How to Win the Battle of the Bugs at Your Outdoor Wedding

Photo: Bright Bird Photography

You definitely didn't invite them to your wedding, but it turns out, bugs don't give a flying you know what. In fact, they're pretty notorious outdoor wedding crashers. Fortunately, there are more than a few clever ways to keep those pesky little critters from ruining the party, not to mention eating you and your guests alive (oh, and the cake, too!). From picking the right flowers to getting creative with dryer sheets, wedding planners spill their bug repellant secrets for summer. Shoo fly, don't bother me!

Apply Sunscreen and Bug Spray

...But not at the same time! According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in the Department of Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, doing so will increase the toxicity of chemicals in the spray, which certainly isn't good for you or your skin. As a rule, he recommends putting on your sunscreen first and waiting 30 minutes before applying the bug repellent to avoid any issues.

Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Joshua Zeichner is the director of cosmetic and clinical research in the Department of Dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. In 2015, he was awarded the Elle Magazine Skin Genius Award for his innovative approaches in treating aging skin and was voted by his peers to New York Magazine’s Best Doctors in 2018.
  • Stefany Allongo is the founder, owner and chief planner at The Majestic Vision, a wedding and event planning company serving Palm Beach, Fla. and Milwaukee, Wis. She is the owner and main contributor at Married in Palm Beach, an online wedding planning resource dedicated to Palm Beach County couples.

Hook Your Guests Up

While it's a wonderful idea to have bug spray handy at the wedding, Stefany Allongo, founder and chief consultant of The Majestic Vision in South Florida, also suggests including individually sized sprays in your welcome baskets with a little note saying, "Be smitten, not bitten" as a heads up.

Tape Fabric Softener Sheets to Seats

Countless folks swear by the Bounce dryer sheets! For whatever reason, they seem to really work. Since you don't want them to be eyesores though, try having your planner strategically tape them to the bottom of your wedding chairs so that they're hidden from the naked eye and guests are clueless.

Pick Flowers Bugs Despise

Mosquitos bite (both literally and figuratively) during the summertime. Luckily, despite their prevalence in many places, they can be battled. If you know you're having an outdoor wedding, Allongo says to ask your florist to incorporate flowers and plants that mosquitos are known to hate into your centerpieces and bouquet. "Some good options are citronella, lemon balm, lavender, marigolds, and peppermint."

Get the Help of an Exterminator

As a precaution, most outdoor venues will have exterminators come out once a month to spray for bugs, points out Allongo. Find out how long of a gap there will be between the last one and your wedding date. "If it's three to four weeks, be warned that the bugs may be a little worse," she notes. "See if your venue would be willing to move up the spray date." Hey, it's always worth a shot! If you're getting hitched in your parent's backyard or other non-traditional location, she advises paying for an exterminator to come and spray three to four days prior to your date.

Rent Some Fans

Cool off your guests and get rid of flies, as well! Fans are particularly important to have around your buffet table and any other food, like your cake, that's outside, cautions Allongo. The bugs will literally be blown away.

Try Citronella Candles

Create a romantic outdoor ambiance on your big day by utilizing lighting elements, such as lanterns with citronella candles and tiki torches with citronella oil, to keep bugs at bay.

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