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The Definitive Guide to Themes and Schemes

Once you have chosen a venue you will need to start thinking about your style and theme. Sit down and make a list of any details you want to include and think carefully about how these will fit into your plans for the big day.


Although it may seem a little out of sorts, think of weddings you have been to and what you didn’t like about the day. This helps to give you a very good idea of things you want to avoid. Also think of the things that you loved, while you don’t need to copy them you can come up with a variation on the theme. 


Wedding Planning Editor, Susanna Richardson

The_Finer_Details_Button.jpgWhen choosing a theme and scheme remember that it will run throughout the flowers, dresses, men’s suits, table decorations and even the entertainment so you really need to choose carefully. The colours need to match the venue and most importantly your dress.

 It is a good idea to stick to no more than 3 main colours as this helps to keep everything simple yet dramatic without going over the top. White and Ivory generally make a good base for such pieces as table linen and stationery, you can then add an accent colour which will be used to add some dramatics to floral displays, such as red, orange or pink, then team that with a highlight, for favours and table plans, such as gold or silver. Tints and tones of the same colour can look great and add some definition, also don’t be afraid to be quite bold and go for some colours that may “clash”, it can make a real statement and add wow factor.

Golds, silvers and reds are perfect for winter and vibrant oranges and greens are fabulous for autumn. Think about the shades that appear naturally in nature at that time of year and you won’t go far wrong. Look at the colours that are prominent at the venue you have chosen and work with those. It is also important to remember that colours vary, what may be vibrant red to one, will be burgundy to another. Have several swatches of fabric to hand so that you can always check the colours match your dresses.

Think about the fabrics that you are using for the dresses. If you are going delicate and feminine choose flowers that reflect that. If you are having your dress made make sure that you spend some time looking at all the wonderful fabrics that are available. Rich velvet coats are perfect for the cold winter months and silk and organza are just what you need for a glorious summer’s day.

Make yourself a storyboard of ideas that you can refer back to throughout the planning and take this with you when you visit suppliers. Listen to your suppliers input and work with heir ideas as well. They are experienced and know just what will work. Don’t just rely on magazines, look on photographers websites and check out photographers in the US. They often have the most fashion forward ideas and we all like to be ahead of the times.  

Most of all go for something that reflects you as a couple. Everyone attending is there because they know you so hints at your personality are fabulous! Often couples get carried away with making it too “wedding” and forget to inject some humour. If your groom loves rock music then name the tables after rocks bands. If you love surfing then get some beach in there. Have fun with it and make your day totally unique! 

Choosing a theme 

Do you want a themed wedding? Do you want to go for an overall colour scheme or a full-blown theme?  This can be anything from medieval or winter wonderland to fairytale. Think carefully about how “themed” you want your wedding to be, the more OTT the more expensive it can be for you and you guests.

Does the theme work for you? The most vital part is that you feel comfortable so you need to make sure that your wedding suits your personality and reflects your relationship. If you are quiet and shy, don’t go for anything to exaggerated.

Does it match the venue? You will find that once you have chosen the venue, this will dictate the style and theme of the wedding. What works in a Scottish Castle will not work in a trendy London Art gallery. Visit the venue and get a good idea of the dominant colours and styles that are present throughout the venue.

Will your choice date? How many times have you sniggered at your parents wedding photos? Of course times change but try to stick with styles and themes that are simple and not too “of the decade”.

Who will be coming? Think about the guests you are inviting, if you have a real mixture make sure that the older guests will be just as happy as the younger ones. A wild gothic party may not suit the great aunts and uncles. However, if you are having your reception in several rooms at the venue, why not have each room based on a variation of the theme. This will be great for including all the guests and you could even have a specialist “kids room”.

Is it easy to do? If you have decided to do everything yourself, remember that the venue will need to be decorated either the night before or on the morning of the wedding. Don’t pick anything too complicated, this will only add to the stress.

What about the style of dress? This will have a huge affect on the style of your wedding, if you want a simple dress chances are everything else will be kept low key. Have an open mind when looking for dresses and try on as many different styles as you can.  You may be surprised about what suits you.

What about bespoke? It costs a lot less than people think to have things specially made and designed.  Not only will your choices be unique to you but also a handmade dress will fit perfectly and feel extra special. When thinking of shoes, go for shoes that can be specially adorned to order or add interest yourself with vintage brooches.

What do you want your guests to wear? If you are opting for the increasingly fashionable late afternoon wedding, chances are you’ll want your guests in evening wear. Make sure you inform all guests of any dress codes and any colours you would rather they avoid. Remember that weddings these days can be very costly for guests, especially with stag/hen nights, hotels and travel so any restrictions on dresscode are likely to raise a few eyebrows!


So you’ve chosen you theme now you need to think about the décor of the venues and how this will work and what you can add. Most couples have an idea of how they want their wedding to look. It can start with anything, maybe just a colour or maybe just an item such a feather. Whatever it is, it’s a starting point.

It’s not just flowers that you need to think of when it comes to décor, there are many elements that can add to the overall feel.  Lighting, especially, can play a large part in creating the ambience you want, especially with marquee weddings, where you are starting with a blank canvas. You can pretty much have any style of lighting you want these days, from contemporary spots, a starlight canopy to traditional chandeliers, the choice is yours. Even if you are marrying at a venue there is nothing to stop you having a specialist lighting company come in and add some glamour (well, unless the venue won’t allow it of course!). This can be a great way to really change the mood of a room.

Candles can always add romance and nothing looks better during the evening than twinkling candlelight, it helps to set the mood whist still providing some soft light. It is very important to think about the type of atmosphere you want to create, if you want to go for a wild party then it can be a good idea to speak to your band about spot lights and smoke machines to create the effect. If you are going for a cocktail party then you’ll want to keep things sophisticated and very simple.

If your venue is sometimes used as a conference room you may find that it has a rather boring ceiling, so why not bring in a design company and have some drapes fitted? This will give the room a complete overhaul and if you add some sparkle or patterns this can be your “wow” factor. You could just maybe add a starlight canopy over the dance floor for the evening reception. Make sure you see the dancefloor that the venue provides, often they are wooden and a little tired looking. It doesn’t cost much to hire a dancefloor in and they come in all variations, black and white, mirrored, lit, the choices are endless and it can really change the décor for the evening reception.

If you aren’t keen on the carpet then get some quotes for having a wooden floor put down or a carpet laid. It can be pricey but it may make a huge difference to the room. These days just about everything is available to hire to dress up a room tress, vintage crockery, ghost chairs, just about anything you can imagine. It never huts to get some quotes for anything that you imagine so go to town and then narrow it down.

Chair covers are brilliant for covering boring conference chairs so consider these as an option. They also create a blank canvas so you can add bows or flowers to work with the theme. Always see the fabric first as some can look very cheap, you also must make sure that they are ironed. Everything from the favours to the napkins will set part of the decor so make sure that you really think about how they will work together. It is worth putting some time and effort into this and really do your research.

Think of how you’d like the décor to change for the evening reception. If you are moving rooms then consider a different theme for the evening. If the venue has lots of rooms and you have exclusive use them theme each room differently. It’s great to create wow factor throughout the whole day so keep the guests guessing as to what will happen next. If you are having a marquee then consider having a section curtained off that is revealed for the evening. Guests won’t know it’s there and if you get the band set up, they are start playing a party number whilst the curtain is lifted. It never fails to impress guests.

Don’t forget about the grounds. If it’s a nice Summer evening, guests may well wander outside so it’s a chance for you to continue the theme. Maybe think of having a starlight red carpet or some simple oil burners or fairy lights. You don’t need to go overboard as a few lights go a long way. The same goes for Winter weddings. If your evening guests are arriving at 7pm the chances are it will be dark, so why not light the walkway with some lumiéres or hurricane lamps? It will give them a taste of what’s to come inside. You could even hang some candles from the trees if there are lots around.

 It really is the little touches that make a good wedding, great!


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