How to Incorporate a Wedding Theme Without Going Overboard

Your wedding should have a signature style—just don’t overdo it.
by Maggie Seaver

When trying to weave a certain theme or aesthetic into your wedding, take it from the pros: It’s much better to tread carefully and decorate strategically (preferably with the help of a planner). Whether you’re going full-blown Gatsby–themed, trying to evoke a certain style or still not sure what look you're going for (take our Style Quiz to help you decide), here are some handy guidelines to keep your celebration authentic, tasteful and far from overdone. Everything in moderation, as they say.

Trust the Seasons

Anything unseasonal will seem out of place no matter what. That’s why planners and florists always let the seasons guide the way. "The season is at the core of everything we do, so it’s important to never go overboard there," says event designer David Monn, of David Monn Events. If you’re having a summer wedding, there’s no need to include cheesy décor that’s summer themed—let the weather, in-season blooms and natural surroundings shine. You also don’t want to force décor that goes against the current season. "Unless you’re getting married in Australia, peonies aren’t in season for your wedding in February," Monn says. "You can get them, but the season tells us the story of what’s happening."

Align With Your Own Style

Another first step is to think about your everyday style and personalities. From there, avoid choosing a wedding vibe that feels inauthentic. If you’re a casual T-shirt-and-jeans couple, don’t force yourself to have a formal black-tie wedding. "It doesn’t make sense. It becomes an effort that never really resonates, even if it’s beautiful. If it’s not part of your life, it’s not something you should do," Monn says.

Don’t Cram Your Theme Into Every Detail

"One of the most common mistakes couples make occurs when they don't apply their vision strategically and try to incorporate their theme into every part of the wedding," says Claudia Warner, event planner and executive vice president of Gourmet Advisory Services. Warner and her team urge couples to layer a theme in subtle ways for an effortless end result. For example, when Warner worked on an enchanted-garden-themed wedding, the team only incorporated the motif into the most important aspects, like the invitations, ceremony arch, entryway, themed escort cards, dance floor and favors. But she left the cocktail hour be, so everyone could sip and eat without being bombarded with even more themed elements.

Go Easy on the Flowers

Weddings and flowers go together like cake and frosting, but there’s a limit. "Flowers don’t make the décor—and I love flowers," Monn says. "[Couples] go overboard [with flowers] because they feel they’re what gives a wedding romance." Don’t forgo blooms altogether, but Monn insists the addition of elements like lighting, fragrance and sound will be more impactful than just masses of flowers. Keep in mind too that even the prettiest, most expensive stems have a short shelf life, so the more you use the more you’ll end up having to toss when it’s over.

Be Wary of Online Décor Purchases

"Another mistake couples often make is purchasing décor or favors online they feel will work with their theme," Warner says. "The problem is, there's no way to know what these items look like in real life. Couples expect them to look beautiful, but often end up disappointed when they realize they're not necessarily good quality and won’t reflect the theme in a positive way." If you do buy online, make sure you’re using a trusted source: Check product reviews, crowd-source your married friends, order a sample and don’t rely too heavily on these items to carry your wedding theme on their own. 

Stick to the Necessities

At a certain point in the planning process, Monn always recommends taking a moment to ask yourself what you could live without. "I step back from everything and say, okay, what do I really not need? I take away a few things, and think, do I miss them? And if I don’t, then I probably never needed them," Monn says. This mental trick will help you notice if your themed elements are becoming oversaturated.

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