It seems like most couples getting married these days choose to have a big wedding with a white dress, elaborate ceremony, sit-down dinner, DJ and dancing; not to mention pre-wedding activities like bridal showers, stag and doe parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and rehearsal dinners. But just because you want to tie the knot doesn’t mean you must conform. Some of the most exciting weddings I’ve shot have been where the couple has put their own unique spin on the traditional ceremony, from exchanging vows in a yoga studio, including their pet in the ceremony, to celebrating on the streets of New York City.
If exploring alternatives to the norm is something that intrigues you, you might want to consider hosting a themed wedding. Themed weddings can be Medieval, Victorian, Renaissance, Historical, Steampunk, Fantasy, Hollywood-Inspired, and more.
Time Period Weddings
No matter what the reference point, many of us are hooked on some sort of historical time period, and while weddings are generally thought to be timeless, it’s hard not to look to the past for inspiration. You can choose to transport your entire wedding into the past, or infuse your wedding with hints of of the time period. Here are a couple of the more popular ones:
Flapper Style – Book your wedding celebration with a grand Art Deco hotel, perhaps with parquet floors, murals displaying attenuated figures, and glittering stained-glass windows. Work with your wedding vendors to create an ambience that suggests the era’s dimly lit speakeasies and smoky nightclubs. Offer old-school aperitifs like Manhattans, martinis, and sidecars. Have a band that specializes in jazzy numbers of the Cole Porter variety, and make your grandparents teach you the ins and outs of fox-trotting and doing the Charleston.
Renaissance Revival – The Renaissance brought about the true birth of creativity — a time when artists were revered and men wrote their lovers prose about inextinguishable love. A Renaissance wedding becomes a buffet for the senses. The air is filled with music and poetry. The eyes enjoy richly embroidered costumes — adorned with gold and silver threads with intricate scenes from legends, nature, or religion — and tables dressed in bold-colored tapestries and luxurious silks. The guests are seated at long, regal tables and served family-style, can eat with their fingers. The menu should consist of traditional Renaissance fare: quail, goose, venison, and fish. Serve warm mulled wine and ale in metal steins.
Victorian Invasion – If you fancy the civility of this era and its florid, picturesque aesthetic, you’ll want to party in a nostalgic setting like a renovated bed-and-breakfast in the country or an ornate turn-of-the-century mansion set on sprawling lawns and manicured gardens. Tell your floral designer that you want an “English garden” look-elaborate centerpieces on antique lace tablecloths. Scour family attics or antique stores for heirloom linens, serviceware, even handkerchiefs to blend into the decor of your reception. For a look that recalls a faded Victorian postcard or valentine, have lots of children at the wedding: imagine your flower girls running around the party in white dresses with rosebuds in their hair.
Hollywood Inspired – Pretend you’re hosting the ultimate Tinseltown affair, where the best studs and starlets of vintage Hollywood will be in attendance. Your muses: Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart; Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy; Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. Peruse books with photographs from the era to get a sense of the Silver Screen style. Have an orchestra on hand, in white suits and white gloves, roll out a red carpet and light up your names on the building marquee. Steep the room in soft, rose-colored light and fill the space with round tables draped in sumptuous, silvery fabrics.