When couples tell me this in our consultation, it really could mean absolutely anything since a theme is a broad concept. A theme is anything that guides you to choose specific details for your wedding that are visually related. The most common theme is one that many people do not even recognize as such.
Color! If you have chosen specific colors for your wedding, you have a theme since that is what is driving your decision making when selecting clothing, flowers, decorations, etc.
Other common themes draw from the time of year and utilize holiday or seasonal touches. I bet if I say the words "autumn harvest wedding" or "Mardi Gras wedding" you can immediately imagine the colors the couple might use and maybe even give them some ideas for decorations, wedding favors, and a cake topper.
More specific themes might focus on favorite flowers, animals, and locations. Just this past year I officiated weddings themed with sunflowers, butterflies and Scotland - not all the same wedding of course. The butterfly couple had custom wedding rings made with butterflies engraved on them. Absolutely beautiful and very unique. You can probably already guess the groom and best man were attired in kilts at the Scottish themed wedding.
Historical time periods, favorite novels or movies, hobbies and interests make fantastic themes. I once officiated a New York Yankees themed wedding that included some of the cutest little touches I have ever seen despite being married to a Red Sox fan. The hot dog condiment bar at the reception was a big hit!
Next year, I will be officiating a "Shrek" themed wedding, though the couple keeps assuring me it will be very subtle. Rats, I would be tickled to death if they showed up in full costume! A few years ago, I got into the spirit of things and wore a costume to officiate a Halloween wedding. That will likely be the only wedding I will ever officiate as a zombie, though I have heard I have a groom at a pending wedding who would probably get a kick out of it.
Themes can be as whimsical or as stately and elegant as you want. They can be glaringly obvious, or quite subtle with just a few touches. The one thing they should be is authentic and capture what is important to you.
I highly recommend you select a theme that is meaningful to you. A nautical themed wedding when you are afraid of water or a honeybee themed wedding when you are allergic to bee stings would just be weird. Choose something that will make your guests blurt out, "This is sooooo them, it's awesome!"
Having a theme can make planning a wedding a great deal of fun if you like the challenge. While it may limit some of your choices, it does provide you with excellent guidance and thereby render decision-making a little easier. Once you've made the decision about the theme of course.
Themes provide excellent opportunities for those amazing "little touches" that will make your wedding one of your guests' most memorable. Don't forget to share your theme with all of your vendors. See how excited they get!
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.