When you start the wedding planning process, at the beginning of the game you need to determine the feel you want your wedding to have. To do this, you need to make a decision about the level of formality that appeals to you. This is an overview of the differences between formal, informal, and semi-formal weddings.
Formal weddings are the most traditional. The men either wear a black tie for the evening or a morning suit for a daytime ceremony. The bride should plan to wear a full length dress with a train. Formal wedding dresses are the most elaborate, with crystal beads, ornate embroidery or fine lace decorations. Classic pearl bridal jewelry and a full veil are always suitable for a traditional wedding, and long gloves would not be out of place.
The decorations of a formal wedding reception traditionally feature elegant flowers such as roses or orchids. Large centerpieces in tall silver vases or lush rose displays are perfect table displays. Cover the table with fine china, sparkling crystal stem and shiny silver on damask tablecloths. Depending on the size of the guest list, a band or even a small orchestra would make nice music for the wedding reception. Finish the evening off with a large multi-layered white wedding cake.
Semi-formal weddings are a step back in the opulence of formal weddings. The men at a semi-formal wedding should wear suits whether the ceremony is day or evening. The bride might be wearing an A-line, trumpet, or scabbard wedding dress rather than a very full formal ball gown. A medium degree of embellishment of the dress would be appropriate, along with a chapel length or sweep, a veil, and simple pearl bridal jewelry. Full length or tea length bridesmaid dresses would be acceptable for a semi-formal wedding.
The decor on a semi-formal wedding will be just as beautiful as that on a formal wedding, it just won’t be quite as ornate. China with a silver rim, streamlined crystal and classic table linen is the order of the day. The same flowers that are suitable for a formal wedding would be pretty for a semi-formal reception, but tend to be easier to arrange. Less fancy flowers like hydrangeas or ranunculus can also be introduced into the center pieces. Dinner stations or family service would be very nice for the reception.
There is a pretty wide range of things that make up an informal wedding. In general, men are more likely to wear jackets and pants than a full suit or tuxedo, or maybe even just a button-down shirt and pants without a jacket. The wedding dress at an informal wedding can be almost anything she wishes. It could be a very simple strapless ivory organza dress with a sweep train or a tea-length design inspired by the 1950s. For the least formal ceremonies, the bride can even deviate from something resembling a wedding dress and simply wear her favorite pretty dress of any color. However, every bride should carry at least one small bouquet of flowers, no matter how casual their attire may be.
The decorations for informal weddings can be very bright and festive. Gerbera daisies in vibrant pinks and oranges are favorites for casual weddings. Centerpieces with wildflowers in clear glass mason jars could be ideal for a backyard reception. A buffet service is suitable for an informal dinner. The music can be whatever the bride and groom like best, from a DJ to a bluegrass band to their own iPod with great pieces of music.
The key to wedding planning is to design an event that really feels like you. So, if you love the idea of feeling like a princess for a day, go for a formal wedding. If you like things that are classy but not ornate, a semi-formal wedding will suit your taste. And for those couples who want their wedding day to be relaxed and easy going, an informal wedding is perfect.