Depending on your venue contract, there might be a few restrictions when it comes to the type of wedding decorations you can bring in or alterations you can make to the space. For example, a museum or historic wedding venue probably won’t be okay with altering or damaging their walls in any way (think: using nails to hang signage).
Or maybe minimalism is your style and you’re just not into the idea of a ton of décor, but you still want to personalize the celebration. Or you need to stick to a strict budget To save money, purchase items you can realistically use again or resell.
Here are a few wedding decoration ideas that are totally low maintenance, but beautiful and impactful.
1. Drape the Ceilings
It’s amazing what a little fabric can do. Keep it formal and elegant with white fabric, or if you’re after a fun vibe, opt for a bright color like yellow. Bonus: Take this approach and you can go light on the table décor and still get the same decked-out reception look.
2. Pick Up Patterned Pillows
If you have a lounge area in your reception space (or made one with some rental furniture), get yourself to a housewares department for some pillows. Find them on sale (IKEA-style) and cover them with your favorite patterned fabric for a few low maintenance pops of festive color and pattern.
3. Create an Escort Card Display
Instead of having an escort card table, create a board of seating assignments and display it near the entrance of the reception space. Bonus: You won’t have guests squinting at tiny tented cards, trying to decipher their table number.
4. Hang Your Flowers
Think flowers are just for your tables? Think again. Suspending lush arrangements a few feet above your guests’ dinner plates is a fun way to create a more intimate space. (This tip is especially handy if you’re not so fond of your venue’s carpeting—just keep people looking up!)
5. Make Chalkboard Signage
Chalkboards are a great way to decorate an entrance or jazz up the cocktail bar. Personalize it by thrifting an old frame and spray-painting it to match the rest of your décor. Drape with greenery or a flower garland and chalk away!
6. Use Table Lamps
Create height on your reception tables using table lamps. Tip: You can skip flowers altogether if you want, but surrounding the lamps with flowers or greenery is an easy way to hide cords.
7. Add a Sprig of Herbs
Just because you’re having a formal wedding doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with your décor. Add herbs like rosemary or lavender for a fragrant touch on the place settings.
8. Rent Colored Glassware
Instead of pouring your entire reception décor budget into the centerpieces, consider using part of that budget to rent extras like colored glassware—it’ll make your tables pop in an instant.
9. Order Calligraphed Menus
Rather than printing out your escort cards and menus, take the design one step further with calligraphy. There are different scripts for every type of affair, like traditional copperplate for black tie formal or something more free-hand for farm-to-table chic. If your budget doesn’t allow for 200 professionally calligraphed place cards, invest in young talent—post the job in your local college’s art department and test out a few students for the job.
10. Use a Table Runner That Pops
Look for modern table décor inspiration, like this patterned table runner. Rather than having several big floral centerpieces, space them out in smaller bud vases to span the length of the runner (and show off the pattern). This colorful detail will make your rental china pop.
11. Reshape Your Table Numbers
Want something original for your table labels? Think about number presentation. Display your table numbers or names on unique vessels like wine bottles, lanterns, moss topiaries or festive pennant flags.
12. Make a Family Photo Wall
For an easy conversation starter, create a wall of family wedding photos. Devote a row to your partner’s family, one to yours or just mix them all up. Alternative idea: Showcase your (new!) family tree.
13. Hang (a Ton of) Paper Lanterns
We know—paper lanterns are nothing new. But multiply the number of lanterns you usually see hanging in a reception space by 100 and it’s a totally different story.
14. Add Terrariums
Not a flower person? No need to splurge on a bunch of centerpieces. A patch of moss, a romantic terrarium, candles, a few blooms and a succulent or two and you have a perfectly rustic tablescape.
15. Photo Backdrops
Create a stunning focal point that doubles as a photo backdrop. Layers of different colors and shapes give guests different elements to marvel at. Think about materials that are easily customizable like tissue paper tassels, balloons, garlands of greenery or paper flowers.
16. Mood Lighting En Masse
When paired with some dramatic uplighting and luxe fabrics, the addition of tall taper candles turns your space into a magnificent scene of dancing lights.
17. Hang Tapestries
If it’s too difficult to bring in large installments to decorate your space but you want to add a little flavor to the walls (or cover up some less than ideal wallpaper), look to tapestries. They’re easy to transport and require very little setup.
18. Opt for Wood
If you’re choosing between plastic tables and chairs versus wood, go with the natural option. You can still opt for folding chairs for a lower price point, but wood has a way of looking so much more polished.
19. Make Them Look Up
If you want to save on flower arrangements for the table, add a few elements that will draw guests’ eyes upward. A simple garland of greenery or a few hanging lanterns will fill the space and no one will notice smaller centerpieces.
20. Fewer Blooms, More Greenery
If you’re looking to save on the flower budget, let your florist know you’re okay with lots of greenery. All you really need are a few fresh blooms to add some color. Eucalyptus, seeded eucalyptus, dusty miller, ferns and lemon leaf are all great options to create lush arrangements.
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