Photo Credit: Angel Canary Photography
The planner: David Tutera, author of The Party Planner (Bulfinch) and host of the Discovery Channel's Party Planner with David Tutera.
A Cornucopia of Color: "A traditional autumn color scheme includes harvest-inspired hues like gold, rust and peach," says Tutera. "If you want more drama, go with vibrant reds and oranges. Other wonderful combinations that suit this time of year are coral, burgundy and khaki and—my favorite—chocolate brown, dark beige and sky blue."
Fall Foliage: "If your color scheme falls in the gold and rust family, consider using copper-colored roses and rust- or red-colored poppies in your centerpieces—include some fair-hued calla lilies to lighten up the arrangements. For a more vibrant look, opt for dahlias in rich, bright colors like gold, orange and eggplant. Whatever palette you choose, ask your florist also to incorporate leaves, berries and sprigs of wheat, which are plentiful at this time of year."
Details, Details: "Look to Mother Nature for decorative inspiration. Gourds, pumpkins, apples, pomegranates and even asparagus can be used to adorn cocktail or buffet tables and add whimsy to centerpieces. Miniature pumpkins make festive place-card holders—just make a half-inch-deep cut in the top of each one and insert the card. Or, set a small tree on the escort card table and tie the cards to the branches. An even simpler idea would be to write each guest's name on one side of a vibrantly hued leaf, and the table number on the back. For an ultraopulent look, set the tables with gold chargers and gold-rimmed glasses and plates. And, line the outdoor path to your reception area with lighted jack-o'-lanterns."
Harvest Feast: "For the first course, consider offering small portions of three soups—tomato, pumpkin and potato are perfect for fall—served in hollowed-out gourds. Creamy risotto is also a good choice. For the main course, opt for hearty entrées like beef tenderloin or filet mignon in a Bordeaux wine sauce, or turkey with cranberry sauce."
Sweet Treats: "For dessert, serve your guests a traditional fall favorite: carrot cake. Ask your baker to decorate the confection with berries and acorns made of fondant. You could also allow your guests to choose their own toppings from a station stocked with treats like warm caramel and hot fudge sauces. After dessert, you might direct guests to a separate lounge area, where they can relax with a glass of sweet wine or a chocolate martini—just the thing to cap off a brisk fall evening."