MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
It turns out that fall has become the most popular season for weddings. And one reason could be that rising temperatures have made summer nuptials a little sticky. As part of our series on heat, NPR's Adelina Lancianese looks into how wedding professionals are keeping guests and cakes from sweating.
(SOUNDBITE OF AIR CONDITIONER RUNNING)
ADELINA LANCIANESE, BYLINE: The air conditioning is full blast in Alan Furman's SUV as he races to the Coffman (ph) wedding in Leesburg, Va. Furman glances at the white, three-tiered cake in the back.
ALAN FURMAN: Buttercream, it really can't tolerate temperatures above mid- to upper 80s max.
LANCIANESE: He raises a digital thermometer to the air vent.
FURMAN: That's 52.0 degrees. That gives us a perfect temperature to deliver safely and get it there in perfect condition, intact.
LANCIANESE: Furman is the co-owner of Edibles Incredible bakery and creates about 400 wedding cakes each year. Just a few miles from the wedding, Furman checks the temperature inside the car again.
FURMAN: It's 42.8 degrees, so it's pretty cold.
LANCIANESE: He's in good shape. This reception will take place indoors. And it's a pretty mild August day in Northern Virginia at a high of 82 degrees. Globally, there are about 74 days like this every year. It's what Sarah Kapnick calls...
SARAH KAPNICK: Mild weather. It's weather that isn't too hot, isn't too cold, very low precipitation, almost none, and very low humidity, as well.
LANCIANESE: Kapnick is a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She co-authored a 2017 report that concluded the planet will lose four mild weather days in the next two decades.
KAPNICK: So what that means is that the summers in the United States, they're getting hotter. They're also becoming more humid, particularly in the South and the Southeast.
LANCIANESE: Kapnick says her study was inspired by frequent requests from worried friends who wanted her to predict the weather on their wedding days. And she's not alone. All over the country, couples are planning ahead for hotter weather. Rrivre Davies is a Los Angeles-based wedding designer and the president of the Wedding International Professionals Association.
RRIVRE DAVIES: We try and always convince a client, July, August, even September, you really want to bring in some air conditioning because, otherwise, your guests are not going to be comfortable.
LANCIANESE: Davies says wedding professionals are making adjustments, especially for outdoor weddings. Ceremonies are getting shorter. Some cake bakers create duplicate cakes of foam for display during the reception.
DAVIES: It costs more to do a wedding in the heat. You know, you've got to create shade. You've got to bring more ice in. You've got to pay the florist more because everything's going to be last-minute. It's more expensive, flat out.
LANCIANESE: So Kapnick the climate scientist says it's not surprising that wedding season seems to be shifting.
KAPNICK: People are looking to get married often outside, often during pleasant weather where people can be active. They can be dancing. They can be enjoying themselves.
LANCIANESE: The website WeddingWire tracks the most popular wedding dates each year. Ten years ago, days in May, June and July were most common. But in 2017, September, October and November took the top spots.
(SOUNDBITE OF CAR DOOR SHUTTING)
LANCIANESE: In Virginia, cake baker Alan Furman has arrived at the Coffman wedding, an intimate affair at the historic Rust Manor House. He whisks the cake inside. And a few hours later...
LANCIANESE: ...The Coffmans slice the cake, perfectly intact, to cheers from their family and friends in this audio provided by the venue's event supervisor. As the newlyweds link arms and feed each other forkfuls of vivacious vanilla cake, the temperature is in the low 70s, which means spirits are high. Adelina Lancianese, NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF UNIDENTIFIED COVER OF PACHELBEL'S "CANON IN D")
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