Designing Events with a Water Motif

White Wedding Ceremony Design in Santorini
April 24, 2021

Water motifs can be the perfect theme to add more significance and ambiance to any wedding or event. As pros, we’re very familiar with a beach and nautical theme. As classic as they are, there's so much more that can be done with a water motif! We’ll walk you through the meaning of water, locations, themes, colors, and traditions so you can help your clients transform their event into a breathtaking experience.

The Symbolism of Water

Why water? Although all elements are important, water is an integral part of life and happiness, making it ideal for weddings. Some of our favorite memories are made near bodies of water. Reading on the beach with our toes buried in the sand, spending time basking in the sun by the pool, kayaking on a clear lake between mountains, or swimming down a canal. For some of us, water represents love, self-care, tranquility, family, excitement, new experiences, or adventure. Whatever water means to your clients, there’s a way to bring those feelings alive in their décor. 

Think about what it feels like to hear the sound of running water. Imagine it rushing past your fingers, filling you with a sense of peace and calm. Consider the awe that comes with standing before the vastness of the ocean and seeing no end. That’s the power of water.

Water holds value worldwide as a life source. It sustains us and nature but it also holds symbolic cultural and religious value. The majority of Christian churches have rituals involving water, such as baptism. In Judaism, there are purification rituals like a symbolic washing of the hands and feet. In Islam, water also serves as a cleaning and purification agent. All water is sacred in Hinduism. While in Taoism water holds high wisdom. Religion aside, as human beings, we have built our homes and lives around water. So using water motifs in a wedding can be a nice symbolic way to come together and start anew. 

beachside bride surrounded by smoke holding bouquet (left), beachfront sweetheart table (right)
Photo courtesy of Blue Rose Wedding Photography

Water Centered Venues 

A venue with a killer backdrop may be the best way to tell the event's story without going overboard on water-themed décor. Below are some optimal locations to get you and your clients started.

Forest + Stream
For your woodsy clients who love the mountains, a forest with a stream or babbling brook can serve as the main water source. Tall trees and water running nearby, with lights hanging above, can make for a fairytale wedding. 

Lakes create a whole different vibe than forests. They're more open and are simply larger masses of water. Mountains standing behind the lake can create more of a rustic aesthetic. A lakeside wedding is lovely during the spring or winter. 

For more of a tropical theme, a waterfall amidst a jungle or lots of forestry can be a fun way to incorporate water. In addition to creating some soothing ambient noise, a cascading waterfall can create a gorgeous natural backdrop. 

Greenery and florals pair nicely with fountains and ponds. Small table fountains or hanging glasses full of water can be a very serene and elegant way to add water-themed touches. 

Beach + Ocean
The beach is always a wonderfully scenic backdrop for a water-themed wedding. Consider suggesting a venue that overlooks the beach or is atop cliffs. These elements can provide a modern or traditional edge depending on the venue and décor.

When in doubt, a boat, cruise ship, or ferry can be one of the best ways to tell the couple's love story. Being out in the open water, with beautiful clear blue skies makes for a memorable event full of wanderlust. 

couple dancing on yacht at reception
Photo courtesy of Evan Rich Photography

Water Motif Themes

Water comes in many forms and moves in its own way. We see it as snow and ice in its frozen form, as evaporation in vast blue skies, bodies of water, and rain. This is where the theme comes into play. 

Under the Sea
This Under the Sea-themed wedding featured floating candles, paper mache swans, and tropical flowers only found in and near the sea. Trees that typically grow in water served as candle holders and legs to tables. They were able to bring sea life above ground in an eclectic and charming way. This can also be replicated by using other sea creatures and bespoke items. Stay away from going over the top to avoid the event looking like a themed birthday party, and be sure to include subtle ocean-inspired touches. Unique shells and coral can set the tone without being over the top. Filling vases with water and adding floating florals and candles can be great aisle runners and centerpieces. 

Bringing the rain to life is an art form. There are special digital and immersive art experiences that have mastered this. Check out the Museum of Dream Space inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s infinite rooms. Hanging water motifs can alone establish a moody or whimsical atmosphere. This will be an unforgettable and special experience for your clients and guests.

Lush Greenery
Create a kelp forest or a pond ambiance. Great inspiration for this is the wedding scene from the film Crazy Rich Asians. One of the most stunning weddings in film. With greenery, vibrant florals, and water running down the aisle, as the bride walks barefoot. The guests held fireflies as a sweet homage to nature. Not only does this look magical, but it’s also a great way to make the wedding interactive and have your guests feel immersed and a part of the experience. 

Water Fountains 
For more of an Edenic garden theme, water fountains are the way to go. Strategically place fountains around the venue so you can establish that running water audial mode. Or if you have selected a venue with fountains, consider arranging the guest experience so that people have to interact or can gather around them. 

bride standing with bouquet, surrounded by gold chairs in front of waterfall
Photo courtesy of Chris J Evans Photography

Relaxing Colors  

The right colors can paint the image of water. You can’t go wrong with these color palettes.

  • Grays and light blues
  • Deep blues and light blues 
  • Indigo and white 
  • Browns, tans, and ocean blues
  • Deep shades reflected on water like purples, pinks, and moss green

Unity Water Ceremony 

Simple yet powerful, the Unity Water Ceremony is a way for the couple to religiously or non-religiously use water to symbolize unity. Like a sand ceremony, the couple pours their own respective water into one glass. This is a promise to nourish and sustain one another and come together as one.


Hero photo courtesy of LifeClicks Studio


About the Author

Aisle Planner Editorial Team
Aisle Planner Editorial Team
The Aisle Planner Editorial Team is a collective of creative writers, editors, and former event pros who obsess over weddings and special events—and the businesses behind them! Drawn to the details of their design and extravagant charm of their creativity, our team provides intelligent and straightforward articles with insights, practical tips, and expert guidance in putting Aisle Planner's "Power of One" behind your business. ...