So you’re getting married and want to have a wedding that totally represents everything about you as a couple and that’s great! Although, this might be a good time to bring up the point that sometimes your flowers can just be flowers and don’t have to be THE flowers that SYMBOLIZE your love (just a thought!). Anyway, I was reading this great post on OffBeat Bride about themed weddings and being inclusive to all your guests and my own opinion of it is that you don’t really have to explain your theme to your guests at all. Yes, sure YOU are very excited about your elaborate Dr. Who centerpieces, but unless your guests are into it, those centerpieces are just centerpieces to them, and that’s okay. I am a big wedding fan and love little details. Recently, I attended Jaya’s wedding, and despite hearing about all the details for MONTHS in advance and being ready to check everything out- in the moment, I was so BUSY having an amazing time that I completely forgot to look at any details at all. It all looked beautiful and that was enough. That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when having a theme heavy wedding.
By all means, work your theme or references into your vows and readings. Just leave enough of the usual bits that people know that they are for sure witnessing a wedding ceremony. Perhaps do not conduct the ceremony in Klingon, at least without a translator.
You cannot require your guests to wear full-on costumes to your wedding. Now don’t pout, Jaya and I LOVE costume parties and throw a costume birthday party every year where we highly suggest costumes (and inspires some interesting costumes from costume hating people- such as the same increasingly ratty wig being used three times to represent different costumes). However, anyone who doesn’t want to attend a regular costume party can just say no. A wedding has a much stronger expectation of attendance and your guests are supposed to be your friends and loved ones, not costumed extras in your pageant.
By all means, share the theme and welcome your guests to dress accordingly if they wish. I went to a 20s themed wedding and a good portion of the guests went with 20s inspired outfits- I wore a ruffled dress that kinda sorta looked flapperish. But don’t turn your family and friends away if they don’t have the energy to make a Victorian Zombie costume!
Also, please cut out the dress code instructions for Cowboy Chic or Steampunk Cocktail or Ocean Colors. No one knows what you mean (probably not even you) and you are just inviting 1,000 emails from stressed Aunts asking what you mean. Your dress code choices are informal or formal (black tie/cocktail attire are acceptable too). That’s it. The only people whose attire you can dictate is your own (you being the couple), and your wedding party. Besides, as in the aforementioned flapper wedding, many people will catch onto a theme and dress a little accordingly on their own.
Go nuts with your decorations, just don’t get annoyed if people don’t particularly notice or care. Some commenters on Offbeat Bride suggest a glossary of all your references (the best place would be on your wedding website). This is fine, but again, don’t be put out if people don’t get really into it. Don’t force people to care either- trivia games and scavenger hunts will not be fun for people who aren’t already interested or aren’t familiar with your theme.
That said, know your crowd! Maybe your family and friends really will be into finding all your references and competing with the other tables in trivia. The same for other reception activities–karaoke or board games will go over well with some crowds and not with others (same with dancing, for that matter). But be honest with yourself; if you are inviting 10 of your gamer friends and 90 conservative extended family members, a giant, all-inclusive light saber fight is probably not going to happen.
Speeches too, shouldn’t be only full of in-jokes between the speaker and the happy couple. There’s only so much control you have over the speeches given to you, but it’s something to keep in mind. Actually the best Maid of Honor speech I’ve heard was thematically about Harry Potter, but it really told a story about the couple and was very sweet.
Just remember, always, that your guests are there to celebrate with you. As long as you give them food (appropriate to the time of the reception), drinks (or some kind, doesn’t have to be alcohol), a place to sit (if necessary), and make sure you greet every single guest, then you have fulfilled your hosting duties and everything else is up to you. Just remember to send your (themed, natch!) thank you notes.