As days get shorter and stores start touting back-to-school sales, it’s time to start leaving bright and sunny summer styles behind in favor of warmer, cozier fall vibes. While updating your home and wardrobe with seasonal designs might be tradition, there’s surely more on your plate this year if you’re planning a fall-inspired wedding.
From deep tones and dried florals to spicy flavors and soft textures, a beautiful fall celebration is enough reason to lean all the way into the season.
But embracing all that autumn has to offer doesn’t have to leave you with an overdone, straight-from-2015-Pinterest wedding design. Industry experts recommend leaving behind the tired fall icons (sorry, pumpkins!) for a fresh, inspired take on the harvest season.
Here are some of their top tips for hosting a fall-inspired wedding that is as unique as it is cozy and inviting.
Consider your venue’s setting.
While any venue can host a beautiful fall wedding, some are better equipped to embrace the season’s essence. “As you plan for a chic fall wedding, consider hosting it in unique locations like an apple orchard or a space with lovely fall foliage behind the ceremony space,” suggests Meredith Ryncarz of Meredith Ryncarz Photography.
Photographer Jessica Feiden of Jessica K. Feiden agrees, adding, “Whether it’s an apple orchard, a vineyard, or even somewhere amongst the mountains where you can see all the colorful foliage, the location & setting helps set the tone and vibe of the event!”
If you’re planning a fall wedding in 2023 or later, take advantage of the season this year and scope out the venues that match your vision!
Lean into earthy hues.
Fall typically ushers in lots of oranges and browns, but wedding pros are encouraging engaged couples to think outside of the box when it comes to autumnal color palettes.
“For color, consider the richer versions of the typical orange and brown,” recommends Jordan Kentris of A Good Day. “Then, explore more contemporary versions with rust and burnt sienna with a mix of creams and taupes with an accent of forest green.”
“The muted oranges and browns are nice in the fall but don’t sleep on those fall pops of color for your wedding, like a bright shade of maroon, deep greens, and mustard yellows,” reminds Julianne Smith of The Garter Girl. “You can add fall pops of color just about anywhere in your wedding. Think napkins, table runners, chargers, or floral designs.”
And if you’re fortunate enough to source those colors locally, Jennifer Sulak of Weirdo Weddings promises you won’t regret it. “If you live in places that get those amazing colors (and not just evergreens and browns), I would sincerely recommend you bring those lavish tones of yellows, oranges, reds, and more to your decor and day,” she says.
Prefer a moodier tone? “Rich purples like eggplant and plum are a nice alternative to traditional colors of rust and gold and give depth to floral decor,” notes Peter Mitsaelides of Brooklake Country Club and Events. “Add a bit of luxury by incorporating a metallic along with the richness of velvet.”
Your wedding colors inform everything from wedding party attire to the flowers in your bouquets, so look for a palette that honors the season while feeling fresh and modern.
Add in some texture.
Crunchy leaves, chunky knit sweaters, soft flannel — there’s no better season to capture textures in your wedding design!
“Beyond your colors, you can bring in the textures of the season that are your favorites,” Sulak confirms. “Evergreens (of all kinds), leaves, and bouquets of natural elements will really celebrate the colder yet warmer tones of the season.”
By Halie’s Halie Child recommends using dried florals to add texture. “Dried flowers are an incredible way to create an environment that feels like ‘fall’ without being cliché,” she assures. “They mimic the natural environment of the season and are used far less than fresh flowers — it’s a truly unique way to give a subtle nod to your favorite season.”
Texture comes in all manners, so consider the overall feeling you want to produce. Bold and moody? Light and airy? Fall can handle both, so discuss your preferences with your partner before committing to a color palette or texture style.
Set the tone with seasonal stationery.
Save-the-dates and invitations are the perfect teasers for your wedding day, so why not infuse your stationery with autumnal aesthetics? As Kelley Nudo of Momental Designs notes, “Using unique fall florals to evoke an unexpected surprise with textures, sizes, and colors and then showcasing these selections in bespoke floral illustrations is a sophisticated way to bring the fall season into the wedding stationery.”
Beyond colors, Nudo speaks to the impact of texture and design. “Stationery pieces can incorporate suede or leather trimmings and faux suede papers,” she says. “Color blocking in autumnal tones combined with die-cut edges can also make a statement regarding fall wedding stationery.”
Don’t worry too much about timing — sending fall-inspired invitations earlier in the year will only build the excitement for your seasonal celebration!
Look at fall from another perspective.
It’s easy to fall into the pumpkin spice-everything trap, but there are plenty of creative ways to embrace the beauty of autumn without seeming #basic.
“When designing fall weddings, avoid being cliche,” cautions Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss. “A fall wedding with gourds or the traditional fall color scheme of terra cotta, burgundy, etc., is so predictable. Skip the rustic aesthetic. The look has been overdone, feels dated, and is being replaced by a more elegant look.”
Instead, look to the subtler notes of fall. Think cranberries over pumpkins and forest greens to balance out the oranges.
And if you simply can’t picture a fall wedding without pumpkins, consider giving them an elegant makeover as Mitsaelides suggests. “Instead of going with the standard orange, try white ones,” he says. “Monogram them in gold with your new initials and surround them with a touch of greenery and tea lights for elegant, fall-inspired table decor.”
Play with seasonal flavors.
Right up there with design and décor, your wedding menu is the perfect way to create a fall-infused atmosphere. And with so many flavors at your disposal, there’s plenty of creative freedom to make it your own!
“Things like butternut squash soup, pumpkin spice lattes, persimmons in your salad, a fig dessert, or a focus on wine and grapes (given the harvest season) all help to create an autumn atmosphere for your wedding,” affirms Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events.
Of course, menu creation is typically left to the caterer, but engaged couples can have plenty of fun testing out seasonal sweets and cocktails!
“Try a station of fall-inspired desserts and drinks with a twist,” suggests Steven Feinberg of Bunn DJ Company – San Diego. “Think pumpkin cookies, cranberry cobbler, and mini apple pies. Offer a signature drink with some fall flair like a pumpkin pie martini or pomegranate gin cocktail.”
Timeless Event Planning’s Sandy Brooks shares a few more suggestions, adding that “whisky apple cider drinks or cranberry brie tarts will bring those fall vibes, just think warm and cozy for the menu!”
So consider this your permission to taste test your way through the harvest season this year! (It’s called research, right?)
Have fun with hair and makeup.
While updos are the style of summer, fall affords us a bit more flexibility when it comes to hair and makeup — so don’t be shy about going all-in!
“Fall allows for more whimsical styles, often bringing out boho braids and long curled locks,” explains The Renaissance’s Maddie Ferraro. “Within these styles, you’ll see greenery added in, delicate flowers, or dazzling jewelry to accentuate the hairstyle and complement the season.”
Ferraro elaborates, adding that makeup also offers endless possibilities. “Fall seasons allow for deeper and more prominent tones,” she notes. “This gives brides more flexibility and personalization when choosing what style of makeup they want to go for. Deeper tones in the eyeshadows and lipsticks are a dead giveaway for a fall wedding. These are often in rustic orange, burgundy, or red, with satin and matte finishes.”
Whether you’re DIYing your day-of beauty or hiring a pro, think about adding in some pops of color reminiscent of fall leaves and changing seasons.
Celebrate autumnal traditions.
What’s fall without its signature traditions? There’s nothing like apple picking or campfire chilling to draw your guests into a full seasonal experience.
And what’s more fitting for fall than football? “Fall means football season,” confirms Betsy Scott of Hudson Valley Weddings at The Hill. “Stage cocktail time like an elegant tailgate with Mother Nature’s beautiful background of seasonal colors.”
Not a football fan? There’s plenty more to choose from! “Fall is definitely the time for a fire pit with s’mores and a bracing hot toddy for the after party,” Scott adds. “Provide your guests with comfy throws and shawls to ward off the chill.”
Or, if you and your partner have special fall traditions, find a way to incorporate them into your special day! It could be a must-have drink, a nod to your favorite hiking trail, or a taste of your go-to childhood desserts.
There is no right or wrong way to celebrate your fall wedding — all that matters is that it’s perfect for you. With the help of your vendor team, your big day can look and feel however you’d like!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.