Summer is a magical time of year in Chicago. It’s bright, sunny and our tough, long winter days are merely a memory we suddenly can’t quite recall. For me, summer means spending as much time outside as possible in our beautiful city, and I think most Chicagoans agree. Activities like al fresco dining and trips to the beach become regular rotations on our agendas, and that summer vacay feeling seems to consume even most grownups. The city comes alive and the energy is unlike any other time of year. I just love it.
Summer vacation is also known as ‘wedding season.’ The warm temps, blue skies and joyous feeling of summer are just a few of the reasons it’s a popular choice among brides. Flowers are abundant, flavors are intense and the colors are bright. Couples are eager to host their weddings during this cheery time of year and I love the elements that come with the season.
Head outside! Just like those of us taking advantage of the outdoor patios and rooftops on a sweet summer night, I think its important couples embrace the outdoors when selecting their wedding venue. The time frame for incorporating an outdoor element in Chicago is a bit limited, and I encourage you to seize the amazing opportunity. Nothing says summer like being outdoors; your guests will love it.
Though beautiful year round, I absolutely adore the Chicago History Museum. It’s the epitome of urban elegance with fantastic views of the city. You can host your ceremony or cocktail hour on Uihlein Plaza overlooking beautiful gardens of Lincoln Park and stunning views of the Gold Coast. Guests can head inside to the Chicago Room for dinner and enjoy beautiful stained-glass windows by Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Comfort Tiffany while they cool off. And the black and white checkered dance floor? It’s the perfect accessory for this amazing space.
Another favorite choice is the Chicago Botanic Garden. They offer many breathtaking event sites among gorgeous gardens, lakes, woodlands and more. Just north of the city located in the heart of the North Shore, it’s an ideal place for a romantic affair. There is nothing more charming and sweet than the English Walled Garden. With a variety of English gardening styles displayed, this lush spot is an ideal one for hosting a gorgeous ceremony or cocktail hour. Guests can head to McGinley Pavilion for a stunning reception space that offers a waterfront patio with spectacular views of Evening Island.
When outdoors, (especially during the day) offering cute and discrete sunscreen toilettes is a great gesture to ensure guests don’t get too much sun. Keep them comfortable with bright parasols and beautiful monogrammed handheld paper fans. (Bonus: These can double as favors and your guests will appreciate you thinking of them.)
FOOD & BEVERAGE
In line with keeping guests comfortable, hydration is essential in summer and is especially important when utilizing an outdoor space. I love the idea of a lemonade bar with bright striped straws and cute drink stirrers for guests to enjoy. Passing water with pretty slices of lemon, orange, or even strawberries in stylish glasses on beautiful silver trays is also a great way to keep guests cool. Another fun idea I love is passing fruit popsicles with Champagne. Guests will love the refreshing and unexpected treat.
Summer is the season for fresh fruit and guests will be delighted by it throughout their meal. Watermelon is a great flavor for summer and guests will adore this vibrant taste. Consider serving the ‘Perfect Pear’ cocktail with pear vodka and watermelon juice with a splash of OJ and Sprite. (And how cute is the name, by the way?) Baby greens with watermelon, feta cheese, basil and a light vinaigrette is a delicious and light way to start your meal. Continue the use of fruit throughout dinner by incorporating grilled peaches with your chicken entree, and serving fresh fruit sorbet as an intermezzo.
Summer is synonymous with bright, and I can think of no better time to use bold, brilliant colors. This sunny time of year is ideal for choices like magenta and purple. If you’re feeling brave, add another bright color to your tablescapes by incorporating fresh fruit in your decor. Oranges and lemons are plentiful and make a lovely statement with floral. A piece of fruit at each place setting or as part of an escort card is a charming choice, too.
Flowers are abundant in summer, so I love to go big. That said, it’s important to choose varieties that are a bit less prone to wilting; especially for bouquets that may not always be cool and in water. Orchids, lilies,and roses are all good choices for high temp affairs
With refreshing sips and a flavorful fruit filled meal, guests will love spending an al fresco summer evening celebrating your big day with you. It’ll be the perfect summer night.