All weddings have some type of theme, even if that’s just a color palette. For couples that truly love the grandeur of an organized, themed event, though, masquerade weddings are a chance to combine the romance and elegance of a traditional celebration with the enchantment of a masquerade ball.
In general, a masquerade wedding typically involves ornate masks, which are worn by the couple and their guests to add an air of mystery and intrigue to the occasion. Blending fantasy and reality, this style of wedding embraces the spirit of old-world glamour and extravagance, while also incorporating modern touches into the celebration, whether that’s through creative décor, contemporary fashion, or unforgettable live performances.
However, while this all sounds great, planning a masquerade wedding is no easy feat. That’s why we turned to a pro for the best planning tips you’ll need to bring this once-in-a-lifetime affair to life.
Meet the Expert
Lara Mahler is the founder and chief planner at The Privilege is Mine, a wedding planning collective based in New York.
What Is a Masquerade Wedding?
A masquerade wedding is a unique and whimsical theme characterized by both the couple and guests wearing elaborate, ornate masks decorated with feathers, lace, crystals, beads, and other intricate details. Inspired by traditional masquerade balls that date back to the medieval and Renaissance eras, these events are typically black-tie celebrations and often feature opulent and luxurious décor.
“A masquerade-themed wedding is for the couple that is committed to creating a ball-type event,” says wedding planner Lara Mahler. “You really are trying to recreate a masquerade ball. It’s also a different era that you’re trying to kind of recreate as well. I think it’s fair to say that it’s an over-the-top vision, and it’s quite a commitment.”
How to Plan a Masquerade Wedding
If you’re planning a masquerade-type wedding, you’re probably looking to have a larger guest list. In that case, it’s important to find a venue that can accommodate your guest count, while also exuding the aesthetic and style you’re hoping to achieve. Typically, historic mansions, ballrooms, or châteaus are best suited for this style of soirée, as they evoke a sense of individuality and grandeur. Next, you’ll want to find décor that’s opulent and luxurious, select enchanting entertainment, and, of course, purchase plenty of elaborate masks for your guests to wear. Simply put, everything from the food and drinks to lighting must be on theme to pull off this lavish party.
Due to the extravagant nature of masquerade weddings, Mahler does note that it’s helpful to hire a wedding planner with experience in themed weddings, specifically those who can research venues and vendors that can accommodate your vision. “There are going to be more moving parts, especially if you want to incorporate performers or different musicians,” says Mahler. “It’s going to be different than just like a regular wedding, so I would say hire someone to help you execute it.”
Lastly, you’ll want to make things as straightforward as possible for your guests so that they can escape into this magical world with you. Asking your guests to buy a ball gown or a fancy suit may be a lot for some people, which is why Mahler recommends providing a bevy of props for your guests to choose from at the start of the evening. What’s more, while some guests will inevitably want to purchase their own masquerade mask for the occasion, ensure you have enough masks in different colors and styles for everyone. “Providing different masks, props, hats, or boas on a table for guests to choose from when they come in allows them to be fully engulfed in the experience,” adds Mahler.
Masquerade Wedding Fashion
Most masquerade celebrations have a formal or black-tie wedding dress code, which means that couples are able to wear whatever they want, as long as it aligns with their preferred style of attire. As for guests, though. women are typically encouraged to wear long, full-length dresses in fabrics like velvet or satin, while men are generally asked to wear a black suit with a bow tie, a velvet or satin smoking jacket, or even a tux. Dark, rich colors, in addition to metallic hues, work well at a masquerade wedding, along with textural fabric like lace, velvet, or silk.
“I think that it’s a really fun opportunity for people to like, play around with what they’re wearing,” says Mahler. “If there was a lot of lighting, it would be really cool on the dance floor to see satins, velvets, or different textures shining in the light.”
Masquerade Wedding Décor
Generally speaking, the venue you choose will dictate a lot of your décor choices. Historic properties with grand architecture, ornate Renaissance-inspired interiors, and spacious ballrooms will set the stage for the rest of your vision, in addition to museums, theaters, and art galleries, all of which can provide a dramatic ambiance that aligns with the masquerade theme.
Lighting is also crucial for setting the mood at a masquerade ball. Make sure your venue offers the ability to control and customize the lighting in a way that highlights the masks and costumes while maintaining the intimate and mysterious atmosphere that this style of event embodies. Mahler recommends dim lighting (ideally coming from chandeliers) with a lot of candlelight.
As for specific decorations, “For a masquerade-type wedding, I see large, mirrored centerpieces that have beads hanging from them that can reflect the mirror base,” shares Mahler. “I also see feathery type flowers or even a mirror vessel to hold the flowers or the décor.” Long tables draped with satin tablecloths can also add to the dramatic ambiance, as well as other décor details like heavy velvet curtains with thick rope accents. If you’re working with a smaller venue, in particular, consider a U-shaped seating arrangement to facilitate conversations and showcase the dance floor.
When it comes to floral arrangements, those should be tall, over-the-top, and potentially include different kinds of feathers or feathery type flowers with sparkling embellishments. Also, deep, rich colors like burgundy and emerald green can really elevate the elegance of the event. However, Mahler does believe that couples can get away with using alternative décor elements over traditional floral centerpieces. “There might be an opportunity to save money on flowers in this instance,” she says. “In terms of centerpieces, you could do something that’s non-floral, like really tall candles with beads hanging down and feathers around the base.”
Lastly, make sure to have one table set up with different props like beaded necklaces, masks, hats, and feathers, and encourage guests to switch up their look throughout the night. Incorporating a photo booth is a fun and interactive addition to a masquerade wedding that provides lasting memories for you and your guests, as well.
Masquerade Wedding Food and Drinks
Take inspiration from a bygone era, and incorporate the spirits and flavor profiles from that time to create a signature cocktail. You can also consider a champagne toast to kick off the reception, which adds a more formal or upscale feel to any wedding.
In terms of food, passed hors d’oeuvres at cocktail hour will perfectly set the tone for the evening. Mahler also notes that you can keep the food contemporary, but suggests having them served on vintage or antique-inspired plates, like gold vessels, which adds a touch of glamour to the evening. Another tip? Classic main courses, like filet mignon or pork loin, are popular options, served with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables.
Masquerade Wedding Entertainment
The best masquerade balls transport participants to a world of grandeur and fantasy, through extravagant displays of themed décor and entertainment. And if you really want to create a theatrical experience for your guests, consider having multiple interactive performers. This could include things like a live orchestra or band, aerial performers, magicians, fire dancers, tarot card readers, and more. “I suggest incorporating different performers or different rooms in the event space where guests can go in and have an interactive experience,” says Mahler.
Additional Planning Tips
Planning a masquerade wedding can be a costly and time-consuming process, so make sure you can commit to pulling this off. While you can definitely DIY certain elements, like the centerpieces, this theme is all about opulence and extravagance, which can add up over time.
“Masquerade weddings are best for someone who has more budget to play around, rather than someone who’s trying to be budget conscious,” says Mahler. “It really is quite a commitment. You’re asking your guests to dress a certain way and be a part of this experience with you.” But if you can stay committed to the theme and focus on creating an unforgettable experience for your guests, your masquerade wedding will surely be one for the history books.