Theme Weddings

Planning a Bridal Shower with Flair (June 2013)


Theme: Garden Party

Ambiance: Stage the shower in the backyard or bring the outdoors in by decorating in a botanical style. Use potted herbs and flowers as centerpieces. Tie the napkins with ribbons and insert prigs of lavender. For favors, give guests personalized flowerpots and seed packets so they can start their own indoor garden.

Cuisine: Select foods with fresh-from-the-garden feel, such as three-bean salad, seasonal vegetables and herbed grilled chicken. For dessert, offer strawberries with whipped cream. And for third quenchers, home-brewed mint or fruit iced teas.

Theme: Jazz Brunch

Ambiance: Play traditional Mardi Gras music by performers like Dr. John and Professor Longhair. Create centerpieces with Southern flowers like magnolias and camellias. You may even wish to name tables after Big Easy hot spots such as the French Quarter, Bourbon Street and the Garden District. Pack pecan pralines as a sweet treat for guests to take home.

Cuisine: Pour good strong New Orleans coffee, and eye-openers like bourbon lemonades and mint juleps. Cook up crabmeat omelets, grits and andouille sausage for the main course, followed by Bananas Foster (with or without the flames).


Theme: Chocolate-Lovers’ Soiree

Ambiance: Seat guests at small, French café-style tables. Choose a tres chic color scheme – such as chocolate brown and pale blue – for the linens. Give gourmet hot-cocoa mix as favors (wrap packets in pretty brown and blue patterned paper and tie with ribbon).

Cuisine: Serve dark, white and milk chocolate confections. Pair them with dessert wines and champagne. Prove palate refreshers like platters of strawberries and other fruits.

Theme: Film Festival

Ambiance: Play soundtracks from your favorite flicks. Write movie trivia questions on index cards; leave them on tables with answer sheets and pens. Ask guests at each table to work together to come up with the answers. The table with the most correct answers wins DVDs of wedding themed movies – like Father of the Bride, Meet the Parents, or Monsoon Wedding.

Cuisine: Serve fresh popcorn in paper bags and fill bowls with movie candies like Twizzlers and Junior Mints as snacks. For your feature presentation, offer chicken fingers and fries. Serve drinks in movie theater-style paper cups with lids and straws.


Theme: South Pacific Bash

Ambiance: Create centerpieces of tropical flowers including orchids, birds of paradise or hibiscus. Deck tables with Hawaiian-print tablecloths and use tabletop tiki torches as accents. Play traditional ukulele music in the background. Offer cute, kitschy favors of novelty hula dolls; attach tags with guests’ names and they can also serve as place cards.

Cuisine: Set out traditional luau fare like huli-huli chicken (grilled, Hawaiian-style), sweet potatoes (mashed, with coconut) and haupia ) coconut pudding). Whip up mai tais and lava flows (strawberry daiquiri poured over a pina colada) for tropical libations.

The Beauty of Fall and Winter Weddings (November, 2010)

Maybe you weren’t quick enough to lock in a June wedding date, or maybe you just want to do something a little different from the rest of the pack. The colors of fall and winter are deeper and richer, allowing you greater latitude than spring and summer brides, who traditionally stick with tried and true pastels.

We at will share a passel of fall and winter theme ideas to help you plan a spectacular wedding – and you can fill in the rest of the holes with your own imagination and creativity.


Thanksgiving is the time to give thanks, and what better way to give thanks than to plan a Thanksgiving Day wedding? However, rather than the traditional afternoon or evening event, consider a sunrise wedding when the sun first peeks above the horizon, illuminating the rich array of fall harvest colors. Follow the wedding with a lavish breakfast/brunch reception, complete with champagne and tequila sunrises. Think “rich, crisp, and brilliant” as you brainstorm your wedding plans.

Thanksgiving wedding bouquet and floral displays:

Add harvest vegetables such as corn, artichokes, gourds of all colors and sizes, and even a pumpkin to your reception table centerpieces. Replace some of your greenery with wheat. Make liberal use of nandina and pomegranates to add brilliant fire red and green to floral displays. If you imagine every color in the sunrise or sunset, and build your color scheme around those colors, your wedding will come alive.

Thanksgiving wedding favor ideas:

  • Frosted glass tealight candles in rich, autumn colors
  • Miniature harvest vegetable and fruit candles presented in mesh bags tied with a velvet ribbon
  • Message in a bottle – an autumn-colored bottle that your guests can use as a bud vase
  • Heart-shaped guest soaps in autumn colors
  • Gold box filled with candy, tied with velvet ribbon


Winter weddings lend themselves to sparkle and glitz against rich, jewel-toned colors. Wedding invitations imprinted inside holiday or winter greeting cards present an alternative to the usual ivory engraved wedding invitations. You can serve non-traditional beverages such as hot mulled cider, hot buttered rum, etc., and you can probably get a discount on your favorite venue for any date except a Christmas week wedding if you reserve six to eight months in advance.

Plan your wedding around silver, gold, ruby, emerald, amethyst, and sapphire—the jewel tones. Use rich fabrics such as velvet, satin and silk. Add brocade bows for a festive touch.

Setting the Mood

If possible, select a wedding facility with large gold mirrors, or a fireplace or a wide curved staircase. The entire venue will glisten with holiday decorations, and the decorations will complement your own decorations.

Christmas wedding bouquet and floral displays

Give poinsettias and amaryllis the spotlight during your Christmas wedding and reception. Add white roses, gardenias, and lilies as accents, and fill in with eucalyptus, pinecones, holly, evergreen and nandina. Surround your guests with the scent of eucalyptus and pine. Small poinsettias surrounded by pine branches sprayed with snow as table centerpieces encourage your guests to talk to one another without having to lean around the centerpiece.

Christmas wedding favor ideas

  • Gold or silver bell with an emerald satin ribbon
  • Miniature silver salt and pepper shakers
  • Gold heart-shaped basket with Christmas potpourri
  • Miniature gold or silvers bells – guests can hang these on their Christmas trees at home
  • One gold and one silver candy cane tied together with one green and one red intertwined ribbon.


If you prefer a non-religious wedding theme, the winter wonderland theme offers some of the options of the Christmas theme and introduces new options into the mix. Silver, sky blue and white simulate a cold, snowy winter day and offer many options for accent colors. If your wedding is an evening ceremony, consider a color scheme of midnight blue with gold accents to simulate the clear night sky and twinkling stars.

Winter Wonderland wedding bouquet and floral displays

Replace the traditional floral display for the reception buffet table with an ice sculpture surrounded by pine branches with pinecones and evergreen branches with berries. Spray the pinecones gold or silver and add a huge gold or silver metallic bow. Use winter foliage and branches in place of delicate baby’s breath for greenery, and use masses of large, white flowers such as amaryllis tinged with yellow, pure white lilies with a hint of yellow center and white hydrangeas. Oversized white flowers with a touch of accent color work particularly well against a backdrop of winter branches and foliage.

As an alternative to floral centerpieces, small sleigh ice sculptures amid winter branches, foliage and snow add seasonal authenticity to your reception tables. Huge white magnolia blossoms floating in water in crystal bowls offer yet another dramatic alternative. Magnolia leaves painted with gold paint add to the drama.

Winter Wonderland wedding favor ideas

  • Crystal bell
  • Star-shaped white tealight candles
  • Miniature silver champagne bucket filled with candies
  • Antique miniature boxes filled with pine-scented potpourri

Natural Habitat (September, 2008)

Knowing that they both wanted to get married outdoors, Tara and her fiancé Robert scouted out the many areas and found the ideal location in a community nature preserve.

Its unique foliage and organic charm set the tone for the details of their highly individualistic wedding. Rather than retaining the services of a florist, they gathered local flowers, herbs and greenery for the centerpieces and bridal bouquet.

After the hilltop ceremony, guests dined outdoors among the wildflowers, shaded by lawn umbrellas and tent canopies. Because Tara is vegetarian, meat-free dishes were served including roasted-corn risotto and an artichoke-and-goat cheese tart.

Eco-friendly seafood was part of the menu, offering Alaskan halibut and American tilapia. (Experts at Environmental Defense, a New York-based, nonprofit advocacy group, believe certain fish populations are endangered due to harvesting practices. To learn more, visit their web site

A local band comprising of college students eager to make a few extra dollars put a modern twist on traditional music as the guests danced under the starlit night.

Block Party (September, 2008)

Virginia and Ty are self-described “non-fussy types”. Envisioning a classic, elegant wedding, they wanted to add a few unexpected touches.

They decided to hold their affair on a Sunday afternoon at a charming hotel. After exchanging their vows under the outside gazebo, they led their guests for a late brunch of gourmet French toast, filet mignon, omelettes and more.

Fabric-covered boxes were artfully stacked in the center of each table to form stylish centerpieces. Inscribed with words like Joy and Respect, they contained small picture frames with the bride and groom’s picture in it that served as guests’ favors.

More fabric-covered boxes resembling children’s building blocks graced the cake table; each was marked with one letter to spell the words “Virginia and Ty”.

Says Virginia, “We chose design elements that fit our style, and then our theme just fell into place. It became The Building Blocks of Marriage.”

Gettin Hitched (June, 2008)

Do you love the Old West and the Open Range? You don’t need to live in the country or in the mountains to want the romantic charm of a Western wedding. In carrying out your theme and creating the setting – making guests dream of wide open spaces – here are some of favorite ideas.

Give your guests the first glimpse of your special day by having your wedding invitations designed and formatted as a WANTED poster.

Hang a horseshoe, a symbol of good luck, over the door where you’re getting married or at your reception site.

Hire a horse and carriage to transport you in style to your ceremony and reception, or arrive on horseback.

Walk down the aisle to the music of a guitar and banjo.

The Groom and Groomsmen can be wearing black Wrangler pants, white western shirts, and perhaps a vest. And don’t forget the cowboy boots and cowboy hat.

Your Bridesmaids could wear traditional bridesmaids dresses with gingham-printed sashes or trim stitched on, and decorated parasols as their “bouquets”.

Build a hitching post and place “his” and “her” saddles upon it.

Have the minister officiate mounted atop the “Pastor’s Horse” (usually a mule), as in the example at right.

Decorate with bales of hay (that can also act as extra seating) and create a gift table by pushing two or three together. Drape lassos on fence posts (or hooks).

Create an old bar scene by setting out silver galvanized buckets filled with ice cold beer.

Cover the tables with crisp linen tablecloths, topped by square of red and white or blue and white gingham cloth. Wrap the silverware place settings in bandanas that will also double as napkins.

Have fun with your table centerpieces – perhaps cowboy hats filled with wildflowers, such as daisies, sunflowers, buttercups and black-eyed susans. Or you might want to use reproduced railroad lanterns that can serve as additional light when night falls.

When it’s time for dinner, ring the dinner bell.

Keep the “home-fix-n grub” simple. Serve buffet style. Some of the items on your menu could include a big vat of chili and honey corn bread.

Host a wagon ride around the area. For kicking up the legs, hire a country-western band or have a DJ who specializes in country western music.

If your area permits it, light a bon-fire at dusk.

And as your guests depart, give them old-fashioned stick candy in mason jars as a take-home party favor.

Yipee yahoo! Enjoy your hoedown.

When It Comes to Weddings, Theme Your Troubles Away (February 2002)

By Georgene Muller Lockwood

During the time I was writing my book on Victorian theme weddings, I participated in three weddings. The first was my own, which prompted the book in the first place. The others were those of my two stepsons. In one way or another, we, as a group, bore out just about all the statistics that describe trends in how couples marry today.

Today’s marriage statistics show that, overall, couples are: marrying later (both my stepson’s were pushing 30 and marrying for the first time), sharing expenses for the wedding (we paid for one son’s wedding almost entirely and we shared expenses for the other with the bride’s family and the couple themselves), living together first (all of us had lived with our intended spouses for one year or more), of more than one religion (all three couples had mixed spiritual/religious backgrounds), and marrying more than once in a lifetime (both my husband and I had been married before).

What we have is the classic “blended family.” There are ex-husbands and wives, stepsons and daughters, and even, in my husband’s case, the family of a deceased spouse. We are not alone. In fact, we are fast becoming the norm.

Now, imagine the typical American wedding and then our typical blended family. Who “gives the bride away?” How should you arrange the parents for photos? Who stands next to whom in the receiving line? And what about those obligatory dances? After the groom dances with his mother and the bride dances with her father, then what?

The traditional American wedding portrayed in either version of “Father of the Bride” would never have worked for us. But what do you do with a family that just doesn’t “fit?”

Enter: The Theme Wedding.

“What’s a theme wedding,” you ask? I like to use the definition in Webster’s of the word “theme” that refers to music, “a short melody used as the subject of a musical composition,” because, when you’re planning a wedding, you’re orchestrating an event. A theme provides an overriding style or personal statement that becomes the joining thread for the whole celebration. Themes make weddings fresh. They offer a new perspective. They’re different and personal. And they’re a great way to meet the challenges of today’s families head-on.

The best part about a theme wedding is that it takes people off guard. Nobody knows what to expect. It’s easy to, say, change the processional or dispense with the receiving line or do the dances and music a different way, because this is an unusual wedding, and people begin to anticipate the extraordinary.

A theme wedding can reflect a historic period. It could be medieval or renaissance, 1920s or 1890s, Civil War or colonial. Ours sought to bring in details from Victorian America. According to the diaries and journals of the period, Victorian brides were not necessarily escorted down the aisle by their fathers. Sometimes the couple walked in first followed by the wedding party, and sometimes the order was reversed.

We chose to have the men waiting on the veranda, while the women in the wedding party came down the winding staircase, out the door and took their appropriate places. No one questioned the change since they knew in advance that this wedding was going to be “different.” Afterwards we were told what an elegant ceremony we had.

Another way to personalize a wedding ceremony that is becoming increasingly popular is to have it on a favorite holiday and let that become the theme. Christmas is a beautiful time to celebrate both the joy and solemnity of marriage. Some choose Valentine’s Day for its romantic overtones and playful spirit. I know one couple that married on New Year’s Eve. Their whole ceremony emphasized the wonder of beginnings.

Still others choose to use an interest or hobby to frame their special day. Although it may sound a bit odd, my husband and I went to a “clown” wedding a couple of years ago. The bride and groom met while pursuing their hobby (it was part of their church’s ministry out-reach), semi-professional clowning and mime. The ceremony and reception were very sophisticated, with small touches at both bringing in their theme. At the church, ushers were dressed as clowns. Instead of seeming silly, they added a festivity to the occasion, especially since this was a wedding where a lot of children were invited. Their giggles and bright smiles filled the hall with a special presence. At the reception, the favor for each guest was a bottle of bubbles. Before very long, the hall looked like a holdover from the Lawrence Welk Show. It was positively delightful.

Shared interests that I’ve seen become themes have ranged from vintage dance to sky diving to an herbal wedding that reflected a couple’s interest in gardening and natural healing.

New families call for new ways of celebrating. Since our wedding, two more members of our blended family have taken their vows. All were lovely affairs, unique and personal. Now all the children have found their beloveds and I like to say, instead of a blended family, it’s become a smoothie!

Georgene Muller Lockwood is the author of nine books, including the bestseller The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Organizing Your Life, as well as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Simple Living and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Crafts With Kids. Her first book, Your Victorian Wedding: A Modern Guide for the Romantic Bride, a complete guide to creating a Victorian wedding from authentic to approximate, is out of print, but can be found in libraries and through used book stores and search services. You may contact the author for comment at

Copyright © 1992 Georgene Muller Lockwood. All rights reserved.