Christina Baxter of Cibi Events knows cool. An event designer who moved to the Holy City from D.C. years ago with star-studded galas and presidential dinners under her belt, she manages to pull off posh parties with down-to-earth gentility. Since summer here has a tendency to bake even the belles of our bridal balls, we followed Christina into the hidden (and well air-conditioned) gem that’s Upstairs at Midtown, where she fashioned a sweet tablescape that would suit a wedding reception, bridesmaid luncheon, or going away brunch. Yes, such gatherings are idyllic outdoors, but here’s how Christina says you can keep things cool and classy during even the steamiest of days.
❶ Scout Your Site
Visit your venue during the same season in which you plan to wed and check out how well the AC system handles the heat.
❷ Ask Your Team
Ask your vendors how well the site’s air conditioning and refrigeration (for the cake and possibly the flowers) has worked for them in the past and make plans around their responses. For example, if they say the systems keep things coolest before noon or after sundown, host an fête around that timetable.
❸ Make an Outdoor Room Icy
If you do opt for a tent outdoors, know clear-tops are hotter than opaque ones and that misting fans can bring temps down 10 degrees (and won’t ruin hair and makeup).
❹ Pamper Guests
At summertime events—indoor or outdoor as refreshers are always welcome—pass out chilled hand towels as guests arrive.
❺ Quench Their Thirst
Offer an iced or icy cold beverage as soon as guests show at any summer event in Charleston.
❻ Lighten Up
Choose light linens, breezy draperies, and other such materials to create the feeling of an airy (rather than oppressive) atmosphere.
❼ Wrap Your Cake in Fondant
Fondant stands up better than buttercream in the heat, says Christina.
❽ Time the Cutting
Keep your cake—fondant or not—in a cooler or other seriously air-conditioned area during your reception. If that’s not an option, ask your baker to deliver it after the meal.
➒ Plate Up Light Fare
Save heavy menus for cool months and serve salads and chilled veggies, then seafood or sliced sirloin with summer vegetables and grains instead.
Design, décor: Cibi Events, www.CibiEvents.com
Photographer: Priscilla Thomas, www.PriscillaThomas.com
Florals: Branch Design Studio, www.BranchDesignStudio.com
Rentals: Snyder Events, www.SnyderEvents.com
Cakes: Cakes by Kasarda, www.CakesByKasarda.com
Papergoods, calligraphy: The Silver Starfish, www.TheSilverStarfish.com
Venue, catering: Upstairs at Midtown, www.UpstairsAtMidtown.com
Linens: Nüage Designs, www.NuageDesigns.com
Paper flowers: Manee Paper Art, www.Etsy.com