How to Throw a Tropical Wedding and Banish Those Winter Blues

Let’s face it — winter can really bring down even confirmed optimists. The days are short, the weather uncooperative, and most of us long (without much hope) for a few rays of sun to hit our faces.

That’s why couples deciding to wed in the winter might find themselves even more beloved when they plan a tropical-themed wedding. Your guests will feel like they’ve been whisked away to a well-deserved hideaway for one magic night.

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Behind-the-Scenes Magic

The key to designing a tropical wedding in winter is — you guessed it — reception décor. Specifically, high-end dramatic touches, like lighting, will play a big role. You’ll want rich pools of color that wash the walls (how better to banish the winter blues?), or lighting that’s reminiscent of the beach at night, like starlight twinkling through exotic fronds. In short, the goal is to make an indoor space expand into that ‘great outdoors’ feel.


To recreate that paradise, potted palm trees and large ferns are a must. You can rent them for the day, and no other prop will better say “beach.” Potted palms are also a great way to fill a large space for reasonable cost. If your reception’s in the evening, tuck uplighting at the base for the “wow” factor, and wind string lights around the trunks.

Colors: The Bold & The Beautiful

For a palette, consider cool ocean blues and greens, or bright equatorial combos like hot pink, parrot green and coral. Whichever way you go, boldly carry your colors throughout your stationery, linens and apparel.

Bridesmaids of all skin tones look terrific in aqua chiffon dresses with coordinating blue crystal necklaces and dangling earrings. Or choose hot pink gowns accessorized with softly-tinted pearls. Finish the look with a tropical azalea or orchid in each girl’s hair.


Of course, the bride will also want to dazzle her guests with high island style. Fabrics like chiffon or organza — usually considered too breezy for a winter wedding — are the perfect choice for your fleeting dreamscape. Choose a special detail, such as handpainted flowers trailing up the skirt, or a sparkling lariat to play up a backless gown.


For his part, your groom can skip the tuxedo in favor of a sand-colored linen suit.

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Tasting the Tropics

Serve food that brings island aromas and flavors back to the mainland. Seafood, slow-cooked pork, marinated kebobs or jerk chicken: all are terrific choices for the reception. Be sure to pile plenty of fresh fruit in clever towers, too, or ring a chocolate fountain with some tempting pineapple bites and kiwi slices.

And don’t forget the rum punch garnished with colored sugar rims and paper umbrellas: no tropical shindig would be complete without it.

Footloose and Fancy-Free

For an event that doubles as an experience, hire a steel drum band, or find a D.J. who’s gifted at launching an island vibe. If you and your friends and family dig tropical picks mainly as a novelty, confine them to the cocktail hour and shift to big-band standards for dancing. But if you and your loved ones are born parrotheads, spin those cool island tunes all night long!


Flirty, Fabulous Flowers

When it comes to creating your reception’s look and feel, flowers are key. And thanks to globalization, tropical blooms in winter don’t pose much of a problem (in fact, the traditional Christmas poinsettia happens to be a tropical plant).

But if numerous stems of hibiscus, plumeria or birds of paradise prove too elusive or expensive, turn to dried lotus pods, monstera leaves or palm fronds, or whole potted orchids. Even roses in festive colors — like coral, salmon or jade green — fit the bill, especially combined with luxe crystal strands. Just avoid anything too staid that might knock a notch off your freewheeling atmosphere.

And while you’re picking florals, take a minute to ponder scent. An exotic, high-quality room spray wafted around by a helpful assistant or relative will create that sought-after “aha!” when your guests enter the ballroom.

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To Sum Up

If you can’t get away to a hidden hot spot for your wedding, why not bring some island style to your wedding instead? The tropics make an enticing theme all year long — but it’s especially divine when it’s snowing outside. A carefree theme like this is sure to make your big day live on in everyone’s memory for many chilly months to come.

Finding the whole process of weddings and all the planning that goes into one fascinating, Laura writes about many of the considerations that brides routinely deal with. Bridesmaid jewelry sets can be made to match any wedding theme or color scheme.