A good wedding planner can ensure that your event is everything you dreamed it would be—while saving your sanity in the process by calculating a budget, negotiating with vendors, planning schedules and averting dozens of potential disasters you might never even be aware of. These days, planners are more creative than ever, bringing personal visions to life and creating a day that is not only unforgettable but truly one-of-a-kind.

To everything, there is a season.

“Fall weddings can often be more formal than those in other seasons,” says Cosmopolitan Events owner Josie Littlepage. “But not formal in a stuffy way; instead, think of a big cashmere sweater or your grandmother’s good china at Thanksgiving dinner.” Simcha Lourie, owner of Simcha’s Events, agrees. “Many of our brides are drawn to the comforts of this time of year.” Even if you don’t choose an overtly seasonal theme, she recommends evoking the elements of autumn—“coziness, warmth and abundance.”

A hearty harvest.

Delight your guests with a feast that will make them forget that age-old question, chicken or fish? If there’s a chill in the air, Lourie recommends welcoming everyone to the reception with a glass of spiked hot cider or a cup of hearty soup. In addition, Littlepage suggests setting up food stations serving treats like make-your-own caramel apples, miniature pies and a hot chocolate bar. When it comes time to sit down for dinner, consider gathering your guests around long feasting tables, which can seat up to 16, and Lourie says are particularly popular for fall. “They create the feeling of being in your own dining room among good friends.” Serving a family-style meal also can encourage conversation and even new friendships.

Think outside the cornucopia.

“Just because it’s autumn doesn’t mean everything has to coordinate with the leaves,” cautions Lourie. Instead, brides should draw inspiration from the rest of harvest’s palette, like eggplant, artichoke and peach. Layering sumptuous fabrics like velvet and taffeta creates a statement that Lourie calls both “impressive and comforting.” And to complete a rich, warm ambiance, Littlepage loves to set the mood with candlelight. “Brides are afraid of interpreting their theme too literally,” she says. “That’s where I come in. I incorporate the essence of her dream fall wedding with elegance.”

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