Our Guide to Having the Perfect Themed Wedding
So you may have already decided that a traditional wedding is not for you, and you fancy something a little more unique?
In this section we take a look a various themes for your wedding: historical, cultural and seasonal. Of course, there are many, many other themes you could choose from, the only limit is your imagination!
If you are considering planning an alternative celebration, do think about your guests – a wedding that is too unusual may also make them feel uncomfortable, unless they have been warned in advance. Make sure your invitation reflects the style of celebrations, or enclose a note with the invitation if you are planning something very different from the norm.
You can incorporate the theme of your wedding into many areas, such as:
- invitations, reply cards, menus and order of service
- the location of the ceremony and reception
- the ceremony itself – music, hymns, readings, vows and blessings
- bridal wear – style and colour
- food and drink – consider period, ethnic and regional foods
- decoration colour scheme
- possible costumes for guests, or serving/waiting staff and hired performers
transport – think about unique vehicles, such as a bus, or a coach and four
Historical Wedding Themes
Period themes for weddings are becoming more and more popular as people want to plan something truly unique for their wedding day. Couples might choose a period theme because they share a special interest or affinity with that era, or it might just be that the bride may just find ‘the perfect dress’, which may look out of place in a traditional setting.
There are many costumiers and dressmakers that are able to hire or supply dresses to fit with a period theme. A local dressmaker will often be able to design something if the bride can provide them with a picture of the dream dress.
Some examples of popular historical themes are: Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Medieval, Tudor, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian, 1940s/1950s/1960s or futuristic. We take a look at one of these periods, to give you an example of how you might go about planning your very own period wedding.
Georgian and Regency Themes
Popular television dramas, such as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility have made late 18th/early 19th century wedding themes very fashionable.
There are many fine mansions from this period that have been turned into hotels, and are licensed for weddings, or if you would prefer, a simple country church ceremony would fit well into the style of this era.
Poetry from authors of that era could be chosen as readings for the ceremony, such as William Wordsworth, Robert Burns and Lord Byron. Poetry of this time is written in a language that all can enjoy, and is very romantic.
The dresses of the time are easy to wear and will remain comfortable during the day and on into the evening. You may consider hiring them from theatrical hire companies.
Hair tended to be long, and curled into ringlets, and worn with a veil or pinned with flowers. The bride or her attendants might carry a fan or a parasol as an alternative to a bouquet.
The top hat was introduced at the end of the eighteenth century, and so a hired morning suit with a frock coat would be appropriate for the groom, best man and other male members of the bridal party.
A horse and carriage is the obvious choice for a wedding of this period. There are a number of styles available from a single horse trap, to a coach and four.
To follow the traditions of the time, only two, or at most three, courses should be served, and diners help themselves to whatever they want from a buffet.
The first course comprises of meat dishes, which should be served at the same time as the soup. Once the soup is finished, it is replaced with a vegetable dish. In the second course, a range of lighter meats and desserts should be served. If a third course is served, it should comprise of fruit, sweetmeats and cheese.
Finding a traditional venue from the same era as your wedding theme will solve most of the decorative problems. If you have a large banqueting hall to decorate, pedestals of flowers would add impact and a softness to the room.
As most people will be serving themselves from their own ‘buffet’, it would be wise to keep table decoration to a minimum, allowing brightly coloured pottery plates already set out with food to decorate the tables.
Music and Entertainment
Hiring a string quartet or harpist to play at your ceremony and/or your reception would be an appropriate touch for this period.
Dancing was very popular at this time, with large family gatherings and ceremonial balls. However, it is unlikely that your guests will have an in-depth knowledge of dances of the time, and you might wish to go for something a little more modern for the evening.
Cultural Wedding Themes
Many couples marrying from different cultures look to incorporate the important elements of the customs from both their lives into their wedding day.
However, you don’t have to come from a particular culture to choose it as your wedding theme – some traditions just lend themselves to the happy, relaxed atmosphere of a wedding.
The choice of cultural themes is wide, and a few examples are: Austrian Tyrollean, Caribbean or Polynesian, English country wedding, Barn dance, Mardi Gras and Scottish.
We take a look at one of these themes, and show you that you can just take the general idea of a culture or place as your wedding theme, rather than being strictly accurate in every detail.
Caribbean or Polynesian
For this theme, try to create a tropical island paradise. Any venue would be suitable, but a sports hall, village or community hall would be best as they do not tend to have carpeted floors. A marquee is also a good option.
Provide guests with grass skirts and flower garlands (lei) as they enter the reception, to get everyone into the tropical mood.
Serve cocktails at a ‘beach bar’, decorated with bamboo and palm leaves. CanapÃ©s could be served by people dressed in Caribbean and Polynesian costume.
A good idea for the main meal is a barbecue with a buffet table of salads. A selection of fresh fruits would be a good option for dessert.
Create a backdrop by painting a beach scene on sheeting hung from the walls, or hire one from a theatrical company. Bamboo fencing may be used to surround the remainder of the room, and lobster pots, coconuts, pineapples, a hammock and beach umbrellas could be placed strategically. Palm trees can be hired from a garden centre or plant hire specialist. There are also specialist companies that hire props out for themed events such as this.
Use lanterns instead of the electric lights in the room, and consider hiring a starcloth (blackout cloth with tiny twinkling lights) from a marquee company for a really magical effect.
Music and Entertainment
A steel band would provide the perfect entertainment for a Caribbean party, and would certainly set the scene for any limbo-dancing competitions you might want to arrange.
If you wish to continue into the evening with dancing, you might wish to engage a Beach Boys style band, or a disco in order that everyone’s tastes are catered for.
Seasonal Wedding Themes
If you are particularly attracted to a season or festival of the year, why not marry at that time and theme your wedding to take advantage of the festivities. Symbols of major holidays are widely recognized and available from department stores or specialist shops, so co-ordinating all the details of your wedding should not be too difficult.
Some suggestions include Valentine’s Day, Easter/Spring, May Day, Harvest/Autumn, Bonfire Night, Winter, Christmas and New Year.
We take a look at one of these themes in particular.
Christmas and New Year
This period just lends itself to joyful celebrations, and with the majority of your guests off work, what better time to plan a wedding?
If you’re planning on a traditional church wedding, remember that it will be cold! Consider wearing a fur-edged, hooded cloak, and a long-sleeved dress. You may even think about carrying a fur-trimmed or lined muff to keep your hands warm, instead of carrying a bouquet.
You will also need to think about colour. White dresses may look cold or even ‘lost’ if it snows, so think about warmer colours such as old gold or even rich burgundy. This applies to the bridesmaids as well – avoid cold colours such as pale blues, mauves or greens, and instead opt for warm rich colours.
Remember though, that the light at this time of year is very limited, and so if you want to get married later in the day (anytime after 2pm), you will only be able to have indoor photographs.
Venue and Decoration
If you plan to marry between Christmas and New Year, you will probably find that most hotels are already decorated festively, and you may not need to add anything further.
Because of the weather at this time of year, you might feel that the wisest decision would be to hold your reception indoors, but check out any deals that marquee companies might be offering; as it is possible that you could arrange an extremely reasonable deal. December and January aren’t quite as cold as you might think, and marquees can be heated quite easily.
Most flowers are quite expensive at this time of year; so consider using alternatives such as dried flowers or candles that will create a romantic feel.
Alternatively, you could create a Winter Wonderland, with real or artificial Christmas trees, fake snow, and white and silver Christmas decorations.
Offer your guests some good, spiced mulled wine or mulled ale when greeting them as an alternative to the traditional sherry or buck’s fizz.
At this time of year, most people will have had enough of roast meals, fancy food and nibbles; so why not offer something much more plain and warming such as fish and chips, or bangers and mash, followed by a traditional English steamed pudding.
Music and Entertainment
This wedding theme allows any form of music – a disco, a jazz band, or even a ceilidh.
If you’re planning a New Year’s wedding, then how about a Scottish piper? A piper can pipe in your arrival to and exit from the ceremony, and play at the entrance to your reception to entertain your guests as they line up to congratulate you.