Many venues will include free decoration with the costs of renting a room. However, if you are using your own home, an outdoor tent or a banquet room that does not decorate for free as your reception hall, then you can stretch your budget by decorating your own reception space.
Decorating for a wedding reception is probably easier than you may think. Ask your friends and family to help. You should make sure the space is available to you at least a full day in advance of the reception. First, decide on the color scheme and theme you want to go with. Look online or in your local yellow pages to find a nearby rental company. Most rental businesses rent out a plethora of decorating supplies to help caterers and do-it-yourself brides and grooms create a beautiful and individualized space for their reception.
You probably already have some kind of theme, symbolism or color scheme chosen for your wedding. You can carry out this theme in your reception decorations. Choose flowers, linens and decorating material that match the color scheme and motif of your ceremony.
Many couples consider their wedding to be a religious celebration of their union. You can use religious symbols in your decorations to reflect your faith. For example, if you are Christian, you may want your flower arrangements to be in the form of a cross. If you are Jewish, your decorations can reflect the braiding of the challah with braided sashes and ribbons. Hindu couples might incorporate the kalash and fresh mango leaves into the décor.
Many brides and grooms want their wedding décor to reflect the season. If you have a fall wedding with autumn colors in your bridesmaids’ dresses, consider using acorns and hydrangeas in your table centerpieces. If you have a spring wedding or are using spring colors in your wedding attire, you can go with bright spring colors and lily, tulip or daffodil floral arrangements. Summer receptions may be decorated with roses and magnolias, while winter wedding receptions can sport snowflake mobiles, poinsettias and snowball mums.
Many couples like to choose a theme for their wedding, whether for symbolic reasons or just for fun. For example, some couples incorporate tropical, ocean or astral themes into their wedding, and may decorate with tropical fruits and flowers, billowing blue cloth or stars hanging from above.
Walls, Windows and Ceilings
If you want to create a unique look at your wedding reception, you will need to decorate the walls and windows, and possibly the ceilings, too. Use the following materials to create a space that will be memorable for both you and your guests:
You can use any kind of cloth – like cotton, silk or linen – to dress the walls and windows of your reception hall. But if you are on a budget, one of the best types of decorating cloth is tulle. It is usually available in a variety of colors and textiles, including nylon, rayon or silk. Tulle is cheap to rent and cheap to purchase, in case you want to buy your own. You can wrap it around railings, hang it from walls and drape it around windows and tables. You can also have fun with it and create your own flowers and bows.
Ribbon and bows.
You can purchase cloth or disposable ribbon and use it to create your own decorations. Tie it like sashes around chairs, use it to gather and tie your decorating material, create bows to place on railings, chair backs, tables and windows, or drape your ribbon in curls from the ceiling.
Photos and art.
Hang the walls with artwork or photos of you and your fiancée to personalize your reception space. You can also create an album of photos on a computer and set up a projector on a blank wall to play through your photo album. Many event spaces offer a projector like this for corporate conferences and meetings. If you ask, they will probably let you use it for free for your wedding.
Mobiles and lanterns.
If you have a low ceiling in your reception area, procure a ladder. You can hang glowing lanterns or decorative mobiles from your ceiling. These will draw the eyes of your guests upward and balance out the décor down below, filling the room with ornamentation from top to bottom.
Tables and Tabletops
At most wedding receptions, every guest is seated with a group at a table, and the wedding party has their own special table overlooking the reception. You may want to purchase or rent the following supplies to designate and decorate these tables:
- Table linens. For a fairly low cost, you can rent cotton or polyester tablecloths, table skirts and buffet table linens for your dining and buffet tables. Or, as an alternative, you can purchase plastic tablecloths for a reasonable price, and simply throw them away when you are done.
- Table signs, cards or tents. Print the names of your parties or individual guests on cards and fold them to create homemade table tents. Or, for very little money, you can purchase ornamental card and sign holders to display your beautifully printed cards, and let guests take them home along with the cards as a wedding favor.
- Centerpieces. There are plenty of ways to create a beautiful centerpiece for your guests’ tables and your own wedding party table. It can be a vase of flowers, a simple candelabras or an elaborate masterpiece. Either way, the centerpiece at each table becomes a focal point for your guests. >>Learn more
- Dinnerware and drinkware. Many rental companies will rent out large quantities of fine china and glass stemware for elegant events. Just keep in mind that, if the china breaks, you will have to pay to replace it. An alternative is to use disposable catering supplies, which are designed for events like parties or wedding receptions. These disposables are constructed of thick plastic or paper and are more attractive and higher quality than standard disposable tableware.
- Flatware. Consider renting polished silver, chrome or gold-accented flatware to add sparkle to your guests’ tables. Almost every rental company will have plenty of elegant flatware available that you can choose from. Or, for a more casual reception, purchase your own disposable cutlery instead.
- Napkins. Many grooms- and brides-to-be want to provide their guests with custom-printed paper napkins to personalize their wedding reception tabletops. These napkins make great souvenirs for the couple, and add a unique touch to the table. As an alternative, you can rent cloth napkins or use the linen-like disposable napkins that you often see in hotels or fine dining establishments.
- Chair covers. Putting covers over your chairs will take your reception atmosphere to whole new levels. Whether you are using folding chairs, conference chairs or chiavari chairs, you can rent chair covers that will give them an elegant, draped look.
- Balloons. Many wedding receptions attach helium-filled balloons to the centerpieces at the guests’ tables. These will draw the eye upward and add color or shine to the area above the tabletop. For the best selection of fancy, patterned or colorful balloons, shop at a local party store.
Wedding Reception Buffet
If you are catering your own wedding, the task of designing the buffet will fall to you. There are a variety of unique products that you will need to rent or purchase to create a quality buffet that will look great and keep your food at the right temperature. Once you have designed the buffet, feel free to ask friends or family help set it all up. >>Learn more
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