Hoping to plan an autumn wedding that expresses your deepest desires and most personal visions for matrimony, but not sure where to start? Not to worry — you have plenty of company. And this article will quickly help you on your way.
Finding your Personal Autumn Style
Many articles recommend starting your planning by picking your wedding colors. But how? Well, maybe you could just choose your favorite color (unless your fiancé happens to hate red), check your daily horoscope (oops! No color advice, dang!), or take a poll of your bridesmaids and see what they feel like wearing.
You could do any of these things, but they’re likely to end up unsatisfactory … because they won’t express your inner vision for the wedding as a whole. So try this: try to find your wedding dress before you move on. For many brides, there’s only one wedding gown that sums up their deepest feelings about what kind of bride they are. They may not know it until they wear it, but when they do, the recognition is instant.
As often as not, this gown ends up communicating a distinct feeling that will help pull the rest of your wedding together. A beaded ivory gown in raw silk looks splendid with English cottage style flowers. A diamond-white A-line with a couture feel will look at home among modern colors and designs. But more than how it looks, focus on how it feels. Vintage? Queenly? Minimalist? Eclectic?
No matter what your style, one thing you’re likely to share with all other Fall brides is a love of the outdoors. So, you might find your perfect setting in a vineyard, a park bristling with old oaks, a delightfully ramshackle New England barn, or a parent’s backyard. But even if the reception takes place in an uptown loft, you’ll want to capture the season’s unique scents and colors wherever possible … especially in the photos!
What Type of Fall Bride Are You?
Fall brides come in deliciously different flavors. Let’s look at three that we’ll call New England Classic, Regal and Contemporary (though of course you can mix and match).
The New England Fall Bride
If New England style describes you, you probably dream of white, steepled churches and fiery oak and maple leaves. Your wedding look is country casual, and your toolbox holds the natural materials of fall farmer’s markets. Your bridesmaids might wear hunter green, apple red, ecru or umber gowns with long sashes and a big bow in back.
When it comes to flowers, your bouquet might sport dahlias, Leonidas roses, mini-callas in rust, gold and red, mini sunflowers, chrysanthemums, spider mums or gladiolas. You might also see woodsy accents like wheat or rye grass, hypericum berries, blackberries or heather. You might also have maple leaves wired right into your bouquet — a distinct and totally tasty look. Chances are, long ribbons dangle romantically from the bouquets.
But what about the cake? Perhaps you’ll set out several homestyle flavors: carrot cake and spice cake, for example. Or, you might serve up a classic white confection with a waterfall of autumn-colored gum paste leaves or flowers.
As for decorating, New England brides have the best of all worlds. It’s simple (and cheap!) to take spectacular fall materials and turn them into a stunning celebration. Hit up a farmer’s market, and you’ve got corn stalks for posts and barn doors, bushels of apples to carve into floating candle holders or use as place card holders, grapevines for church door wreaths, and pumpkins and mini gourds to scatter along paths or stair steps (carve these with your monograms, or turn each pumpkin into a letter, such as L-O-V-E). Pumpkins also make wonderful vases for floral arrangements. Wishing trees, where guests write blessings and well-wishes for the future on paper leaves to tie to a ‘tree’, are popular features.
Other ideas: tuck a sprig of wheat into a linen napkin and tie with raffia for an elegant look. Clump pillars of vanilla or cinnamon-scented candles in strategic spots to treat your guests to autumn’s scents. Serve colorful fruit punch and iced tea in big, old-fashioned canisters. Hand out sweetly nostalgic favors, like mini honey jars with a wooden dipper, or caramel apples.
Also, switch out leaves for summer’s rose petals at every turn. For example, dress up the arch or chapel, pews and chair backs with leaf garlands, found at any craft store. Have your adorable flower girl scatter leaves down the aisle before you make your grand entrance. You can even decorate entire tabletops using loose leaves (real or silk) as a table runner, punctuated by romantic votives.
The Regal Fall Bride
If you’re more of a Regal-style bride, your look could translate just as well to winter.
Your gown might have deep red detailing at the neckline, sash or train, and your bodice might involve gold embroidery. And your bridesmaids’? Crimson or claret, with a bit of sparkle worked in.
When it comes to flowers, you’ll probably focus on sculptural red and white classics, such as roses and stephanotis, made even more formal with crystal bouquet picks. Or you might choose the eye-catching drama of red and white tulips.
As for the (“let them eat”) cake, yours might be tall and white, with red roses or satin ribbons at the base, and monograms in the fondant or the topper. And likely as not, a towering chocolate fountain will draw guests like bees to honey in the corner.
When it comes to decorating, you’ll probably stick close to the classics. Crisp white chair covers with red or crimson sashes set a stylish tone in your balllroom. Many of your centerpieces will probably be floral (and elaborate), but hurricane lamps filled with white pillar candles and dramatic red cranberries remind your guests of the season. Your favors might be pewter leaf ornaments in a bright red gift box.
The Contemporary Fall Bride
When it comes to tradition, a Contemporary bride usually winks. If this is you, your main hue might be chocolate brown with an offbeat accent, like purple, aqua or chartreuse. Or, your flowers might hint at fall, but consist of less conventional blooms. Your bridesmaids might don chic black gowns — which not only reportedly take off ten pounds for the camera, but (bonus!) serve as a backdrop to eye-popping bouquets. You’re more likely to turn to metallics than autumn standards like orange and red.
Popular fall flowers for contemporary brides include peach and coral roses, gold and mango mini-callas, pincushion proteas or chocolate cosmos. You might also like bittersweet vines, and exotics like orchids and red anthuriums. And for extra interest, lemon leaves and eucalyptus, copper wire accents or bear grass wraps, and fiddleheads or feather collars. You also might use hints of lime green, such as button mums and chartreuse roses, or fuchsia in the form of roses and callas.
And your cake? It might be a complex creation turreted with chocolate curls or ruffles, framing layers of glistening red fruit, like cherries or raspberries. Or, a dark chocolate cake, or alternative desserts like pies or pumpkin cheesecake.
Finally, you could get pretty eclectic when it comes to decorating. There’s really no telling, but guests might find humble burlap linens under pin-tucked copper table runners, complete with silk tassels. Your centerpieces might involve leaves, but in an unusual way (for example, silk leaves submerged in a modern clear canister, filled with water). You’ll probably group enormous numbers of white candles and votives for a modern — yet completely autumn — look. Centerpieces might sneak in anything from miniature green apples to succulents with the flowers. Favors could be unbleached earth-friendly favor boxes filled with bright candy corn.
Fall Style Secrets? Pass it On!
No matter what your style, we’d love to hear your vision for carrying it out. Fall weddings are among the most beautiful of all, which is why Autumn’s recently enjoyed its new status as the year’s most popular time to marry. Let us know your own unique fall look … and your ideas for expressing it.