How To Keep Your Guests Cool At Your Summer Wedding

While summer is a very popular time for a wedding, pulling off an awesome summer wedding can be tricky... especially if you live somewhere hot and humid, like Arkansas! You want your guests to be comfortable in the sweltering heat, and there are some seriously fun ways to make sure that happens!

The first way to keep your guests cool and comfortable, even on the hottest of days: don't schedule your wedding for the middle of the afternoon. An evening wedding will be much cooler, and since summer days are so long, you'll still have plenty of light. Here are some fun, creative ways to keep your guests from overheating!

Ceremony Necessities
Even if your ceremony isn't held during the middle of the afternoon, there's still a chance that your guests are going to be in the sun. Ideally, your wedding will be held in the shade, but if not, you can still help keep your guests cool. Nobody likes a sunburn, so think about providing something that will keep your guests from getting so much sun! A few fun ideas: parasols, fans, customized sunglasses, a water and lemonade station, and programs that double as fans. If your outdoor wedding is going to be in the sun, do your guests a favor and keep it on the shorter side! 

  Andrew Arceri , from  Megan + Daniel 's wedding at The Barn

Andrew Arceri, from Megan + Daniel's wedding at The Barn

Practical Favors
I've written a couple posts about favors (here and here), so y'all already know I'm a big fan of favors that are both fun and practical. Get a little bit creative and come up with favors that are both cute, original and will keep your guests cool! Think: bottles of water, sunglasses (again), flip flops, or koozies to keep their drinks cold.

Cold Snacks & Drinks
The ultimate way to keep your guests cool is with cold snacks and drinks! Provide your guests with signature cocktails (with an awesome display), beer or sodas on ice (in a wheelbarrow or canoe), popsicles, ice cream (bonus points if it's mini), and it would be super awesome if you had an ice cream truck.

Must-Have Wedding Photos

Aside from a great venue, the most important splurge for your wedding day is a great photographer. Hiring a professional photographer is an absolute necessity, because once your wedding day has come and gone, all you have left are photos and a few keepsakes! It's extremely important to have quality photos, and plenty of them. You want to have tons of photos that are beautiful, meaningful, and capture the most special moments and details from your wedding day.

So, what photos can you not do without? This list will fill you in on photos that you simply must have (as well as a few examples from weddings at The Barn!). You might want to print off this list to give to your photographer, just in case. But if your photographer is one of our fabulous preferred vendors, you can be confident that they already know which photos are absolute necessities!

1.     The dress, without you in it

2.     Bridal details: veil, garter, jewelry and any other accessories

3.     Bridal shoes

4.     Rings

5.     Bride getting ready – these are always great candid shots!

6.     Groom getting ready

7.     Invitation suite

8.     First look with parents or bridal party

9.     First look with your bride or groom, if you choose to have one (and you want a whoooole bunch from this moment)

10.   Individual portraits of the bride

11.   Individual portraits of the groom

12.   Approximately a million (maybe I'm exaggerating) romantic photos of you and your beloved in several different locations around your venue, with plenty of gorgeous poses... you want a good variety!

13.   The bride with her bridesmaids

14.   The groom with his groomsmen

15.   The entire bridal party

16.   The bride and groom with the flower girl and ring bearer

17.   Bridal bouquet

18.   Bridesmaids’ bouquets

19.   Groom’s boutonniere

20.   Boutonnieres and corsages

21.   Your ceremony area

22.   Altar

23.   Guestbook table

24.   Aisle

25.   Any other ceremony details. You want tons of detail shots. Make sure your photographer captures as many details as possible, because there’s a good chance that you won’t see a lot of them!

26.   Your reception area

27.   Reception tables

28.   Reception details. As with your ceremony details, you want tons of photos of your reception details, too.

29.   Favors

30.   Any cute signage

31.   The groom at the altar

32.   The bride walking down the aisle

33.   Exchanging of rings and vows

34.   Unity ceremony and/or any unique traditions

35.   Your guests at the ceremony

36.   The kiss! (Duh)

37.   Bride and groom walking back down the aisle

38.   Portraits of the bride and groom immediately following the ceremony

39.   Signing the marriage license

40.   The bride and groom with their families

41.   Food and signature cocktails

42.   The cake

43.   Bride and groom’s first dance

44.   Father-daughter dance

45.   Mother-son dance

46.   Cake cutting

47.   Bouquet toss

48.   Garter toss

49.   Candid photos of everyone having a good time at your reception

50.   Grand exit

Why You Should Consider An Unplugged Wedding

A few years ago, this Facebook post about this poor groom who had to lean over to see his bride walking down the aisle, because of several guests standing in the aisle taking pictures with their phones made its rounds. I know, right?! OMG! There are few moments in life that are as sacred and precious as the moment you walk down the aisle to marry your best friend. And when that moment is an any way tainted or obstructed, it's totally acceptable and understandable to be upset about it! That's where unplugged weddings come in. Many couples (many of ours included!) have adopted this trend in recent years, and we’re all about it. If you're unfamiliar with an unplugged wedding, it means the bride and groom ask their guests to leave all phones and cameras put away through the ceremony and/or certain parts of the reception (first dance, cake cutting, etc.), or through the entire reception. Why should you consider an unplugged ceremony, and how can you politely ask your guests to keep their darn phones and cameras out of sight?

No one wants to get their wedding photos back and see swarms of guests standing in the aisle, with their phones or cameras up taking pictures of the ceremony. One of my favorite wedding photos would have been one that was taken during our wedding ceremony, from behind the ceremony site. In this photo, you can see us standing at the altar, our lovely guests, and our beautiful decor. Buuuut, one of our sweet guests (whose name I won't call out!) was standing in the aisle. She left her seat to walk up to the front of the aisle to take a picture of us. If only I had thought to politely ask our guests to leave their devices in their pockets or purses!

Couples want to see your beautiful face in their photos, not your phone or camera held in front of your face! Keep 'em down, pretty please.

When you're standing at the edge of the dance floor to take a photo of the bride and groom during their first dance, you may be in the way of the photographer. The couple has paid their photographer a lot of money to perfectly capture every big moment of their wedding. If you're standing where the photographer needs to be standing to get the shot, the perfect shot isn't going to happen. This also goes for every other big moment of the wedding!

And a really obvious reason: the bride and groom want to be able to see each other and truly enjoy the magical moment when the bride walks down the aisle to marry her man! 

  Tryston Hines Photography , from  Breanna + Bryan 's wedding at The Barn

Tryston Hines Photography, from Breanna + Bryan's wedding at The Barn

The bride and groom may not want any photos of their wedding on social media until their photographer posts a sneak peek from their wedding, or until they are able to upload one. If you take photos and post them without permission, you may be sort of stealing their spotlight!

How can you ask your guests to put their devices up in a polite way? Have a sign on the guestbook table that says something like, "We invite you to be fully present with us during our ceremony. Please turn off all cell phones and cameras." Have your officiant make an announcement. Send your flower girl or ring bearer down the aisle with a funny sign that says, "Please put away all phones and cameras. The bride means it." Your guests will (most likely, hopefully) be more than happy to oblige!

Post-Wedding Day Checklist

With tonssss of gorgeous weddings coming up over the next few months, we know that many of our brides and grooms will need a little bit of guidance on what exactly to do after their wedding day is over. It can be a bit overwhelming! You spend months and months planning and looking forward to the big day, and then you're still not done once it's over! That's where this checklist comes in. :) It fills you in on everything you need to accomplish after you get back from your honeymoon. Bookmark this one for later, Barn Brides! 

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When you're planning your wedding, it's kind of sad to think about what you need to do when your big day is over, but it's a pretty important subject! You may get the post-wedding blues (that's seriously a thing!), but by staying busy getting things done, you're sure to keep your mind off of the fact that you no longer get to spend everyday planning the best day of your life!

Future brides, bookmark this post for later! After your honeymoon is over, here's what you need to do ASAP. 

Mail thank you cards! I know they're time consuming, but it's something you've just gotta do. And do it as soon as you get home from your honeymoon. It's just the polite thing to do, y'all! If you're stuck on what to write, Google "thank you card etiquette." You're welcome. 

  J. Millwood Photography , from  Kaleena + Spencer 's wedding at The Barn

J. Millwood Photography, from Kaleena + Spencer's wedding at The Barn

Return your marriage license. They have to be returned within a specific time frame, so get 'em in quick. It's not 100% official until you do this! 

Change your last name! This actually isn't as fun as it sounds. If you're taking your new husband's last name, you've got to go to the social security office, get a new license, and change your name with your bank, utility accounts, and pretty much every single account you have. But look at your fancy new last name! Totally worth it.

  KMWarford Photography , from  Bethany + Jamie 's wedding at The Barn

KMWarford Photography, from Bethany + Jamie's wedding at The Barn

Have your dress cleaned and preserved. Don't be like me and wait a year to get those dirt stains out of the bottom of your dress! Spoiler alert: they're probably not gonna come out. Even if you don't end up with dirt or mud on your dress, you're probably gonna end up with baked beans on it. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything... ;) Take care of those stains and have a professional preserve your dress so it doesn't turn yellow years down the road. It's expensive, but it's worth it.  

  Stephanie Parsley Photography , from  Jessica + Daniel 's wedding at The Barn

Preserve your flowers. Whether you have your entire bouquet preserved, press a few flowers in your bible, or put petals in a clear Christmas ornament, do it pronto, before your flowers get nasty! This is best to do before your honeymoon if you have time. 

Put away all the keepsakes from your wedding day. This includes your veil, jewelry, garter, guestbook and any other special details from your day that you want to hold onto. Put them all in a plastic storage tote so they're all together, or put a few on display in a shadow box. I've put some details from our wedding around our home, and seeing them everyday makes me happy! If you purchased things that you didn't use or don't care to keep, list them on Craigslist or Ebay. 

  Danielle Davis Art/Photography , from  Ani + Nathan 's wedding at The Barn

Danielle Davis Art/Photography, from Ani + Nathan's wedding at The Barn

When you get your photos back, print them. Don't be like me and wait forever to print and frame your beautiful photos! Post them on Facebook, and then get busy printing, framing and making photo books or albums. I like the books on Shutterfly and Artifacts Uprising. They're fun and easy to make! 

Return any gifts that you don't want or need. If you got two of the same item, return one and get something from your registry that wasn't purchased. If you got a million towels but not enough cookware, feel free to trade some for something you need! 

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I hope this makes the days after your wedding and honeymoon a little more stress-free! It can be kind of an overwhelming time, but I know you'll rock it!

Ways To Give Back On Your Wedding Day

There aren't many better ways to begin your lives together as a married couple than by doing something charitable. If you get a little bit creative, there are tons of ways to use your wedding day to give back to your favorite charities and to the less fortunate! We've been so blessed to work with many brides and grooms who are as kind as they are beautiful, and many of them have wanted to use their big days to do something philanthropic! Here are a few of our favorite ways to use your wedding day to give back:

  Sterling Imageworks Photography , from Logan + Dusty's wedding

Sterling Imageworks Photography, from Logan + Dusty's wedding

Donate your flowers to a nursing home. Everyone loves getting flowers, and nursing home residents and staff could always use something to make their day brighter. This is actually something our team will do for you if you're a Barn Bride! 

Create a charitable registry. If your home is already well-stocked, ask your guests to make a donation to one of your favorite charities instead of purchasing a toaster or another household item that you don't really need. Check out The Good Beginning. Another option: create a universal registry on Amazon and add a link to your favorite charity's donation page. 

Make a donation to your favorite charity in place of favors, or choose favors that are purposeful - like flower seeds or tiny trees that are ready to be planted. As cute as they may be, favors can be kind of pointless. Your guests probably aren't going to keep a shot glass with your names on it forever. Making a donation in their names to your favorite charity will make a difference that will last far longer than a bag of personalized M&Ms! 

Do something charitable for your bachelor/bachelorette party. Okay, this one might be a stretch! Most of us wouldn't be willing to give up one final night of fun with our friends as a single person, so consider working a charitable event into the party! Volunteer at an animal shelter or a soup kitchen with your best buds before your wild night out... it'll be surprisingly fun, and you'll be less likely to regret it all in the morning! ;) 

Choose sustainable details. Recycled paper for your invitations. Locally grown, in-season food for your reception. In-season flowers. There are endless ways to go "green" with your wedding invitations, food, flowers and other details! 

Donate what's left over. Your food, flowers, centerpieces, even your dress can all be donated to the less fortunate after your big day!