travel theme wedding example

Travel Themed Wedding: Real Life Examples & Ideas

While this is not about traveling to far off destinations, it’s about incorporating that love into your big day! Here are the details of our travel theme wedding in Cincinnati!

I’ve always been a big “theme” lover. Our baby has a travel theme nursery, and my sisters threw me a travel theme baby shower. I even turned our home decor into one giant travel theme too!

It’s just how I am- love it or hate it! My penchant for themes though began here though, with our wedding:

For my husband John and I, travel has always been a big element of our relationship. It is something meaningful to us individually, as well as together as a couple. The decision to give our wedding a travel theme was based on that, not just “oh I like vacations too, what a cute idea!”.
If you are thinking about a travel theme wedding, make sure travel is an integral element of your life and relationship- and that the theme isn’t something you’ll regret. It might be “trendy” and cute for now, but make sure you won’t get sick of it in the future!
Wedding rings on a globe. A photo for our travel themed wedding in Cincinnati
I should mention…putting this together was not easy! It took 15 months of brainstorming, collecting pieces, and staging displays. Cincinnati can get chilly in October so if you prefer some place warmer, there’s always different venues in California. It all came together wonderfully, but not without a LOT of time and hard work.
Here are some of the main travel elements we incorporated into our day:

Some links in this post are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these, I may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!).


Reception Decorations

Wooden Direction Sign

Part of our entry display, this piece was handmade by my husband. Each direction sign pointed to somewhere we had traveled to together, and I painted the names and distances onto each of the different arrows.
While we did include travel locations, we also had arrows for our hometowns, our future home, our honeymoon destination and engagement location, and where we first met.travel theme wedding, real life inspiration

Vintage Suitcases & Globes

To acquire this display, we went to many yard sales! We borrowed from friends, and even found a suitcase in a neighbor’s trash pile. I had envisioned a big entry display in my head, and these vintage finds (arranged artistically as they are) were the perfect welcome pieces.travel theme wedding, real life inspiration

International Food Stations

Instead of the traditional “chicken and veggie” dinner, we decided to do stations for our guests. We worked with our caterer to come up with three separate food stations, each based on a different country. This was maybe the most complimented part of our wedding reception 😊.
We settled on Thailand, Mexico, and Italy- and it was delicious! I also bought little flags for each country and had them set up around the food lines. We also made a poster (with a map border) detailing the options.

The Seating Chart

In the back area, we had a seating chart displayed. I purchased a giant map, attached it to a large piece of foam-board, and stood it on a large photo stand.
I wrote guests’ names and table assignments on small luggage tags, and did my best to artistically tape these in a nice display over the map.
We also had a framed sign next to the seating chart which stated “where in the world are you sitting?”, as well as some additional pieces like a travel-themed guest book, etc.

travel theme wedding, real life inspiration

The Table Names

Because I’m extra, each table was named for a country that either I or my husband had been to. The tables had the corresponding name and number printed over a photo we had taken while there. I also used small globe photo holders to hold up the number signs.

The Centerpieces

This was the part of the decorations that took the most time, effort, and dedication. Each table was a little different, and I had to coordinate several elements. In general, we had vintage books, flowers in a variety of vases, and some sort of globe. Collecting these was a daunting task, given we had 33 tables!

travel theme wedding, real life inspiration

Yard sales, craft shops, estate sales, and home decor stores were the main places we found most of these items. I gathered all these pieces the week before the wedding and set up “mock” centerpieces arranged how I liked.
I then photographed the setups, put the items all in separate bags, and assigned someone to set them up on the big day. Am I crazy? 🤪 Yes…

The Little Details

Map-Paper Flowers on the Wedding Cake 

travel theme wedding, real life inspiration

Wedding Card Holder

Vintage suitcase with a handmade garlandtravel theme wedding, real life inspiration

Map Paper on the Vases

I did this on several of the centerpiece and side table vases using map print scrapbook paper and mod-podge.

Groom’s Cufflinks

The Flowers and Colors of the Wedding

While most of my adult life I had known I wanted my wedding colors to be blue, green and yellow, I didn’t realize that they would also blend in nicely with the color scheme of most globes! Coincidence?travel theme wedding, real life inspiration, blue green yellow bridesmaids

Map Pinwheel & Garland Embellishments

I had these cute pinwheels scattered all over the place- they made their way into the flower vases, bar table, and attached to all of the signs I made with our wedding Instagram hashtag.  

Banner 

This was made out of map paper, and made a great focal point above the seating chart. Although it was a bit tricky to tell that it was made from maps, at least I knew!

Before the Wedding

Save the Dates

These “set the stage” for the overall feel of the big day, and gave our guests a little taste as to what our wedding day would be like. They were printed to look like actual postcards, per below:

Wedding Invitations

  • I chose a map with colors that fit our wedding scheme, and had my friend create these beauties. In addition to the invitation, I printed off map paper, and cut my own envelope liners so each invitation had a beautiful map inlay.

travel theme wedding invitations

Church Ceremony Programs

Remember to go for consistency! The programs were the same map and font from our invitations.
map background for travel theme wedding programs.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. For questions about where I purchased certain items,  email me: michelle at greatwidetravel.com



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27 Comments

  • Reply Nancy Stiefvater June 16, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Michelle,
    Thank you for sharing this outstanding blog post about your wedding. I missed some of the details the night of the wedding and have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and looking at all of the photos showing your special touches. I can’t get over the “map” cake flowers and the pinwheels…how did I ever miss that?! In my humble opinion, you need to submit this post to a wedding magazine or some other publication.

    It was a fantastic wedding and one we will always remember. Your talents never cease to amaze me.

    Love,
    Aunt Nancy

    • Reply Michelle W. April 2, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      Wow Nancy – I really appreciate all of your kind words and support! I would love to get this into some sort of publication. I sent it out to a few places but no luck yet 🙁

  • Reply RaW | Ramble and Wander June 16, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Niceee! Some great & beautiful ideas here! Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on your wedding!

  • Reply Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine July 21, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Everything about this is absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for going into so much detail. This was so fun to read. Hopefully when I get married, I can convince my beau to have at least travel aspects. 🙂

    • Reply Michelle W. April 2, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      I’m glad you had fun reading through this- and yes you should definitely convince your future husband!

  • Reply Itinera Magica December 7, 2015 at 2:10 am

    I have just discovered your blog thanks to Instagram (there I am @lilynufar), and I am so impressed by these gorgeous wedding pictures! I can’t imagine the time, dedication and effort it took, but the result is simply amazing. Congratulations on your wedding, wishing you a travel-filled happy ever after!

    • Reply Michelle W. April 2, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Wow- those are some great compliments- thank you so much!!

  • Reply Desiree January 11, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful pictures and ideas. I am planning a travel themed wedding as well and have been all over the place about what to include and how to tell our story through travel. Your tips have definitely help me narrow my vision and help me focus on our story not just travel.

    • Reply Michelle W. April 2, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Desiree- I’m glad I helped you to focus on your specific story as a couple! I’d love to see your wedding once you have photos- be sure to check in with an email 🙂

  • Reply Ciara February 27, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Such a fab wedding! Congratulations. Where did u get all the maps???

    • Reply Michelle W. February 27, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Hi Ciara! For the smaller paper I just bought scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby. The bigger maps I ordered from posters.com. Let me know if you have any more questions! 🙂

  • Reply Melanie Messerli March 2, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Thank you for sharing! Your wedding looks beautiful! I love the idea of the sign to point guests in which direction to go! You definitely have a good imagination and sense of decoration! Congratulations!

    • Reply Michelle W. April 2, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      Thank you so much!! I appreciate it 🙂 A lot of time and planning went into every detail!

  • Reply Birthe (from Wandering the World) May 10, 2016 at 2:45 am

    Wow! I’m really impressed with the extend to which you integrated the travel theme in your wedding, amazing! Definitely pinning this blogpost for when I’ll have to plan a wedding. 😉

    • Reply Michelle W. June 13, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you SO much Birthe!! I hope you can definitely find ways to incorporate travel into your own wedding one day 🙂

  • Reply Meliss July 23, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    I absolutely love all you did for your special day! I really like your save the date and invitations. Where did you get your save the dates? Also, you mentioned that your friend is a graphic designer. Does he/she sell this suite on etsy or have a website?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Reply Matilda August 8, 2016 at 4:33 am

    Everything looks amazing! I´m planning a travel themed wedding as well 🙂
    I live in Sweden but my fiancée and I have traveled the World together!
    The flowers on the cake with the map, is it made out of paper or is it edible? A very nice detail!

    • Reply Michelle W. August 15, 2016 at 10:20 am

      Hi Matilda! The flowers are made out of paper, so not edible unfortunately- but they did look nice! I found them on Etsy- let me know if you’d like the link! Congratulations to you and your fiancee!!

  • Reply Ashley Kunkle October 8, 2016 at 1:18 am

    I was wondering if your friend is willing to create other invitations. I have been on the lookout for “map” Invitations with no success or perfect fit.
    Please let me know! If not, the hunt continues!!!

    • Reply Michelle W. October 9, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Hi Ashley- She does do occasional freelance design from time to time. You can email her at efschm01 at gmail if you want to try! If not, I know there are a few available on Etsy!

  • Reply Michael Schneider October 23, 2016 at 5:20 am

    Dear Michelle!
    You’re blog is just beautiful! Me and fiancee stumbled upon it looking for elements for our multinational wedding 🙂 I was wondering, if you could tell me which map you used in your invitation envelope liners?
    Thanks

    • Reply Michelle W. October 31, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      Hi Michael- I found the map print on Etsy- Shoot me an email at greatwidetravel at gmail and I can try to send you the link!! Congratulations on your engagement too!!

  • Reply Michelle W. December 31, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Wow- thank you Lydia! It was definitely a lot of work, I appreciate the kind words 🙂

  • Reply Laura January 3, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Thank you for posting this. You litteraly posted my vision. My fiancé and I have traveled to over 10 countries and i can’t imagine a wedding without a travel them.

  • Reply Michelle July 15, 2018 at 11:06 am

    This is CRAZY. I decided to choose “All Around the World” themes for my wedding and our names are Michelle & John too!!!

    • Reply Michelle W. July 16, 2018 at 4:34 pm

      AHHh no way!! That’s too funny! What’s your Instagram? We should be friends on there!

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