Think of a Halloween-themed wedding, and bone-chilling images of candy corn, plastic pumpkins, and Addams Family clones instantly come to mind. But we're saying, "Boo!" to all that, because even if your wedding is on or near October 31, you can certainly embrace the holiday—as long as you omit any obvious references to it. To show you how to pull it off, we consulted New York City event planner and designer Amanda Diamondstein-Cieplinska of Stellina Events. Here, she shares the details of a Halloween reception done right.
"I'd do a formal wedding inspired by the autumn season and famous European masquerade balls, for a touch of mystery," says Amanda. "The ambiance would be elegant, sophisticated and glamorous, with just a touch of spookiness. The 'Halloween' feeling would not be overt, but rather more of a suggestion."
"A historic yet glamorous rumored-to-be-haunted space would be ideal for this wedding," says Amanda. "The venue should exude a feeling of mystery. I would recommend an old cathedral-like space like the Angel Orensanz Foundation in downtown Manhattan, a historic building with lofty ceilings and pre-war architecture, or a stone castle. A Halloween wedding would be ideal for a destination wedding at a castle in Europe—I love the idea of a space with drafty stone corridors but lavish banquet rooms." [Ed. Note: We suggest the Markree Castle in Ireland.]
THE COLOR PALETTE
The use of black, white, and silver will create a glamorous vibe. To achieve a more rustic, autumnal feel, use various shades of burnt orange paired with matte antique brushed gold vases and serveware.
"As guests arrive, they'd be greeted by waiters clad in all black with white gloves holding trays of Venetian masquerade masks—the kind attached to a stick that you can hold up to your face—and glasses of Champagne," says Amanda. The bar would be serving Black Cherry Martinis (black vodka mixed with cherry juice, raspberries, and blueberries) and Pumpkin Divine Martinis (vodka and pear puree mixed with pumpkin butter, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg).
"To create a dramatic, slightly gothic atmosphere, hang rented antique crystal chandeliers from the ceiling," says Amanda. "Place large arrangements of natural branches–no leaves–in mercury glass vessels on the floor throughout the space. Long, rectangular tables would be covered with black tablecloths, and topped with a mirrored surface. On this, use an eclectic mix of crystal goblets, white china, black chargers, and black napkins with silver napkin holders. I'd also fill mercury glass or brushed gold candelabras and candlesticks with white candles, dripping wax. Arrangements of white blossoms—like hydrangeas and garden roses—of different heights and sizes would be interspersed throughout the tablescape." If the space has a fireplace, light it to cast a magical—as in, Victorian séance—glow, or fill it with pillar candles of various heights.
Even if the décor is leaning toward the macabre, it doesn't mean the food has to (so just table that idea of serving punch from a bubbling cauldron). It's okay to keep the fare seasonal and festive—fall's rich, spicy flavors automatically lend themselves to a sumptuous Halloween-time wedding. During the cocktail hour, serve passed butternut squash soup shooters. "For dinner, serve foods that incorporate the warm, hearty flavors of autumn, like pumpkin, apples, pecans, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg," says Amanda. Dessert would be apple cinnamon flambé with calvados and butter pecan ice cream, as well as slices of wedding cake—a four-tiered confection covered with dark chocolate fondant and decorated with black magic roses. [Ed. Note: This Day of the Dead shadowbox would make an appropriate cake topper.]
"After dinner, guests would head to the dance floor while a full orchestra wearing Venetian masks and all-black tuxedos plays—possibly with a live rendition of 'Monster Mash' later in the evening!" * [Ed. Note: Or Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Or Zevon's "Werewolves of London." Obviously, "Purple People Eater" would be overkill (and out of place).]*