A Cinco de Mayo Theme Wedding

I can’t seem to find any ideas for a Mexican themed wedding, not even Spanish-themed ideas. My wedding’s on the fifth of May (Cinco de Mayo) and I really wanted to plan my wedding around that theme. Any ideas for centerpieces, especially?

— Lori

As luck (or fate!) would have it, I just spoke to TV personality and leading Baltimore wedding planner Linnyette Richardson — and she let on that she’s planning precisely this kind of wedding for one adventurous couple. And as usual, she overflowed with ideas.

“They’re not a Mexican or Latin couple,” she explains. “They’re just having their wedding on May 5, and wanted to go with the theme.” That’s all it took for Lynnette’s imagination to go into overdrive. Here are a few of the highlights:

Colors: Sage and Coral. Not only does it speak to the theme, it’s tremendously contemporary. “We’re having a lighting company really work up the environment, creating a really warm, ambient light that folds everyone in. We’ll avoid too much green light, since it’s not too flattering. It’ll be more of a peachy amber shade — just gorgeous.”

La Vida Loca. A giant dance floor’s being brought in. The couple plans to wow their guests by performing a smoky tango for the First Dance. Afterward, pro dancers will rile the crowd with a high-energy routine, then split up to lead onlookers through basic salsa lessons.

Southern Comfort. “The menu’s got a definite southwest flavor,”says Lynnyette. “We’ll be serving Coronas, some Baja wines, and the food will be buffet-style so guests can mix it up.” Plus, she says, she’s planning a sweet and salty treat bar, featuring crowd-pleasers like chocolate-dipped pretzels and potato chips, and ample quantities of her secret weapon (slash-guilty-pleasure): Dale & Thomas’ cheddar-chipotle popcorn.

Femme Vitale. “Of course, in this case the bride’s not going to wear anything fooffy,” she points out. Instead, she’ll don a sleek gown, a chic chignon, a luxurious bloom in the hair, like gardenia — and dramatic red lipstick.

Beat a Retreat. The couple will do that literally: they’re planning a grand exit that stars a giant, custom-designed piñata. One talented stick-wielder will crack it open to reveal a variety of tasty treats, plus individual iPods for 10 (count them!) lucky guests.

Want a few more ideas for a southwestern twang? Borrow a page from our libro:

Terra Cotta Containers. Serve chips and dips in footed bowls; place larger urns in the corners of the room and wrap the necks in thick twine. Brightly-colored Alebrije figurines on the tables will add south-of-the-border whimsy to the staidest of floral arrangements.

Striped Rag Rugs. Lay these colorful accents under chairs and tables in your cocktail corner.

Mmmm, Good. Grilled shrimp with fresh-squeezed lime and sea salt. A taquitos bar with all the trimmings. Fresh and tangy mojitos. Feeling the love?

Fabuloso Favors. Custom-labeled hot sauce — or mini-bottles of tequila — won’t be left behind.

Tip-Top Treatments. A few sure winners: desert pods plus white orchids. Curly willow plus those fiery mini callas known as orange/rust (they deepen to gorgeous red at the edges). Sassy red sunflowers and anything. Glass vases filled with cut oranges and limes. Large clear cylinders filled with glossy chilis (red or green, your choice).

Don’t forget to load down your tables with flickering pillar candles and votives.

The Final Touch. Give your creation an extra dimension: lightly scent the room with sprays or fragrant candles. Combine several for something citrusy and fresh: cilantro and orange, or lemon verbena.

What touches are you adding to your Latin-inspired or cinco de mayo wedding? Let us know below.