How To Choose A Theme For Your Wedding

Picture this... you recently got engaged (congratulations my friend), spent the last few days with your head in the clouds and are now ready to return to the real world and start planning your wedding day.

Planning your big day will mostly be fun and very exciting, but you'll also have to deal with a lot of advise and questions from well-meaning friends, family, and yes, even wedding professionals like myself.

I can pretty much guarantee that one of the first questions you'll hear will be this one: "What's your wedding theme?"

And your answer is? 

(You can hear those crickets too, can't you?

It's not uncommon for couples to get stuck on answering this loaded question but today I want to make things easier for you and give you some advise on how to choose a theme for your wedding and why it's so important.

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Now before we begin let's get two very important things out of the way.

Firstly, choosing a theme for your wedding might not come easily to you. But don't give up. Don't rush this decision as it will have a big impact on every aspect of your wedding day. The more time you allow yourself at this early stage, the less time you'll need deciding on the pretty little details later on.

Secondly, don't get hung up on definitions. People use different words for the same thing. Or interpret words differently. You might hear the words style, vision or concept instead of theme which can be very confusing.

 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of theme reads:

the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing, a movie etc. \\ a particular subject or issue that is discussed often or repeatedly \\ the particular subject or idea on which the style of something (such as a party or room) is based

 

So what does this mean for your wedding day?

A wedding theme refers to the overall mood and look you want to create and the way you apply it to all aspects of your big day. But don't just think about it as a mere label. For a wedding theme to be truly unique and meaningful, it also needs to be personal.

And how do you pull that off? I'm so glad you've asked my curious friend. Grab your favourite beverage and get comfortable. This is about to get serious (yet entertaining, or so I hope).

 

It's About You

Do me a favour and think about the day after your wedding. Now imagine overhearing any one of your guests (totally accidentally of course)... which statement would make you happier? 

"That was such a wonderful beach wedding yesterday."

or

"Marilyn and Joe's wedding by the beach yesterday was wonderful. And so very special. I just loved all the little meaningful details they included throughout the day."

There's a small but very important distinction between these two statements. The first one, while complimentary, could apply to any wedding but the second statement could apply only to yours (well, if you're Marilyn and Joe that is).

And you achieve this by starting with you. Whether you call it a theme or a concept, it all starts with your story as a couple.

 

You need to infuse your wedding with your personalities and stories if you want to create a truly memorable event for everyone involved.

 

Start by asking yourselves these questions...

  1. What's special about your relationship?
  2. What defines you as a couple?
  3. What do you both get excited about?
  4. What lights you up and brings you joy?

 

I admit these aren't easy questions and you might feel a bit overwhelmed. Firstly, there are no right or wrong answers. Grab yourself a big sheet of paper and write down all your answers. Don't censor yourself.

Next, think about all the things you love to do together... do you share a love for the outdoors and frequently explore new hiking trails? Do you enjoy food and love nothing more than discovering new places to eat? Do you share a love for the arts? Books? Music? Theatre? Movies? What about architecture, interior design, travel? Do you have a fur child you spoil every day?

What are your favourite memories as a couple? Have there been defining or otherwise significant moments during your relationship?

You can also ask your closest friends or family for their input (but not your 500 "closest" Facebook friends). How would they describe you?

 

Highlight all the words that feel right to you. What do these words mean to you? How do YOU define them? And how does that translate visually?

I've mentioned it earlier... people define words in different ways and it's what modern or elegant or classic or whimsical means and looks like to you that will make your wedding feel special.

 

Have a look at the two mood boards below (other people might prefer to call them vision boards). Both clearly depict a vintage/retro theme but are visually interpreted in different ways. Are you drawn to the pretty pastels of the 50s or the bright and fun (and slightly embarrassing) style of the 80s?

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(PS: Be sure to properly research your theme if it's based on an era. And if you plan to have an 80s themed wedding please invite me.)

It's at this stage where Pinterest will quickly become your new best friend. It's the digital equivalent of you putting a face (visuals) to a name (words).


Still, have some trouble pinning down your theme? Don't worry, I have two exercises that might just spark the right idea. 

  1. It's quite funny how people can have a really hard time articulating what they like, but they can always tell you what they don't like. So start backwards by listing all the things you don't like and narrow down to whatever direction feels right for you.

    You can take this exercise a step further by thinking about weddings you've attended over the years. What did you like or didn't like about those weddings? Why is that?
     
  2. I've already touched on this second exercise a little bit a few minutes ago... Imagine catching up with your best friends over a cup of coffee a few days after your wedding and overhearing them (again, totally accidentally) talking about it while you wait in line for your order. What do you hear them say? How do they describe your wedding day? What words do they use? 

    What's the one thing they could they say that would put the biggest smile on your face?

 

Think About Your Guests Too

Sure you want your wedding day to be beautiful and memorable, but go beyond that. What mood do you want to create? What do you want your guests to feel like on your wedding day? What do you think will make them say "That wedding was so Marilyn and Joe." (yes, I'm a HUGE Marilyn Monroe fan)

 

Other things to consider

The location/venue is one of the first decisions you'll make and it can help you to decide on a wedding theme. How? Well, if you're about to get married in a castle in the Scottish Highlands it'll be very difficult to pull off a nautical themed wedding. 

Yes, your wedding theme should be based on what you like but it also needs to work in the physical space. 

But your choice of location/venue is something you'll have put a lot of thought into and will probably give you some clues as to what your wedding theme might be.


Other things that can help you narrow down your wedding theme:

  1. The season (Are you having a spring, summer, autumn or winter wedding?)
  2. The location (Do you plan a destination wedding? Will it take place indoors or outdoors? Castle or barn? Beach or mountain top?)
  3. The formality (Black tie or casual? How about costumes?)
  4. The time of the day (Under the sun or the stars?)


And Last But Not Least

Stay true to yourself. Don't try to be someone else. And don't just blindly follow a trend. Your wedding day should still feel authentic and relevant ten years from now.  

Don't try to emulate something cool you've seen in a magazine that isn't true to who you are. 

By all means, recreate Hogwarts and practise your spells, but only if both of you are true Potterheads.


We've Decided on a Wedding Theme. Now What?

Firstly, stop looking. You're done. Enjoy.

Now go and apply your theme to all aspects of your wedding, from the colour of your napkins to your song choices and the design of your invitation (well, I had to mention the stationery somewhere...).

Share your mood board with your wedding professionals to help them come up with ideas to create the wedding you're dreaming of.

Just make sure you only work off one mood board throughout the entire planning process. It doesn't matter if you did it yourselves or had help from your stationery designer or wedding planner but stick to one mood board to avoid confusion.


Be Honest Katha, Do We Really Need A Wedding Theme?

Each wedding professional will probably have a different answer to this but I'm convinced that every wedding has a theme already. You. 

Maybe all you want is a small, heartfelt ceremony in your backyard with your closest friends and family. That's a theme, and it's up to you what small and heartfelt means and looks like to you.


That was A LOT of information, wasn't it? Let's end this with one of my all-time favourite themed weddings... what do you think? Isn't this Snoopy wedding the sweetest celebration ever? 

What's your favourite wedding you've ever attended? Why did you enjoy it so much? Let me know in the comments.


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Thank you for reading my friend.