Planning Your Poolside Wedding

Plenty of brides dream of saying “I do” on the beach, but just because you don’t live in Waikiki doesn’t mean you can’t have a glamorous wedding by water! Consider the poolside wedding, which somehow manages to combine the best of all worlds. It’s got the manicured look of fancy gardens, the warm memories associated with childhood vacations, and the “kick off your heels” tropical feel (without the destination wedding price tag).

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Plus, pool weddings have a fresh and youthful air, and as long as you give yourself free reign to revel in bright colors and generous after-dark lighting, you can’t go wrong in designing yours. Think you’ve caught the bug? Here are some tips and temptations, in no particular order: mix and match your heart’s content. Then share your own thoughts below on the ultimate poolside affair!

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Don’t hold back — nothing gets across that distinct destination vibe like rich and vibrant colors. Bypass the too-safe standards and go for fuchsia, tangerine, coral, aqua, chartreuse or gorgeous lime green.


Orchids, orchids and orchids! Of course, any florist will have no trouble pulling together a bouquet full of tropical gems worthy of any poolside princess. Personally, we love the look of lime green anthuriums, and unexpected-but-totally-tropical chartreuse roses.

Style Me Pretty


Turn up the heat in a slinky, all-silk, back-bearing, body conscious sheath. (Of course, some brides will stick to a more traditional ballroom gown. More power to you if that’s what you want … and the ambient temperature allows.) Dress up your tresses with exotic blooms.

For bridesmaids, try cocktail-length party gowns in unabashedly tropical colors. Luxuriate in pearls (dramatically irregular, or black), and treat your to tootsies to a pair of blinged-out but blissfully low-heeled sandals. Let the men kick back in airy (and picture-perfect) linen suits.




For maximum impact, start your affair during bright daylight — you’ll get great pictures — but make sure the party lasts well into evening, when your setting will slowly reveal its most dramatic face. Tip: it’s ultra-important to have great music if you want your guests to help you celebrate past the first few hours.


The efforts you and your planner make with lighting will pay off double as soon as the sun goes down, and all that gorgeous glimmer gets reflected in the pool.

The essentials: floating candles in the pool or on tabletops, luminarias everywhere you’ve got a surface, small pillars in glass bowls (make sure all flame is well protected from the breeze), twinkle lights to add atmospheric magic to shrubs, fences or palm trees, and a few dramatic uplights for focal points like cake tables, arches, or a gorgeously-swagged sweetheart table.


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How about handsome pineapple centerpieces on fresh banana leaf runners? Scatter tuberose or green cymbidium orchid heads down the table. Or make each table pop, especially at night, with “drowning” orchids in tall glass cylinders with submersible lights at the base.

For daytime, no wedding’s better than this for the fresh look of floral vases filled with bright green limes. Place lovely pink or blue silk fans on every plate (personalize them with a ribbon or note you’ve threaded through the ribs), and echo the shape with fan-folded linen napkins. Set a pretty basket filled with parasols somewhere for your ladies-in-waiting and any other guest who wants to grab a bit of shade.

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Drama Scene

Need to play up an important part of the floor? Use trees, arches or simple bamboo frames to hang gorgeous curtains made of orchid blooms and crystal beads, blushing capiz shells or even origami swans. Hang legions of paper lanterns from above so they form their own heavenly constellations (and beckon your guests to dance when the sun goes down).


Razzle-Dazzle ‘Em

A poolside wedding should stay hopping, even if you and the attendants are off getting the snaps done. Keep guests entranced with fun touches like shaved-ice stands for growns-ups (with rum, yum!) and frosty signature drinks. Also, this fun and intimate setting makes live entertainment all the more exciting. Bring in a small troop of Hawaiian or Polynesian dancers, or a high-quality entertainer, like a magician or fortune teller who’ll circulate from table to table.



More Fun Touches

Hot-glue a luxurious satin ribbon to a giant starfish for a whimsical ring pillow. Fill out-of-town bags with customized water bottles, coconut-scented sunscreen or body lotion, pineapple chocolate bars and flip-flop soaps. Pick a look and taste that’s out of the ordinary for your cake: try passion fruit or mango, coconut or pineapple, banana curd, sweet almond or rose flavors and tropical liqueurs.

Also: thinking of going the two-dress route? Might not be a bad idea … you’d be surprised how many brides ended up in the pool (with no small number of guests) by the end of the evening!

MORE: Find Nautical Themed Favors | Find Nautical Themed Favors | Sun, Sand and Beach: Waterfront Destination Weddings