If you look at pictures of your granny’s wedding or even maybe your mom’s wedding, you will probably see very little in the way of decorations. Some flowers, maybe some garlands and ribbons, and very little else.
Today, families and wedding organizers vie with each other to have the most beautiful décor for the wedding ceremony and the reception. Brides dream of a fairyland setting for the most important day of their lives. Vendors offer a bewildering range of gorgeous decorations decor to make your wedding unforgettably romantic.
Wedding décor is now a reflection of the personalities of the bridal couple. With the advent of social media, there is definitely an element of one-upmanship in wedding décor. If you are finding all of this a bit daunting, you might consider elopement – and of course, we have an Ultimate Elopement Checklist!
Alternatively, keep it very simple and focus instead on giving your guests a fantastic time. A terrific meal, a great band, and a generous bar will make your reception go with a swing and will be remembered long after everyone has forgotten the cute bows on the ends of the pews.
What are the Most Popular Décor Themes?
If you go with one of the most popular themes, then you are going to find it easier to source the décor that you want at a price you can afford. Some themes that you might like to consider are:
- Roses all the way. Roses are just about everybody’s favorite flower, and a June bride could do no better than choose this motif. Every shade from virginal white to passionate red is available – except for blue and lavender.
- Fairyland. Create a Midsummer Night’s Dream fairy bower, dress your tiny attendants as fairies, and create a magical world for your guests to enjoy. Please draw the line at having a wedding dress with wings, though! (Although tiny bridesmaids might get away with it.)
- Simply classic. Very simple but elegant, choose white and ivory decorations, simple drapes, and perhaps silver instead of the more usual gold for accents. An ideal choice if you don’t want to spend a fortune.
- Simply country. This will involve a lot more work than it sounds! Think of fresh wildflowers, gingham tablecloths, and hay bales as seating, and for a fall wedding, pumpkins and vivid fall leaves.
- Tropical. This is a very popular theme, and it’s not too hard to create that Aloha atmosphere even in the most urban environment. The ideas for this almost write themselves, and most people will enjoy this fun theme.
- Rainbows. A very popular theme for same-sex couples, rainbows just lend themselves so easily to beautiful décor. It’s easy to go over the top with this one and end up with a garish jumble. Choose a basic color and just pick out the rainbow theme in table settings, the bridal arch, and maybe the flowers.
What Is a Wedding Decor Checklist?
You need a wedding décor checklist to find your way through the maze of décor offerings. It will guide you and help you make decisions to ensure that you have the décor that you want without breaking your budget. We’ve broken our checklist down into simple sections covering the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony, the reception, and a specific section for flowers.
Some Unusual Themes
We are not suggesting these, and they may be quite hard to pull off. Some of them are frankly weird – but they have all been done. If they work – you will have a memorable wedding that people will talk about for a long time. These ideas are designed to set you thinking!
- Star Wars. For big Star Wars fans, you can go the whole hog and have guests and members of the wedding party dressed as Star Wars characters. Cocktails that smoke, a reception hall that has been transformed into a space vessel, leaving the church under an arch of light sabers – just let your imagination go wild, and May The Force Be With You!
- Gypsy encampment. Black, tarnished gold, and flame orange is the keynote colors. Think of draped fringed shawls, fans, flamenco music, and bright Romany traditional painted caravans (or vardas, as they are correctly called). The venue can be a field, and the guests will gather around a campfire. A hard one to pull off, but very dramatic.
- Downton Abbey. Of course, you probably can’t hire Downton Abbey, but you can recreate the glamorous atmosphere of Edwardian England, especially if you can find a suitably regal venue for your reception. A dignified English Master of Ceremonies/Butler is a must for this one.
- Gone With The Wind. Politically incorrect, maybe, but wildly romantic. If you live in the south, the ideal venue shouldn’t be too hard to find. Period dress, of course, and grand swags and ropes of flowers and greenery are the keynotes here.
- Shiver me timbers – pirates ahoy! A pirate theme can be a lot of fun. Think eye- patches, parrots, treasure chests, and of course, walking the plank. For the bride and groom with nautical inclinations and a seaside setting available to them, this is both amusing and romantic.
- Superheros. Imagine Batman and Cat Woman walking down the aisle. Hmmm. A reception in the Bat Cave, Robin as best man. It would take some planning, but it could be a wedding that no one will ever forget!
The Ultimate Wedding Décor Checklist
The Rehearsal Dinner
Our recommendation is for a very simple rehearsal dinner so that everyone can relax and have fun. You may want to take up a little bit of your theme, for example, with the color of the flowers on the table and the design of the place cards. If you are planning on giving the members of the wedding party-themed gifts, the rehearsal dinner can be a good time to do this, when there isn’t too much else going on to distract from the thank-you’s that you want to say in advance.
Please make sure before you decide on your décor to check if the venue has any restrictions. One common restriction is on the throwing of paper confetti, for example. The ceremony is very couple centered, naturally, so the focus should be on the altar.
- Signage – especially if the place where the ceremony is to be held is off the beaten track.
- A welcome banner at the venue might be a good idea; this is handy if the venue isn’t very obvious.
- Car parking signs if these aren’t provided at the venue. These can be very important if the event is being held in the middle of a wood, for example.
- A guestbook for guests to sign. This is especially important if the reception is going to be small.
- A program for the ceremony. If the ceremony is religious, then a program with instructions on when to stand and sit is particularly helpful in making guests feel comfortable.
- Altar décor is the key element of the ceremony décor. A beautiful arch of flowers, lights, and rainbows – this is the place to spend your money at the ceremony. At a minimum, you should consider a tall flower arrangement on each side of the altar.
- An aisle runner is an expensive extra. You might, for example, have a pink theme and decide that you want a pink silk runner on which you will walk down the aisle.
- Pew décor. A small bunch of flowers at each pew’s end looks very pretty. Make sure someone collects the posies after the ceremony as they can be offered to senior lady guests at the reception as a nice touch.
- As the bride and groom leave the ceremony, many people choose to have bubbles rather than confetti or the more traditional rice.
Here is where most of your money should be spent. The ceremony is relatively short, but the reception is much longer. People are less focused on the bride and groom and more interested in the look of the room.
- Flowers. If you are on a budget, consider designing the flowers from the ceremony so that they can be quickly installed at the reception. There is no substitute for pretty flowers on every table, although you can, of course, add all sorts of other nice touches. Make sure table décor is not too overwhelmingly tall. The people seated at the table should be able to see each other. (And see our separate flower section below)
- Having chosen your color scheme, make sure that the venue can offer table linen and chair covers in the color of your choice, or at least in a neutral color such as cream or white.
- The newlyweds may want to have special chair decorations, rather like a pair of thrones.
- Table planner. This enables people to locate where they are sitting for the meal, rather than having to wander around looking for their name on the place cards.
- Place cards. These should be handwritten for a personal touch. Make sure of correct name spelling!
- Dinner menus. Not essential, but these are a nice touch and can be taken away by guests as keepsakes.
- Table gifts. It can be fun to have a tiny keepsake gift at each place setting. For example, a box of mints with the name of the wedded pair and the date, and the words, “Mint for each other.”
- Signs for the buffet, drinks table, gift table, restrooms, cloakroom, and more may well be supplied by the venue, but if you want to enhance the overall look, these can also be made in your wedding theme.
Say It With Flowers
A word about flowers. Flowers can be real or artificial. Artificial flowers have the benefit of lasting way beyond the day, but our advice is that the bride’s bouquet, at the minimum, should be made from real flowers. There honestly is no substitute.
Here is a list of the flowery items that you may want to include in your wedding décor plans.
- The bride’s bouquet. This is going to be one of the key items of your wedding décor, and please, spend a lot of time and thought on this because it will feature in almost every photograph.
- The bridesmaid’s bouquets. Generally, it looks good if you pick up a theme for the bridesmaids’ flowers from the bride’s bouquet.
- Groom’s boutonnière. Choose a flower theme from the bride’s bouquet. These days, a fairly elaborate boutonniere is often chosen, but a single rosebud and some fern are equally appropriate.
- Groomsmen’s boutonnieres. These should match up with the bridesmaid’s flowers.
- Corsages for the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters. Here, it’s nice to have a contrast, but the flowers should be the same whether it’s his or her relative. For example, if the bridal party has white roses, the corsages could be pink roses or white freesias.
- Boutonnieres for the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and brothers of the bridal pair. These should match with those of the distaff side.
- Flower girl posies. Choose lighter and simpler flowers in the key color for the little girls.
- Petals to sprinkle before the bride. Perhaps a bit passé, but it does always look cute.
- Flowers for the wedding ceremony and reception venues. As noted above, if you are on a budget, the ceremony flowers may be quickly transported to the reception venue. Otherwise, choose matching flowers for each venue.
- Flowers for the tables. Make sure that these are not heavily scented or too tall.
- Floral accessories. Call us old-fashioned, but we absolutely love flower wreaths in the hair of brides and bridesmaids.
Looking at your overall budget (excluding your honeymoon costs), we would suggest that you consider budgeting about 10% of your overall budget on your wedding décor. The average that was spent on wedding décor in 2020 was just short of $3,000, but remember that was in covid times, so that figure might be on the low side now.
If you don’t feel yourself to be very artistically inclined, then a wedding decorator could be a wise decision. You should budget around $1000 on top of the cost of décor. You may achieve some savings in the actual décor costs, as your decorator will likely be able to source some items at a good price, which they may pass on to you.
The answer is yes if you or a friend (or better still, a group of friends) have the time and the flair. It’s particularly possible if you have an informal or country-style wedding or if you are going for a boho look. Making your own décor is a very good way of ensuring that your wedding décor is unique.
The look of your wedding is very much in your hands. However, it is possible to fret too much over it. At the end of the day, people won’t remember that the sign to the bathrooms was in the wrong color. Just go for an overall effect, and try not to stress too much over minor details.