As a wedding celebrant, I conduct symbolic weddings throughout my beautiful region of Provence. As a Bridal Couple, you’ll have read so many Top Tips that they’re all vying for attention at the top of the list.
So let’s discuss possibly the most practical aspect of a wedding here on or near the Mediterranean.
Top tip – plan for all weathers.
The Heat: While we may dream of the impossibly blue skies and scenery that inspired Monet, Cezanne and Van Goch, let’s not lose an ear over it.
Basking on a beach or by the pool in glorious sunshine is not to be confused with standing or sitting for 30 minutes or more in full sunshine fully dressed in tight wedding outfits.
Frankly, it can be downright uncomfortable.
This year I was pleased to see that more brides opted for loosely flowing gowns rather than corseted body-huggers in satin or other materials that don’t breathe.
Grooms tended towards open-necked shirts and light linen suits with sockless loafers rather than three-piece suits.
High heels. They help you to look fabulous, but aren’t too well adapted to cobblestoned terraces, gravel drives and lawns, especially as feet swell in the heat! Guests might want to slip a pair of flats into their bags for comfort, or at least invest in some heel-protectors for stability.
Make sure the ceremony area provides adequate shade for those who need it. Many couples devise fans which double as Orders-of-Ceremony, or even real fans with their name and wedding date printed on the side.
While everyone enjoys a celebratory drink, in the heat it’s likely to be a better idea to welcome your guests by serving refreshing non-alcoholic punches and plenty of still and sparkling water which they can take to their seats for the ceremony.
For weddings starting mid-afternoon, I’ve seen older guests looking at the selection of wines, beers and spirits on offer afterwards, and asking if a cup of tea is out of the question? One of my couples took my advice and made sure their caterers provided a tea urn with “proper” tea. Even the most elegant sighed with relief as they sipped their revitalizing tea in the shade.
The Wind: Sylvain Breezes are one thing, wind is another.
Provence is famous for it’s Mistral, a strong north-westerly that can be quite destructive.
Hairdressers are used to it and ensure that the bridal party’s hair remains as it was styled, but veils and hats can become victims to its gusts and swirls.
Veils are still very popular and what does it matter if they fly around in our usually strong winds? They make for wonderful photographic shots, even when they fly off altogether…
Packets of petal confetti and Orders of Service are blown off the chairs, items to be used during the ceremony fall over, flower arrangements crash.
Again, we are used to this and usually make provision, thinking on our feet. Like the two groom’s men who had to hold the wedding arch up throughout a long ceremony, the vases of flowers that had to be tied to the table legs rather than take their place on the top.
The candles that refuse to remain lit, or the two wine glasses for a wine ceremony sliding off and into the sand.
It can be a nightmare for caterers and planners too with table cloths whipping around and catapulting the displays of glassware onto the ground.
But never fear, summer winds usually die down during the evening enabling the festivities to proceed enabling tables to be properly decorated and so on.
The Rain: Yes, we do get rain. Not very often it’s true, but it does happen, and it’s Sod’s Law that it will threaten your Day after months of dry weather.
During the summer months the skies can become stormy with menacing black clouds scudding across the blue.
If it does rain, it’s rare that it lasts long, but it can be dramatic.
At one summer wedding this year, the Best Man stood to approach with the rings, to a loud clap of thunder followed by the whole gathering laughing and applauding the timing.
There is only one solution: Plan B.
If you don’t have one, you’ll need it.
If you do, you probably won’t.
White umbrellas can protect against both the sun and the rain. Large trees, awnings and overlapping parasols can protect a smallish area out of doors.
Otherwise, there should be a indoor area or a covered courtyard set aside for such an eventuality. Just in case.