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Weddings - Wedding Theme Ideas - Tropical Wedding Ideas


Party Resource Guide
Presented by Event & Wedding Planners


Tropical Wedding Theme


The key to pulling off a coordinated event: Evoke your theme throughout the affair. Whether that theme is as general as a season or a feeling, or as specific as a special flower, it should be the subtle thread that ties everything together. Your location, invitations, programs, placecards, flowers, menu, cake, and favors should all cleverly reflect one common concept. Then, get as creative as you can!


When you think romantic, do you picture a tropical beach with palm trees swaying in the breeze.  If so maybe a tropical inspired wedding would be the perfect theme for you.  Or maybe you just love the beach and the outdoors and would like to have a little of that in your wedding to reflect who you and your groom are. Even if you're not getting married near a great tropical location you can bring that feel to your wedding & reception. All you need is the right ideas, decorations, and creativity. 

First you will need to decide if your wedding will be formal, semi formal or informal.  That will dictate the time of day for the wedding, the type of decor, the flowers and even the attire for the wedding.

The Location: 

Beach, Poolside, Lakeshore, Yacht or Yacht Club, Botanical Garden, Reception Hall, or Ballroom.

The Invitations:

You can invite guests to your wedding by phone, E-mail, handwritten note or by printed invitation. Naturally, printed and thermographed and engraved invitations are reserved for formal and semiformal weddings—while those extended by phone or E-mail would invite guests to less formal affairs.

Today there are thousands of invitations to choose from, but did you ever wonder why they come in so many styles, colors and shapes? Because they were designed not only to invite but to convey a mood, an ambiance for the occasion.

For example, if your guest receives an invitation made of fine paper with their names and addresses penned in calligraphy across the front, they immediately know that someone has gone to a lot of trouble and expense to invite them to a formal affair. On the other hand, if they receive an invitation with a swaying palm tree or shells & starfish emblazoned on the front, they know they’re being invited to a wedding with a “tropical” flare, and most likely, to a reception with fish, lobster or shellfish on the menu.

Because you want to create the right ambiance for your wedding, it’s important that you select the right invitation. I can’t tell you the number of brides and their mothers who say to me, “The invitation isn’t important, they (the guests) will pitch it anyway.” Pitch it they might, but the person who got the invitation to the tropical wedding, will say, “What a cute idea—this sounds like a fun party!” While the person who received the invitation with the elegant calligraphy will think, “What a sophisticated affair this is going to be!” One person is laying out his tux while the other is pulling out his beachcomber hat. The invitation said it all!

The Attire:

Tropical Bridal Bouquet

Bridal Bouquet of Asiatic Lilies

Tropical Bridal Bouquet

For a daytime wedding or informal wedding choose a wedding gown that is more of a summer style (i.e. A-line, Sheath, or Mermaid with a summer style neckline (i.e. Halter, Sleeveless, Spaghetti Strap, or Strapless) no train or beading. You could also wear a white floral Hawaiian muu muu designed for Island Weddings. No tuxes should be worn for daytime or informal weddings, have the Groom and Groomsmen wear Hawaiian shirts and light colored slacks, or business suits (light in summer).

For an afternoon semi-formal wedding you can still use the Halter, Sleeveless, Spaghetti Strap, or Strapless style gown with a detachable train or without a train. Minimal beading on the gown. Tuxes can be worn, but no tails.

For a formal evening wedding you can now choose a similar gown with lots of beading and tuxes and tails can be worn.

Don't forget the Wedding Leis (real or silk).

The rules:

If you’re a guest, and you’re invited to a wedding in the middle of the day, the men should wear business suits, dark in winter, light in summer. The women should wear beautiful suits or dresses, cut to the knee or below, with very little glitz. If the wedding is held in temple or church, the attire should not be flashy or provocative.

If a formal or semi-formal reception is held hours after the wedding ceremony, guests (if able) are required to change into flashier evening attire, which may include cocktail or long dresses for the women and tuxes for the men, if the occasion warrants it.

These rules also hold true for the family members of the bride and groom!

 Other Tips

  1. Start tanning weeks if not months before the wedding and avoid the sun just before the wedding.  A sunburn is the last thing you want to see at your wedding.  Also advise your Bridesmaids to do the same.
  2. No Tan lines.  Make sure months ahead of time that the dress you and your Bridesmaids wear don't and won't show any tan lines.
  3. Before purchasing shoes, consider what type of ground you'll be walking on. (i.e. Beach-Sandals w/o heel  would be better.  Grass- The thicker the heel the better.)
  4. Don't go out and get a massage right before the wedding or you might be sore on your wedding day.

The Flowers:

If you're unsure of how many flower varieties to use, aim for odd numbers -- three is a good place to begin. Two flowers of similar size paired with a smaller flower, combine to form a lovely mixed arrangement.

Orchid Bridal Bouquet

Bridal Bouquet of Dendrodium Orchids

Bridal Bouquet of Dendrodium Orchid



Orchid Corsage

Orchid Corsage

There are many different tropical flowers and plants.  Use a lot of different exotic flowers for a tropical arrangement such as, Orchids, Oriental Lilies, Asiatic Lilies, Anthuriums, & ginger.  Mix with exotic greens like Ferns, Palms, & Cycads and other luxuriant foliage.  Bamboo is also an excellent addition to floral arrangements.

Tropical Centerpiece

If your budget is tight, Asiatic Lilies are less expensive than Oriental Lilies and other tropical flowers and come in red, orange, yellow, pink, peach and white. You could also use lots of exotic greens  with just a few blooms here and there. Small tropical palms can be easily made from leather fern (inexpensive) and these make great centerpieces on tables or place an arrangements of leather leaf on top of columns to form taller palms. We wrap the columns in brown craft paper, flat paper, brown gossamer or brown satin to form the trunk of the trees.

Silk Ferns, Palm Trees and Hanging Palm Spray can be rented from your local party rental company.

Orchid Wrist Corsages

Orchid Wrist Corsages


The Reception:

Table Linens:

“Linens can make or break a whole design, they are a major part of the ‘vision’ for an event.”

At some point during the planning stages of your event the subject of linens will arise. When it does stop and think of all the possibilities available to you. Remember the tops of the tables provide you with a very large surface area and covering them with a themed tablecloth is the easiest way to change the feel of a room.. It is also the most cost effective way to decorate. Ten tables covered with tropical colored table linens or tropical print table linens will transform your event location into a tropical paradise.  Don't be afraid to use a different color tablecloth on each table, this creates a dazzling effect. Add eye-catching butterfly accents that coordinate with each tablecloth. Place bright colored stemware alternating at each place setting, this will complement each table's colorful "canvas.

Raffia Table Skirts will add a festive look to your buffet tables. Trim with real leis or silk flower leis for an elegant look.


For weddings you have a variety of napkins from which to select. For formal & semi-formal weddings, there is the cloth napkin, the paper napkin being reserved for more informal weddings.

Display napkins at each place setting. Place napkins in the center of each place setting at an angle, or unfold them and place them in glasses for a tall dramatic look. The Bird Of Paradise Napkin Fold is a classic and classy fold for any upscale event.

The napkins can also be tied (and bundled with plastic cutlery) with a multitude of items to match your colors or theme.

Show your guests just how much you care by offering Personalized Napkins that complement your wedding colors or theme.

Imprint your napkins with a special design.  

Tropical Bandanas  make great napkins for a Luau or Beach theme party.

Use a colorful Silk Flower Bracelets for a beautiful napkin ring or place a exotic flower bloom on top of a solid colored cloth napkin.

For a beach theme, tuck a napkin inside a pair of sunglasses, a cute accent.

How to Make Tabletop Balloon Palm Trees


Use bridal accessories such as: napkins, and favor bags, that can be imprinted with a tropical design. 

Seashell Place Cards


Centerpiece Ideas:


One of the best ways to get inspiration for centerpieces is to look to your table -- the napkins, the glasses, and the food you plan to serve. A centerpiece should pick up the colors of your china or linens, pulling the look of the table together. Popular color combinations for summer arrangements include whites, greens, and yellows, as well as warm hues like corals, oranges, and pinks. You may also wish to go monochromatic, for instance, picking a peach-colored flower to bridge the color gap between a raspberry and an orange hue.

Usage of small trees, such as the 5ft. Banana Tree or a 3ft. plant (Heliconia or Bird of Paradise) have been very popular as centerpieces for a buffet table or salad bar.

Centerpieces utilizing real fruits are very popular. A pineapple placed in the center of a real or silk flower leis with Cocktail Umbrellas  stuck into the pineapple is a simple arrangement. Add a coconut next to the pineapple for an additional accent.

Bamboo Torch Candlesticks trimmed with real or silk tropical flowers sit beautifully on tables.

Try adding light up ice cubes to glass vases and create fabulous light up centerpieces. 

Some other ideas might include: a tall glass vase lighted from below with an LED light base. Fill vases with Orchids or lemons & limes floating in water. 

How to Make Balloon Palm Trees

For upscale events:

This design works well for 6ft or 8ft banquet tables. Cover tables in pale blue linens. Place five or six 4x4x4 inch square glass vases down the center of each table. Add tap water colored blue with food coloring (the color of the water should be a deeper shade of blue than the table cloth) to vases. Float round white floating candles in the vases (two candle in one vase, one candle in the next, repeat). Scatter handfuls of tumbled glass stones or sea glass at different points down the row of vases. In addition to candles you could also float stephanotis or water hyacinth blossoms. Use dark blue napkins and glassware with white square china plates.

Use an 18 inch square copper tray (available at garden supply centers), add one inch of sand to the tray to create a beach scene. Nest about 12 tea lights into the sand. Scatter a few shells around the tealights (optional).  You will also need 4 stems of Yoko Ono Pom (lime green) chrysanthemums (yields about 30 blooms). Clip flower heads from the stems. Insert blooms faceup in the sand (these are long-lasting blooms and will hold up easily without water for a day). Place one bloom on top of each napkin for an additional accent. If your tray is watertight you could also combine stones and floating flowers to create a calming miniature pool.

Lighted Vases filled with Orchids, Limes & etc. are popular centerpieces.  Spandex towers with palms are also very popular (mini towers can be used for centerpieces while taller 6' or 8' towers can be used around the room for added decor).

To create an illuminating centerpiece, place a glass vase inside another that is slightly larger (secure them with the wax adhesive (Tacky Wax®). Take a piece of one wax adhesive circle, "work" it a little with your fingers and place it under the inner glass vase, waterproof and invisible. Fill between the glass vases with water tinted with blue food coloring (another color could be used). Place a Pillar candle in the interior vase. Make a series of these centerpieces in different shades of the same hue (a few extra drops of food coloring will yield the desired contrast).

Note: Food coloring will stains glass. A colorful sports drink can be used to prevent staining, but you will not be able to get the different shades of the same hue.

Other Table decorations:

Tropical Bandanas make a great napkin for your tropical theme event. Use a colorful Silk Flower Bracelets for a beautiful napkin ring or place a single exotic bloom on top of a solid colored cloth napkin. Tuck a napkin inside a pair of sunglasses for a cute accent.

Light up your Drinks!  Add to the party decor by serving your favorite drinks in flashing margarita cups, fun way to light up your drinks or desserts. Use for fruit cups, shrimp cocktail or an ice cream sundae. Colorful Neon Coconut Cups  will add a festive flair to your poolside drinks.

Accent your tropical drink with an apple, pineapple, lemon or orange with these Fruit Straws  or use assorted Tropical Flower Straws .  Another great accent for drinks and platters are Cocktail Umbrellas .

Room Decorations:

Cover a white wedding column with brown craft paper or fabric to form the trunk for a palm tree. Place a fern plant or arrangement of leather leaf foliage on top.

Cover the top of a buffet table with twinkle lights, cover the lights with tulle. Scatter Asiatic Lily blooms in tropical colors (yellow, red, orange, pink & etc.) on top.

Tropical Lighting:

Lighting is one of the important elements of any design. For informal weddings tiki torches can be used to line walkways. Accent other areas with Party lights in the shape of palm trees, flowers & etc. Party lights also make great accents for tables. 

Contact your local event lighting company for ideas on uplighting floral arrangements and other lighting effects, it can turn any venue into a paradise. One option is to use Gobos to project photo-realistic images (pictures, line drawings, logos) of just about anything onto walls, ceilings stage areas or dance floors. Used alone, or in combination with other gobos, stunning results can be achieved. Imagine parrots in flight illuminating the sky of your reception room. Your initials in the center of the dance floor and many other options.

Special Touches:

Flowered shirts, Wedding Leis grass skirts , flowered or brightly colored shorts/skirts, sandals etc. Bamboo torches, fish netting, palm trees and other foliage, boat oars, canoes. For that special Conga Line at your luau reception add these brightly colored neon Beachcomber Hats to your list and have your DJ give them out between sets of music.


Bring Vitality To Your Theme Concept

While decor still reigns supreme when invoking theme, an interactive element brings vitality to your theme concept.

Besides the tropical flowers, native plants and tiki torches to evoke your theme — bring in traditional native dancers to perform at your Tropical Reception, combine with a hilarious audience participation segment where guests can interact and be part of the event, rather than just spectators. 

When you choose to go with a themed wedding, it should be a complete commitment. Even your catering should reflect the theme. That might mean supplying action stations that combine food flavor, presentation and decor for a total guest experience. If you're going to do a themed wedding, it needs to be done legitimately and to completion. It can't be a partial attempt.


Tropical Wedding Cakes

Cake flowers: Asiatic Lilies & Orchids


Wedding cakes with square layers rather than the traditional round cakes are gaining in popularity.  Asiatic Lilies are a favorite flower for tropical weddings. They come in red, orange, yellow, pink, peach and white and are less expensive than Oriental Lilies. Have your cake designer form a cascade of Asiatic Lilies & Orchids down the cake or place a bouquet of flowers at the top and arrange with greenery around the base of the cake. Ask your designer to show you pictures of alternative ways to decorate your tropical cake.   Note that the layers on this cake are angled to add more excitement to this design.

Tropical Wedding Cake Links:



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Paper & Plastic Tableware



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 Theme Parties N More is a wedding & event planning company located in Cypress, TX. Our party & wedding planners have put this website together to provide our visitors with ideas for planning their events, this includes links to products that can help you to make your event extra special. In accordance with the FTC Guidelines we are disclosing that some of the vendors that we link you to, pay us a commission when you purchase products from them, but some of the vendors do not provide us with any compensation.

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