When it comes to weddings, no season is more trend-driven — or more susceptible to unintentional kitsch — than fall. With so much seasonal symbolism to choose from — foliage, pumpkins, scarecrows, apples, cider, spice, burlap, cornucopias — it’s easy to go over the top and turn what was meant to be a festive occasion into a carnival. Here are some things to keep in mind for a fabulous (and foolproof) fall wedding:
Be whimsical if you like, sure, but unless you’re trying to purposely over do it by hosting your wedding in a pumpkin patch with singing scarecrows as escorts, you may want to go easy on the autumnal symbolism. This doesn’t mean you have to institute an embargo on pumpkins and scarecrows. It just means you might want to err on the side of subtlety: Think a smattering of pumpkins and gourds rather than an avalanche. After all, less is more when it comes to designing a beautiful, unforgettable wedding aesthetic.
Fall is not just Halloween and Thanksgiving; the season begins with the autumnal equinox on September 22. If you’re marrying in Westchester or the Hudson Valley in September (and, if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about next September), the leaves may just be starting to change and the grass will still be mostly green. You also have a more-than-average chance of having uncomfortably warm — or even hot — weather (as I write this, it’s 5:30 pm, the sun is shining brightly, and the outside temp is 86 degrees). Though you may have your heart set on crunchy leaves underfoot as your guests sip hot apple cider, they’re more likely to be fanning themselves in the hot sun and daydreaming about a cold iced tea or lemonade. Plan accordingly; you can change up the beverages to suit the weather!
While there’s no guarantee that you’ll have chilly, cozy, traditionally fall-like weather, peak or near-peak foliage times are at least somewhat predictable. If you want color, plan for the first to third week in October. While an early frost or extended summer is always a possibility, your chances of having at least some color are very good throughout the month, particularly closer to the middle. Even if it is warmer or colder than you’d like, you still have nature’s gorgeous backdrop to set the mood.
Regardless of the weather on your wedding day, it is, in fact, fall. A great way to acknowledge that and incorporate seasonal elements is with rich, gorgeous fabrics and deep, warm, and/or bold color schemes. Choose a gown with a coordinating cape, shrug, or jacket, or consider long sleeves in guipure lace instead of sleeveless. Go lighter on the tulle, heavier on the silk or satin with beading, embroidered elements, or appliques. Think plums, wines, burgundies, and deeper shades of other fall colors for the flowers, bridesmaid dresses, and décor. Add texture and seasonal touches to bouquets and arrangements with greenery, vines, twigs, branches, succulents, berries, and other rustic add-ons.
You can never go wrong by serving what’s in season, particularly when it comes to produce — and particularly here in Westchester and the Hudson Valley, where “nature’s bounty” is for real. October is traditionally the harvest season, but great food things start happening in September. Fall is a fabulous great time of year to go all-out on food, whether you have a farm-to-table sit-down feast, or lots of little buffet-style stations. Meat, fish, poultry — all are appropriate. Richer and heavier sauces are welcome now, and fresh veggies such as corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, leeks, cauliflower, and squash are abundant. More complex entrees, if that’s your style, are great in the fall, as are soups and stews (save these for October or later).
Translucent and glazed wedding cakes (as opposed to heavily frosted or those with thick fondant) are big right now, and you can “autumnize” them with a drizzle of caramel or chocolate — or both. Consider a barista to serve foamy lattes, tea, cocoa, and hot cider, and ask your bartender to have some specialty fall cocktails at the ready. When it comes to dessert, nobody says no to apple pie or apple-cider donuts, ever; pumpkin pie is better for October and November, but who says you can’t break with tradition? It’s your wedding: Plan, do, and serve what you love!