You’re considering having a Harry Potter inspired wedding but you want it to be elegant and tasteful. You don’t want to look back with regret years from now, or have your guests perceive your wedding as tacky in any way. Is it possible for a themed wedding to be tasteful?
I assure you it can be done, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sacrifice on taste level to throw a themed wedding. The most important rule to follow is this: design your wedding as to immerse your guests in the wizarding world, rather than surrounding them with Harry Potter licensed memorabilia. If an item has the Harry Potter logo plastered on it in plain sight, consider leaving it out. Instead focus on items that look like they belong in the wizarding world. I pulled my inspiration from themes in the books and movies and used very little licensed decorations, with exception to my favorite Noble Collection prop replicas. Understated and thoughtful is key!
The ideal venue for an elegant Harry Potter wedding is either a historic or British inspired building with lots of exposed brick, or a castle if you are lucky enough to have one nearby. I live in the Tampa Bay Area, Florida, so a castle was out of the question for our relatively large wedding. We ended up finding the perfect venue, CL Space, in historic Ybor City. It boasts bare concrete floors, exposed metal beam ceilings and lots of original exposed brick. The venue is somewhat small so we had to cut down our guest list to a max of 120 people, but even that was pushing it.
On the upside there is a beautiful courtyard downstairs where you can have your ceremony for a small fee, and the immediate surrounding area makes for beautiful photo opportunities for the wedding party and bride/groom photos.
I decided to use farm tables with a combination of benches and chairs so that I could fit the maximum amount of people at each table (my venue was tight on space). The idea was that the farm tables and benches would mimic the look of the great hall, and it turned out even better than I imagined. Since farm tables do not require linens I used Harry Potter book pages for the foundation of my centerpieces. I had 10 guest tables, each with a different Harry Potter inspired theme. I chose to create 5 tables in the theme of Hogwarts classes and 5 tables in the theme of landmarks in the series. You can get creative and choose any theme you’d like, just make sure you will be able to find and/or create enough items to fill the center of the table in that theme. Here are each of my original centerpieces:
Care of Magical Creatures
Defense Against the Dark Arts
The Forbidden Forest
Ministry of Magic
I ended up eliminating a guest table right before the wedding to make more space, so I had to take 1 centerpiece theme and move it to the guest book table. Your themes can easily be translated for other areas of your wedding like the guest book table, gift table, or cake table.
The items I used for each centerpiece were either handmade, Noble Collection prop relicas, or purchased from Etsy, Hobby Lobby, Amazon, or Michael’s. The layout for each centerpiece took a while to design; it’s a matter of trial and error. Place each item on a table with the book page underlay, and move them around until the look is well balanced and pleasing to the eye. Once you decide on a final layout, take a photo of each centerpiece so you wont forget how everything was placed.
Triwizard Inspired Bridal Party
I had to think outside the box on this one since I had six bridesmaids and there are only four Hogwarts houses. Luckily I remembered that there are other wizarding schools out there to represent, and I’m so glad I did. The end result was something quite magical.
I did not want to repeat any houses, so I opted to have four bridesmaids representing the Hogwarts houses and the remaining two representing Beauxbatons Academy and Durmstrang Institute. After much debate, I chose to go with black as the dress color for the Hogwarts bridesmaids so there would not be too many competing colors. As you can see, the black dresses with house scarves (WBshop $30 each) ended up looking very elegant and delightfully understated. I also decided to keep all six bridesmaids in the same style dress to maintain some level of cohesion, since two girls would be dressed in different colors.
It was immensely rewarding to conceive the outfits for Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, as I had not seen any pictures online of anyone attempting such a thing before; translating the on-screen costumes into formal wear. I knew I wanted the Beauxbatons look to be fussy, glamorous, and ice blue. In contrast I wanted the Durmstrang look to be more practical, warm, and bold red. I got the Beauxbaton inspired knit felt hat on Etsy ($79) and the crystal body jewelry shawl from David’s Bridal ($130). The crystal body jewelry looked more lux than the ice blue shawl that the girls wear with their uniforms in the film, and it ended up being my favorite outfit. The faux fur shrug was inspired by the fur accents in the Durmstrang uniforms, due to their schools secret location in a frigid climate (David’s Bridal $60). I also purchased a matching Russian style faux fur hat, but I nixed it last minute to protect my bridesmaids beautiful hair style.
I went with grey tuxedos (instead of the traditional black) for the groomsmen since the bridemaids were in black too, and I didn’t want it to look like a funeral. Four of the groomsmen wore ties coinciding with each of the four Hogwarts houses (WBshop $22 each) and a matching pocket square. The remaining two wore a black ties with the deathly hallows symbol ($55 each) and black pocket squares, so they would not clash with their Beauxbatons and Durmstrang bridesmaids.
Paper Flowers and Brooch Bouquets
I made a brooch bouquet for myself and purchased paper flower book page bouquets for my bridesmaids.
My brooch bouquet included 13 brooches ($250 total) with Harry Potter themes including: 1 of each Hogwarts house mascot (lion, badger, eagle, snake), 2 phoenixes (Fawkes), 2 owls, a stag (patronus), a unicorn, a feather (quill), a skeleton key, and a cameo (talking portraits). I purchased all of my brooches on Amazon except for the badger. Apparently badger brooches are not common and I had a difficult time finding one with some sparkle. I ended up having to purchase one on eBay from the UK and it was pricey ($80 USD!) and much smaller that I thought it would be.
I chose to use colors for my silk bouquet flowers that did not coincide with the franchise, but you can certainly accent your bouquet with colors from your Hogwarts house instead. I also added a few paper flowers to my bouquet made from Harry Potter book pages (Etsy $16), to tie my bouquet in with my bridesmaids bouquets.
My bridesmaid bouquets were made from the pages of Harry Potter books and included pops of color from their respective Hogwarts houses. I ordered the bouquets from an Etsy shop and they were perfection; much more pristine than I would have been able to create on my own, but if you are crafty you can certainly give it a whirl!
Last but not least, how perfect was this snitch inspired boutonniere I got for my groom?! (Etsy $22)
Great Hall Inspired Dessert Bar
I’ve been to several weddings and I have never been overly impressed by the cake. While researching bakers I noticed that a lot of them offer dessert bars, which sounded like the perfect alternative for a Harry Potter inspired wedding. I envisioned an elaborate array of sweets reminiscent of the Great Hall during the start of term feast. I was not disappointed. The dessert bar was one of the highlights of the evening, and the guests agreed. It was a piece of art, and I could not stop staring at it. The only downside to choosing a dessert bar over a cake is the price. When you order a cake for your wedding, you order the size based on approximately 1 slice per person. With a dessert bar guests will not eat only 1 item each, but 3 or 4, so they recommend ordering a minimum of 3 times more dessert items than people. This means that I had to order 360 dessert items for my 120 guests. I also ordered a mini naked cake for the cake cutting from the same baker, and the total cost was $1900 for the mini cake, dessert bar, setup and delivery. The dessert bar was definitely a splurge, but it was worth every penny.
Wizarding World Decor
My decor pieces were a combination of handmade items, items purchased on Etsy, and prop replicas from The Noble Collection.
This directional sign was a last minute touch that really left guests feeling immersed in the wizarding world. We placed it at the entrance of the venue so it would set the stage for the evening. I made the post from cedar and purchased the directional signs from Etsy ($175), but you can certainly make your own signs to save money.
Keep off the Dirigible Plums! Sincerely, The Lovegood’s (Etsy $38)
I decorated our sweetheart table with a Hogwarts Crest candle I found at a Geek store in the mall. What a find!
A little “Espresso Patronum” for the coffee bar (Etsy $28)
A Gryffindor throw is great for covering up features in your venue that cannot be removed; in this case a wall mounted television. I also draped it with a LED photo light strip collage, in honor of my late husband.
You can’t have a Harry Potter wedding without Hedwig! I purchased this hand felted owl from Etsy ($200). I also purchased several owls and antique bird cages from home decor and crafts stores for much cheaper (<$20.00), and they too looked the part.
This Azkaban prisoner sign was a perfect prop for the photo guest book (Etsy $42)
Elevate those boring wedding bubbles with ribbons in the Hogwarts house colors! I got this cute drawer at Hobby Lobby and added the labels.
A Christmas lawn deer makes for the perfect patronus. I opted for the Stag but you can give a nod to Severus and Lily with a doe.
“Sorting” Out Seating Assignments
I drew inspiration for the seating assignment display from the portraits at Hogwarts and the sorting hat ceremony. The idea was to equate the theme of the sorting hat, sorting students into their houses, with the guests being assigned to their tables. I wrapped a cut down sheet of plywood with fabric printed with The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry, which adorns the Gryffindor common room walls. I spray painted inexpensive wood photo frames from the craft store and used velcro to attached the frames to the board. The three-legged stool was purchased from Serena & Lily ($70) and the sorting hat on Etsy ($71).
Azkaban Photo Guest Book
I knew I wanted to do a photo guest book, but I also wanted to put a Harry Potter spin on it. I purchased a handmade journal from Etsy that was weathered and contained ancient runes on the cover. I added photo corners to the front and back of each journal page so that guests could take an instant photo, place it the book, and then leave a message on the page. I put a few props on the table including wands, a pair of round spectacles, and an Azkaban prisoner sign. I also decorated the guest book table with my Ministry of Magic inspired centerpiece. I figured it would be a nice touch since the Ministry controls Azkaban prison.
It’s All About the Details!
I had cosplayers at my wedding, and they were AMAZING. I have a childhood friend who is a professional cosplayer (@wonderwomancosplay). She found some fellow cosplayers for me through her social media networking, but if you post in a cosplay group in your area I’m sure you will find dozens of people willing to work your event. Just remember to offer them reasonable compensation. They put a lot of hard work into their costumes and character, and should be paid like any other professional in the entertainment industry. They were absolutely amazing and stayed in character all night. Bellatrix stuck her tongue out at the cameramen on multiple occasions, and Umbridge sprayed the air with her perfume when the guests got too close to her. She also did the perfect impression of Umbridge’s annoying little throat-clearing sound. I’m really glad Fantastic Beasts was represented as well. Newt even brought some furry friends with him!
My husband proposed to me with a Golden Snitch inspired ring in a Golden Snitch ring box. I know, overkill, but I’m so in love with that fleeting little ball of gold!
Cake pops make great wedding favors! I ordered individually wrapped cake pops in each of the Hogwarts house colors so guests could take them home and enjoy them later ($2.25 each). Cake pops can also replace your wedding cake and are far less costly than a full-blown dessert bar. I included some more elaborate cake pops in my dessert bar as well to bring in the Harry Potter theme: golden snitches and Bertie Bott’s cake pops ($5.00 each)!
You don’t need a year to plan a wedding like this. I planned this wedding in 90 days from conception to execution. I didn’t hire a wedding planner but did decide on a day-of planner last minute, and she was an asset. The service she provided was invaluable to me, and allowed me to fully enjoy my wedding without any unnecessary stress.
Bonus points if you spotted the Demiguise in the photo above!
All photographs featured in this blog are the work of Joe Roberts of Roberts Imagery. He is an amazingly talented photographer and I absolutely love every one of the photos he took on our special day!