How To Choose a Wedding Theme

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superhero-themed cupcakes at a themed wedding

From suits and ties, to skirts and heels, to cake flavors and florals, there’s a lot to think about when planning a wedding. We bet you’ve already begun thinking about your wedding theme, whether consciously or not. Just to be clear, when we say “theme” we don’t mean you and your spouse-to-be have to throw on Mickey Mouse ears and set your first dance to “It’s a Small World” (although Disney weddings are definitely a thing). We’re simply referring to the style and tone of your event based on your location, wedding season, and a number of other personal factors. Think: a way to tie the wedding together according to you and your fiancé(e)’s tastes. Easy enough? To get you started, here are six things you should consider when choosing a wedding theme.

1. Your Personal Style

Think about your personalities and senses of style. Are you preppy? Outdoorsy? Whimsical? Or do you tend to lean towards clean and modern designs? You want your special day to reflect you and your partner as a couple, and there’s no better way to do that than by incorporating your personal style into the décor of your wedding reception, like this rock-n-roll-loving couple did.

bride and groom wearing leather jackets leaning against a vintage blue convertible car on a beach

Photo Credit || Willmus Weddings

We suggest looking at your favorite brands’ and stores’ websites and saving images (or writing down details) of what you like. This helps generate a wedding vision if you have no clue where to start.

An even better option is to browse through Zola’s ever-expanding collection of Real Weddings, which is updated daily with newly published weddings. It’s like a bottomless treasure trunk of inspiration! Dive in to discover such inspiring gems as Alysha & Cody’s celestial-themed wedding above, which blends Hollywood fantasy with Brooklyn style, or Joni & Janel’s colorful, Lego-inspired wedding below.

Did you know you were soul mates when you discovered you both loved a particular film or TV show? Are you both avid readers or Scrabble aficionados? Give a nod to the story and fabric of your relationship through a few thematic details, without going overboard. For example, a “Dr. Who”-inspired phone booth and cake topper make for some fun photo ops, while classic novels and stacks of vintage books speak to your literary leanings as a couple.

2. Location

A venue, city, state, or even country can reinforce the wedding aesthetic you’re going for. Think about your wedding venue and go from there. If your heart is set on a formal, black tie event, having it at a rustic barn might not be the best location. If you’ve booked a plantation in Charleston, you likely want to take advantage of your surroundings and have an outdoor fête. If yours is a destination wedding, say “aloha” to local foods, drinks, and even florals. Out-of-town guests will also love experiencing local or regional details via your wedding reception, so keep these in mind as you plan.

Maine couple in front of lobster sign

Photo Credit || Cuppa Photography

small wooden buoys in shades of blue tied to a chainlink fence with name tags on them used as part of the wedding reception decor in a nautical-themed wedding

Photo Credit || Cuppa Photography

3. Season

Wedding season exists for a reason, and while we’re all about a snowy white wedding, your dreams of an outdoor dance floor can quickly get buried (literally and metaphorically) if you’re planning a January soirée. Consider temperatures, potential weather threats, and the state of the surrounding trees and foliage when contemplating your wedding theme. Conversely, the date of your wedding may make your wedding theme a no-brainer. We’re seen some awesome Halloween nuptials and have a soft spot for Christmas and New Year’s Eve weddings.

bride and groom at a winter wedding in front of Christmas garlands with twinkle lights and red ribbons

Photo Credit || J&R Photography

bride and groom kissing at a New Years Eve wedding

Photo Credit || Sarah and Rachel

4. Budget

There’s that B-word again… Keep in mind that some wedding themes might be pricier than others, depending on your expectations and how OTT (over the top) you go with the décor. A more formal theme is likely to cost more than a rustic-country theme or a wedding that relies upon upcycled, thrifted, or vintage elements. (We’re particularly inspired by this vintage train travel-themed wedding featured below). But then again, even casual affairs can end up costing quite a bit if you’ve got a large guest list. Consider your wedding budget, available resources, and number of guests when creating your theme.

group of bridesmaids dressed in vintage-inspired dresses and hats holding vintage suitcases in a vintage train travel-themed wedding

Photo Credit || JoPhoto

5. Colors

The quickest and most obvious way to set the tone on your wedding day is by choosing a signature color and reflecting it through your wedding attire, flowers, cake, and table linens. If you’re getting married around July 4th (or if either of you are an active member of the military), red, white, and blue are obvious choices. If you and your soon-to-be spouse are sports fanatics, you might choose the colors of your favorite sports team to decorate your wedding venue. If you already have your heart set on a particular color, consider potential themes that are associated with that hue—or just make “colorful” or “blue on blue on blue” serve as your wedding theme.

6. Personal details

Remember what we said about infusing your wedding with your and your partner’s personalities? Beyond the general tone and style of the reception, consider your hobbies, interests, or occupations to help you create a wedding theme that is undeniably you two. Maybe you and your SO are a couple of Potterheads or Tolkien fans. You might have both attended the same alma mater or went to a Prince concert on your first date. You know you and your partner better than anyone, so have fun introducing personal details into your wedding decor.

bride being escorted by her father in a Lord of the Rings themed wedding

Photo Credit || Laura Dee Photography

bride and groom standing in front of giant Prince purple mural on an outside wall

Photo Credit || Penny Photographics

Looking for more wedding inspo? Take a look at Zola’s themed weddings to get ideas on how to create your own wedding theme.

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