When it comes to wedding themes, there are two hard and fast rules. Rule number one: Of course you don’t need a wedding theme! Truly. I have been to countless flawless, gorgeous, Beyoncé-level weddings with nary a theme in sight. You don’t want to theme it? Don’t.
Rule number two: If you are going to theme it, make it work. How you do that, though, is up to you—but we do have a few ideas in mind (plus twenty real-life wedding themes that we’re obsessed with):
weddings themes: how to pick one and make it happen
before we go any further: You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. Cultures and religions aren’t wedding themes—not even a little bit—and they shouldn’t be appropriated as such. For example, you should definitely not have a “Hawaiian-themed wedding,” especially if neither of you is remotely Hawaiian. I like travel wedding themes as much as the next person, but if neither of you is from Morocco, maybe don’t have a Moroccan-themed wedding because it looks cool. I would also steer clear of incorporating Native American anything (including that headdress prop so often used by photo booth companies) in your wedding if you aren’t Native. And no one wants to see you jump a broom or stomp on a glass if you have no business doing so. These things are sacred parts of other people’s cultures (think: like communion is for Christianity) and not to be used as fun thematic elements.
In other words: if it isn’t yours, don’t steal it.
picking your wedding theme: First things first, immediately ask yourselves if you want your theme to be aesthetic or conceptual. In other words, do you want to pick a favorite color or two and theme everything in those colors? That’s an aesthetic theme. If you’re thinking, “No, no, Stephanie, my partner is building a life-size model of Hoggle for our reception space,” then girl, you’ve got yourself a CONCEPT theme.
If you’re stuck on how to pick a theme, sit down together and really isolate what you both like. What hobbies do you have? What’s your favorite show? You can make just about anything work as a theme if you put your minds to it, but the genuine love for the theme has to be there.
choose colors to work with your theme: I mean, building a life-size Hoggle is amazing, but what colors do you associate with Labyrinth? (Also can I please come to your Labyrinth-themed wedding?) A lot of your wedding will involve color: your invites and save the dates, flowers, lighting, centerpieces, favors, desserts, menus, and so on. You’ll want to figure out those colors and make sure you can bring them together in a way that’s complementary—both to your eye and to your wedding theme.
don’t forget to ask for help: Wedding themes can be tricky to pull off, and you might feel like packing it all in and giving up halfway through. Don’t! Reach out and ask for help. If you love The Hobbit so much you want to have a Hobbit-themed wedding, I bet you probably have close friends or family that love it, too. Reach out, pick their brains, and ask them what they would do to bring your ideas to fruition.
And with that, here we go. We’ve rounded up some of the coolest wedding themes around the web, with a heavy helping of #nerdmagic.
vintage/rustic wedding themes
Vintage wedding theme: Yvonne and Jason are big Mad Men fans, and decided to go all out with their San Francisco elopement: birdcage veil, teal shoes, lace gloves, and vintage style photo processing. I am here for it.
Old Hollywood Wedding theme: Old Hollywood is one of my favorite themes because it’s just so glam—and Tamika and Julius’s wedding is no exception. BONUS FUN: This wedding took place in Birmingham, Alabama (s/o to my fellow Southerners!).
Photo by Kristen Lynn via Ruffled Blog
Americana wedding theme: This wedding happened on July 4, which more or less necessitates a patriotic theme, right? I like that these guys didn’t go full out “red, white, and blue” and instead opted for a “Vintage America” wedding in Chicago.
Rustic-chic wedding theme: It has been fascinating to watch rustic-chic go from a general wedding concept to a theme—when I started working in weddings over eight years ago, rustic was a term that was being applied to anything that took place in a field (bonus points if you have mismatched wooden chairs). Terris and Amber’s wedding blends all things rustic and luxurious, and it’s pretty gorgeous.
the “my favorite color” wedding theme
White and gold wedding theme: I am all in for color-themed weddings, and I extra love that everyone is wearing white in Kenya and Ackerly’s white and gold–themed fete.
Purple and blush wedding theme: When I first saw the words “purple and blush–themed wedding” I paused—how would that work? It turns out that anything I could imagine couldn’t hold a candle to the reality, and I extra love that Tabitha and Loren used tons of purple throughout.
outdoors wedding themes
Nautical wedding theme: I always like to daydream about the day that my family finally decides it’s time to up and move to the coast of Maine and be seafarers (because that’s totally realistic), and Jodi and Kurt’s nautical wedding is doing little to put a damper on those dreams.
Garden wedding theme: The garden wedding theme might be my all-time favorite from the bunch because it’s wildly diverse: gardens can look like whatever you want them to. Roselyne and Terry both grew up in Haiti, and decided that their vintage garden glam wedding would be perfect with a ton of fruit trees. Yessssss.
Medieval Forest wedding theme: Sometimes it’s hard to only pick one wedding theme, and if that time comes in your planning journey, you should totally take a cue from Alexandra and Paul. These two combined astronomy, medieval life, and their love of forests to create a theme that worked for them.
space wedding themes
Photo by Candid Image via Wedded Wonderland
space wedding theme: If you do nothing else today, do yourselves a favor and click over to see more from Rayan and Reem’s incredible space wedding. Maybe you don’t have to go all out like they did, but man, if you’re a space nerd and budget allows, please pay whatever it costs to hang a solar system from the ceiling of your wedding venue, and then invite me to your wedding.
Astronomy-meets-industrial wedding theme: These two mixed a lot of modernity and metal with a lot of astronomy and space to create this ultra-cool astronomy-industrial wedding theme.
Astronomy wedding theme: Sometimes your wedding theme doesn’t have to be wildly obvious. I’m all in for understated wedding themes, too. Emily and Om hosted a beautiful wedding with lots of astronomy touches.
POP CULTURE WEDDING THEMES
wizard of Oz wedding theme: If you’re going to go big with one of fiction’s most-loved stories, this is the way to do it. Anna and Brandon brought the Wizard of Oz to life with their wedding. They even got married in a mostly defunct Wizard of Oz theme park in North Carolina.
THE GREAT GATSBY–1920S WEDDING THEME: For a decade that was not known for being that great to most people, we sure do love emulating it all the time. I mean, I’ll take any excuse to dress up like Zelda Fitzgerald that I can get (even though her end was untimely and her talent was never really recognized). And when it comes to wedding themes, few really shimmer like The Great Gatsby–1920s combo—and if you want to get your inspiration on, you can see more photos here.
Photo by LeahAndMark
1920s–NOT great gatsby: I love Tracy and Patrick’s wedding partially because they are very clear that while it is most certainly 1920s themed, it is most certainly NOT Great Gatsby themed, thus proving that you can do one without the other.
HARRY POTTER WEDDING THEMES
Cassie-Leigh and Lewish went all out for their Harry Potter–wedding theme and basically had the wedding I dream about. They got married in a legit castle, the cake is perfection, and she wore Gryffindor and Slytherin heels. I JUST DIE.
Photo by Michelle Chiu
I am a major Potterhead, and when I saw Athena and Daniel’s nerd-themed wedding I closed my eyes, inhaled, and thanked the world once again for giving us the goddess that is J.K. Rowling. These two did everything I’ve ever dreamed of: cauldron cakes filled with bird seed to toss, treasure trolls and mushrooms on the wedding cake, Jane Austen books as decor, and of course, that incredible Expelliarmus photo above. SIGH.
April and Jordan had a Harry Potter–themed engagement and wedding, because April and Jordan are the best. Go go go see more of the photos here.
circus wedding themes
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images via Offbeat Bride
Mustafa and Anna are Ringling Bros. performers, so it makes sense that they would have one incredible circus-themed wedding, right? Though when I think about it, I’m not sure if it counts as a theme if it’s your life.
I am pretty obsessed with Tara-Lee and Jesse’s “carnival of love” wedding, because the two even looped in their six-year-old to dress as Ring Master for the day. The photos include a purple tent and more balloons than you can keep track of, and they’re incredible.
wedding themes from apw’s archives
Photo by Betty Clicker
Solange-meets-Beyoncé wedding theme: Brandon and Matthew described their wedding like this: “Like we were all auditioning to be in the next Anthropologie catalog while dancing along to Beyoncé,” and it’s 100 percent true.
Photo by Kristina Hill
Sequins and feminism wedding theme: Nadine and Jared got married on a Sunday afternoon with long hair, spiky shoes, and lots of sequins in tow. That’s a theme right? Sure!
Photo by Helena and Laurent
Aviation wedding theme: Jen and Patrick didn’t set out to have an aviation wedding theme, but they embraced it full on when just about every step of the wedding planning seemed to lead there.
would you (or did you) have a wedding theme? what was planning like? PS: leave us links to your wedding photos. we want to see the crazy amazing decor!