Have your heart set on a western wedding with a slight Texas twang? Here’s a round-up of some of our best ideas, guaranteed to wrangle plenty of sweet memories from you and guests alike.
A Taste of Things to Come
Give your guests a hint of the fun times ahead with an elegant star-embossed invite, tied up with saddle-stitch grosgrain ribbon. Splurge: pack the invite in a small box with a little shred and a bottle of the greatest barbecue or hot sauce that ever stampeded your taste buds. Plus, rev up the girls by planning a big night in, with a few rounds of Texas Hold’Em, and a whole lot of fruity cervezas.
Scouting Out a Spot
You can hold a great Western wedding in a passel of places: a barn or backyard, log cabin or hilltop park with a view, a working ranch or a great grassy field.
But the ultimate setting? We think it’s one of America’s Old West replica towns. They come complete with coaches, horses, and sooty saloons where low-brimmed gangsters are happy to pour a few pints for your guests.
Roll ‘Em Up and Dig In!
Hot and savory barbecue’s what they’ll be craving at any Western shindig. Fill your guests’ bellies with hearty grub like mesquite burgers and garlic mashed potatoes, smoked chicken and pork ribs, ranch beans and coleslaw, German sausages and festively carved watermelon. Don’t sweat too much over the plates and cutlery, though — simple is fine. In fact, some of the best-loved barbecue houses in Texas go with paper and plastic!
Drinks: sweet iced tea, lemonade, and Big Red, Lone Star beer, margaritas and mojitos. Sweets (besides the cake!): pecan pie, cobblers, and rich, decadent brownies.
What to wear for the day’s Queen Cowgirl? A gown like Monique Lhullier’s famous Alençon lace gown would be sweet as sugar … especially paired with a pair of Sandra Bullock-style white satin cowboy boots.
But if you’re more of a denim girl at heart, you’ve got plenty of options. You’re sure to find a seamstress who can sweep you into a long denim skirt with gorgeous lace inlays … even a denim train. Pair with an oh-so-bridal lace camisole top and a pair of cowboy boots. And if you’re feeling super-sassy? Add a brightly dyed crinoline skirt to peek out underneath.
When it comes to florals, go sweet and classic (yellow roses, anyone?) or casual wildflowers. But make your mark with a western bouquet wrap, whether it’s a red and white silk bandana or a leather strap. Another popular option for on-the-range nuptials: tie a lucky horseshoe to the bride’s bouquet. But tie it upside down so luck can “fill it up!”
But what about bling for the wedding party? Thrill your girls with a pair of gorgeous Southwestern-style turquoise and silver earrings they can wear with their gowns. And for the guys, a sweet custom belt buckle they can wear again and again.
Setting up Camp
Need a few ideas for rolling your hitchin’ day back in time? Here’s a sampler to get you started: if the site permits, bury a couple of wagon wheels near the entrance and dress up with flowers or ribbons. Use rustic wooden signs to point guests to the chapel, reception area or gift table.
Inexpensive mums are a great way to create a huge punch of color wherever you need: church steps, pathways or your wedding arch. And speaking of arches, horse lovers can make theirs equine-fabulous by covering the frame with tulle, then setting a handsome saddle on top and hanging a flower garland from the horn. (Hang a few horseshoes upside with ribbon for even more interest … and lots o’luck).
Serve food and drink from hay bales covered with wooden planks, dress up scarecrows or hay rolls as a hilarious “bride and groom,” and set up a romantic wishing well for cards and sweet remembrances.
Use picnic style seating for the guests, and cover the tables with gingham or eyelet cloths. Jazz up tables with casual floral arrangements tucked into thrift-store cowboy boots, mason jars or watering cans. Tie off containers with pretty strips of gingham, and serve thirst-quenching bottled drinks from galvanized ice-filled tubs.
Not Your Average Wedding Album
It’s the rare couple who can resist the drama — or one-of-a-kind photo ops — that a Western wedding offers. We’ve seen some adorable photos like these: the wedding party lassoing a hapless lass or cowboy, the bride wielding a (not hot!) cattle brand, or the best men staging a full-on shoot out with cap guns and holsters. And when the new husband and wife begins their recessional back down the aisle? It’s time for the best men to toss their cowboy hats in the air and whoop it up!
But don’t restrict all that horseplay to the wedding party — liven things up for the guests, too, with horseshoe throwing pits and sack races. Pump up the guys with a hand-rolled cigar station, and enchant the kids with star-studded gift bags filled with colorful bandannas and shiny sheriff badges. Tie up a Texas pinata, and set up a face painting station where the kiddies can get gangster-style handlebar mustaches.
A Ring to Remember
Make this the party that never ends with intimate music (anything from a cowboy singer on a steel guitar to a full bluegrass band, complete with fiddles and banjos). Pile up a giant bonfire, with hay bale seating in a circle, and burn the home fires even brighter with sparklers for the kids … or even overhead fireworks, for a fun and memorable splurge that caps off the night.