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If you are not having a traditional church wedding, then chances are that you have given at least some thought to having a theme wedding. Many questions have passed through your mind regarding this decision, everything from “Where can I get decorations, invitations, and clothing to go with my intended theme?” to “How can I pull it off without the whole thing looking cheesy?” The answers lie in some careful planning on your part.

You can have a theme wedding or reception or both. Having both might be a bit easier, especially if the ceremony and reception are to take place at the same location, but the decision is of course one that only you and your fiancé should make. Once you’ve decided to go with a theme wedding, start brainstorming—let your imagination run wild! There are more theme ideas than you could possibly imagine. Are you getting married on Valentine’s Day? New Year’s Eve? Christmas? Virtually any holiday has easy theme potential.

Don’t forget to consider each other’s hobbies and professions. Do you or your fiancé teach Medieval Lit (or share a passion for it?) If so, then go for the “Medieval Theme” complete with horses and jousting; you could even arrange for your “knight in shining armor” to wear just that! Location themes are also extremely popular. Did the two of you meet at a particular place? Incorporate that location into your wedding theme, and whether you met at a Parisian café or on the boardwalk at the beach, your wedding day will hold extra special memories.

Ethnic theme weddings are also popular. Practically every ethnicity has some particular wedding customs that might be important to your or your fiancé. Ask older family members if they know of any nuptial customs, or check out your local library for books on the subject. Whether you choose to develop an entire ethnic theme or just sprinkle your traditional wedding with a few of the more popular customs, your wedding will give an air of excitement and a personal touch that will keep your family, friends, and yourselves reminiscing about the event for years!

Once you’ve chosen a theme, brainstorm again about decorations, invitations and menu options that incorporate the theme you’ve selected. Enlist the help of close friends or family to assist you in this endeavor, and you’ll be amazed at the number of neat ideas that you come up with. Looking for decorations? Check out thrift stores for items such as rustic park benches or inexpensive used patio furniture that you could cover with a nice tablecloth and use for your Café Paris theme. If that doesn’t work out, check the Yellow Pages and the Internet for local companies that rent such items. Contact your town’s theatrical group to see if they have any old backdrops, props, or costumes that you could rent or purchase (or better yet-have to keep!)

Searching for a unique way to present your wedding invitations? Have invitations for your Medieval Wedding addressed in calligraphy on parchment paper and hand delivered by a suitably costumed messenger. Put some shimmering silver and gold confetti inside the envelope of your New Year’s Eve wedding invitations.

Need food ideas? If you’re planning a Victorian-style wedding, try having a tea reception in the late afternoon, complete with various teas, finger sandwiches, scones with jam, miniature pastries, champagne, and of course, the wedding cake. Follow your beachfront wedding ceremony with a reception on the breezy terrace of a local hotel that includes a dinner of delectable seafood such as lobster, shrimp scampi, and stuffed crab.

Planning a theme wedding is easy once you’ve decided on a theme to follow. In addition, incorporating a theme into your wedding and reception can actually make planning your entire wedding easier because it gives you a focus that you might not have had if you had chosen the traditional wedding instead. Be original, be creative and have fun!