cicada on greenery
Yuriy Kulik/Shutterstock

Of all of the things you have to worry about and “what-ifs” you have to factor into your wedding planning, one of the least sexy is cicadas. These 2-inch long insects, which have a wingspan of 4 inches, love to make an appearance at outdoor weddings, especially during the summer months. As you can imagine from that brief description, cicadas are a bit more intimidating than, say, mosquitoes. What’s more: They spend most of their existence underground tunneling and feeding and emerge every two to 17 years (yes, seriously).

In the coming weeks, billions of periodical cicadas are expected to make their appearance across at least 15 states, including Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, per USA Today.

Overall, cicadas are harmless, but if you’re planning a long-awaited wedding that will be taking place outdoors, you might be stressing over the billions or so of cicadas that could make an unwelcome (and uninvited) appearance to your big day. “Since there can be up to 1.5 million cicadas (yes, really!) per acre the songs, in unison, sound like an alien drone,” says Tina Behnke, Client Experience Officer at AirPac, Inc. “Regardless of how much planning you put into the food, drink, flowers, music, and other activities, you don’t want your guests to be uncomfortable and you certainly don’t want cicada wedding crashers being the focal point and memory of your wedding!”

Needless to say, if you’re planning a wedding this summer, you’re probably already pulling out all the stops to ensure that everything goes as planned, which is all the more reason to include cicada preparation to your list. Here are expert tips for how couples can manage to protect themselves and their guests from cicadas during their wedding.

Update your guests about cicadas ahead of time.

Chances are, many of your guests might be familiar with cicadas and may be aware that they are reemerging this summer. However, it doesn’t hurt to fill them in on the situation by mentioning it on your wedding website. “Remind your guests that cicadas don’t bite or sting and ultimately, that they are good for our environment since they prune mature trees and shrubs, aerate the soil, and that they are a source of food for birds, squirrels and even fish,” says Behnke. “Once this mating season is over, they will serve as a natural source of nitrogen for growing trees and shrubs.”    

Inquire about an indoor option for your wedding. 

Luckily, cicadas aren’t harmful to your wedding guests, but they are annoying. If no one had brought up the fact that the cicadas were coming out and your wedding is just around the corner, Willard recommends asking your venue if they have an indoor space you can use as backup. This can help should you be dealing with the thick of the cicada emergence.

Rent a tented space. 

If an indoor option is not in the cards for you, another option is to rent a tented space with clear or windowed side walls that will help keep the cicadas (and other bugs) away after dark since insects are attracted to the light. “If the weather is hot and humid, choose clear or windowed sidewalls and add air conditioners to create a comfortable and safe environment for guests,” says Behnke. “Some specialty air conditioners even have UVC germicidal lights to help sanitize the air in the space so you can protect from cicadas and COVID.”

Make sure your sound system can cover their sound.

Beyond simply being an eyesore, cicadas are also incredibly loud, notes Thomas Waters of The Renaissance in Richmond, Virginia. “This is something that you'll need to keep at the top of mind when organizing certain aspects of your wedding—namely, the ceremony or any music.” If you haven’t already, he recommends investing in a team of vendors who can oversee your sound system and potentially even provide additional speakers, some microphones for the wedding, or otherwise.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember what is and what is not in your control ahead of your big day. While you can take certain precautions to mitigate the effect that cicadas have on your wedding, there is only so much you can do. “I've lived in various cicada territories for 34 years and we simply aren't concerned about cicadas and events,” says Amber Anderson, wedding planner, at Heavenly Day Events in Austin, Texas. “Newcomers are simply curious about the noise and it quickly drowns into the background much like the waves or a sound machine.”