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fall wedding

Your guide to planning the fall wedding of your dreams.

Tying the knot this fall? You’ve picked the perfect season—it’s not too cold or hot, your guests are back from summer vacations and nature provides a beautiful backdrop. “Brides often immediately jump to Halloween and Thanksgiving themes when they think of fall,” says Annie Lee, owner of New York City wedding planning agency Daughter of Design, who says fall has become her busiest season. “There’s so much more to the season than just turkey and candy!” Here’s a quick lesson in fall wedding style.

What could be cozier than dinner beneath the stars illuminated by the glow of a fireplace? Look for venues with a working fireplace or an outdoor venue with fire pits—a great way to keep your guests warm while you celebrate on a crisp fall evening. But don’t bet on the cold, warns Lee: “There can sometimes be an Indian summer that keeps leaves green and days hot far into October, or an early winter that rules out the cocktail hour on the terrace, so keep this in mind when you’re thinking about venue options.”

“It's always fun to incorporate seasonal items into the centerpieces,” says Lee. “But steer clear of anything that resembles a cornucopia of expected elements—like pumpkins, pinecones and fall leaves.” There are less conventional ways to decorate the table that still evoke fall. Work alternatives like cranberries, acorns, tallow berries and dried wheat into your centerpieces. For a contemporary vibe, Lee recommends filling rectangular vases with water, then adding bobbing cranberries and floating candles. Display the vases side by side in the center of long tables arranged in rows.

Warm colors are the way to go for fall, while pastels might feel out of place. When picking your color combos, remember that red and orange aren’t your only options, says Lee. Consider fall hues like burgundy, copper, eggplant, forest green or brown. However, Lee warns that mixing too many of these seasonal favorites may relay a more youthful vibe than you’d like. For your tables, instead of pairing multiple colors, play with different textures instead. Velvet and heavy satin table cloths will feel more formal, while a knit or crochet will work for a rustic or casual reception space.

When you think of fall, a seasonal food favorite usually comes to mind. Treating your guests to familiar flavors like pumpkin pie, apple turnovers or persimmons is sure to be a real crowd-pleaser. For dinner, consider this menu: Butternut squash soup or pumpkin ravioli with sage for the first course; pheasants instead of the traditional chicken entrée; and pumpkin-flavored cheesecake, crème brûlée or pudding for dessert. And to drink? “Nothing says autumn like warm apple cider,” says Lee. Serve a spiked version with rum as your signature cocktail or, for a more formal affair, glasses of oaky red wine.

-- Charli Penn