Give Your Fall Wedding a Contemporary Twist (with Sarah Lusardi)

Autumn weddings. They bring to mind all kinds of happy paradoxes: rustic elegance. Unstaged abundance. An autumn wedding capitalizes on the glorious peep show going on outdoors … and the not-too-hot weather, and photo ops against curtains of oak or maple leaves the size of a man’s hand. Celebration is an instinct in the fall. But what if you want a fall wedding with a little twist on the usual palette of reds, oranges and golds? What if, in fact, you don’t plan to plunk down a single pumpkin anywhere, or jot “cornstalks” on your shopping list?

You’re covered — we’ve drawn on two of the country’s popular wedding planners for their ideas on putting a chic, urban spin on the traditional fall wedding, or simply on having a reception that goes the extra mile toward being uniquely your own. First up is Sarah Lusardi of NY Engagements and Style Networks’ “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?”, who leads us down the littered path with grace.

More: Amazing Fall Wedding Favors | Wedding Favor Ideas for Fall | Planning an Autumn Theme? Find Your Style

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Sarah Lusardi on Fall Weddings with a Fresh Face

“It’s true, a lot of people are looking to inject some contemporary style into an autumn wedding and go beyond the pumpkins and apples we’ve seen before,” agrees Lusardi. “They want to make it a little more city chic … or country chic.”

Doing so doesn’t require an actual revolution, though, she points out — just reframing.

“For example,” she says, “the rose petals you often see lining each side of the aisle? Switch those out with autumn leaves, but instead of the usual welter of brights, get leaves that are just one color … monochromatic. Simply narrowing that palette makes it more contemporary.”


Some more of Lusardi’s ideas for autumn splendor with an uptown slant:

Colors. “Even if you want to get away from red and brown, you have a lot of options,” says Lusardi. Go green, she suggests — a sizzlingly contemporary color. “Go with green grapes, green eucalyptus, green willow. Wrap your napkins in green kiwi branches.

“You don’t have to focus on forest green, either,” she points out. “Do something different: mossy green, or sage. Going for unusual shades of the usual colors can make a big impact.” She suggests trying burgundy in lieu of bright red, and “maybe adding a teeny tiny hint of Muscari blue — it looks gorgeous with these colors.” Or combine mossy green with creams for a cool yet totally autumn palette.

Another trick for going green? Acorns. “Acorns look fresh and modern when you use the young, green acorns with the stems still attached. “These look beautiful tied to guest cards,” she says. Wan

Centerpieces. Combine the contemporary with the rustic for a striking, fresh look. “Mingle calla lilies with pussy willows or curly willow,” she says. Or place florals in square glass vases wrapped with silk ribbon in a modern color scheme, like chocolate brown or latte.


Guestbooks. Have a shutterbug on hand? Snap some gorgeous shots of your venue ahead of time, focusing on fall foliage, gorgeous oak trees, sunsets, draft horses, siding. “Design a retro white border around the images, and make them sepia-toned,” she says. Print them out post-card size, leave the backs blank, and have your guests sign these for a far more personal guestbook you’ll love to look at later.

Or, she says, create a tree out of curly willow in a tall glass cylinder. “Cut out leaf shapes using textured, handmade paper,” she says, with satin ribbons attached so guests can hang their well-wishes.

Reminiscence. “Think of the festivals or carnivals you went to as a kid. Think of the different feelings, smells, food that’s evoked. Try to bring that into your celebration: maybe you remember roasted nuts, or a prize-winning blackberry pie.” Was there a booth you returned to year after year? A chili cookoff? A pony ride? Fireworks?
Favors. “Gourmet candy apples with gourmet toppings,” enthuses Lusardi. “They’re so beautiful, they’re part of the décor.” She suggests this urbane twist: “tie them off with a quality, contemporary ribbon. For example, tie a bow on each stem with a gorgeous Midori ribbon in an apple-green plaid.”Lusardi also suggests handing out brown paper cones filled with natural (air-popped) popcorn for tossing, instead of the typical white rice. “Brown paper cones are a great, rustic-looking way to pass out popcorn or mixed nuts to your guests during cocktail hour, too.”

More: Amazing Fall Wedding Favors | Wedding Favor Ideas for Fall | Planning an Autumn Theme? Find Your Fall Style

Go Local. Most rural locations are host to some kind of harvest or wine festival, points out Lusardi. If your reception’s taking place in a vineyard, line up half bottles or splits of the house wine to tuck in a welcome basket, or stack on the favor table. Or draw on that year’s prize-winning maple sugar confections or apricot jams.

The Kindest Color. “Green items are a leading topic at just about every wedding seminar or awards ceremony you could mention,” says Lusardi. “Environmental invitations are very important now. And you can not only get the invites in those deep fall colors, you can also get the envelopes in luscious chocolate browns — recycled.”