The Swan Theme Wedding

Scratch a swan-theme bride, and you’ll find a fairytale bride underneath. The swan symbol comes down to us from Arthurian legend and beyond. Splashing its noble form across heralds and shields, this most graceful of the birds has starred in some of our greatest operas and ballets, from Wagner’s Lohengrin to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, and never once lost its cozy association with royalty.

So a swan-theme wedding isn’t a casual affair. It’s shamelessly traditionalist. The natural setting for such a wedding involves fluted columns and topiaries, foot bridges and sparkling ponds, Italian fountains and deep-red rose petals, and of course, horse-drawn carriages. The favors are traditional bonbonniere that hearken back to the lords and ladies of Europe. Even the flower girl and ring bearer will probably look like royalty.

As for fashion? The swan-theme bride is a resplendent figure. She’ll wear a glittering tiara. Her jewelry’s timeless: fiery Swarovski crystals, or demure pearls. She might, like many brides, find herself helpless against the blatant romance of Monique L’Huillier’s breakout gown that went by the name of “Swan Lake.” It featured a ballet-ready bodice of Alençon lace and over 20 rapturous layers of silk tulle in the skirt, and captured the hearts of brides everywhere, even those that considered themselves modernists. (The gown was such a sensation, it inspired its own matching Monique L’Huillier Barbie.)

Setting the scene for a swan-theme wedding means choosing a venue with “good bones.” Choose a place with manicured grounds and fine architectural details: wainscotting, pillars, finely upholstered chairs. Then you won’t have to do much to bring the theme alive; you can accomplish it with subtle touches. That said, here are some simple ways to let this beautiful bird steal the show at your wedding.

Decorating for Swan-Theme Wedding

Some brides combine the swan theme with other compatible themes such as hearts, or dolphins. A fun way to spend an afternoon (and get ideas for your wedding) is to grab a Swan Lake DVD from the local library — look for the most elaborately staged one you can find — and study the costumes and scenery.

Then, check out the swan boats that have graced the Boston Harbor since the 1870’s, based on the famous swan conveyance from Lohengrin. (Among other things, Lohengrin is famous for bringing us the famous “Bridal Chorus,” otherwise known as “Here Comes the Bride.” )

If you’re lucky enough to be close to a craftsman, consider placing your cake on a spectacular platform that mimics the swan-drawn both from the opera (for inspiration, see this sleigh-drawn wedding cake in our Winter wedding favors section). Lenox makes some beautiful swan items, such as cake toppers that double as keepsakes. If you prefer, go modern (yet classic) by topping your cake with an elegant tiara.

If you to give your swans center-stage as centerpieces, you’ll probably find the most flexibility with elegant items such as these clear glass swan vases, which come in a variety of sizes, look fantastic with floral arrangements, and can even be filled with tinted water to match your wedding hues. Double the sparkle by placing each swan on a round mirrored base … and surround with crystal-clear vase gems and red rose petals.

Having a buffet-style reception? Tuck little reminders of your theme throughout by having your caterer or a talented friend carve some beautiful swans out of foods such as honeydew melons.

Finally, if your budget can stand the strain, put aside a bit of change for a spectacular kissing swans ice sculpture. Lit from below and wreathed by greenery, you’ll find this crystalline beauty makes the most romantic eye-catcher in the room (besides yourself, of course!)

Style Me Pretty