Shelly Pate

Surprising Wedding Reception Decoration Ideas for a Unique Multicultural Wedding

This couple knew it from the start. In order to do what they valued most, they couldn’t do it all in one big day. As they put it, “with a blended family, diverse cultural backgrounds, and a desire for more intimate celebrations, we decided instead that three separate spaced-out smaller events would better suit us.” In order to honor their different heritages they landed on a German send-off reception, an Irish Elopement, and an Indian Wedding. Here’s how these two used unique wedding reception decoration ideas to tie this entire experience together!

couple kisses at outdoor Virginia wedding venue

How to Plan a Beautiful Fusion Wedding

woodland creature wedding details and accessories

The first step for planning a multicultural wedding is hiring a wedding planner. As this wedding’s planner, Felicia Kettler from Cherry Blossom Weddings & Events explains, “having a planner help guide a client throughout the process, especially for an event as intricate as this one, is invaluable.” She made sure that the fusion of cultures and wedding traditions came together through the wedding reception decoration ideas. Through careful planning, all the unique wedding plans melded into a beautiful multi-day wedding event!

But, this planner admits that the credit for the vision behind this beautiful day all goes to the bride, Corey. Felicia explains that Corey “brought such creative enthusiasm to the entire planning process. As her planner, I was there to help her bring concepts to creation and execute all the many fine details that went into the day.” Corey and Saurabh worked together as a team with their planner to bring their unique wedding ideas for their reception to life!

A Wedding Reception to Inspire and Unite a Couple’s Wedding Vision

bride sits with guests under twinkle lights at outdoor Virginia wedding venue

For their wedding reception, Corey wanted to celebrate her time growing up in Germany along with her mom’s German heritage (who had previously passed away). She shared how this included some fun parts of wedding traditions from Germany including “a baumstamm sägen (log sawing competition) and a toast with a traditional German wedding cup.”

As Corey broke it down, the Bavarian-inspired concept arose ultimately from a desire for the reception to “feel like warmth, joy, and a feeling of closeness or gemütlichkeit.” Since their people are so important to them, Corey explained that an added bonus to splitting the events was “this would allow our family and friends located all over the world to attend the function that worked best for them.”

Apart from these cultural wedding traditions, according to Corey, the newlyweds also wanted to “incorporate meaningful moments and elements from our lives, such as the time ‘we’ crashed a vintage Porsche, our love of rumba music, witty banter, and curated cocktails from our 10-year-old master mixologist.” So much of this was accomplished through the wedding reception decoration ideas they blended into the day.

Cross-Cultural Wedding Traditions United Through Wedding Reception Decoration Ideas

Corey summarized a description of her wedding reception decoration ideas best in saying that “details matter–the tiniest of nods can make a moment feel personal and people feel special. I wanted my husband, our kids, and our family and friends to see meaning everywhere they looked (even in a custom beer boot!).”

In her own words, she then mostly “abused Etsy to secure amazing handmade, unique and mostly custom pieces.” These Etsy experiments and a mutual love for The Sound of Music created their reception vision with Bavarian vibes!

Just about everything was either sourced from Germany or was a family heirloom. This included beer steins, Villeroy & Boch cups and plates, and the bride’s mother’s picnic basket, and her father’s cane and Volksmarch hat.

In the bride’s own words, “Everything had meaning–meal selections, family-owned heirlooms as part of the decor, game clues, music, cocktail names, etc. We wanted everything to feel authentic and like us. The smallest details were important and we were honestly blown away at how much our guests noticed all of the meaningful touches. It was a labor of love and well worth the work it took!”

These wedding reception decoration ideas became almost too numerous to count:

german words scavenger hunt as wedding reception decoration ideas
  • Plays on German words were everywhere: “enjoy the fahrt” for a scavenger hunt (means drive or journey).
  • Food and drink: chicken, schnitzel, pretzels with obatzda, strudel, flammkuchen, glühwein in Zwiesel glasses and heisse schokolade in naïf hand painted German mugs, and zimsterne star-shaped cookies. 
  • Nuremberg wedding cup: used for the first toast where the bride and groom drink together from the same cup.
  • Baumstamm sägen: the couple saws a log in tandem to symbolize their ability to work together to accomplish tasks that take collective strength and a lot of endurance (like a marriage).
  • Send-off: traditional flower petal toss while shouting “tschuss” (goodbye).

A Perfect Backdrop for Wedding Reception Decoration Ideas

groom lifts bride at Potomac River waterside wedding

Cedar Knoll Restaurant is a restaurant located in Fort Hunt, VA along the Potomac River waterfront. Set in an 18th-century estate, it now functions as a restaurant and wedding venue in Virginia. The Cedar Knoll restaurant menu serves French as well as American cuisine. After looking for an intimate space with character the couple landed on Cedar Knoll. It was actually around the corner from their home! The restaurant created such an amazing palette for them to work with. As Corey shared, “every room has its own vibe (and fireplace) and yet seemingly comes together to create such a cozy space.”

Through the detailed wedding reception decoration ideas Corey utilized, guests were split between differently themed dining rooms for the meal. The wedding planner described this undertaking: “We had five different rental companies, along with florist and lighting, providing design, decor, and service to bring to life three distinct looks/tablescapes throughout the venue.”

Corey and Saurabh found inspiration for each of the rooms from the Bavarian landscape and The Sound of Music:

German-themed wedding reception decoration ideas at restaurant
  1. Schwarzwald (black forest) Room: German castles and Verboten animal masks.
yellow tulip wedding reception decoration ideas
  1. Botanisch (Botanical) Room: creating the vibe from the moment when Maria is singing “The hills are alive.” With bursts of yellow tulips, linens styled after a picnic blanket, and German pyramids that spin when their candles are lit. 
Cedar Knoll Restaurant wedding reception decor
  1. Maibaum room (Maypole): room for dancing with a picnic basket date night set-up.


“Another thing we did, which I highly recommend, was taking 15 minutes to ourselves to see the whole thing come together before family and friends arrived. Being able to show up and walk through the whole experience with my husband and our kids first was amazing. We were able to see all the hard work pay off and had some time to just soak it in before the day kicked off.”

The theme extended outdoors for an entirely cohesive guest experience that included:

personalized glass beer steins for wedding reception
  • Guitar music and a drink at the entrance of the restaurant. Then guests walk past a Bavarian-styled cottage to the Biergarten with beer steins on a keg wall. This was followed by arriving at a lawn with multiple fire pits and blankets. 
  • The couple also designed a scavenger hunt along the property testing guests’ knowledge of their story! 
  • Cuckoo Clock-themed seating chart. Used family heirloom clocks and others to make up this interactive wall that connected guests to the wedding themes!

A final word from the couple on why they opted for a non-traditional, intimate micro wedding:

“We are a non-traditional couple! We purposely selected our venue because it forced a cap on the event and all of the rooms allowed us to create a real feeling of intimacy and a unique vibe in each space. We did not want a traditional reception-style event, rather an immersive experience for our guests, complete with non-traditional music that flowed around the venue. We wanted our guests to feel embraced in an experience that felt like an intimate dinner party with family and good friends. I think this was evident in our photos and our video. You can feel the joy, warmth and coziness captured on film.

hand-painted plate for couples wedding details

Ready to do something a little non-traditional for your wedding day? I would love to hear your vision!

Wedding Vendors

Venue & Catering | Cedar Knoll Restaurant
Photographer | Shelly Pate Photography
Planning | Cherry Blossom Weddings & Events, Felicia Kettler
Musicians | Ricardo Marlow & Jose Oretea Montano
Videography | Paperboys
Florals & Design | Sophie Felts Floral Design
Rentals | Something Vintage Rentals, DC Rental, Select Event Group, BBJ La Tavola Speciality Linens
Stationary | Calligraphette & Co & Momental Designs
Seating Chart Wall | Social Supply & Design
Lighting | Dan Goldman Events
HMUA | Carly Ray Makeup Artist & Hair by Remona


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