Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a warm-weather wedding. Or perhaps you postponed the event so the guests of honor—Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—could attend. But now your big day is about to get buzzier, thanks to this summer’s wedding crashers, Brood X.
The 17-year cicadas will begin nuptial rituals of their own this month, accompanying walks down the aisle with a humming soundtrack. Luckily, DC-area wedding planners are prepared for the unwanted guests, compiling recommendations to mitigate or embrace the bugs. Here are some tips to help put the magic in Magicicada:
“For an outdoor reception, it’s not going to be a biblical swarm that comes in and eats all the centerpieces,” says Noelle Ahmad-Snedegar, owner of wedding design firm Lily + Grayson. “But it can be uncomfortable for guests.”
Similar to how you would advise revelers to wear outdoor-friendly shoes in a grassy location, prepare attendees in advance so they don’t react with the same anguish more warranted for a wasp or mosquito. Not all guests are familiar with the nefarious-looking bugs—or the fact that the critters are harmless.
Information can be delivered with a sense of humor. Wedding planner Teresa Antonucci Lee, principal at Rex & Regina events, recommends updating the website with a playful “hey, Brood X invited themselves.” Or, throw chocolate-covered cicadas into the welcome bags with a note reminding out-of-town guests that the bugs are annoying, not dangerous.
Consider some covering
Cicadas flock to leafy locales such as the DC area, with ample greenery to live and lay eggs. One way to avoid dropping bugs is to build a tent. But time and cost constraints may call for other options.
Amanda McCabe, founder of Beacon and Berkeley events, suggests incorporating garden umbrellas into the decor. Top cocktail tables with parasols or hanging umbrellas filled with florals over the officiant and couple. Covered food has already become a go-to move in the era of Covid weddings, and continuing the practice can help keep cicadas off the menu.
If your venue is filled with trees, B Astonished Events owner Melissa Williams suggests wrapping trunks with foil barrier tape to keep cicadas from climbing up the bark. Warning: the insects will stick to the tape so keep these trees somewhat obfuscated. Netting over shrubs can minimize landing spots for Brood X to throw their own loud bash. About that—
Unless you’re looking for a cicada harmonies on “Here Comes the Bride,” consider investing in a sound system that can override the chirping, especially during the ceremony. Even smaller weddings that might typically forgo microphones and speakers should opt for amplifying technology, says Antonucci Lee.
Couples can also play ambient background music throughout their ceremonies to drown out the musical stylings of Brood X. Ahmad-Snedegar recommends building a playlist of tunes without vocals. Her picks for the upcoming nuptials of a rock’n’roll couple? A mix of songs by DC-based Thievery Corporation and electro-rock group Ratatat.
Taking it a step further on the cicada-acknowledgement scale, consider the silent disco. Inspired by the dance parties where DJs music is patched into wireless headphones, Williams proposes the same format could be used during a ceremony to help guests hear the vows clearly. Later, the tech can turn a reception into an unconventional event.
Embrace the bugs
Sure, you could mitigate the cicadas—but what about celebrating them? McCabe has a duo who realized they would be dealing with Brood X after multiple reschedules. “The groom started laughing. He’s like, ‘well, I guess it’s appropriate. We call each other bug,'” says McCabe. “I was like, “‘Wait, what?! I can do something with this!'”
Embracing both nature and the nickname, McCabe decided to turn the reception’s bar into a “bug bar” complete with a cicada-themed signature drink, a spicy margarita dubbed “The Cicada Coming.” Each drink will feature swizzle sticks topped with a fake bug as well as insect-shaped gummies.
There are also subtler ways to pay homage to the critters. One idea proposed by Antonucci Lee: Construct a station for guests to pen notes the newlyweds can read in 2038, the next time the cicadas emerge. A tongue-in-cheek wedding hashtag can also capture cicada selfies in one location.
“I’ve done a lot of weddings that have been in the middle of hurricane or tornado warnings,” says McCabe. “Things aren’t always perfect when you’re dealing with nature.”
She has a couple scheduled this month that have gone through four Covid-related reschedules. Both of Ahmad-Snedegar’s May weddings are pandemic postponements. For many pairings, it’s been a stressful path to the altar mired by pandemic and pestilence. But ultimately, a wedding is about celebrating the love between two people—and that joy won’t be obfuscated by nature’s plans if newlyweds don’t let it.
“I’ve been trying to avoid the expression ‘You kind of have to laugh it off,'” says Antonucci Lee. “But that’s the sentiment. You smile and say, Okay, here’s another thing that we’re going to make the most amazing tasting, refreshing lemonade out of yet another lemon that was added to the bunch.”