Theme Weddings: Ideas And Tips

Seven different wedding themes with ideas and tips to carry through your special day!

Your wedding reception should be one of the most delightful parties you'll ever plan. Why not make yours really memorable by creating a theme from your personal interests? A theme can unify the various parts of your special day, and will help you make choices among an often bewildering array of wedding options and details. As your friends and family gather to celebrate your happiness, a theme will allow them to see your personal touch in everything from the flowers to the music. Here are seven ideas to get you started.

1. Under the Sea (Also known as By the Beach)

If you love the feel of sand between your toes, then this casual theme is perfect for you.

Colors: aqua and seafoam, or any shades of blue and green, with silver accents.

Food: seafood, of course! Serve lobster bisque or sushi, or have a clambake. With dessert serve fancy chocolates shaped like seashells.

Decorations: shells, fishing nets, sandpails and shovels, lobster traps, lighthouses. Make centerpieces with sand, shells, treasure chests, and model sailboats.

Music: Water Music, by George Frideric Handel.

Flowers: choose lush tropical blooms like hibiscus, jasmine, and birds-of-paradise.

Favors: put a roll of Lifesavers in a seashell, wrap in tulle, and tie with narrow ribbons, or thank your guests with inexpensive bamboo windchimes.

2. Victorian

The most traditional theme and, some would say, the most romantic.

Colors: cranberry, cream, hunter green.

Food: meats with rich sauces, or light tea sandwiches and scones. Whether your meal is light or hearty, serve dainty and colorful petits fours with dessert.

Decorations: flowered chintz and lace, topiaries, ferns, floral-patterned bone china, heavy silverware.

Music: selections by Chopin, Brahms, and Mendelssohn.

Flowers: roses, ivy, and gardenias. Or employ the Victorian trick of choosing flowers with initials that spell your fiancé's name. If your beau's name is Tom, for example, you might carry a bouquet of Tulips, Orange blossom, and Mint.

Favors: Victorians loved potted plants - send your guests home with tiny pots of ivy or African violets, or some paperwhite narcissus bulbs for forcing.

3. Western

A fun and casual theme that will make all your guests feel at home on the range.

Colors: denim blue, red, and yellow.

Food: hearty barbecue fare such as; steak, baked beans, baked potatoes, cornbread, corn on the cob with strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Decorations: bales of straw, horseshoes, saddles and tack, cowboy boots, and hats. Toss in a tumbleweed or two.

Music: hire a caller and have a square dance, or get everyone on their feet with country line dancing.

Flowers: daisies and mixed wildflowers.

Favors: wrap a handful of Hershey's Kisses and Hugs chocolates in a bandana, tie with raffia. Add a note that says "Hugs and Kisses from the new Mr. and Mrs."

4. A Black-and-White Costume Ball

Encourage your guests to dress in black-and-white costumes. Dance the glamorous night away with an assortment of Pierrots and Pierrettes, penguins, French maids, skeletons, and Dalmatians.

Colors: black and white, with red or pink accents.

Food: caviar, black olives, black grapes, and pasta. Ice cream sandwiches and strawberries dipped in white or dark chocolate for dessert.

Decorations: masks, fans, dominos, dice, black-and-white photographs, and stills from old black-and-white movies.

Music: The Masquerade Waltz by Aran Khachaturian.

Flowers: white lilies and dark red roses.

Favors: wrap several Oreo cookies in tulle, tie with ribbons and tiny silk flowers.

5. A Magical Day

Celebrate your marriage to the man of your dreams with a magical theme. Your guests will be spellbound!

Colors: red or purple and black with gold and silver accents.

Food: star fruit, hors d'oeuvres shaped like crescent moons, and fortune cookies. As dessert serve baked Alaska, a truly mystifying treat.

Decorations: sorcerer's hats, crystal balls, Magic 8 balls, tarot cards, moons and stars. Use a top hat and a stuffed rabbit for a centerpiece.

Music: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, by Paul Dukas.

Flowers: fairy roses, elfin impatiens, snapdragons.

Favors: magic wands embellished with ribbon streamers.

6. Medieval

Life in the Middle Ages was harsh and short. But it was also the era that gave rise to the ideals of courtly love. A wedding with a medieval theme is colorful and fun - a memorable day for all your invited knights and ladies.

Colors: purple or crimson, with royal blue and gold.

Food: meat pies, rustic breads, figs and custards.

Decorations: tapestries, suits of armor, banners and flags, and coats of arms.

Music: hire a troupe of madrigal singers to serenade your guests. Your local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism can help you find some. Or have a solo lute player or harpist.

Flowers: choose flowers and herbs based on their traditional meanings, like basil for best wishes, clover for luck, forget-me-nots for true love, orange blossoms for purity, and violets for faithfulness.

Favors: small potted rosemary plants, for remembrance.

7. Childhood Memories

This theme can work for any playful couple, but it is especially fun if you and your fiancé have known each other for many years. Here's your chance to be a kid again, if only for a day!

Colors: the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue.

Food: remember what you liked to eat when you were twelve? How about hot dogs, hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, pizza, and of course, ice cream, and cake.

Decorations: skateboards, kites, board games, balloons, wagons, sleds, dolls, teddy bears, and your childhood photos.

Music: The Nursery Suite, by Edward Elgar, or The Carnival of the Animals, by Camille Saint-Saens.

Flowers: daisies, daffodils, and tulips.

Favors: give each guest a grab-bag of small toys like jump ropes, jacks, rubber balls, and Silly Putty.

As you make your plans, keep in mind that a theme provides guidelines, not rules. No one will care if your wedding dress or gown does not explicitly reflect your chosen theme. Your guests are there to celebrate with you and have fun. This is your day, of course, but you will enjoy it more if your guests are comfortable and relaxed, so please consider their comfort when making your plans. If most of your guests would not enjoy dressing up, for example, then maybe this is not the time to host a Costume Ball. Save that for your first anniversary!

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