The bride in a flowing white dress, the groom in a smart black tuxedo, and the front steps of a cathedral: we all have a specific image in our mind when we hear the word “wedding.” While the elegant classical wedding is the ideal for some, though, it shouldn’t be thought of as a one-size-fits-all option. Each wedding can be as unique and inspired as the couple getting married. Those guidelines and traditions shouldn’t be thought of as unbreakable rules. Here are a few wedding themes that are less traditional, but can be a lot of fun for the right couple.
A rustic wedding trades glitz and glamour for handmade, down-to-earth charm. For a perfect rustic wedding venue, consider a converted barn, apple orchard, winery, or park. Flowers like bluebells, daisies, and other wildflowers take the place of roses and carnations. For décor, think handmade and simple: candles in mason jars, rope, and horseshoes. The bride can wear a simple homespun dress; the groom will look great in a chambray shirt, suspenders, a bow tie, and chinos.
If a down-home rustic wedding still isn’t down home enough, go all out with a Western theme. Bridesmaids and groomsmen alike will look sharp in matching cowboy hats and boots. Put the groom in (well-fitting) jeans and a cowboy shirt with mother-of-pear snaps. Even the bride can get away with jeans with a Western theme, provided they’re matched with a white blouse and Stetson. Western themes work best with an outside ceremony, where you can decorate with hay bales and lanterns without worrying about a mess or fire hazard. You could even barbecue for the reception dinner–but serving hardtack and beans might be going a little too far.
If the rustic and Western styles seem a little too homespun for you, go for it full-on with the glitz and glamour of the roaring 20’s. You’ll want to book a fancy venue, preferably one with some art deco architectural style. The groomsmen can wear sharp tuxedoes, the bridesmaids in flapper-inspired dresses and finger waves in their hair. Let the champagne (and the gin rickeys) flow at the reception and teach your guests how to Lindy Hop and do the Charleston.
It takes a certain kind of theatrical mindset to really pull off a gothic wedding, but the results can be quite striking when it’s done properly. Modern gothic style is a combination of Victorian fashion with an elegiac sensibility and just a smidgen of fairy-tale romance. Think black lace, red candles, skulls and ravens for the décor. The bridesmaids can carry black lace parasols, and don’t forget the eyeliner for the groomsmen. Makeup for the whole wedding party should be generous and messy. Make sure the signature drink at the reception is a blood-red concoction: a Bloody Mary or sangria, perhaps. Fangs are optional.
Bring a touch of the fantastical to your wedding with a fairy tale theme. An outdoor venue like a park–or better yet, your local Renaissance Festival–will give the proper atmosphere. Look to your old copy of Pierrot’s fairy tales for design cues: for example, you could have the bridesmaids wear red hooded cloaks and carry baskets of flowers. Hand out bags of magic (jelly) beans as wedding favors. The décor should be all natural–garlands of branches, chains of flowers, vibrant greens, yellows, and reds as the colors.
If you and your significant other share a particular interest or aesthetic style, don’t hesitate to make it part of the wedding plan. Whether your reception is a hoedown or a Gothic poetry reading, your guests are sure to enjoy a non-traditional ceremony.