14 Unique Fall Wedding Reception Ideas

From color patterns to gift ideas, the fall weather provides the opportunity to take a wedding to a new level, offering unparalleled beauty only nature can provide.

We’ve gathered some ideas — from wedding favors to decor — to help you provide the bride and groom with the most memorable wedding possible.

14 Ideas to help event planners put on incredible fall wedding receptions

1. Celebrate more than the changing of color

fall wedding backdrops
Placek Photography – Weddings By Nancy

It’s easy to think “fall wedding,” and instantly jump to just a color scheme. But don’t shy away from trying a few touches to layer on top of the sunset-like, golden-hour aura that this season is known for.

Combine the pristine beauty of nature with a touch of home to create a rustic wedding that feels perfectly in-season, and also lends itself to an indoor/outdoor venue in case of cooler weather.

Depending on the location, backdrops can range from rolling hills to color-swept mountain ranges to beautiful city lights.

Elegantly decorated barns also make a great backdrop for a rustic fall wedding reception. Combined with everything we love about fall, these settings can create a warm and inviting environment for your client’s wedding. And it’s not just about the color of the flowers or the place settings!

2. Embrace the natural elements

You want to take full advantage of nature’s beauty at any time of year, and fall is certainly no time to keep all photos or parts of the reception indoors.

The beauty of fall colors, along with cooler temperatures, makes nature the perfect backdrop and also brings the ability to create a cozy and comfortable atmosphere for your guests.

Incorporate fall-specific florals, the scenery around your venue, and even the timing of sunset to shape your reception around nature’s timing. Who says it’s too early for a first dance if it’s against the golden glow of an earlier sunset? Not us!  

3. Give the guests something to fall for

It’s always great to receive favors when you attend a wedding–but embrace some of the cravings we all have at this time of year to make the take-home surprises especially delicious.

For example, apple cider doughnuts can be gifted in small bags with the bride and groom’s initials. They’re the perfect snack as your guests are headed back to the hotels!

Another fall-inspired food idea is packaged caramel apples or hot chocolate mix in glass bottles for guests to take home. If the wedding is outdoors, you can give out personalized blankets to keep guests warm throughout the ceremony and reception.

4. Offer guests a warm-up

While blankets can be a great way to keep guests warm, offering warm beverages to sip on before or during the ceremony is another great way to create an inviting, warm atmosphere.

Offer coffee, tea or hot chocolate with all the add-ins for guests to create their perfect cup. This includes creams for coffee, honey for tea, and/or marshmallows and whipped cream for hot chocolate.

On especially warm fall nights, whip up apple cider sangria or another drink that keeps the energy up without leaving guests feeling parched.

5. Cozy fall wedding table settings

fall wedding table settings
Left photo: Epic Imagery | Right photo: Joseph Leigh Designs

For a more elegant and upscale fall table setting, look to the woods for inspiration. Nature-inspired, vintage wedding decor can blend well with a wide variety of options such as metallics, lace or even rustic elements.

Warm and woodsy hues also pair well with the cozy aspects of a fall wedding. Consider adding burlap to vases or using small wooden barrels as flower vases.

6. Perfect place cards for fall weddings

place cards for fall weddings
Caitlin Lisa Photography | Rachael Steacy Events | HMR Designs |Adler Planetarium

If you end up using place cards at tables, painted leaves (that match the changing colors outside) or wooden tags both offer creative options to keep with the fall theme, according to Wedding Wire.

If you’re using escort cards, consider small pumpkins, real or fake acorns, miniature lanterns or even apple’s to put guests’ names and their table number, as Brides.com suggests. You can place guests’ names on paper leaves and paired with any of these options.

Seamlessly mange fall wedding seating, meals, and more

Try our software for free now

7. Source fall foods locally

Using locally sourced food as a trend is catching on more and more. The meal itself can compliment a fall wedding with dishes using locally-sourced vegetables.

But food from local farmers also gives your client’s food a brighter and fresher look–and, in many cases, you can work with local vendors to save on the food costs using in-season produce they’re looking to sell before it goes to waste.

8. Fall wedding color schemes

Two words: autumn maple.

This color embodies everything that makes fall weddings so popular. It’s an amber-orange shade that blends orange and red in such a way that elegantly matches the colors we see when the leaves are changing.

Pair this color with a muted blue to add some serious pop to the decor.

fall wedding color schemes
Peterson Design & Photo | Moxie Bright Events | Upton Grey Floral

Autumn maple can also be played down, allowing for the amber tones to shine through when paired with an elegant, yet simple, purple. Focusing on the orange tones in flower arrangements with this style can create a beautiful contrast that pairs well with fall weddings.

9. Early fall calls for a more delicate color

fall wedding colors
Tamara Gruner Photography | A Perfect Event

While autumn-maple makes for an eye-popping color scheme in late October to November, tender peach is wonderful for early fall weddings.

The darker tones of this color blend beautifully with an outdoor setting that still feels like summer in the afternoon, and it also pairs well with earthy tones. For a more vibrant peach look, pair tender peach with a soft taupe and a bright gray.

10. Embrace the benefits of earlier sunsets

We all love sweater weather, but the fall means less daylight. Don’t let the early sunset put a damper on outdoor wedding receptions in the fall.

Not only can the right type of lighting add to the overall atmosphere, but it can help keep the party going well into the night.

String lighting, candles for the tables, and lanterns to illuminate walkways are all great ways to light up the night sky while keeping with the fall wedding theme.

11. Create cozy lounge areas

Guests have a place to eat, a place to dance, but what about a place to simply relax and enjoy each others company? Lounge areas are a great way to make your guests feel comfortable and cozy at the reception.

Junebug Weddings suggests creating a “collection of sofas and chairs, surrounded by rugs, pillows, and blankets.” Placed around a roaring fire pit, guests can get comfortable while staying warm during an outdoor fall wedding.

Create accurate 3D diagrams in minutes, for free

Try our software now

12. Give fall weddings s’more

A cool fall night isn’t complete without a mouthwatering s’more. An outdoor wedding works best with this as guests can roast their marshmallows over an open fire pit.

If the fall wedding is indoors, see if the caterer has a wood-fired oven to make s’mores for guests to enjoy. If guests will be roasting their own marshmallows, the bride and groom can let them be creative by having a s’mores bar.

While offering the traditional s’mores fixings would do just fine, there’s more to add to take it to another level. Offer cookies and cream bars, slivered almonds, coconut flakes and caramel and chocolate sauce.

13. Fill up an event room with lights

String lights are great for every season. When it comes to a fall wedding, you can add string lights across the top of the room and pair that with the inspiration of fall.

Think of orange toned flowers (as mentioned above) and leaves as centerpieces. Add some flameless candles in artificial (or real) trees to create the perfect, fully lit up, fall-inspired reception.

14. Reap benefits of a minimalist wedding

There’s a reason why a minimalist wedding is becoming a huge wedding trend. For one, weddings are expensive and stressful. And expensive and over-the-top is not for everyone.

The minimalist style is clean. It’s beautiful in its own way.

Set up your client’s wedding tables with plain color table linens and simple greenery. And have an old, oaky table be the setting for the bar area. A minimalist wedding can be done in any season, but it’s perfect for the transition weather – and the homey feeling of fall.

How to create a wedding of your client’s dreams

First thing’s first: Make sure you clearly communicate to your clients to create the perfect wedding for themselves — and not just for their guests!

This is one of the most important things for the bride and groom to do. It’s their big day – and as an event planner helping them, your client wants your advice and help throughout the process. They want your opinion. They want to work with you to create their dream day — to be on their side.

From the moment guests arrive to long after the bride and groom have said “I Do,” there is opportunity at every avenue to provide your clients with a beautiful wedding that fully embodies everything that fall has to offer.

When discussing these ideas with your client, be sure to give them as many examples as possible of reception and ceremony ideas. In addition to you showing pictures, also ask clients to show you pictures of what they are dreaming of so that you can all be on the same page.

Together, you and your client will create the perfect wedding for the fall season. For even more fall wedding reception ideas, check out seven fall decor trends.

What are your favorite seasonal ideas that didn’t make the list? Comment below!