Autumn Wedding Guide: Themes
Fall weddings also offer a number of unique theme choices that can set your event apart from a summer affair. Motifs that highlight the harvest season, the changing leaves, the rustic nature of the season, and even Halloween, are timeless for a reason – they’re seasonal, but they can easily be adapted to suit current trends and the personal preferences of the happy couple.
If you’re planning a fall wedding, the height of summer is the perfect time to start preparing your decorations, or even get the ball rolling on your stationery if you’re getting married next year. To help inspire your creativity, take a look at our list of classic autumn wedding themes and keep reading to get our tips for choosing a color palette, as well as our favorite fall papers.
From cornucopias bursting with fresh fall produce to tables laden with pies and other rustic dishes, the harvest theme is a popular and versatile choice for autumn weddings. Here’s how you can incorporate this theme into your fall wedding:
Burlap: This classic fall fabric is tactile and highly textured. Try using burlap table runners or placemats, or mimic the look of burlap using linen-textured card stock.
Lace: Lace adds a pretty and elegant touch to the otherwise rustic harvest theme. Incorporate touches of lace in your tablescape by lining menus with lace trim or by wrapping your utensils with lace ribbon. You could even accessorize your wedding dress with lace glovelets.
Wood grain: This classic autumn texture is reminiscent of barnboard and barrels of apples, gourds, and squash. It’s easy to incorporate by decorating your wedding space with crates and barrels spilling over with autumn produce, or even by using wood grain textured paper.
Gourds and other autumn foods like apples, corn, pumpkins, and wheat, are the perfect decorative accents for a harvest-themed wedding. Try these twists:
- If you love the color orange but aren’t big on pumpkins, use the fruit! The color palette is seasonally appropriate, but the citrus will hearken back to summer sunshine.
- If you love pumpkins but aren’t crazy about their bright orange hue, spray paint some to match your event’s color palette. Same goes for gourds. For an extra luxe touch, try using metallic spray paint like gold or silver.
- Create a backdrop using corn stalks and baskets overflowing with bright and colorful apples.
- Incorporate stalks of wheat into your floral arrangements or venue decor.
Paper and Stationery
Paper finish: Play off the textures of the harvest season by using tactile paper finishes like linen or felt. Try backing your menus and placecards onto a textured mat. If your wedding isn’t till next fall, use textured paper for your wedding invitation suite.
Dark red: This wine-inspired hue is a rich complement to the rustic harvest theme. Get inspired by this burgundy design by Kelmade Goods:
Paper pumpkins: Paper pumpkins are cute and easy to make, and you can make them in any color to suit your event.
Invitations: Still need to send your invites? Get them ready in a flash (or get ready for next year!) with these invitation ensembles:
Autumn is synonymous with bright foliage. Including elements inspired by the bright red, gold, and orange leaves that characterize the season is the perfect homage to autumn beauty. Here’s how to do it:
Actual leaves: Don’t be afraid to use real leaves in your decor! You can pick up decorative leaves at a craft store, or source your stems from your backyard if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option.
Wood grain: Twigs and branches are a natural complement to the bright, soft look of leaves. Incorporate wood grain using birch textures and patterns, actual twigs and branches, or wood grain-textured papers. This stunning tablescape by Cooke Rentals uses greenery, wood, and linen to create a warm and welcoming fall feel:
Linen: Linen is both rustic and sophisticated, and it’s easy to incorporate into your tablescape using real linen napkins or table runners. You can also use linen-finish papers for your menus and other table decor.
Flannel: Flannel is soft and warm – the perfect textural element for an autumn wedding. Mimic the look and feel of flannel using felt finish papers.
Using real or faux leaves are an obvious decorative touch for a foliage-themed fall wedding. Add some extra interest using these patterns and embellishments:
- Plaid patterns add a cozy feel to your event. Plus, plaid is available in just about any color, so you’re sure to find a fabric that complements your color scheme. Try using a plaid table runner or placemats. Or, if your groom is up for it, plaid bowties and pocket squares are a nice touch.
- Amp up the glam by using metallic leaves instead of traditional fall colors. You can either spray paint leaves you find on the ground, buy metallic leaves from a craft store, or create your own luxurious leaves using metallic paper in any color. For the ultimate glam, use gold card stock.
- Scour your yard for twigs and branches you can use to add extra texture to your decor. Smaller twigs are perfect for centerpieces and tablescapes, while larger or longer pieces are ideal for dressing up chairs, framing your head table, or creating an autumn-themed photo backdrop.
Photo by Katina Rogers via Flickr.
Paper and Stationery
Metallic Paper: Metallic paper can turn a rustic fall wedding into a truly glamorous affair. Try making paper leaves using metallic paper, or use fall-colored metallic papers like this deep wine red in your stationery suite or tablescape.
Placecards: Affix leaves – real or DIY – to your placecards and table menus.
Well Wishes: Cut out paper leaves and invite your guests to write short messages and well wishes. Collect the leaves in a brown paper bag, or have guests pin them to a hand-drawn tree.
Invitations: Incorporate a leaf motif into your invitation design like this invite designed by Brown Fox Creative.
You could even toss a few leaves into your envelopes before you send off your invites. We recommend using paper leaves – real ones won’t travel well. Take a look at these colorful wedding ensembles:
A woodlands theme borrows some of the decorative elements of a foliage-inspired event, but with a few twists.
Flannel: Like the foliage theme, flannel is perfectly on point for a woodlands-inspired event. You can create the look and feel of flannel using felt finish papers, or by using actual flannel; use flannel for your tablecloths or to decorate your chairs, and If the weather is cool, layer up with a cute flannel shirt.
Linen: Linen textures mimic the look and feel of burlap, but are a little more sophisticated. Paired with a soft off-white or cream color, linen finish paper is a subtle way to incorporate this rustic texture. Take a look at our linen papers.
Faux fur: Pay homage to the furry inhabitants of any woodland scene by incorporating faux fur textures into your event. An imitation fur shrug will keep you warm in the cool autumn air, or you could use soft and fluffy flowers like fountain grasses, pussy willow, or trailing chenille plants in your floral arrangements.
Birch: Birch bark is the perfect woodland texture. Its light coloring ensures that it pairs well with most color palettes, and it’s easy to incorporate in your tablescape. Try using birch-lined vases, or create your own using a printable birch texture.
The woodlands theme is replete with opportunities to add rustic yet sophisticated decorative touches to your autumn wedding. These are our favorites:
- Deer, rabbits, and other woodland animals add a soft (and adorable!) touch to woodland weddings, whether you use a deer motif in your stationery, opt for faux fur embellishments, or incorporate likenesses of actual woodland creatures.
- Accent your floral arrangements with branches and twigs. They’ll add unique, seasonally-appropriate texture, and are neutral enough in color to suit any color scheme. For a brighter look, try using birch textures. You could even incorporate a birch pattern into your wedding stationery.
- Stumps and other large pieces of untreated wood are essential for a woodland wedding. Try using vases lined with bark textures, or use real stumps to accent your event.
- Use pinecones to add texture and dimension to your placecards.
Paper and Stationery
Cedar Sprigs: Decorate your programs with a sprig of cedar or some small twigs from your favorite autumnal tree. You could even toss some twigs or sprigs in with your invitations, or use a cedar motif.
Off-white: A light cream or off-white paper perfectly offsets the darker, richer colors that are typical of a woodlands scene. We recommend using an off-white for your programs, menus, and invitations, and backing this light neutral onto richer hues like dark green, brown, or burgundy. Check out our selection of off-white paper and card stock. Get inspired by this gorgeous design by Kelmade Goods:
Wood textures: Textured woodgrain paper is a subtle homage to the woodlands theme. A soft felt texture is a good alternative.
Paper pinecones: DIY your decorations by creating paper pinecones in any color. Try this tutorial.
Invitations: Set the tone for your woodland-themed event with these quick and easy invitation ensembles:
If you’re picturing a wedding strewn with skeletons, skulls, and garish jack-o-lanterns, don’t worry – a Halloween-themed event doesn’t have to be overly gothic, kitschy or cartoonish! This off-the-beaten-path theme is unique and memorable, but still appropriate for the autumn season.
Warty Gourds or Pumpkins: Amp up the traditionally autumnal feel of gourds and pumpkins by decorating your event with an especially warty variety. If their natural color doesn’t match your palette, spray paint them.
Gauze: Gauze and flowy organza adds to the gothic feel of a Halloween-themed event, and its transparency is reminiscent of ghosts and spider webs. For an understated effect, use translucent paper. You could also add a tulle crinoline to your wedding dress, layer organza under your tablecloth, or create tulle puffs for your tablescape like Always Adornable:
Velvet: This soft and luxurious fabric screams Halloween. Use a velvet curtain for your photo backdrop, incorporate swatches into your bouquets and floral arrangements, or add a velvety texture to your invitations, placecards, menus, and programs using vellum finish paper.
Metal: Evocative of metal cauldrons and glittery jewels, metal textures are appropriate for any Halloween-themed event. Instead of using vases for your floral arrangements, try using small metal cauldrons. For a simpler metallic touch, mat your invitations, menus, and programs onto metallic card stock.
Halloween weddings can be as spooky – or as elegant – as you want! Decorate your event using these classic Halloween touches:
- Whether you accent your event with classic bright orange pumpkins, opt for a sleeker alternative such as spray-painted pumpkins (try a metallic paint for extra glam), or add a DIY touch by making paper pumpkins, these fall icons are essential Halloween decor.
- Create a warm glow by accenting your event with candles. Create centerpieces using pillar candles of different sizes, or use tapers in candelabras for a gothic look. Bonus points if you burn the candles first to achieve those spooky pools of wax.
- Colored glass adds texture, color, and dimension to your event without looking garish. Try using dark red, green, purple, or amber votive holders on your tables.
Paper and Stationery
Paper Lanterns: Add ambience by creating your own Halloween-themed paper lanterns and placing them on your tables and throughout your event. Try using this tutorial. This black cardstock is perfect for the job.
Metallic Paper: Add a subtle sparkle by using metallic paper to accent your placecards, menus, and programs, such as a metallic black or wine red. Double up on the fall feel by creating centerpieces or draping garlands of metallic black paper leaves around your event.
Dark Red: Dark red, burgundy, and marsala are classic and luxurious autumnal colors, and they’re perfect for Halloween without falling back on the standard black and orange palette. Accent black paper with a dark red mat, or back a stark white invitation or menu onto a deep red card stock.
Gothic Motifs: Incorporate a gothic motif into your save-the-dates, invitations, and other wedding stationery using spooky or seasonal illustrations. An ornate script typeface alongside a classic serif also perfectly sets the tone for Halloween. Get inspired by this design:
Invitations: Stay on-theme with these colorful invitation ensembles:
Keep Reading the Autumn Wedding Guide
Read the rest of our Wedding Guide and get inspired with our favorite fall color palettes, as well as our expert paper and stationery suggestions!
Highlight the season with four of our favorite fall themes and motifs.
Set the tone for your event with modern and traditional seasonal hues.
Get our expert tips for designing fall wedding stationery.
Take a look at our wedding category for more inspiration and great DIY ideas for your event.