Establish a Wedding Theme

A theme can be anything from very simple like saying that your colors are green and peach to very elaborate as a Renaissance wedding in full costume. While it is not absolutely necessary to have a theme it's helpful in making a budget wedding look more elegant. If everything ties together well you can achieve a "decorator" look that fools people into thinking you spent more than you did. It also helps you in choosing or making your invitations, decorations, placecards, etc. As an example, I will describe our theme and how we implemented it.

We started with the idea of having a Renaissance wedding but early on realized it was beyond our resources. However, in researching that theme I found a lot of decorating ideas I liked and we settled on castles and ivy and the colors midnight blue and shiny gold. We made our invitations with an ivy border, a shiny gold border, a castle graphic and tied them together with midnight blue satin ribbon. The centerpieces were ivy plants in terra cotta pots with a gold border painted on them and midnight blue candles. We bought ivy garlands to decorate the head table and cake and gift tables. The wedding cake was topped with a small ceramic castle and decorated with ivy. We found candle holders for the unity candle and tapers that had ivy leaves on them. All our personal flowers included ivy. For details on the prices look at our budget

Delta Jackson sent this description of a themed wedding: One of the most charming weddings I ever went to was an outdoor wedding here in Montana. It had a western theme and was held in a public park. The groom and his best man wore jeans and a western cut jacket. The bride and groom rode off on a horse after the ceremony. The most interesting part for me, however, was these folks found a clever way to cut their food costs for the reception. They put a Coleman canoe on a table, propped it on its side, filled it with ice, and then put in bowls with various cold salads and meats prepared by families of the bride and groom. The canoe fit with the outdoor western theme of the wedding and gave the reception country charm.

Here are two beach themed weddings reported by our readers:

From Shawna Berryman: We rented a beach house for $550 a night. For favors, we found some mini cola bottles w/corks for $1.00 each, wrote our names and date for the wedding on pieces of paper, rolled them up and put them in the bottles along with a bit of free sand. For centerpieces we bought 8 tin pails then filled them with that great free sand. We surrounded each pail with shells (also free off the beach). Our arch was decorated with larger shells bought at Michaels for 10.00. The flower girl is using her favorite sand pail and she will scoop them out with her shovel. We hired a caterer who is not afraid of our budget and we did the bare essentials but also have our grill at the wedding, for a later BBQ hosted by the new bride and groom. Our clothing is the only thing that we spent any kind of real money on. I found a nice slender flowing dress for $300 and his tux was $75.00 Our B.m's bought their own, and they were able to find nice dresses for only 80.00 that went well with the sandy color we chose. Online I found a place out of Anaheim where they did flowers for the entire wedding party for $300. All the bouquets had shells with the flowers. The flowers were not real but I can save them better that way. No shoes on this bride, but a pair of 5.00 flip flops that said just married were bought for the car ride to the airport. My hubby wore the same flip flops. Last but not least the cake… I had a friend make me a sand castle cake...White frosting with shell accents. Our cake topper.. one large shell with a picture of us inside!

From Cynthia Walden: We rented a beach house and since the cost of that was quite steep ($600.00 a night), we had to be frugal elsewhere. It was a good idea I decided on a theme, beach of course! Tying everything together made it look more elegant. I was barefoot...no shoes to buy! For centerpieces some free sand from the beach steps away from the reception in lieu of tulle + goldfish bowls from walmart at $.50 each for 12 tables + bunches of feeder goldfish. The goldfish and bowl doubled as a gift to each child in my wedding party. I hot glued ribbons on the inside of a seashell to tie the rings and my ring bearer carried the shell instead of a pillow. As for decorations,what is prettier than the ocean? Some streamers tied to the end chairs, stair rails, and an arch was plenty. The arch was $10.00 at Michael's.

From Chris: My fiance and I are both volunteer firefighters and so we were left with only one choice if we wanted a firefighter wedding. Do it ourselves!! Not a lot out there for firefighter themed weddings so we have had to either make or use our imaginations to plan this. First we made our own invitations. The front was a picture of us in our dress uniforms in front of our department's apparatus. Inside there was a bit of a verse, as we actually were partners before we started seeing each other, along with the wedding information. We asked the board of trustees if we could marry in the firehouse and they agreed, free of charge. Our backdrop was a ladder with our gear on it and on the makeshift alter (an ordianary table) were our helmets and two simple flower arrangements, along with our unity candle. Our fire chief did a blessing and we were also been offered the services of the color guard. At the end of the ceremony we walked under pike poles and axes. We also wanted some bagpipe music to make it traditional and got cd's to play for music during the ceremony. I actually walked down the aisle to the theme from Backdraft. For center pieces, we are adding fire helmets to all the tables, along with a few flowers and candles.

As you can see you are limited only by your imagination when choosing a theme. An ocean theme might include seashells and fish and sea green bridesmaids dresses. For a garden theme use wicker baskets of flowers and give tiny houseplant garden tools or small plants or flower seeds for favors. Red and white checked tablecloths are a good start on a picnic theme. Tie your wedding to a holiday for really easy decorating and start planning a year in advance to take advantage of the post holiday sales.