This Season’s Wedding Crashers: Cicadas

by Msnbctv news staff

The bride and groom were in the middle of exchanging vows when something landed on David Levi’s head. “I particularly don’t like flying bugs, so you could imagine my reaction when a cicada landed on my head and started moving its tiny legs on my scalp,” said Mr. Levi of Bristol, Conn.

Mr. Levi, the owner of a cryptocurrency investment business based in Israel, let out a scream. “Thankfully, my friend came to the rescue and swatted off the cicada, but it didn’t stop there,” he said, describing a May 25 outdoor wedding he had attended in Volant, Pa. “During the reception, I saw some guests swatting at the air, trying to get cicadas away. I also saw some cicadas crawling on our table.”

Brood X cicadas are the latest iteration of wedding crashers. Notorious for their fire-red eyes and loud mating calls, the insects surface once every 17 years in about 15 states and Washington, D.C. And considering that cicadas emerge in droves of up to 1.4 million per acre, it’s no surprise that they are invading outdoor weddings.

The flying, plant-feeding insects, crashed a May 30 wedding at a farm in Knoxville, Tenn. “One cicada hopped on the groom during a photo session, and another ended up somehow in a bridesmaid’s undergarments,” said Lauren Schaefer, who runs Get Together Events in Nashville, which helped plan and organize the wedding.

And in Silver Spring, Md., “a cicada went down one of the bride’s dresses,” during a June 5 wedding, noted one of the guests, Pegah Yazdy Gorman, a lawyer in Washington.

If you’re planning an outdoor wedding in cicada territory for later in the summer you’re in luck: The insects live for about four to six weeks, so they should die off around the beginning of July. In the meantime, there are steps you can take to minimize disruptions, while also embracing the awkwardness of a cicada-era wedding.

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First and foremost, “stay calm if they end up on your clothes,” said Jessica Doan, an owner of Completely Coordinated, a wedding planning company in the Washington area. “Remember they might be unattractive, but they are not harmful.” (Cicadas don’t bite or sting.)

If possible, start your wedding after 6 p.m., when cicadas are less active, said Dan Mozgai, the founder and owner of Cicada Mania, a cicada information resource website.

And because cicada mating calls can reach 100 decibels (that’s about as loud as a lawn mower), “use a microphone to ensure your vows are audible over the cicadas’ buzzing,” said Vishal Joshi, a founder and chief executive of Joy, a wedding planning and technology company based in San Francisco. This strategy worked for Lauren Migaki, 33, and Sam D’Agostino, 37, who married at Rock Creek Park in Washington in early June.

“We set up a small, battery-operated speaker system to try and drown out the cicadas a bit,” said Ms. Migaki, a senior producer at NPR. “I didn’t really love the idea of screaming our vows.”

Along those lines, ask your wedding band or D.J. to arrive early to perform a sound check. “This will ensure the ceremony music is loud enough to drown out the natural cicada noise,” Ms. Doan said.

Let guests know ahead of time what to expect — Mr. Joshi suggests posting a playful announcement on your wedding website, such as “Brood X is crashing our wedding” or “The cicadas invited themselves.” Recommending guests wear close-toed shoes is also a good idea, he added.

If you’re adamant about keeping cicadas away while you eat and dance outdoors, consider setting up an enclosed tent for the reception, Mr. Joshi said.

And remember: At the very least, cicadas make for a memorable wedding. “It was actually quite fun to lean into the cicada theme,” Ms. Migaki said. “My little brother wore a cicada bolo tie; our favors were cicada-shaped chocolates with caramel pop rocks; and I donned a pair of gold cicada earrings for the reception in our backyard.”

“I loved hearing the noise of them in the trees above us,” she added, “feeling like we had hundreds of wedding guests.”

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