Non-Cheesy Ways to Incorporate Thanksgiving Into Your Wedding

Photo: Ashleigh Coleman Photography

From a surprising cocktail to a fall boutonnière that won't wilt.

01 of 25
Long Reception Table with Red Flower Arrangements
Ashleigh Coleman Photography

There are striking similarities between your wedding day and Thanksgiving. You spend both with your family, you take every opportunity to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, and you definitely eat and drink both nights away. Nevertheless, there's some holiday-themed décor that's better suited for the Thanksgiving table than your wedding reception—cartoonish turkey crafts included. That being said, you can absolutely incorporate Thanksgiving into your autumn wedding, whether your date falls on the actual day or sometime near the holiday.

Instead of over-the-top Thanksgiving décor, take elements that remind you of Turkey Day and elevate them to make them feel wedding-appropriate. For example, you can play up a harvest theme, use Thanksgiving-inspired ingredients in a fresh way for your menu, and express thanks to your nearest in dearest in a number of ways throughout the celebration.

We've rounded up some of our favorite non-cheesy ideas for a Thanksgiving wedding. In the mix is inspiration for your ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and more. Are you obsessed with apple cider and cranberry sauce? Serve reimagined versions of both. Do you love the intimacy of Thanksgiving festivities? Give your family members—from your relatives to your pup—special roles for the event. Is the homey feeling of Thanksgiving dinner what you're after? Decorate your wedding with household items like rugs and comfy furniture. Whatever the case, we guarantee that there's something on this list for you. Read on before you start planning a wedding influenced by your favorite holiday.

02 of 25

Autumnal Centerpieces

centerpiece with candles
Cathrine Taylor

Search the web for Thanksgiving centerpieces, then modify the design to better suit your wedding. You can use candles, fresh produce, foliage garlands, or other autumnal materials.

03 of 25

Notes of Gratitude

thank you card
Christina G. Photography

Sure, you're already planning to send thank-you notes, but it doesn't hurt to say thanks more than once. Stick notes of gratitude on other paper goods, like place cards. This stationery was created by Anna Kate Designs.

04 of 25

Pomander Balls

orange with cloves
Viera Photographics

Not only are these easy to make (you probably crafted them in grade school!), but they smell delicious.

05 of 25

Green Beans and Fried Onions

autumnal menu
Erich McVey

Iva Lee's Catering crafted this delicious menu, which featured elegant takes on Thanksgiving classics.

06 of 25

Familiar Venue

Jose Villa

If your—or another family member's—home is big enough to fit your guest list, and the host is comfortable with the idea, why not throw your wedding there?

07 of 25

Fall Fashion

red fall tux
Kylee Yee Photography

Dress up in festive attire, whether that means wearing fall colors (like red and orange) or seasonal fabrics (like velvet or corduroy).

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Furry Guests

bride kissing dog
Lacie Hansen Photography

For many, Thanksgiving wouldn't feel right without the family dog waiting under the table for scraps. If you can't imagine the holiday without your best friend, make your wedding pet-friendly.

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Festive Wreath

autumnal wedding wreath
Marissa Lambert Photography

This Kim Starr Wise wreath would look lovely adorning the door of your venue.

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Cranberry Desserts

wedding scones
Shannon Von Eschen

Give your wedding treats fall flavor—these scones had yummy cranberries in them.

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Farm Venue

O'Malley Photographers

Throw your celebration at a farm, like this couple did. As a favor to any turkeys present, maybe avoid putting the poultry on your menu.

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Mustard Seed Photography

What's more comforting than dinner by the fire?

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Informal Entertainment

man playing guitar
Emily Delamater Photography

Skip formal entertainment and have musical relatives perform, just like they do after every Thanksgiving dinner.

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Potluck Buffet

wedding carrot dish
Jose Villa

Don't miss out on your typical potluck just because you're getting married. Either have relatives bring dishes, or ask your caterer to plan a setup that mimics one. This also works wonderfully for your rehearsal dinner.

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Fruit Escort Cards

pear escort cards
Boonetown Story

These pears made beautiful seating cards. We love the idea of writing names on leaves.

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Ceremony Rugs

wedding altar
Delbarr Moradi

Ceremony rugs are gaining traction, thanks to the intimate vibe they create. Make your venue feel cozy and home-like, even if you're tying the knot far from your actual hometown.

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Banquet Tables

hana olu wedding california table
Patrick Moyer

Family-style dinner at a long farmhouse table is the perfect way to invoke the holiday.

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Seasonal Punch

Christopher Baker

Make punch with Champagne and thin slices of Granny Smith apples, plus apple cider and bitters. You can put together the latter three ingredients beforehand and have your caterer add the Champagne right before serving. Use a mandolin to get thin slices of apple.

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Thanksgiving Pie

groom carrying bride
Corbin Gurkin

For this picnic wedding, the bride's family made 30 different pies. Go with the classics for your own event, or get creative. May we suggest giving our apple pie-inspired whoopie pies as wedding favors?

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Mismatched Tableware

wedding china
Anna Delores Photography

Keep your wedding warm and welcoming by using mismatched plates and serveware. Get the look by incorporating some personal or family pieces, renting several types of plates and platters, or working with a vendor like Casa de Perrin that specializes in coordinating but not matching rentals.

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white pumpkins
O'Malley Photographers

Pumpkins and gourds can be used for a variety of things. Hollow them out to house your flowers, or let them stand on their own.

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Mulled Cider

Lacie Hansen Photography

Mulled cider is delicious hot or cold. Use a skewer of sugared cranberries as a flavorful stirrer.

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White Cranberry Geleé

Thomas Straub

This individual dessert is colorful and chic, and the perfect way to cap off a big meal. Plus, it's a wink to the cranberry sauce your grandmother makes for Thanksgiving without being overtly holiday.

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Feather Boutonnières

Raymond Hom

Your groomsmen will look great with a boutonnière that never wilts. This fall detail says Thanksgiving in a subtle way.

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Foliage Bouquet

John Kernick

Use fall foliage in your bouquet. Garden roses, bunny tails, and pink-edged variegated dogwood were wrapped with vintage jacquard ribbon for this wedding.

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