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Americana Weddings: Your Americana Wedding Guide

Inspired by road trips, county fairs, and good old-fashioned rock and roll, here's a wedding planning guide to capturing the spirit of your timeless American romance.

Photo: Stephanie Klein-Davis

The Setting

An Americana wedding begs for an outdoor setting, whether it's a rustic barn or a tented ceremony in your backyard. When your venue is so inherently rich in character, you can keep the decor low-key.
Ideas: String homemade paper garlands and hang lanterns, ribbons, or jars of tiny tea lights from the trees to set a romantic mood. Mount hand-painted signs on fence posts to direct guests to ceremony and reception sites.

The Colors

Keep hues in theme by selecting only vivid shades -- think the pigments of a classic box of crayons.
Ideas: Vibrant colors, like cerulean, fuchsia, and kelly green, will complement a natural setting. If only an all-American theme will do, keep the look from feeling kitschy with faded versions of denim, red pepper, and eggshell.

The Stationery

Get a handmade look and feel by making your own stationery, ordering a custom design from a local stationer, or scouring sites like Etsy.com for niche-y paper designers that fit your style.
Ideas: Get line-drawing illustrations (like apples, birds, or him-and-her stick figures), vintage paper patterns, unfussy letterpress fonts printed locally, or swirly calligraphy for that just-got-a-special-letter-from-Grandma vibe.

The Flowers

Let your flowers embrace your backyard wedding's natural surroundings with a mix of wildflowers, eclectic vases, and vintage accents.
Ideas: Build bridal party bouquets with daisies, sunflowers, mums, and other mismatched blooms wrapped loosely with crushed silk ribbons or strips of lace. Create low-key arrangements by scattering simple clusters of greenery, pussy willows, and baby's breath throughout your space.

The Wedding Dress

Scour vintage shops and websites for summery, tea-length dresses in lightweight materials, like eyelet cotton and chiffon.
Ideas: Wear a shorter veil or opt for a garland of flowers or a glittery vintage hairpin instead. Embellish with your grandmother's pearls or other heirloom jewelry, and slip on simple silk ballet flats or delicate sandals to complete the look.

The Bridal Party

Dress your groomsmen and bridesmaids like it's a summer soiree: Laid-back, comfortable khaki or seersucker suits for the guys and knee- or tea-length dresses for the maids.
Ideas: Put the groomsmen in suspenders and straw fedoras and give them vintage American flag tiepins for a cheeky patriotic nod. With the bridesmaids, break away from a matchy-matchy look and let them pick a dress in your wedding colors; and no stiff hairdos -- now's the time for loose curls or simple ponytails.

The Ceremony

The key to an Americana wedding ceremony is making it all your own. So, from the music to the officiant and wedding vows, keep the details intimate, romantic, and meaningful.
Ideas: Ask a close friend or family member to be ordained online and act as your officiant if you don't have a family pastor, rabbi, or justice of the peace. If it's an outdoor ceremony, seat guests on hay bales covered with quilts; instead of a runner, use potted plants or flower petals to define the aisle; and mark your simple altar area with tiki torches or a canopy of garlands hanging from a tree.

The Music

Mix it up. It doesn't matter if your fiance's a little bit country and you're a little bit rock and roll, especially when you're throwing an Americana wedding reception.
Ideas: Look into booking a local folk or jazz band for your ceremony -- think romantic ballads by Elvis, Sinatra, and the Beatles. For the reception, find a DJ or band to play those classics, along with dance rock songs by bands like AC/DC, Def Leppard, and The Stones and upbeat jazz numbers by Cole Porter and the Gershwins.

The Menu

Go a little kitschy for the cocktail hour menu -- think long summer days and ‘50s-inspired pop-in-your-mouth bites. At the reception, comfort food is key.
Ideas: Serve strawberry lemonade and sangria out of Ball jars and have servers pass trays of pigs in a blanket, baked macaroni and cheese balls, and mini PB&J sandwiches for the cocktail hour. Anything from barbecue and burgers to fried chicken and mashed potatoes will do for the main course. Have old-fashioned root beer and microbrews on hand at the bar too.

The Reception Tables

Don't be afraid to mix and match patterns, textures, and colors on your tables. Get centerpieces filled with seasonal flowers and linens that set the scene -- the more unique the better.
Ideas: Cover your tables with gingham or lace tablecloths and name them after famous American cities like Boston, Houston, and San Francisco. Rent, borrow, or buy mismatched vintage plates and flatware so that no two are alike. Then finish it off with monogrammed burlap table runners and Mason jars full of wildflowers.

The Wedding Cake

When it comes to dessert, the more homemade the better.
Ideas: A rich buttercream cake with a vintage cake topper -- maybe even from Mom and Dad's or your grandparents' wedding -- is a sweet way to honor your family's history. Or, forgo a traditional cake for red velvet cupcakes, personal fruit pies or cobblers, or chocolate chip cookies.

The Exit

Plan an old-school wedding reception getaway -- think cans, a "Just Married" sign, and noisemakers.
Ideas: End the night with a bonfire and s'mores before driving off in a classic American muscle car. For a final burst of excitement, look into booking professional fireworks or pass out sparklers for guests to wave as you make your escape. 

 

-- Justine Lorelle Blanchard