Photo: Sarah Joelle Photography
There's a fine line between a wedding theme that brilliantly pulls everything together and one that's downright cheesy. On the plus side, nailing down a theme will set off a domino effect for your decision-making process. "Having a theme helps to create a sense of continuity and cohesiveness and often can be a good jumping-off point when starting your planning," says Celeste Fierro, senior vice president of The ONE Group and its STK restaurant brand. On the other hand, going overboard on kitschy décor can easily run you into tacky territory. Here are five tips on how to stay on the elegant side of the line.
1. Choose a theme that speaks to you.
Authenticity comes first for every aspect of your big day. If a theme that reflects you and your fiancé doesn't come to mind, don't sweat it. "You should never force a theme," Fierro says. "If you're having a hard time connecting with something, take a step back and create an inspiration board." Or, simply revisit your secret wedding Pinterest board (we know you have one!). Do all of the pins have something in common? "Maybe there's something underlying aesthetically that you're gravitating toward without even realizing it," Fierro says. Bingo: There's your theme. But if your pins are all over the place...
2. Use a theme to tell your story.
"I find it especially important to incorporate a 'storytelling' aspect when planning a wedding, as it's the beginning of a new chapter in a couple's life," Fierro says. While many brides focus the theme on where the wedding is taking place — like a tropical theme for a destination beach wedding or a nautical theme for Cape Cod nuptials — you can also choose a theme based on a specific part of your and your fiancé's relationship. "Some of the sweetest and intimate themes I've seen have been inspired by a couple's shared hobby or a favorite poem," Fierro says.
3. Consider the theme an accent, not the focus.
"If every piece of décor looks the same and has the same colors or patterns, it will be distracting," Fierro says. And just plain over the top. If you're getting married at a winery in Napa Valley, for instance, giving guests a bottle of wine from the vineyard where you'll swap 'I dos' is a thoughtful touch. But incorporating merlot colors and grapevines at every turn is too much. "It's about finding a balance and using the theme to enhance your special day," Fierro says.
4. Weave it subtly throughout the event.
Just one pinecone in the centerpiece might not help guests pick up on the woodsy theme you're going for. But incorporating it through several aspects of the décor — say with natural branches around the cake stand and mini tree slices displaying table numbers — will easily tie the day together. "Spread the theme around and pull different aspects — colors, motifs, textures — into each part of your wedding and reception dé'cor," Fierro says. Consider everything from the flowers and cocktail napkins to the food you'll be serving as a chance to showcase your theme. Just know when to step back.
5. Keep it personal to keep it timeless.
So long as the day captures you and your groom, you'll avoid the "What was I thinking?!" moment 20 years from now. "As long as you choose a theme that has meaning for both you and your partner, then your wedding day will always be timeless," Fierro says. Fierro recalls seeing photos from a Batman-themed wedding, complete with comic book bouquets and dramatic lighting. Yes, even this will stand the test of time for this particular bride, Fierro says. "Above all, it's most important to not lose sight of who you are and who and what you love," she says.