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Advice on pulling off the perfect Tucson summer wedding

While vacationing recently, I came across a magazine dedicated to brides. But this wasn't merely one of those generic periodicals; this one was dedicated to brides from the Portland area.

Though the title--Portland Bride and Groom--made reference to the male member of the duo, I could find nary a word directed to grooms. It was as if men existed for the sole purpose of parading the bride around, a necessary adjunct, but not the day's focus. There's a reason, after all, the old adage claims it's a girl's most important day.

But the magazine got me thinking: Why not one dedicated to Tucson couples? And this magazine would treat men as more than requisite fixtures.

The first item to be addressed is the matter of wedding garb. Whether one is marrying during the sweat-saturated days of summer or the balmy days of winter is an important consideration.

Summer brides and grooms are well advised to keep their clothing on the skimpy side.

Forget elaborate and expensive gowns and rental tuxedos: Better to opt for something much cooler.

Brides might consider a fetching pair of white shorts accompanied by a sequined halter-top. And there is no need for a fussy veil: A simple crown of woven desert grasses embellished with colorful ribbons will suffice.

Grooms can opt for shorts, or, if they prefer a more formal look, a pair of white linen pants should do it. A Mexican wedding shirt is de rigueur.

As to the reception fare: You will want to keep the menu on the light side. No one wants to pig out on a hearty roast beef when the temperature is breaking 100 degrees. Chilled soups, either gazpacho or cold berry soup, will do quite nicely. If you prefer, you can always serve something prepared in aspic. As a special treat, serve muffins made from mesquite flour. Include a simple salad of garden greens followed by watermelon cubes and sorbet as dessert.

When it comes to flowers, a standard bouquet will not do. By the end of the day, you're sure to be holding a bunch of raggedy, limp blooms. Instead, opt for a basket of dried pomegranates. And you can always lob them at any guests who are acting boorish as a result of imbibing to excess.

Before the ceremony, have your attendants hand out plastic bags of shaved ice to guests. As you walk up the aisle, they'll gradually toss the contents of the bag on the wedding party. You'll appreciate the cool shower after sweating through the marital vows.

Favors are an important tradition in any wedding, and you'll want yours to reflect the day and serve as a suitable memento of your nuptials. Since we're talking a Tucson wedding, some tacky plastic swan full of Jordan almonds in pastel shades won't cut it.

More appropriate options include miniature cacti, jars of prickly pear jelly, or plastic-encased scorpions. Your guests are sure to appreciate your originality.

Of course, before you even get to the Big Day's events, there's the matter of wedding invitations. This is another area where you can indulge your originality and flair.

Plain paper won't do for a Tucson wedding. You'll need something that conveys the unique qualities of a desert wedding. First, you'll need to spend some time in said desert gathering every assortment of twigs, leaves and cactus spines you can find. Then, after consulting with an artist friend skilled in the art of paper-making, you'll craft your own desert-imbued paper on which you'll write the invitation particulars with ink made from ripe saguaro fruit. Voila! The finished product will be more than an invitation: It will be a work of art your guests are bound to treasure.

One of the items you'll have to attend to early on while making your plans is the wedding location. Hot or not, you'll want an outdoor site and there are several to consider. City parks, Mount Lemmon and Agua Caliente Park are all obvious choices, but why not go for a place more daring, a location that screams Tucson? How about the banks of the Santa Cruz River? Guests can line the embankment while the wedding party walks along the river bottom carefully skirting the effluent stream.

Finally, you'll have to give some thought to entertainment. You can always rely on that old standby: a DJ. But I recommend against it. Since your wedding will be unique in every other respect, why settle for tired old tunes played the same sorry way? One option is a mariachi band, but that's only slightly better than a DJ.

Instead, hire the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus. OK, it's true they're not much for dance tunes, but how many weddings can boast a choir of pre-pubescent boys singing a cappella? And you can't get more Tucson than that.

If you're getting married in winter, you'll have to adjust these instructions to accommodate for cooler temperatures. Just use your imagination, and Tucson couples will be leaving their Portland counterparts in the dust. Or should I say the rain?

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