The hub and I have been married for a long time now–this year will be our 19th anniversary.
We got married at night, partly because I have always thought that night-time weddings are so romantic and intimate, and partly because my brother and my father have to milk 200 cows every day, so I was either going to get married at noon, in between the milkings, or at night, when all the cows were back in their stalls and eating hay quietly.
I suppose my other option was to get married *in* the barn, during milking. But since I had spent 10 years trying to get away from milking duties, I certainly didn’t want to suggest that. Besides, I had never seen a pair of barn boots cute enough to wear with a dress.
We’ve had a couple of night time weddings at the inn recently, and I am always blown away by how beautiful they are. Don’t get me wrong–daytime weddings, with the sparkling Matanzas Bay in the background, and some of the most beautiful skies you will ever see, are pretty breath-taking too. But we do a lot less night weddings, and I forget how pretty they are in the months between events.
We’ve figured out a couple of tricks to make night-time weddings really pop, too. Here are some of my favorite:
1. Lots of candles. Well, duh, right? But we do lots of different kinds of candles. We do candles in lanterns, candles on trays (assuming it’s not so windy that it blows them out immediately), candles around the cake. Recently, one of our couples brought about a million luminaries and lined the sidewalks and stairs with them. They were simply stunning. Another cool trick is to put tea lights in wine glasses and cover them with inexpensive cellophane shades. Or give everyone a small thin candle, stuck through a circle of paper so the wax doesn’t melt on their hands, and ask them to light them right before the vows.
2. Lots of lights. We make sure we use warm lights, not cool ones, so that everyone looks like a supermodel, and not like an alien smurf when we get the photos back. And we bundle up strings of lights and put them underneath the tablecloths so that they glow in the pictures (the tables have a cut-out design, and that looks beautiful lit up too). If we’re using an arbor, we string it with lights and vines, so that the lights are softer looking in the photos and they don’t blind anyone looking at them for the whole ceremony.
3. And more lights. Don’t forget a reading light for the minister–those ceremonial words can seem pretty tiny when you’re trying to read in the dark. We use a small flashlight for this, and it works pretty well. Put lights next to any stairs, too, so no one falls and ruins their pedicure (and maybe more than that!) And you might want to give your guests sparklers–they’re fun after the vows, and they make for some pretty awesome photos too. (Careful giving them to young guests–they will burn you if you hold them too high!)
3. Plan for photos in the room. Yes, the shots outside can be beautiful and moody, but the bride has usually spent about an hour on her hair and makeup and that deserves some gorgeous lighting. They don’t have to be inside for long, but a couple of staged photos in one of our antique chairs, or sitting on a chaise lounge together, or next to one of our fireplaces can be one of the best shots of the day (uhhh…night).
4. Turn the music to half the level it’s normally at. Sometimes, we put the music directly in the gazebo, so that it’s very subtle as the bride makes her entrance. Part of the beauty of getting married at night is the stillness, and the music should be a nice accompaniment to that, not the center concert stage.
5. Consider the weather. If it’s warm, you want to spray for mosquitoes before the event (we tie white ribbons around small cans of spray and put them at the end of each aisle). If it’s cool, you might want gas heaters, or a small firepit, to warm things up. And don’t feel like you have to have a champagne toast–mulled wine or cider is perfectly appropriate and festive feeling too!