Choosing a Wedding Theme with Style

Written by Joyce Scardina Becker


The Knot California magazine recently published an article entitled “Wedding Themes 101”.  We love The Knot, but want to set the record straight.  What they characterize as “themes” – Art Deco, Bohemian, Classic, Country, Modern, Rustic, Vintage, Whimsical – actually should be considered as “styles.” 

Modern Wedding Décor
Photo:  Tanja Lippert

Art Deco Wedding
Photos:  Alicia Pyne Photography; Unknown

Whimsical Wedding Cake
Photo:  Mary Costa Photography
Cake Design: Torrance Bakery

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a style is “a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed” such as a style of furniture.  In fact, most couples do not choose a wedding theme, but instead choose a “style.” Over the last several years, “rustic” and “vintage” have been popular styles at weddings, but these are not themes.  Many couples may not have even recognized the difference between a rustic style or vintage style.

A Rustic wedding employs weathered, time-worn pieces (furniture) and accents (accessories) in a more casual setting.  Examples include an old barn, or a vignette of weathered wicker furniture.

Rustic Wedding Décor
Photo Credit:  Unknown

 Vintage applies to more refined furnishings, from the 18th century to the 1950’s, typically more “refined” than rustic.  Think antiques.  Examples are painted French chairs, glided scones, chinoiserie toile fabrics, mercury glass containers, pieces of silver and crystal chandeliers.   

Vintage Bridal Attire and Décor
Photo:  Jodi McDonald

Again, it’s important to note that neither Rustic nor Vintage should be considered “themes” – instead, they are “styles.”  So then, what is a “theme,” and how does it differ from a style for a wedding? 

While style is typically reflected in the type of accessories or furniture used in a wedding, the theme is a specific design concept that starts with your Save the Date and carries all the way through the end of the celebration.  You can design a theme wedding that reflects your heritage, your combined personalities or your lifestyles (we wouldn’t recommend selecting all three, but just one).

Let’s say you are foodies, savoring the opportunity to dine out at innovative restaurants, as well as cooking up culinary delights in your own kitchen.  For your meals at home, you love to try the many spices available to you from local or ethnic grocery stores.  Voila!  You could have a theme for your wedding focused on “spices.”  But your style could be Art Deco, Bohemian, Classic, Modern… you get the picture.

A Spice Rack of Escort Cards
Photo:  Wendy Maclaurin Richardson Photography 
Wedding Design:  Events of Distinction

A fun, eye-catching way to convey your theme is to give it a tagline – for example, “Love Is the Spice of Life”.  When choosing a theme, make sure it can be communicated through not only the save the date and invitation, but also your décor, music, food, beverage, tablescapes and vignettes.  The most powerful way to experience your theme is to see, hear, touch, smell and taste it (an entire experience). 

For example, the wedding invitation could be an Art Deco spice bottle with the invitation text etched on the glass.  For your music, you can select songs like “Hot Hot Hot” and “Cinnanmon Girl”, and for favors, a collection of your favorite spices and recipes packed to go!

Photo:  Wendy Maclaurin Richardson Photography

Creating not only a style, but also a theme for your wedding will truly make your special day uniquely your own!