Top 10 Wedding Themes (and How To Make Them Your Own!)
We break down some of the top 10 wedding themes (from alternative to whimsical) with basic descriptions and buzzwords for each. Style is totally up for interpretation, though, so these aren’t rules. Think of them more as jumping-off points, because once you know what you want and how to ask for it, we encourage you to break these guidelines and create a wedding that’s totally your own!
Imagine a venue filled whitewashed décor, from the linens to the floral arrangements. There may be a metallic or pastel accent, but overall the palette is light and airy with different textures thrown in to mix things up.
Buzzwords: traditional, timeless, elegant
What it looks like: Classic weddings are usually more on the formal side—they’re clean-cut affairs. Which means there may be a champagne cocktail hour, chargers set at each place setting and understated (but beautiful) décor like tealight candles or arrangements made up of a single floral variety.
Venue idea: ballroom
This theme is focused on—you guessed it—natural elements like florals and farm-to-table food. The color palette follows suit with a subtle color combo of white or ivory that’s contrasted with deep green garland and greenery.
Buzzwords: ethereal, organic, elegant
What it looks like: Wood family-style tables make their own statement, and tablecloths are swapped for runners so the raw texture of the tables can be exposed. There might be a sustainable or eco-friendly theme flowing through the décor, like escort cards and menus printed on recycled paper or packets of seeds as favors.
Venue idea: open-air courtyard
A modern wedding is all about exquisite simplicity. City dwellers, urbanites and design lovers gravitate to this wedding style, which skews formal but has enough playful touches to keep it from feeling stuffy.
Buzzwords: graphic, contemporary, vogue
What it looks like: Expect a mix-and-match of patterns in a playful, but incredibly sophisticated, fashion, anchored by a streamlined color scheme. The theme is reflected in every detail from the thoughtfully chosen table linens to the specialty cocktail. A modern monogram or cool logo may be used to personalize the menus and the dance floor, while the cake will be simple but extra delicious (think: foodie ingredients and crazy flavors).
Venue idea: loft
A lot of time and effort goes into DIY weddings and you can see the personalization in every detail. Whether it’s a hand-sewn pennant flag banner, a dessert bar carefully curated by many bakery visits or handwritten escort cards, the couple’s style really shines through.
Buzzwords: handmade, charming, personalized
It looks like: A customized stamp that prints the couple’s monogram on each invitation, a handcrafted paper flower bouquet and favors packaged by the couple with personalized notes of thanks make up a DIY wedding. A make-your-own food station (whether it’s in place of or supplementing a sit-down meal) is a must for the reception. Think: sliders with a variety of toppings and sauces, a crepe station or s’mores fixings for dessert.
Venue idea: backyard
“Alternative” seems to have gotten a bad rap over the years, and we’re here to change that. Having an alternative theme just means your style is unique and can’t be boxed in with other categories. These themes are often representative of subcultures such as Burning Man, Steampunk, Renaissance or Marvel comics.
Buzzwords: quirky, creative, unique
What it looks like: The bride might be in a traditional white dress, but the bouquet, headpiece or accessories would be all her own. Or, she might opt for something totally different, like a multicolored gown or handmade cocktail dress. There’s definitely a groom’s cake with a nod to his own interests (think: Captain America’s shield, R2D2 or an iconic sport’s stadium). And lots of quirky touches from centerpieces to favors.
Venue idea: renovated movie theater
A celebration by the sea calls for some serious Cape Cod and Nantucket inspiration. A seafood bar, like an oyster shucking station or fresh shrimp cocktails during cocktail hour, is sure to send the right message.
Buzzwords: preppy, navel, beachy
What it looks like: Anchors and sailboats aren’t the only seafaring details here. Breezy linen fabrics, lighthouse décor, sea shell escort cards, fishing line lighting installations and blue watercolor palettes create a sailor-worthy atmosphere.
Venue idea: waterfront yacht club
Bright colors, flirty lines and versatile fabrics define a preppy wedding. There’s usually a use of a modern motif or pattern to set off the bright colors, and the combo of the bold palette and graphic details elevates the whole ambiance to flirty, fun levels.
Buzzwords: sophisticated, bright, playful
What it looks like: You simply can’t have a preppy wedding without peonies. This ruffled pink bloom is the perfect stem to create statement centerpieces and accents. The perfect wedding gown would have a bow detail or two, or maybe layers of flowy tulle. Since preppy weddings are more on the formal side, expect a few fancy touches like calligraphy or chandeliers alongside minimalist Kate Spade–like décor.
Venue idea: country club
This “of-another-time” theme is often confused with retro. The biggest differences are in the era: Retro is more about a specific period in time while vintage alludes more to antiques and Victorian details.
Buzzwords: antique, throwback, aged
What it looks like: Instead of tablecloths or runners, tables might be draped with delicate layers of lace. Old furniture makes the best statement, so a lounge area with old armchairs or love seats would create the perfect ambience.
Venue idea: historic courthouse
Romantic weddings are all about celebrating romance with barely there colors, soft lighting and ethereal details like flowing dresses with airy fabrics.
Buzzwords: delicate, feminine, luxurious
What it looks like: We love the idea of a preceremony cocktail hour kicking things off, complete with light appetizers and flutes of sparkling rosé. The final detail that puts an exclamation point on the day is, of course, a beautifully tiered cake with an elegant cascade of flowers.
Venue idea: estate ballroom
In the spirit of Beauty and the Beast, think of whimsical wedding themes as a hybrid of nature and boho, topped with a flower crown. It’s a little more on the storybook side, but in the most tasteful way.
Buzzwords: fanciful, enchanting, eclectic
What it looks like: Think: garden party mixed with Alice in Wonderland. The invitations are the best place to introduce this theme—a quirky motif or wordplay can allude to the fun without giving the whole idea away. Day-of details like mismatched bridal party dresses, thrifted china and interactive entertainment (photo booth, anyone?) will make everything feel unique.
Venue idea: botanical garden