Mask Your Wedding Day in a Masquerade Theme

If you’re looking to add a bit of intrigue to your wedding celebration, don’t be afraid to look at Romeo and Juliet for some inspiration. The two lovebirds met at a masquerade ball, with their appearances hidden behind masks but their profound love very visible. Bring the thrill of mystery to your special night and fashion your wedding in a masquerade theme.

To Mask or Not to Mask?

That is the question to be answered before sending out any invitations. Masquerade balls originated in the 15th century in Italy, and masks were required at the events. In fact, in some cases, guests couldn’t remove their masks and reveal their true identities until the end of the celebration. The secrecy contributed a sultry thrill to the evening.

Masquerade has made its way into the annual happenings of Carnaval and Mardi Gras, and masks are an essential accessory for any participant. If masks will be a requirement for your wedding guests, it’s important to let them know early so they have time to find or make the perfect mask. Deciding whether masks will be strictly required, and when, are equally important to share with your guests. If you request that masks be worn during both the ceremony and reception, guests may opt for a simple, comfortable mask as opposed to an elaborate, heavy headpiece that would be perfect for pictures only.

Try as you might, you may not be able to get every attendee enthused about your theme. For those who refuse to join in on the fun until it’s strapped to their face, consider providing an array of extra masks near the entrance. Shroud the night in even more mystery by distributing uniform masks to each guest, or offer two options and specify “His” and “Hers.” Decadent, personalized masks double as flawless favors, as well as theme-appropriate, face-concealing fans.

If you’re the kind of bride who chooses her dress with the utmost care, be sure to put forth the same effort into choosing your mask. A half- or full-face mask held in place with elastic will affect your choice of hairstyle. Depending on the veil, tiara, or fascinator, it may be possible to attach the mask securely to the headpiece otherwise. Stick masks eliminate any risk for hair mishaps, although they require a constant grip from a hand that will be busy holding a bouquet, a drink, and many other hands throughout the night. The air of mystery also disappears as soon as the stick shifts (although the white dress will surely give away your bridal identity anyway).

A hands-free, elastic-less alternative to a physical mask is a painted one. The sharp details and vibrant colors can complement your dress and make your eyes pop without interfering with your hair. Some makeup artists have mastered the art of masquerade masks, but if you’re in need of a trusted name, give your local theater a call and ask for their costume director.

Have a little fun with your bridal party by giving them each the same marvelous mask instead of the same dress. Send your bridesmaids back in time with matching pairs of lacy, fingerless gloves. Conceal the groom’s identity by attaching a light, frontal veil or mask to a top hat.

Masking the Venue

Your decor goes hand in hand with your theme, but no matter what type of masquerade ball you choose—classic Italian, Mardi Gras, Gothic, tropical—the mysterious, romantic vibe should shine through. Look for elegant ballrooms with intricate detailing and vintage light fixtures to accentuate the energy of the celebration. Dramatic staircases and ornate columns are a bonus if you’re hoping to add an air of yesteryear.

Ask about hanging masks on the walls for your event. Rent a few period armchairs and furniture pieces to round out the room. Keep in mind that the lighting makes the mood, so if the house lights aren’t dim enough, consider lighting the space with chandeliers, candelabras or lanterns instead. Stringing lights along the walls will provide a soft, twilight glow.

Your wedding colors will be the root of your theme. Typical masquerade colors are vibrant and saturated, pleading royalty. Dress your venue up by steering clear of patterns and letting the solid, vivid color scheme speak for itself. For a more classic touch, take inspiration from Truman Capote’s 1966 Black and White Masquerade Ball.

With such a decadent theme, you may want to keep your centerpieces on the simpler side. A single taper candle standing in a vintage candleholder is basic yet romantic. Fill a vase with marbles or Mardi Gras beads, flowers, and a few mini masquerade masks protruding from the bunch. Sprinkle glitter on top for some extra shimmer. Consider using a different full-sized mask for each table and talk to your florist about building an arrangement around each mask.

Masquerades are most often memorable because of their glitz and glamour, so if you want to go all out, don’t be shy with the sequins and the plumes. Invite a little mystery into your special day and your guests might be surprised at the romance that comes along with it.

Adding Decadent Touches

A key aspect of historic masquerade balls was to keep guests too busy to guess each other’s identities. Focus attention and keep mouths agape with flashy entertainment such as burlesque dancers and fire throwers. A circus-themed masquerade ball would benefit from stilt walkers and even a few old-fashioned carnival games, depending on your venue. Hire a magician to work the floor and mystify your guests during those in-between moments. Rent an old-time photo booth and provide extra-extravagant masks, pearls, and funky hats so your guests can experiment even more with their wedding looks.

While you want to be sure your food complements your theme, with masks involved, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. If your guests will be required to wear their masks throughout the reception, you may want to forgo the sit-down dinner and supply scores of finger foods instead—it will keep the mingling at a maximum and it will allow guests with more intricate masks an easier time eating. Consider working straws into your theme for the same reason.

Whether you are obsessed with the Renaissance or you simply enjoy the idea of a costumed wedding, there’s no doubt that a little mystery will spice up any party. Set the scene for your guests and watch as a masquerade theme brings an extra touch of romance to your special day.