20 tips for an outdoor summer wedding and the best venues in the Phoenix area
SQUISH!!! That’s what I felt when I sat back down into my car after an August wedding in the Phoenix area. Gross!
I couldn’t wait to get home and shower. Imagine how the guests felt as they walked from the outdoor ceremony into the indoor cocktail hour and reception!
I said to the couple’s coordinator the day before at their rehearsal, “Let’s allow all 200 guests to stay inside as long as possible. Let’s wait until five minutes before the ceremony actually starts to seat people. There’s no need to punish them!” She laughed and hesitantly agreed. The coordinator and her team still needed to get the inside ready for the reception and dinner. Guests mulling around makes that more difficult.
This situation is all too common so I’ll share my thoughts and a few tips for an outdoor summer wedding.
I’ll also list the the best indoor wedding venues in Phoenix and the best outdoor venues for summer weddings in Phoenix.
Phoenix is HOT, but for some reason couples still choose to have outdoor ceremonies during the summer here. Many come from cold-weather climates and underestimate the heat, so I’m going to share my ten years of experience and then offer a few tips to help you and your wedding guests.
My best suggestion is to avoid outdoor weddings during the summer in Arizona. I tell every couple that I’ll gladly officiate outdoors, but to bear in mind that their guests will all be walking around uncomfortably, in wet underwear for a couple hours following their ceremony. They may have sweat stains on their expensive dresses and suites, and makeup runs. I’m also sure to remind them of our summer monsoon haboobs.
What’s a haboob? Click here. I’ll never forget one couple who came into town from Canada to get married. As everyone ran inside to escape the dirty wind and rain, the groom said to me, “We should have listened to you!”
I understand that beautiful backdrops make great photos. I’m also aware that few venues have chic and cool indoor space, but do you really want to punish your guests, many of whom traveled and spent lots of money to bring you gifts? What about senior citizens? Will your grandparents be able to handle the heat? I’ve seen so many older folks stay indoors and miss their grandkid’s ceremony because the heat was too much for them to handle.
My best suggestion is to avoid outdoor weddings in the summer, but here are tips for those couples who don’t think their guests will mind the heat.
20 Tips for an outdoor summer wedding: Survival tips to beat the heat!
- If possible, have your ceremony and reception indoors, but take lots of photos outside before or after your ceremony. You don’t have to physically get married outside to use the beautiful desert as backdrop for wedding photos.
- Shade, shade, shade! Rent umbrellas and stands! Few venues have adequate shade for guests.
- Rent misting systems.
- Rent portable evaporative coolers or air conditioning units.
- Supply battery-run fans or have handheld fans on each chair for your guests to use. Combine and make your wedding programs into fans!
- Have baskets of sunglasses available for guests to grab on their way into the ceremony space.
- Use signage that says, “Pick a seat, not a side” so guests can sit where they feel most comfortable.
- Allow the guests to stay inside for as long as possible. Only direct them to their seats when the ceremony is only a few minutes away from starting.
- Consider fabric on the chairs. Metal gets hot and so does plastic!
- Use powder-based makeup, not liquid.
- Consider putting your hair back, instead of down on your neck.
- Provide sunscreen.
- Choose outfits with breathable fabric.
- Rethink your use of flowers, especially in your hair because they’ll quickly wilt.
- Bring a change of clothes.
- Offer frozen drinks from the bar.
- Serve lighter food. Nobody wants heavy comfort food when it’s 110 degrees.
- Consider having a pool party wedding!
- Have a parasol or handheld umbrella basket for guests to grab on their way into the ceremony.
- Have a backup, indoor location!
The best indoor wedding venues in Phoenix to escape the summer heat
- Soho 63
- The Clayton on the Park
- The Croft, but I believe they have evaporative cooling, not air conditioning.
- The Monorchid has indoor ceremony space, but guests may have to gather outside as the ceremony space is switched over to tables and chairs for the reception.
- Villa Siena
- Warehouse 215 at Bentley Projects
Unfortunately, most wedding venues here in town are built around outdoor wedding space, or hosting weddings was an afterthought for the business so it’s not ideal. Resort banquet rooms are an easy option, but they generally lack character. They’re generally suited for corporate meetings, unless your planner/coordinator can really dress the place up. There are other venues in town I’m not familiar with, but not many. I’ve been fortunate enough to officiate weddings at just about every venue in town.
The best outdoor venues for summer weddings in Phoenix
- Hotel Valley Ho. Some of their ceremonies are set in the grass, in the shade of the building.
- The Phoenician. The garden where most of the ceremonies take place is lined with shade trees.
- The Royal Palms. The garden where most of the ceremonies take place has shade trees.
- Soho 63 has a courtyard that works once the sun has gone down a bit and indoor space to choose from.
- Villa Siena has outdoor space, where half is covered and indoor space to choose from
Search all wedding venues here.
You’re probably having a summer wedding in Phoenix because it’s less expensive. I get it, but don’t punish your guests. These people have brought you gifts and don’t expect to get sweaty and then be forced to socialize while wearing wet underwear. The bride’s makeup runs. The groom and his buddies are miserable in jackets and pants. Everyone just wants to get back inside and their attention won’t be on your ceremony. If you can’t have an indoor wedding, use the 20 tips for an outdoor summer wedding and beat the heat!