You’re planning your wedding around the time that dear cousin Leah gets back from her exchange student stint in India, Uncle Mark’s done with his plantar wart surgery, and — oh yeah — a long weekend you can linger over with your best college friends.
Pretty soon, you notice that the Fourth of July happens to fit the bill for all three. Plus, the weather’s historically perfect in your area around then. What better time to weave a little patriotic fervor into your nuptial bliss?
But Uncle Sam Isn’t Invited
Sure, you’re proud to be American, but that doesn’t mean you why your wedding to look like a wacky collision between “Showgirls” and Walgreen’s on the Fourth of July, or wear a wedding gown patterned after Old Glory. No, you want to keep things low-key and tasteful. Here are some ideas for staying on the right side of what can sometimes be a fine line.
The ideal backdrop for patriotic wedding is lots of clear, crisp white, and sophisticated silver. Go with bright white table linens, crisp white chair covers and accent with silver chair sashes. You don’t want to get too wild with the competing and muscular hues of red and blue just yet. Use tasteful placecard holders in the shape of silver stars to guide guests to their tables. Delight your guests with a similarly toned-down favor such as a star-studded votive candle, wrapped in a luxurious organza ribbon or a crisp clear box and placed in the middle of each plate.
You’ll want to clue in your guests to the theme with your very first bridal missive, so send an understated invitation embellished with an embossed silver star, or a small American flag.
A traditional, elegant centerpiece will give off sparks at your Fourth of July wedding. Use floral arrangements of tightly packed, deep red roses punctuated by star-shaped stephanotis studded with pearl pins.
We can’t deny it — we love bunting flags. You know, bunting — those ruched half-moon fabric adornments you see draped over the porch of every Cape Cod house in certain parts of the country. It’s beautiful. We could all wear bunting to the grocery store or movie premieres and we’d probably look fantastic. Bunting is a terrific way to add patriotism at its most decorative to your reception site. Just don’t overdo it — a few flags are probably plenty. Stick to white tulle for surrounding adornment, and you’ll have a beautiful and totally bridal statement.
Where to Get Whimsical
Certain areas at the reception just beg for a little humor. Signature cocktails are one. Why not treat your guests to a few hundred glasses of ice cold lemonade? Make it special by serving up half red (made with raspberries and a splash of vodka) and half blue (made with blueberries and blue curacao). Garnish each drink with the appropriate berries and a sprig of fresh mint.
Ring bearers and flower girls are a fun place to elicit some chuckles and even go over-the-top. After all, you could dress your ring bearer as a tiny Uncle Sam, and have him deliver your rings to the altar in a starred and striped top hat. And you could dress up your flower girl as a miniature Statue of Liberty.
Or, you could be a model of restraint and send a flotilla of young flower girls down the aisles armed with beautiful red and white pomanders dangling from red satin ribbons.
As for the cake, there’s no way around it — red, white and blue is probably going to look garish. But a sleek white cake adorned with large silver stars and a red fondant ribbon will be elegant and gorgeous. For an opulent yet homey touch, surround your baker’s masterpiece with strawberries dipped in white chocolate.
Stars can steal the show yet again if you’re having a tent wedding. Try dangling svelte cylinder paper lanterns from the ceiling in red or silver, with punched-out stars.And if you’re in need of an impromptu arch or a way to jazz up the cake table, try red Gerber daisies dangling from a curtain of white satin ribbons.
Soul food is turning up at even the most chic and urban weddings these days, so serve up American classics. But this is a wedding, so put a “this is a special occasion” spin on it. Don’t just serve cheeseburgers: served mini cheeseburgers and mini ribs so guests can pick, choose and nibble. Ice cream’s sure to be a big hit, but serve something special — ice cream “truffles” dipped in dark chocolate shavings or pecans, or ice cream boasting grown-up flavors like stout, or pressed like bombes into intriguing shapes and flavors and sliced for serving. Corn on the cob’s a crowd-pleaser, but serve it with sage butter, fresh lime and crumbled feta and you’ve got something remarkable.
An outdoor wedding, and especially a patriotic one, really calls for a band. And if you want to leave your guests with a lump in their throats and some memories like no other, take advantage of some of the ways that music has plugged into the American situation, especially since events like 9/11. You don’t want to bring your party down, but why not pay homage in a romantic vein by having your band play Springsteen’s “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day” from The Rising? If you’ve got a taste for country, try this list of Country Music Patriotic Songs. And if you’ve got a talented vocalist on hand, even the familiar “America the Beautiful” is sure to bring out a tear or two.
A Fabulous Finale
Sparklers are pretty much a must for any wedding that features the red, white and blue. And as long as it isn’t going to be overshadowed by your town or city’s evening entertainment, you can even charter a real fireworks display for your very own wedding (asking the technicians to go heavy on your wedding colors). Check your yellow pages or call a few local events managers for names.
Another surprisingly beautiful option is a giant balloon release (have a balloon artist pile red, white and blue helium balloons in a net for a dramatic post-ceremony release). Make sure local regulators are relaxed about this ahead of time.