer breeze. Following the instructions, make them using a heart-shape craft punch, bright-white ink, scissors, glue, and paper in a range of hues that complements your palette.
Light Wedding Desserts
These bite-size desserts satisfy sugar cravings without any of the heaviness normally associated with chocolate.
To make the shells, paint melted chocolate inside paper candy cups. Once set, peel the paper away. (Or simply buy premade cups; try Belgian Victoria chocolate dessert cups, sephra.com.) Spoon or pipe a mixture of whipped cream and creme fraiche into each cup, top with a berry of your choice, and serve.
Sunny Pocket Square
To create these bold yellow-and-white centerpieces, New York City floral designer Naomi deManana combined jonquils, ranunculus, tulips, and sweetpeas, placing flowers in single-variety mini bunches before combining; this highlights the lush textures of each type. Opaque vases mean no stressing about the look of the stems. A band of thick yellow ribbon around each vase, plus lengths of it across each place setting, extend the crisp color scheme.
Silk Petal Garlands
Transform inexpensive silk flowers into delicate garlands. Just dismantle the blooms to separate the layers of petals, removing any greenery. Overlap edges of petals slightly, and join them using dabs of hot glue. Then glue beads in centers to cover stem holes. String garlands along aisles, at the altar, or across chair backs.
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad Appetizers
For a finger-friendly take on classic beet-and-goat-cheese salad, serve fried beet chips topped with a dollop of the tangy cheese and vinaigrette-laced microgreens. They make perfect hors d'oeuvres -- crispy instead of juicy beets means no one will be caught red-handed.
DIY Wedding Cake Stand
Although modern wedding cakes come in every shape, size, and flavor (vegan chocolate, anyone?), the stands that support them have mostly stayed in the bland category. Why not break the mold and create your own? It'll be a piece of cake!
Economical Wedding Centerpiece
A little goes a long way with this table decoration. Fresh German chamomile is placed in a jar, then enclosed in a white paper bag for an exuberant centerpiece that is also economical. The top of the bag is trimmed with scalloping scissors, folded, punched with holes, and laced with yellow ribbon. Thread a tag with the table number onto ribbon before tying.
The soft light of paper luminaries sets a romantic mood. Two bags, one fitted over the other, form a box. The lanterns, strung on electric Christmas-tree lights and hung along branches, are tied with ribbon and sway gently in the evening breeze.
Mini Sorbet Wedding Cakes
As a prelude to the wedding cake, give each guest a miniature version molded from sorbet, a palate cleanser. For a sweet decoration, the bride's and groom's initials are piped in chocolate along the edge of each plate, and the sorbet cake is garnished with raspberries.
Fresh Berry Wedding Cake
Early summer is the best time to choose a cake like this one -- brimming with a fresh, varied assortment of the season's best berries.
Apricot Place Cards
Ripe apricots become place cards at a summertime wedding or shower. Write names on strips of thin art paper, and use a pencil to curl ends in opposite directions. Hang paper from bamboo toothpicks (available from kitchen-supply stores) inserted through apricot tops.
Cast a warm glow from above. A midsummer night's meal at an outdoor reception is served on the lawn under tall maple trees strung with lanterns hanging on chains from strong branches. Small and large, these lamps hold ivory tapers, their bases disappearing in a thick layer of fresh, fragrant rose petals.
Ice Cream Cups
These tiny ice cream cups are ideal for a no-mess refreshing dessert -- or a snack during cocktails. The cups are made on a pizzelle iron, which is available at cookware stores and looks like a flat, decorative waffle iron.
Vanishing Wedding Confetti
Showering the bride and groom with confetti as they exit the ceremony is a twist on a time-honored tradition, but it can create a mess. With biodegradable paper, the problem literally disappears: The confetti disintegrates once it gets wet.
As the reception dinner winds down with coffee, give your guests one last delicious treat -- fresh cherries dipped in melted white chocolate. This fruit is at its best during the summertime, making it a perfect choice for a warm-weather wedding. A pair of cherries with the stems attached will perch daintily on a saucer.
Edible Cookie Bags
These containers were made to look like humble brown-paper bags, but that's where the resemblance ends. Sweet and crunchy, they can hold fruit or candy and can be served as an individual dessert as part of a buffet, or offered as a take-home favor.
Stamped Glass Candleholder
For the reception, re-create the beauty of etching with ease. All you need is a rubber stamp, white ink, and glass candleholders -- frosted glass holds ink best. One stamp can form a single motif or an allover pattern. (For a custom design, such as your monogram, have a stamp made at an office-supply store.) To use a large stamp on a cylindrical container, carefully roll it from side to side. Allow a day or two for ink to fully dry.
Grown-Up Ice Cream Floats
Give the childhood treat a grown-up twist by pairing raspberry sorbet with lemon soda, and lemon sorbet with orange soda. To deck out a standard cart for your reception, tape colorful scalloped paper to the front.
Paper Fan Wedding Favor
Flutter fans were common giveaways in bygone years. Bring them back with this favor.
Basket-Weave Bouquet Wrap
Add a distinctive detail to your bridal bouquet with a woven ribbon handle. The ribbons should blend with the colors of the blooms they hold -- here, white and cream sweet peas, white lilac, yellow ranunculus, viburnum, and blue forget-me-nots.
Strawberry-Shaped Ice Cream Treats
Ice cream molded into the shape of a strawberry makes a lovely accompaniment to slices of wedding cake or a sweet passed dessert on its own. We found these little gems at a specialty ice cream supplier -- easy to order, they are shipped in dry ice. Here's a tip for the caterer: A sprinkling of finely crushed nuts or cake crumbs on each plate will prevent the strawberry from sliding.
Lemons and grapefruits tied in yellow taffeta ribbons and piled into a glass compote make a bright, casual arrangement. The bows are secured by pins, and sheer yellow organdy drapes from the bowl. A coordinating menu card is trimmed with taffeta ribbon.
Parasol Seating Cards
These cheerfully colored umbrellas sporting seating assignments dot miniature sand dunes at the entrance to a summer reception.
Ceviche in a Seashell
Your appetizer will feel right at home served in a seashell, at least if you're serving ceviche -- a dish made with marinated raw fish (we added pink grapefruit in this version). You'll feel secure knowing that these particular shells are oven- and food-safe.
White Irish scallop shells, Conch King.
Bridesmaid Dress Weights
Keep bridesmaids' dresses from blowing in the breeze at an outdoor wedding with these handy weights (available at sewing-supply stores). Simply slip the metal buttons inside the hem, and stitch into place.
Easy Layered Ice Cream Treat
Refresh your guests with layer after colorful layer of icy treats. Creating this stacked confection is simpler than making a sundae -- just spoon the slightly softened ice cream into a loaf pan (line the pan with plastic wrap first, and freeze one layer before adding the next). Our stripes, from top, are cantaloupe sorbet, peach frozen yogurt, strawberry ice cream, and raspberry sorbet.
Madeleine Sandwich Cookies
Proust waxed poetic about madeleines for a reason: They're buttery and delicious! To make the shell-shaped cookies even more mouthwatering, spread a layer of fruity frozen yogurt or lemon curd between two store-bought madeleines, and serve.
Sea Urchin Candle Holders
Grouped serenely on a bed of sugar-soft sand, sea urchins prop up skinny candles that light the way for guests at an evening beach wedding. To secure the tapers inside the urchins, use a small drop of wax. Then nestle them into a mound of sand.
Flower Girl Linen Pinafore
For the discerning flower girl who walks to a fresh beat, a basket simply will not do, thank you very much. In contrast, this pretty pinafore possesses the virtue of being both distinctive and basically free -- it can be constructed from table linens you already own, like an old-but-lovely fabric place mat or, in our example, a charming table runner. To add a touch of sentiment, use antique family linens (ask Grandma to let you have a peek at her treasure trove) and pass the pinafore down to generations to come.
Handmade Hand Fans
Outdoor weddings are especially beautiful, but they can also be uncomfortably steamy. To keep your guests from overheating, pass out handmade fans -- trust us, they'll be grateful. Ours features a floral motif on one side and a quote from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" on the other: "My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep."
Download the template (have a calligrapher add a monogram), then print onto medium-weight paper and cut out. Sandwich a wooden ice-cream spoon between the two sides, and secure with glue.
Gold-Rimmed Salt Cellar
Salt and seashells are a match made in the ocean. To make this pretty dish, press the shell edges into a gold stamp pad, and then fill the shell with sea salt. Here, we used black-lip oyster shells; you should clean them, of course, before using.
Polished black-lip oyster, Conch King.
Ripe Fruit Wedding Centerpieces
Ripe fruits symbolize abundance and fertility -- and make delicious favors. Fresh tomatoes in season in the summer look beautiful and enticing in this rustic Italian display.
Easy Red, White, and Blue
Planning a summer soiree around July 4? Consider this patriotic palette. In this display, winged insects are attached to wire so they can easily be added to floral arrangements, plants, and party decorations. Because they're so delicate, it will look as though they're fluttering about, no matter where you put them.
Paper-Boat Place Cards
Set a shipshape table with seaworthy vessels whose sails designate guests' seats. These whimsical place cards require little more than kraft paper and a simple folding technique. Outfit boats with Life Savers candies and cast them adrift on blue napkins.
Seating Cards in a Bottle
This escort-card display is clever and inexpensive. To create it, purchase a miniature cork-topped vial for every guest (steer clear of tapered necks, since they make note-removal difficult).
Write the name on one side of a 2-by-3-inch piece of paper and the table number on the other. Roll up the paper and slide it into a bottle with the name facing outward, and cork it. Then fill a shallow glass dish with sand, and arrange the bottles so that the writing is visible.
Specialty Bottle glass vial VC4C. Jamali Floral & Garden Supplies low glass cylinder KF801100.
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