Fall is one of the most celebrated seasons—it's no wonder it's the most popular time for weddings! Just think: cozy weather, comfort cuisine, and rich color schemes—the perfect ingredients for a spectacular fall wedding. When planning your big day around the chillier months of the year, decide early on if you want to embrace an autumnal theme or go more neutral. Whether you prefer color palettes of burgundy, burnt orange, and deep grays, or want to stick to a style that embraces blush, cream, and ivory, we’ve tapped the minds of some of the wedding industry’s best for dinner party ideas fit for a range of fall celebrations.
Opting for a casual cocktail hour over a formal sit-down dinner? We love apps that use traditional fall flavors and a tasting bar with classic cocktails. Below, find tips for turning any fall pre-wedding event into a seasonal occasion that can stand alone!
Keep it casual
“This time of year is about gratitude and bringing your nearest and dearest together, and that’s what the festivities around a wedding are all about!” says Nancy Parragué, Senior Account Executive at Paula LeDuc Fine Catering & Events, who believes a casual cocktail hour with fun and light hors-d'oeuvres is just as impactful as a sit-down meal. “Guests can mingle and connect while tasting and sipping the familiar flavors of fall.”
For Elisa Bricker, owner of Elisa Bricker Photography, photographing a fall table with a focus in minimalist decor is a great way to capture an original design style. “Most people think that fall tables have to have rich colors and seasonal items like mums or gourds,” Bricker says. “I love the use of bright whites, soft creams, and layering texture to create a warm and inviting space without the need for deep colors.”
Bring it all together with a color scheme
“Blending both alternative and traditional fall colors into one cohesive color scheme will guarantee a seasonally sophisticated event,” says Sonia Hopkins, Owner and Principal Event Designer at XOXO Bride Events. For this outdoor fete, gray, light blue, and burgundy were all used to create a seamless color palette.
Try family style
Kerstin Lindgren, Event Planner at Fearrington Village, wants couples to remember the importance of their room setup as well as their menu choices. “Set an abundant family style celebration with long banquet tables, accented by with rich, warm colors of fall and lots of candlelight, featuring cozy comfort food,” Lindgren says. “Guests will naturally want to linger with stories and toasting, fond reminiscences and great wishes.”
Incorporate fall flavors
Demi Meeker, Senior Sales Manager at Cannon Green, considers pasta a definite crowd pleaser for any large gathering. “For a fall pre-wedding event, we love Cavatelli with Sausage, Roasted Pumpkin, Broccoli Rabe, Sage, and Pecorino; it’s the perfect combination of classic fall flavors that your guests will love,” she says.
Set up a tasting bar
A creative twist on a traditional bar setup, Gina Jokilehto-Schigel, Owner and Creative Director of Shi Shi Events, considers this a seamless choice for a seasonal celebration. “Choose different brands of bourbon, whiskey, tequila or rum and offer them as flights for tastings, neat or on the rocks, or mixed in a specialty cocktail recipe from a small menu you’ve created for the evening,” she says.
Add fall elements to your tablescape
When focusing on menu options, it’s important to consider the decor that will be featured around your main courses, aka your tablescape. Brittney Reecy of Revel Decor believes a fall display doesn’t always have to mean pumpkins and autumn leaves. “Take your tablescape in a more chic direction with natural elements juxtaposed with lush fabrics like velvet and high gloss black accents,” Reecy says. “Some porcupine quills don't hurt either!”
Lean in to traditional!
Nothing says autumn like a baked apple pie so why not incorporate such a traditional fall staple into your big day? For an engagement party, Amy Nichols, Owner of Amy Nichols Special Events, wants couples to consider forgoing a cake altogether and considering a pie instead, and we are here for it.