Basically Beautiful - The Bare Necessities of a Decorated Reception

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Keep your time and costs down and create a beautiful space for your wedding party!

When you google ‘wedding decorations’, SOOOO many wedding concepts are thrust upon your eyes, influencing you to think that a wedding reception is 436 layers of details that seem costly either to your pocket or your time.

But it doesn’t have to be. With the current trends of rustic and country weddings, more and more people are using their creative gifts to design wedding decorations by upcycling household objects and basic craft products and garden plants. There’s plenty of ideas available for replicating (Pinterest is the best place to browse for such ideas) but I would advise that you start with your own personality and interests (such as a book lover), and then use your OWN creativity to display at your venue.

 

Picture source: www.greenweddingshoes.com

When you consider what things NEED decoration at your venue, it depends largely on the space itself. If you’ve got an amazing bare beam ceilings, a few strands of fairy lights may be all you need above eye level. Or not, if you are having a daytime wedding. If you’re renting a cheap hall with fluro lights and 60s style finishing on the ceiling, you may wish to plan for some drapery (think long swags of tulle or organza) to hide the garishness and make the space appealing.

Organza for drapery & decor

For the rest of the article, however, we’ll assume a basic blank space that doesn’t require ‘hiding’ any flaws but doesn’t hold much of its own charm either. In each space (above eye-level, tables, display area and background area), we've suggested what you may need to decorate. Add your own personal touches as you like to make it styled to suit your theme.

Our example study is the half-open giant shed-barn at our friend’s farm in MacLarnvale, SA (yes, it really exists). If we were to host a reception there, I could decorate the whole thing, for 100 people, for about $369. 😊 Read on to see how.

Above eye level:

What you need: lights, swagging, display if you like (flower hoops, garland, monogram etc.)

Our venue: Hire 50m Festoon lighting $110, cable ties $6

 

Tables:

What you need: Tables, chairs, table numbers, centrepieces, cloths and/or table runners (unless you have beautiful wooden tables or alternative), crockery, cutlery, glasses, name tags.

Our venue: Borrow tables and chairs from our church, buy plain tablecloths $150, use plates and cutlery from caterers, glasses $100, sew cotton napkins $30, wineglass namecards $20, standing table numbers $25, op-shop glassware for displays $50, fresh roses $40, greenery from garden – free, twinkle lights $70

Picture source: Rebekah Bianca Photography 

Other areas (buffet table, cake or dessert display, gift table, photobooth etc.):

What you need: Whatever equipment is needed for structure, cloth cover, serving implements, matching décor with tables, signage, feature object (cake, guestbook etc.)

Layered Guestbook Art

Our venue – cake display & gift table: Tables from home – free, extra tablecloths $40, extra roses $10, glassware $10 and twinklelights $28, recycled photo frames $5, scrapbook paper & decals $15 to make signs.

Background area: Behind bridal table/dancefloor etc.

What you need: A lovely surface to make speeches and photos appealing. Think curtains, hanging lights, a beautiful wall if you have one, an arbour or archway, a flower wall or big stack of straw bales (in a barn wedding).

Our venue: Lace curtains from op shop $10, rope and cable ties to attach - free, ivy vines from my garden – free,  hanging fairy lights $50.

As you can see, there's not THAT much decor you need to make a reception space beautiful. The more you arrange yourself, the cheaper it'll be, and borrowing from friends or upcycling objects can often be free. Hired halls etc. often have tables and chairs for your use, and caterers will usually have a 'supplied cutlery/crockery' option available, cutting down on the list of things you need to source.

For our imaginary reception, the total upfront of décor cost: $669. If I assume that I can sell all the bought (non-consumables) items for half of what I paid (Marketplace, Gumtree, Facebook Groups), I would get back about $300.

Total out of pocket cost $369.

So keep it simple – start with your venue space, figure out what you need. To keep costs down, work with what you can get cheap or free, and aim to buy and then sell rather than hire where possible. Only add extras (flower arrangements, dancefloor, wedding favours) if you really want it - and remember that your reception doesn't need to impress all your friends; it is a celebration of your new marriage. 

Click here for HEAPS more helpful planning and money-saving ideas (and not just DIY).

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