Take the concept of a beautiful and elegant reception a step further by adding a theme that will carry through to every component of the wedding and reception, from the invitations to the favors. Is red your favorite color? Go ahead and liberally deck the site out in the bold hue.
Enamored by Valentine's Day? Plan a sweetheart celebration that honors all the great couples you know. And don't forget to sprinkle conversation heart candies on all the tables. Movie buff? Personalize your invitations by including the best love quotes from the classics, and offer a dessert table full of popcorn and your favorite theater treats.
"I use the term €˜theme' loosely,€VbCrLf says Stephen Tokar of Stephen M. Tokar Custom Floral and Design in Mentor and Cleveland. "It can be the feeling and attitude that you want to bring to a wedding.€VbCrLf
Wedding reception themes are limitless. We picked some of the most popular and asked local wedding experts for innovative ways to make them unique and elegant.
A takeoff of the traditional garden theme - one of the most popular, fragrant and beautiful of weddings and receptions - that is perfectly tailored to a city slicker couple, says Tokar, who developed the idea of an urban terrace with clients from New York.
"This is a very fresh approach to a garden wedding,€VbCrLf he shares.
Accessorize your location with large potted shrubs and trees, potted flowers, sparkly bead lights and lanterns among other elements in a venue ideal for the theme.
Choosing a venue with an existing garden element is a very smart and easy way to pull off the theme, which calls for an abundance of flowers and greenery, says Packy Boukis, owner of Only You Wedding & Event Consulting in Broadview Heights.
"You wouldn't have to create it and it would be done professionally and the venue would fit into the theme,€VbCrLf she says.
Whether you are on a Caribbean island, a sandy beach on the lakefront or in a traditional ballroom, you can create a beach-themed reception. Start by sending message-in-a-bottle or seashell-shaped invitations, and determine whether you want a casual or more formal event. If you are on the beach or lakefront, you want the reception to be in a location where you can hear the waves and enjoy the ambiance. A simple wedding dress matches the casual nature of this wedding. And always have a plan B for backup in case Mother Nature doesn't cooperate.
Bring the outdoors in for a more elaborate reception - decorate with seashells and color sand sculptures, anchors and fish netting. For dinner, have a clambake or lobster dinner paired with fresh seafood. Incorporate edible seashells, corals and a miniature lighthouse topper for a sure-to-impress seascape cake.
Holidays are a great theme for wedding receptions, especially at Christmas when the dÃ©cor is already in place, says David Rabinsky, director of social catering at The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland.
"There is nothing special that you have to do - it's Christmas dÃ©cor,€VbCrLf he says. A Christmas menu of turkey and Yorkshire pudding is sure to win over guests. And tables decorated in berries, branches and evergreen are stunning mixed with red and white winter flowers. You can even have beautiful frosted poinsettias featured on the wedding cake, Lester says.
Some brides are brave enough to throw the calendar out the window when planning a holiday-themed reception.
"I've seen a Christmas-theme wedding in July,€VbCrLf Boukis says. "A bride had to move her wedding up so they had snow machines as the guest entered the ballroom, beautiful snow scenes against the wall, and it was just enchanting.€VbCrLf
An outdoor wedding is the dream of many brides and grooms. With a backup plan in place, creating a frolic in the field can be great fun.
Take Tokar, for instance, who last year helped orchestrate an outdoor wedding at the Hunt Club in Gates Mills with a bride who loved the grass and wanted her guests to feel like they could take their shoes off and enjoy her wedding as they would a lazy summer day.
"That triggered this whole idea of a theme,€VbCrLf he says. They hung silver buckets filled with crushed ice and champagne bottles from tree branches throughout the back green of the Hunt Club. As guests discovered the buckets they would also find a simple table with champagne glasses and a crystal trumpet of strawberries at the base of the tree. "We also popped a thousand white daisy heads off of their stems and had them scattered throughout the grass.€VbCrLf
They also set up fishing poles down by the water and blankets and pillows so that guests could relax between the wedding and the reception.
Do you share a Bogart and Bacall sort of love? Restored to its original grandeur to replicate opening day 1931 and brimming with Art Deco style, the Silver Grille in the historic Higbee Building downtown is an ideal spot for couples wanting to have vintage wedding reception, Rabinsky says.
He suggests that brides choose flowers such as calla lilies - popular wedding flowers from that era - and beaded dresses with a drop waist and short, little flapper-type trains for bridesmaids. The menu should be true to the era, including a main dish such as beef Wellington, and escort cards should be displayed in a 1930s frame.