The Huckberry Guide to Summer Weddings

From picking a breezy suit to giving the perfect toast, Valet Editor-in-Chief Cory Ohlendorf’s got the advice to keep you cool this summer wedding season
May 21, 2019Words by Cory Ohlendorf

With Valet

More weddings happen during the summer than any other season, so you’ve probably got one coming up. Dressing for ceremonies in the fall and winter is easy—pull on your go-to suit, a crisp shirt, and your best lace-ups. But when it's an outdoor ceremony in 85°F degree heat, a casual affair at the beach, or a rustic country wedding, the rules are a bit different. From picking out a breezy outfit to nailing that best man speech, we’ve got your guide to keeping cool this wedding season.

One Suit, Three Ways

Nail the Outfit

First thing’s first: You’re going to be miserable if you try to wear your heavy wool suit to a beach wedding (or to almost any wedding in the Northern Hemisphere). The Solution? An easygoing (and highly breathable) linen suit—a summer staple that’s classic and highly adaptable. Our new favorite? the Telegraph Suit from Taylor Stitch.

1. Traditional Suit and Tie

Keep the suit crisp, clean and classic by pairing it with a textured button-down shirt. Add a dark, solid tie and a light pocket square to finish the look. Ground the whole outfit with a pair of leather loafers that are handsome but comfortable enough for a few hours of dancing.

2. Beachfront (Shoes Optional)

Give your lightweight suit a shot of coastal vibes by pairing it with a bold printed shirt—the more tropical and retro, the better. Because you’ll likely be kicking off your shoes at some point, go for a pair of slip-ons that are designed to be worn without socks.

3. Casual and Cool

For a more relaxed take on the standard suit, throw on an easygoing polo shirt. Just make sure it’s the kind that can hold its own against more formal garments. This shirt, from Wellen, is made from organic cotton and hemp for a comfortable feel that still looks polished. And wearing a pair of minimalist sneakers is a modern choice that still looks put-together.


The Finishing Touches

Finishing touches

The Shades: An essential item for those outdoor ceremonies or daytime receptions, these classic Raen Optics frames are handcrafted with polarized Carl Zeiss lenses. 

Watch: A handsome watch can be a nice conversation starter. Plus, it keeps you from pulling out your phone to check to time. 

Pocket square, bandana, or handkerchief: These finish an outfit, of course, but they also come in handy. Don’t be afraid to offer to someone when the tears start flowing during the ceremony.

Grooming Secret Weapon: These all-natural Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes remove grime, shine and sweat while clearing pores and combating blemishes. And because they’re packed with good stuff like aloe, witch hazel, and green tea, they do all that while soothing and hydrating your skin. 


Your Wedding Bar Game Plan

You can never be sure what the alcohol selection will be when you turn up at a wedding. Top shelf? Cash bar? Maybe you’ll be out in the warm weather where the effects of the booze and the risk of dehydration are amplified, so we’ve got a few tips that’ll keep you from barfing on the bride.

Your Wedding Bar Game Plan

•  Start out with beers. Even if all they have are the standard macro brews, the lower alcohol content will keep you from getting too crazy too fast. But don’t drink more than two or three—you don’t want to be bloated and full before heading onto the dance floor.

•  Your safest bet is vodka or gin. Even bottom shelf is tasty and refreshing with some ice cold soda or tonic and a twist of lime. Especially in the heat.

•  Consider bringing a flask. It’s a guarantee that you’ll drink what you like, and it might even make you a few friends.

•  Be careful indulging in wine and Champagne. It seems fancy and festive, but if you’re not normally a wine drinker, you’ll likely end up with a wicked hangover tomorrow.

• A note on tipping: Wedding guests shouldn’t be expected to tip at an open bar. Gratuities are the responsibility of the hosts. That said, if the bar has a tip jar, a tip on your first trip to the bar is always a good idea and ensures that the bartenders will look after you.

When it Comes to Music…

Everyone just wants to relive their 20s when they’re dancing at their wedding.

When it comes to music, it’s all about balance. You want to find the sweet spot between pleasing guests and fighting off the forced revelry. It gets awkward when the DJ is encouraging your grandma to “get low.” And has anyone—ever—felt cool doing the Chicken Dance or Cha-Cha Slide? Thankfully, a lot of couples are just banning these from their playlists entirely. If it’s up to you, stay clear of anything that has a specific dance to go with it. If you’re making a request, your best bet is a classic crowd-pleaser: Think love songs by Stevie Wonder, Sinatra, or Etta James. Another great option is picking a song from the couple’s formative years—according to number crunchers at FiveThirthyEight, everyone just wants to relive their 20s when they’re dancing at their wedding.

Conversations Starters

The key is asking open-ended questions to get them talking.

Weddings can be a minefield of potentially awkward conversations. Perhaps your date is in the wedding party and you’re flying solo much of the time. Or maybe you haven’t seen these people since high school. In any case, this is a situation where you want to come off as engaging, memorable and likable. It’s time to turn on the charm. Offer to help out in order to get to know people better. And have a few ready-made conversation starters on hand to break the ice. The key is asking open-ended questions to get them talking. Here are a few that’ll get you into an interesting conversation in no time:

“How do you know the bride and groom?”

“Did you have to travel far to get here?”

“I’m only here for a few days, any sites or cool local spots I should check out?”


Giving a Toast?

“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

— Mark Twain

Delivering a great toast is something of a lost art. But it’s simply a short and witty yet meaningful speech—one that’s humorous, complimentary, and sprinkled with sentiment. It should feel somewhat off-the-cuff, but as Mark Twain famously said, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” Write out a quick outline that covers these three important questions:

1. Who are we celebrating? A friend’s wedding means that you can keep things casual, but explain your relation to them for anyone who’s not familiar.

2. Who’s in the audience? You don't want a lot of inside jokes at a wedding where most people won’t understand them. Keep things focused on the person being toasted so that everyone can appreciate what you're saying.

3. What’s your “clink?” This is your closer, and it should lead your audience into the actual raising of a glass to conclude the toast. Make sure to thank your hosts, offer well wishes and encourage those around you to make those sentiments with you.

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