I just posted a vlog entry about our wedding theme and our reasons for picking it here. With that in mind, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the different ways you can approach a theme for a wedding, and how to find which one is right for you.
While I’m not a big fan of either/or thinking, the way I see it, you have two options with executing a theme for your wedding.
1. Follow the theme exactly.
2. Reinterpret the theme.
Anything in between ends up looking like either you weren’t trying hard enough, or you didn’t have the resources. And let’s face it – a wedding, whether you like it or not, is about what you’re doing and how it looks to other people. If guest opinions didn’t matter, we’d all be eloping in sweatpants and Crocs, right?
One of the things I learned as a Media student was that parody has to go all the way in order for people to get it. If the right aesthetic details aren’t there – an iconic costume, a memorable prop, a specific line of dialogue – then the familiarity is lost, and with it, the joke. If you read the many definitions of parody, most mention mimicry or imitation as a means of ridicule. Whether or not the intention is to get laughs at your wedding, it essentially holds true – if you want your meaning (punchline) to come across, you gotta go all the way with it (the set-up).
There is something extremely satisfying about being able to recreate details. Paying close attention to the tiny accents and the big picture and how it all fits together can be immensely fun. There’s something to be said about the talent required to create replicas, you know? It’s like creativity for the inside-the-box, follow-the-rules type – like my Mom and her needlepoint, where you get to create but you still work with a blueprint. Why else do you think wedding inspiration boards are so addictive? They allow us to express ourselves within acceptable boundaries. But for those of us who like to defy those rules, reinterpreting a theme can be just as satisfying in a whole new way.
Taking the gist of a theme and reimagining it allows for a lot of personal style, and with it, a lot more risk. Tim Burton’s attempt at Alice in Wonderland is a perfect example: he took the gist - a blond little girl and a rabbit hole and indirect psychedelic metaphors blah blah blah - and pissed everyone off when he reimagined it as a bleak, post-apocalyptic, unmagical Underland. He made Alice a young woman, not a child. He had a little too much fun with CG, and introduced us to characters that weren’t in many of the other film versions (for good reason). He took a risk, and while it didn’t pay off in legions of Alice-obsessed fans, it did pay off at the box office. And even for all the backlash, there is something to be said about the fact that he dared to take on a classic and reinterpret it. Love it or hate it, Burton made it his own.
Using a theme as a launching point for your creativity is risky, but is such a home for expression. For our wedding reception, we took the elements of Alice that we like best – wonky sizes, mismatched décor, silly hats, and lots of color – and decided to build from there, in any way that strikes our fancy. Part of it is because I don’t know a person on Earth that is totally satisfied with following one theme and one theme alone – even a purple fanatic can appreciate a good goldenrod now and then, right? Budget constraints are another reason to look at a loose theme – you have more freedom to include stuff, and can repurpose items on the cheap without worrying that it won’t fit in. Reinterpreting your theme lets you relax a little and allows more of you to come through on the big day, which I am completely for!