Wedding Reception Themes

Wedding reception themes personalize your special day with your choice of images and colors.

wedding themes
Not only are contemporary couples thinking out of the box, they have climbed right out of it! Wedding receptions have evolved into uniquely individual representations of the bond the bride and groom share.

Choosing a Wedding Reception Theme

A wedding reception theme provides a focus for your celebration. Choosing a reception theme does not mean that you have to stage a theatrical show. On the contrary, the theme you choose should be a reflection of who you are and what you enjoy. It should be something that you want to share with your friends and family.

Once you have selected a theme, all the other aspects of your reception will fall into place. This includes:

  • Wedding stationery items such as invitations, programs, and thank you cards
  • Decorations
  • Music choices
  • Wedding favors
  • Dress code

Color Schemes

A color scheme is the simplest example of a wedding reception theme. Colors can be repeated throughout the decor to provide a cohesive look for the event. Most color schemes involve two to four colors, chosen for their ability to complement each other.

Most couples tend to choose color schemes that reflect the seasons. Some examples of seasonally appropriate color schemes include:

  • White, cotton candy pink, gemstone blue, and marsh gray for a spring wedding
  • Grape, pale lilac, navy, and gold for a summer wedding
  • Mustard, autumn orange, mango, and charcoal for a fall wedding
  • Champagne, dark ivory, pewter, and berry for a winter wedding

Alternatively, you could choose a color you both love and then select complementary colors using a color wheel. Complementary colors are those which are directly opposite each other, such as red and green or yellow and purple. Add neutrals or metallics to round out your selected color scheme. has pulled together some fresh, modern wedding palettes.


wedding themes
Most cultural wedding themes pay tribute to the heritage of the bride or groom, but they can also be reflective of your honeymoon destination or a place you've lived together in the past. For example, if you met while studying abroad in Japan, you might wish to decorate your reception area with origami cranes as a reference to the Japanese tradition of folding 1,000 paper cranes to wish the bride and groom a lifetime of happiness together.


Depending upon when you're planning on getting married, a holiday themed wedding might be a natural choice. These types of themes are usually very budget-friendly, since seasonal decor is widely available.

Examples of holiday themes include:

  • Valentine’s Day Conversation Hearts: Fill vases or bowls with this inexpensive heart candy, then add candles for cute centerpieces. Make place cards that look like conversation hearts. Make conversation heart photo booth props with various funny sayings. Pass out boxes of candy as favors.
  • Rustic Halloween Harvest Ball: Decorate with pumpkins and tiny scarecrows. Display pictures of the happy couple in rustic twig frames. Use burlap and lace for table runners to add rustic elegance. Pass out caramel apples for wedding favors.
  • Winter Wonderland: Use white tulle and beaded blue snowflakes to transform your reception hall into an icy palace. Add snowflake charms to your napkin rings and place cards. Give guests sugar cookies decorated like snowflakes as wedding favors.


wedding themes
A nature theme is the perfect choice for an outdoor wedding, but a reception held indoors can also incorporate natural elements if desired.

Ideas of nature inspired wedding themes include:

  • Beach: Decorate with sand, seashells, and white candles. Use the color blue liberally to make your guests think of the ocean. Pass out sunscreen or sunglasses as your wedding favors.
  • A Walk in the Woods: Wrap clear lights around trees and suspend lanterns from the branches. Use branches for place card holders. Add a heart with your initials to a wood slice using a wood burning kit. Decorate with small bird statues, placing them in pairs. Pass out mini terrariums as favors.
  • Picnic in the Garden: Serve traditional picnic foods and decorate your reception area with vintage picnic baskets or blankets from nearby thrift shops. Display flower arrangements in watering cans. Pass out flowers seeds with a "Love Blooms" tag for your wedding favors.


Since many couples bond over a common interest, a wedding reception theme can pay tribute to a special hobby the bride and groom share. For example:

  • Motorcycles: Have a bride and groom motorcycle cake topper. Use Harley-Davidson orange and black as your wedding colors. Let guests dress up as bikers in a fun photo booth.
  • Superheros: Incorporate your favorite superhero action figures into floral arrangements for your reception tables. Add "Bam" and "Pow" comic book style signs across the walls. Have guests dress up as their favorite superhero or provide a photo booth with lots of superhero style props. Pass out superhero Pez dispensers or key chains for wedding favors.
  • Wine Tasting: Use deep burgundy and gold as your wedding colors, provide lots of different wine for guests, and send everyone home with a customized wine glass or wine charm.
  • Color Me Married: Adult coloring is a hot trend right now, but this theme would also work well if your guest list includes lots of people with small children. Have paper tablecloths or place mats with designs that guests can color or make your wedding program double as a coloring book. Display markers and other coloring supplies in decorated mason jars. Pass out tiny packages of colored pencils or crayons as your wedding favors.

Historical Eras

Weddings patterned after a specific historical time period can require quite a bit of advance preparation, but the result is sure to be an event to remember. Ideas for historical wedding themes include:

  • Renaissance: Dress in period appropriate clothing and hire minstrels to provide entertainment at your reception. Serve drinks from brass goblets. Use elegant candelabras to provide mood lighting. Create a coat of arms to include on banners.
  • The Roaring 20s: Recreate the glamour of The Great Gatsby with a wedding that pays tribute to one of the most elegant times in history. Ask guests to dress in 1920s attire and play 1920s music. Use black, gold, and rich jewel tones for your decor, adding feathers and rhinestones liberally. Pass out martini glasses as wedding favors.
  • Hippie Chic: A 1960s inspired wedding doesn't necessarily mean digging out your mom's old Bohemian wedding dress although that's certainly an option. Have an outdoor reception with seating on large oversized throw pillows in makeshift canopies. Use crocheted granny square blankets to add color through the venue. Hang bead curtains in doorways or archways. Provide flower crowns for all your guests.  

Books and Movies

Books and movies are often a good place to seek inspiration for your wedding theme. For example:

  • Star Wars: Add figures of your favorite Star Wars characters to your flower arrangements. Use black paper and gold star confetti to play up the space theme. Save tables for family and friend with signs that say "Reserved for the Fully Trained Jedi." Use Darth Vader and Stormtrooper masks to create a fun photo booth. Instead of throwing rice, pass out toy lightsabers and have guests hold them up to create a walkway for the bride and groom as the exit the reception hall.
  • Cinderella: Frame illustrations from a vintage copy of this classic fairy tale throughout your reception area. Use white foam pumpkins to make tiny carriages for your tables. Add glass slipper clip art to place cards. Make large "Happily Ever After" signs using gold text in the same font as the Disney movie.
  • Gone with the Wind: Make signs with quotes from the film and book, such as "You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how." Decorate liberally with wine, vine green, persimmon, and antique gold accents, as these colors are prominently featured in the film. Plan your menu around classic Southern foods and serve tea or mint juleps for refreshments. Hire a band to play old-fashioned waltzes.

Adding a Personal Touch to Your Special Day

Planning your reception will become a creative and entertaining experience when you work within your chosen theme. Whether your theme is traditional or unconventional, humorous or poetic, wedding reception themes will help to individualize your celebration and add meaning to your special day.

Written by: The Printable Wedding Team