You're getting married -- congratulations! You're undoubtedly nervous, excited and maybe even a bit apprehensive. Now, it's time to decide on one of the most critical components of your special day: the theme. Finding the right theme for your wedding can be as difficult as selecting the perfect dress, but we're going to help you have a little fun along the way.
Choosing a theme isn't exactly a piece of (wedding) cake, so we've put together a list of 10 popular, creative motifs to inspire you. Whether your aesthetic leans toward a trendy rooftop ceremony in the city's grandest skyscraper or geeked-out vows on the deck of the Starship Enterprise, you've come to the right place. We'll fill you in on hot venues, gorgeous gowns and trendy appetizers to serve your guests.
Still haven't given up on the fairy-tale wedding of your childhood fantasies? Next, we'll show you how to make the event a dream come true.
10: Fairy Tale Nuptials
Have you been searching for the perfect tiara since childhood? Are you pining for a celebration that would put Cinderella's ceremony to shame? You don't actually have to be royalty to feel like a princess for a day. Go for a full-skirted wedding gown, top-tier plated dinners, a giant chocolate fondue fountain and a ceiling-high cake. Rent out a ballroom to fit hundreds of guests, hire a small orchestra to provide the music, and take off with Prince Charming in a limo after the reception.
Not ready to take out a second mortgage just to say "I do?" How about gettin' hitched Southern-style? (Shotguns not included.)
9: Marriage Jamboree
If extravagance simply isn't your style, you can always head South for a down-home country wedding. Mandatory cowboy hats -- for both the gals and the gents -- checkered tablecloths, bales of hay, barbecue and old-school honky-tonk will provide the perfect kitschy atmosphere for your country-themed nuptials. Host the ceremony outside or in a barn (yes, seriously). A country bar with a big dance floor would make a great place for a reception. Don't let a long, full-skirted wedding dress cramp your style when you walk down a grassy aisle or saddle up on the mechanical bull.
Too hip for barnyards? We've got the perfect theme for urban trendsetters.
8: Urban Wedding
Do you consider yourself a city-dwelling hipster? Are you and your affianced constantly riding the cusp of the trendy, urban curve? If so, an ultra-chic city wedding might be just your scene.
Traditional churches and backyard nuptials are out of the question for you, so plan on becoming man and wife on a skyscraper rooftop deep in your favorite metropolis. You'll be in the thick of the city, but in your own private space -- plus, it comes with a fantastic view. Reserve an urban loft for the reception, and your friends will be talking about your sleek style for years to come.
Even for the hippest among us, trends can be hard to follow. As with fashion, fine food tends to change with the season and the year, so the butternut squash tartlets that are popular in April will be as passé as pigs in a blanket come your December wedding date. To solve this problem, hire (or at least consult) a chef who's familiar with the latest in haute cuisine.
If you prefer sandals to stilettos, the next theme is for you.
7: Casual Beach Ceremony
Maybe you don't care about the latest styles and trends. Perhaps you just want to relax, unwind and have a good time. If that's the case, why not head to the beach? Beach weddings are extremely popular for the too-cool-to-care kind of couple, and the setting practically mandates that everyone has a good time.
There's nothing quite like saying "I do" with your toes in the surf, so make it a casual affair with bare feet or flip-flops, skirts or short dresses for the ladies and short-sleeved shirts for the guys. After the ceremony, gather around a fire pit for an oyster roast, or head inside to a beach-front club for drinks and dancing.
Never been to a beach without full scuba gear? Your tastes might run toward our next idea.
6: Extreme Weddings
Are you and your betrothed the kind of people who throw themselves out of airplanes for fun? Does spending quality alone time with your sweetie usually involve scuba gear or skis and a helicopter? If so, you might consider bailing on your plans for normal nuptials and make your wedding as extreme as the two of you are.
It's unlikely that the rest of your wedding party will be willing (or have room) to get into that hot air balloon with you or that any guests will be up for hiking Mt. Everest just to hear you say "I do." However, you can always select an indoor reception area that can give your guests a taste of what you're experiencing. The event room at an aquarium, for example, would be well-suited for underwater ceremonies, and a cliff-top restaurant would be a great place for your guests to hang out while you wed on the summit of a nearby mountain. You can even hook up an Internet broadcast of your vows so the rest of your wedding party can witness the event. Meet them at the party after you land, climb down or swim up to the surface.
For traditional landlubbers, get with the season on the next page.
5: Seasonal Ceremonies
For a classic wedding theme that's not too pricey or outlandish, celebrate the season! For a spring or summer wedding, deck out the bridal party in short, flirty dresses in pastel or vibrant colors, and incorporate lots of seasonal flowers in your bouquets and centerpieces. Nothing says spring quite like daisies, sunflowers and tulips. Plan for the ceremony and reception to take place outdoors in a venue that's full of life and gets great sunlight, like a cottage with a private garden or a secluded park.
If you're getting hitched in the fall, play up the colors of the harvest, such as chocolate brown and crimson. Embellish the ceremony and reception sites with gourd, apple and wheatgrass flower arrangements. The ceremony should take place somewhere that really speaks to the season, like an orchard full of fallen leaves or an old gristmill.
White is elegant for a winter ceremony, especially with red accents in the décor scheme. Winter weather is usually too nippy for outdoor ceremonies, so hold your event somewhere that invokes comfort and warmth, like an old inn with a large fireplace or a historic mansion with plenty of rich interior colors and textiles.
To really play up the fall harvest, check out our next idea.
4: Macabre Marriages
If the idea of a big white dress and sugary sweet wedding cake make you shudder, you might find inspiration off the beaten path. In fact, what gives you that bridal glow might be what makes others shudder! Sure, some might find it kind of creepy to exchange vows surrounded by carved pumpkins or stylized skulls, but for a creative couple with a wicked sense of humor, a macabre wedding theme can be light, festive and -- believe it or not -- fun. Love Halloween? Really dig the Mexican Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)? If you have tastes that run a little dark, this theme might suit you perfectly.
Plan a fall wedding, preferably in late October or early November, to correspond with Halloween or the Day of the Dead. For Halloween-themed nuptials, incorporate festive accents like jack-o'-lantern table markers and a bouquet made from orange tulips or pansies. Day of the Dead celebrants should showcase vibrant colors in the décor, as this holiday is incredibly rich in color (just look at images of any Day of the Dead celebration to get an idea). It's also about tradition, family and having a good time -- not unlike a wedding.
If scary pumpkins and leering skulls don't make you think of your betrothed, why not try getting hitched on the one day of the year dedicated to love: Valentine's Day?
3: Valentine's Day I Dos
Sure, a Valentine's Day wedding is cliché, but it's also really sweet. Plus, it'll be easy for him to remember your anniversary if it corresponds with hearts, candy and cupids.
Now, it's true that most people don't choose to wed on a weekday, so unless Feb. 14 falls on the weekend, plan on having a smaller turnout. But don't be brokenhearted -- with fewer guests, you can make your wedding a more romantic and intimate affair. Red and white roses, candy-box table markers, a heart-shaped cake and candy hearts with your names printed on them are some obvious choices, but you can take it a step further by having the DJ play only songs that include the word "love" or by having romantic sonnets printed inside all your programs.
If the only hearts you're into are eight bits and "restore health," check out our geeky wedding ideas on the next page.
2: Novelty Geek Ceremony
Did you meet your betrothed during a "Halo" death match? Did you share your first intimate moment while watching Han and Leia kiss? Have you both already requested time off work when the next "Star Trek" movie comes out? If so, you might want to geek up your vows with a novelty-themed wedding.
It can be anything you want. Dress up as Han and Leia (as Luke and Leia would just be wrong), or get married on the bridge of a makeshift Starship Enterprise. If video games are more your thing, adorn yourselves as Link and Zelda and cut into a Triforce-shaped cake.
Of course, your theme will dictate the style of your wedding, so think carefully about where you'd like the ceremony to be and what you want it to look like. For example, a green and purple indoor "Halo" wedding might not be quite as nice as outside gold, green and white "Legend of Zelda" nuptials.
1: Totally Traditional
Maybe you don't need to dress up like aliens or get married on top of a mountain to say "I do." In fact, most of us have traditional, old-fashioned weddings. You know, one where the bride wears a beautiful white gown, the groom sports a tux, and it's held someplace like a church or synagogue and is presided over by a religious official.
There's nothing wrong with traditional weddings. The fact is, they're as much a theme as anything else we've discussed. No matter how conservative or outlandish you want your wedding to be, a theme allows you to both express yourself and streamline every element of your wedding, and thus, your decision-making process. Suppose you can't decide between roses and tulips for your bouquet. Your theme makes the decision for you. If you've chosen a springtime garden party theme, tulips would be the natural choice, but if you're having a classic New York wedding, it's roses and Sinatra, baby.
And remember: As long as you're marrying the person you love, it'll probably be the best day of your life, no matter what color the flowers are, what you're wearing or where it takes place.