How to Plan a Rustcore Wedding

This is the perfect theme for desert nuptials or autumnal celebrations.

A fall-inspired tablescape with rust decorations and rattan lanterns

Photo by Gianni di Natale Photographers

While neutrals will always stand the test of time, more and more couples are embracing splashy shades of color on their big day. Rust, terracotta, and burnt orange are all hues that have been dominating the wedding landscape, in part due to the explosion of Rustcore in fashion, beauty, and décor on social media. Defined by earthy, rich tones and textures, the Rustcore aesthetic will evoke a warm and organic feel at any wedding. 

Wondering if this chic color-based theme is right for you? Emmily Jones, destination wedding planner and owner of Gatherist, recommends taking a look at the time and place of your nuptials to determine whether this overarching concept is a fit. “An aesthetic should be mostly drawn from the landscape and season where the wedding will take place,” she explains. “Any couple’s location where rust tones will either compliment or coordinate would make them a good candidate.” The red rocks and barren dunes of desert locales and the vibrant foliage that encapsulates autumnal nuptials seamlessly lend themselves to Rustcore aesthetics because orange-brown tones are naturally found in the surrounding landscape and local flora.

Since your wedding invitations are the first element your guests will lay eyes upon, you can use your stationery suite to set the tone for your rust-colored concept. Consider choosing rust cardstock to relay information about your event, or seal neutral invites in a burnt-hued envelope. You can even set the scene by painting the setting on your envelope liners or by incorporating an illustration of your venue onto your invites. 

Another effortless way to infuse the shades that define Rustcore is through your personal wedding look. You can either go all out by donning a wedding dress in the copper shade or sporting one that has a subtle pop of the hue, whether it’s on the floral appliqués or in the embroidery across your neckline. Bridesmaids and groomsmen can also adopt the theme by dressing themselves in silk terracotta gowns or pairing classic suits with rust-hued ties. Gold jewelry, burnt orange eyeshadow, brown nail polish, and bouquets of pampas grass and dried florals will help round off your look. 

Since your décor is one of the main facets that help reinforce your aesthetic, turn to clay-based ceramics, rose gold surfaces, and woven fabrics to inform your reception design. The ideas are endless, but exposed wooden tables lined with rust taper candles and arrangements of burnt orange roses and pampas grass is one way to communicate your vision and create visual intrigue through depth and dimension. Or, maybe you choose to wrap your tables in satin terracotta tablecloths, while string lights and amber candles cast a warm glow over the evening. For place settings, rattan chargers topped with ceramic plates and rust napkins with fringe detailing, flanked by gold flatware, will create the right ambiance for your soirée. You can even implement the motif into your food and drinks. Consider serving Moscow mules in copper mugs and finishing off dinner with a multi-tiered cake adorned with rust fondant and dried palm leaves for a nod to this central idea.

While making Rustcore the main moment at your celebration will undoubtedly wow your guests, you can also incorporate the theme in a more subtle way, drawing on certain elements. If you’re hosting a rustic or bohemian bash, implementing a few features from the Rustcore aesthetic can definitely enhance your nuptials. How? “Aim for subtle impact through intentional details,” Jones suggests. “Rust tones can come through in florals, the ink used to letterpress the invites, or ceramic dinner plates.”

Regardless of whether Rustcore is the star of the show or a supporting character, Jones warns against overstating the look because it will detract from your love story. “Don’t overdo any theme,” the wedding planner advises. “Instead, find natural ways of incorporating or highlighting the rust tone. Most importantly, don’t do anything to push a theme. Every decision you make for your wedding should have significance or intention behind it.”

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