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Couples are falling in love with autumn, fall weddings

Fall weddings are becoming a popular alternative to busy summer and spring weddings.

Once you have announced your engagement, it is time to decide the date of your wedding. Many couples twist and turn over this dilemma as there are many points to consider when choosing the perfect date.

First, there is the weather, followed by the travel season and its impact on your honeymoon, the availability of your reception site and, finally, any other events that may be taking place that you'll need to schedule around. The time of year you choose is mostly a personal preference, but one that shouldn't be considered lightly.

Late spring to early summer is by far the most popular time for weddings in most areas of the world. During this season, you have the best chance for warm weather, clear skies and beautiful blooms. However, because these months are so popular, you must compete with other couples for DJs, photographers and reception sites. In turn, many vendors increase their prices at these times because they are in high demand and can get top dollar.

A viable option is to celebrate with an autumn wedding. Early fall boasts crisp weather, picturesque and colorful foliage as the leaves change their color, and an inviting harvest appeal. That is why many are opting to exchange vows in September or October. Autumn weddings are also ideal when planning your honeymoon. By September, most children have returned to school, freeing up resorts for your desired retreat. Just keep in mind that this time of the month is hurricane season for some parts of the Caribbean, so plan your honeymoon accordingly. You might consider getting travel insurance just in case Mother Nature crashes your trip.

If you decide to have an autumn wedding, here are some ideas to make your celebration special.

Frocks and flowers

The weather may be cooler this time of year, so take advantage of it by choosing a gown with sheer long sleeves or one with a matching shawl.

• Depending upon where you live, roses, sunflowers, autumn foliage, gerber daisies and hydrangeas may be in season. Ask your florist to use them for your bridal bouquets. The florist can use trailing vines, berries and interesting filler leaves to set the harvest tone of your wedding.

• Dress the bridal party in warm, autumnal tones of burgundy, maroon, brown and cream. Bright fall flowers will contrast nicely against the deep hues of these gowns.

Photo flair

With rich landscapes and breathtaking color schemes, autumn will act as an ideal photographic backdrop.

• Take as many outdoor photos as the weather permits.

• If it is overcast on your wedding day, fear not. Bright sunshine can actually drown out photography and create awkward shadows. A slightly overcast day makes colors sparkle and prevents you from squinting into the camera.

Set the mood

As mentioned, autumn offers a cozy, inviting appeal. When the first leaves change color, it's the start of enjoying crisp weather and cool nights, drinking apple cider and snuggling up in front of a fire. Incorporate these elements into the theme of your wedding.

• Keep the lighting low during your reception. Adorn each table with pillar candles surrounded by lush flowers in autumn hues. Choose an earthy wicker basket to house your floral arrangements, rather than a vase or candelabra. It will make your guests feel more at home.

• On the table that displays your seating cards, showcase one large floral arrangement in a hollowed-out pumpkin or other item with autumnal aura. Place potpourri with an apple-cinnamon aroma to make the room smell inviting.

• Dress the tables in earth-toned linens. Creams, golds and browns will complement the oranges and russets in your centerpieces.

• Instead of numbering guests' tables, name them. Choose trees, flowers or destinations that tie into your theme. Your guests will enjoy and remember that they sat at the "Maple Table" over Table 2 any day.

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