The simplest way to bring a beach party theme to your wedding is to host the affair at the beach! But you can still have a fabulous Surf City wedding even if you are totally land-locked. First the food -- think surf and turf or a yummy clambake. Decorate your reception with seashells, starfish and driftwood. For an outdoor evening wedding, line the reception area with torches or hanging lanterns. For centerpieces, bring the beach to your guests with beach pails filled with sand and seashells. Surfboards, sharks and sand castles make terrific themes for a groom's cake and you can finish the look with more seashells on the cake table. For music, look to the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean and toss a few beach balls out on the dance floor for a bit of silliness. Finally, send your guests home with sun block or saltwater taffy favors.
Host an island-inspired wedding with bright tropical colors like lime, mango and banana. Dress in light, breezy fabrics and carry fresh orchids or hibiscus in lieu of a formal, traditional bouquet. Accent your reception location with torches and bamboo decorations. For music, think about a calypso or steel pan band to get your guests on their feet. For centerpieces, consider woven baskets with bright flowers or tropical fruit. For dinner, why not offer up food stations with a variety of Caribbean taste treats, like jerk chicken, plantains and roti -- meat and potato curry wrapped in a flour pancake. The traditional wedding cake for an island celebration is Caribbean black cake, a confection of fruit and rum that's sure to delight your guests.
An Aussie-themed wedding is a fabulous choice for couples looking for a casual, fun reception atmosphere. Throw some prawns on the grill and delight your guests with a surf and turf, or perhaps a relaxed barbeque. Treat everyone to edible centerpieces with baskets full of passion fruit, kiwis and other tropical tastes. Wash everything down with fabulous Australian white wines. Or wet your guests' whistles with an assortment of native beers, including XXXX, Victoria Bitter, Coopers, Tooheys, Emu and Swan.
For dessert, supplement your wedding cake with a few plates of lamingtons (sponge cake squares dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut). Decorations can run the gamut from desert outback to rainforest. For your groom's cake, consider a surfing theme, or perhaps Ayers or Wave Rock. Send your guests home with little stuffed kangaroos or koalas, or perhaps a CD of Australian musical groups like the Little River Band, INXS, Savage Garden, the Hoodoo Gurus and Natalie Imbruglia.
You have a wealth of gorgeous options to choose from if you'd like to host an Asian-themed wedding. One thing you can be certain of -- the food will be delicious. Consider serving stations with tasty dishes from China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. Dress your bridesmaids in red -- which symbolizes good luck in China -- and incorporate peonies and white orchids into your flower arrangements. A Far East theme opens the door to many beautiful wedding gown options. Look for a dress that draws on the traditional Chinese red dress, the Korean lime green dress and embroidered 'flower robe' or the white Japanese wedding kimono.
For a unique centerpiece, display Japanese paper umbrellas (a symbol for lovers) or perhaps a tasty bowl of fresh peaches. Cranes, butterflies and the phoenix all make wonderful motifs for decorations and invitation design. Send your guests home with green tea packets in red or green ribbon-tied boxes.
The key to a fabulous Provençal themed wedding is subtlety. Cover your reception tables with Provençal print fabrics in pink, blue and yellow. For centerpieces, consider earthenware bowls of grapes or perhaps, potted geraniums. Classic Provençal foods for your reception include whole roasted fish, chicken with fennel and pistou soup. For dessert, serve a croquembouche or corne d'abondance, cream puffs drizzled in caramel either stacked or displayed in a horn of plenty. Wash everything down with fine French wine. Decorate the ceremony and reception spaces with sunflowers, olive branches and rosemary. Send your guests home with French lavender soap as wedding favors.
Kick off your shoes and throw a fantastic Hawaiian lu'au. If possible, hold your wedding when the weather will be warm and move the festivities outside. In place of traditional reception tables and chairs, put your guests at low tables with straw mats to rest on. Deck your bridesmaids out in floral sundresses and put the groomsmen in matching aloha shirts and khaki pants. For food, opt for traditional lu'au fare: pork (whole roasted pig, if possible), poi, konbu maki and manapua. Choose centerpieces of fresh tropical flowers, or perhaps beautiful bowls filled with pineapples, passion fruit and mangos.
Host a juice bar with plenty of tasty tropical drinks for your guests. Pass out leis to parents and siblings and decorate the guest book and cake tables with shells and pretty pieces of coral. Send your guests home with little boxes of chocolate covered macadamia nuts.
It's time for your close-up, dah-ling. For a fabulous Hollywood wedding, you'll want to be anything but subtle. Think about a gold lamé wedding gown. If you'd rather go for classic white, dress your bridesmaids in gold or deep red. Roll out the red carpet for your walk down the aisle or, alternatively, at the entrance to your reception location. Print out menus naming each item you will be serving after a celebrity. For a bit of whimsy, provide your catering staff with acting resumes and headshots of the bride and groom and ask them to pass them out to guests as they work.
See if your caterer has director's chairs and use those at the main table. If your wedding photographer is game, ask him or her to dress in slick clothes and play paparazzi for the day. The Walk of Fame, Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory would all make wonderful themes for a groom's cake or your invitations. Send your guests home with little chocolate stars packaged in boxes, autographed by you and your new spouse.
Clambake! Fill up your guests with clam chowder, steamed clams and corn on the cob. Supplement your wedding cake with thick slices of Boston cream pie. For ambiance, go for a maritime look. Hang mosquito netting around windows and rafters. Place citronella candles throughout the reception space. Think about lobster buoys or cranberry scoops as imaginative centerpieces. Try to incorporate rich fall colors like burgundy and chocolate, calling to mind New England's fabulous leaf turning season.
Lighthouses, fishing boats and seashells make excellent invitation motifs. Continue the nautical theme with deep blue dresses for your bridesmaids and blue blazers with khaki pants for the groomsmen. As favors, consider Vermont maple sugar candy in little boxes with seashells glued on top.
Think Broadway, majestic skylines and Central Park when planning a New York themed wedding. New York is known for its street vendors, so why not arrange for food stations, each serving a different walk-away treat like sausage and pepper sandwiches, kebabs and pretzels with mustard. For centerpieces, consider little Statues of Liberty or Empire State Buildings. Name your guest tables after Broadway stars and intersperse your DJ's play list with popular Broadway tunes and, of course, Frank Sinatra's classic "New York, New York." Send your guests home with delicious red apples wrapped in ribbons and accented with subway tokens for a party favor they won't soon forget.
It's winter wonderland with a twist. If you'd like to host a ski resort themed wedding, search carefully for your reception location. Look for a spot that screams 'ski lodge' with stone walls, big picture windows and, ideally, a fireplace in the front entryway. Even if such a place eludes you, you can still do plenty to bring snow-covered slopes into your wedding décor. Think dark colors for your bridesmaids' dresses, like hunter green, burgundy and chocolate. Round up some comfortable chairs and circle them near any windows with particularly scenic views.
Talk to your baker about a wedding cake that evokes thoughts of snowy days and consider skiing, ice skating and mountain range themes for your groom's cake. For centerpieces, why not keep things casual with a coiled scarf topped by matching mittens. Decorate any rafters and quiet corners with faux snow, ski poles and those old ice skates you have sitting in your closet. For the toast, offer a choice between champagne and little nips of brandy. Finally, send your guests home with tins of cocoa wrapped in thick ribbons.
A Southern theme is perfect for couples hoping for a wedding that is at once elegant and relaxed. Consider an afternoon cocktail reception on a lawn, complete with big pitchers of iced tea, lemonade and mint julep. Supplement your hors d'oeuvre trays with big colanders filled with oranges, peaches and other delectable fruits. Get your guests in the proper mood with a Dixieland jazz band. For a sit-down dinner, go for yummy Southern foods like fried catfish or chicken, baked ham, seafood gumbo, sweet potatoes and pecan pie.
For your décor, think light, airy colors like peach and pale mauve. Seek out ivy-covered locations to replicate that Southern kudzu creep. For invitations, consider peach colored paper. Send your guests home with little jars of preserves decorated with swaths of frothy ribbon.
Choose bold, earthy colors like brown, orange, deep aqua and burgundy to anchor your Southwestern themed wedding. For centerpieces, consider pottery bowls filled with wildflowers. Alternatively, search for Native American crafts to function as stand-alone centerpieces. Hopi, Navajo and Zuni are just a few cultures to choose from. Accessorize your bridesmaids with Native American earrings and necklaces. For dinner, think about a good old fashioned barbecue, or perhaps a Tex-Mex dinner of chile rellenos, enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas. Highlight micro-brewed beers and local Southwestern wines at the bar to wash everything down.
And what better way to set the mood than with a fabulous mariachi band. For invitations, look for earth-toned papers and inks. Kokapelli, adobe structures and desert motifs such as cactus make excellent accents for both invitations and the groom's cake. Send your guests home with jars of Southwestern spices and seasonings wrapped in swatches of beige cloth tied off with deep aqua ribbon.
For a fabulous Tuscan wedding, start with the food. Italian food is all about abundance -- traditional meals in Italy generally have more courses than one expects in America. Think about serving different kinds of pasta, Mediterranean fish, Porcini mushrooms, crostini and pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans). Supplement your wedding cake with yummy Italian desserts like profiteroles, tiramisu, biscotti and Italian wedding cookies. For your wedding colors, look to deep Chianti reds and the lush greens of Italian cypress trees. Carry sunflowers as you walk down the aisle.
For decorations, think overflowing. Colanders with bunches of grapes spilling over the sides. Baskets brimming with thick, crusty bread. Vases bursting with wildflowers. Send your guests home with bomboniere, the traditional Italian wedding favor. Bomboniere are little baskets in imaginative shapes filled with confetti (sugar coated almonds).
Viva Las Vegas
A Vegas themed wedding is a wonderful excuse to go a little wild in your planning. Dress your bridesmaids in metallic hues or bold, bright colors. Choose ties for the groomsmen in wild designs. Look for a venue that will accommodate both the ceremony and the reception to replicate the all-inclusiveness of a casino chapel wedding. Find a DJ/emcee willing to put on a bit of a lounge lizard act and add lots of Elvis and Wayne Newton to the play list.
Let your guests play poker, blackjack or roulette for chocolate casino chips. Design faux keno cards and drop them in the center of each table along with pencils stamped with your wedding date. For dinner -- what else -- an all-you-can-eat buffet! Slot machines, neon signs and decks of cards make excellent themes for invitations or the groom's cake. For favors, think about casino chips or decks of cards stamped with your wedding date.
First -- choose the wine. You'll want to offer your guests a variety of choices, including red, white and dessert vintages. Find a nice, grassy outdoor area or a cool hall with plenty of stonework for the reception. Keep your setup casual -- picnic tables and simple tablecloths. For colors, look to forest greens, deep burgundies and subtle champagnes. Trellises make excellent decorative accents. Display your wedding cake on a wine cask. Arrange a few deep-red roses in wine bottles for centerpieces. In lieu of a cocktail hour, host a tasting, offering sips of a variety of wines along with cheese, crackers and other yummy treats to cleanse the palate.
For dinner, pair each course with a different, appropriate wine. Vines, wine casks and grapes make wonderful motifs for invitations and the groom's cake. Your baker may also be able to work delicate vine detail into the wedding cake. Send your guests home with the winemaker's notes on each vintage they've sampled, rolled into a scroll and tied with a burgundy ribbon. Or, for a smaller wedding, provide your guests with bottles of wine from a local vineyard, complete with your own "private label."