Wedding Decor Ideas Within Your Budget
This article was written by Johnny Palmer for people planning their weddings and who would prefer to do their own wedding decorations.
Johnny is the founder and managing director of SXS Events, one of the UK's leading Event Production and decor companies. Johnny and his wife, CathyShay, also set up Shreyas Decor together as a company specialising in a wide range of wedding decors. Shreyas Decor is a preferred supplier at many of the UK's leading wedding venues. The couple married in Italy in 2008, adding to their experience of weddings from both a personal and professional angle.
Some may wonder why I would write an article like this, after all much of my work is involved with providing decor and lighting for weddings. I really enjoy working with couples and helping them to plan their wedding. However, I am conscious of the need to remain within a budget and if this means that a couple doesn't use us, but instead put their money towards their home, honeymoon or otherwise then that is entirely understandable. I would like to offer some ideas to help them to organise their dÃ©cor in a tasteful way, but without spending a large sum when doing so.
Part 1 - What is important to you?
Most people plan their wedding with little or no experience. A wedding can be a complex and expensive event to organise, but this doesn't have to be the case if the planning is done carefully. This can be a daunting and very time-consuming process and I hope this article will help you to minimise these aspects.
The first thing to consider is what is important to YOU.
Avoid picking up any wedding magazines in the early stages of planning. This is likely to confuse you and take your focus away from what you really would like.
Consider the following list and prioritise what you would really like (do not take budget into consideration at this stage as this is mainly a creative exercise to start you thinking about the most important day of your life):
- Prestigious Venue
- Fancy/Impressive food
- Length of time guests are sitting down together
- Volume of food
- Entertainment (is this to be a central theme of the wedding?)
- Free/cheap alcohol for guests
- Uniqueness of the wedding for the guests
- Impressing your friends and community
- Number of guests
- Local venue
- Overseas venue
Once you have established the importance of the above, you will find it easier to make precise and exact decisions later on. Questions such as:
- Should we spend money on more champagne, or on a fifthcourse for the breakfast?
- Do we book the fancy venue in the UK, or get somewhere more basic overseas?
- Do we really want expensive and elaborate flower arrangements?
This might seem trivial now, but further down the line, it will be invaluable to know what REALLY matters to you both.
Part 2 - Decor and Choosing The Venue
When a client phones us about decor for their wedding the first question we ask is, "What venue have you booked?". Why is this important? Because this fundamentallyunderpins the creative and practical approach to decor. For example, if you have booked an opulent Regency-style hotel (e.g. Claridges), the decor is likely to be about accentuating features and colours that will work with the existing decor. However, if you book a marquee, you are more likely to want to add visual features to make the space unique and to your taste.
Alternatively, if you book a village hall you are more likely to want to decorate in a way that will hide some of the typical interiors in this type of venue. So when you are considering venues think about this. If you intend to keep your decor and theme earthy and natural, a venue with exposed wood and a rural theme will be ideal. Whereas if you want to completely drape the venue walls and ceilings and carpet the floor and a barn, shed or aircraft hangar might be ideal.
It often surprises me when I work in stunning venues (with a price to match)why I am asked to completely drape the walls and ceilings. Whilst I appreciate that the client may have booked these spaces because of a great catering operation or an attached spa, it would be wise for them to consider that if they are going to hide the venue's internal attributes, they could have had a significantly wider choice of venues.
Another interesting idea to think about with venue decor is that of accentuating already existing features which are attractive. In home decorating, it is often about attention-to-detail and finishing touches.Whereas, at an event people's eyes are often drawn to visually imposing features. On this basis be careful not to rule out venues that have a few features you love, but without the perfect finish.
A good example of this would be a 16th century tithe barn. The oak roof trusses make a stunning feature, whereas the brickwork on the walls may appear scruffy. You may find, therefore, that drawing attention to the roof and ceiling, and away from the walls would be the way to organise the decor in this type of location.
Part 3 - Affordable Lighting
If you want lighting to be truly spectacular, we are experts at this. However, you can still organise your own lighting to be very effective and attractive without being too expensive.
Idea 1 - Dimming
Have you ever noticed that when you dim lights they become "warmer"? This is called amber shift and the warmer light looks lovely on flowers, gives a more romantic feel and does wonders for skin tone! Many venues have dimmer switches on their lights so take advantage of this.
Advice: try dimming the existing venue lights to get a warmer, more romantic feel. If you are worried about it being too dark don't worry, as your guests' eyes will adjust quite quickly.
Idea 2 - Colour Filters
If you have chosen a particular colour theme, it might be possible to put low-cost filters on the existing venue lighting. These filters are called gels and are what we use to change the colour of our lighting. You can see the range of colours available here on Lee's Swatch Ball
Gels can resist a lot of heat and will never catch fire. However if you put them too close to a light source they will lose their pigment. Do a test-run first but make sure that you get permission from the owners of the venue before doing so.
Another thing to remember with gels is to not over-saturate the venue. If you put filters on all the lights in the venue the space will only have one colour. The effect of this is like putting on tinted glasses - within half an hour you won't notice the colour. So to avoid this "chroma-fatigue" make sure there is some contrast in colour or leave some lights un-filtered (white).
Advice: use coloured gels on existing venue lighting, but do a test-run first.
Idea 3 - Flood Lighting
If you have a venue that has a few key features you really like, then you can floodlight them easily. Features like a statue, roof vaulting, or exposed bricks are often popular and add a lot of character. A simple and inexpensive way of doing this is to buy some cheap floodlights from a DIY store. They often have 500 watt halogen lamps, which are quite similar to the ones we use. At a cost of around £20 each you will find this to be a reasonable means of adding feature lighting to your venue. The lights might be handy for future DIY projects as well!
Advice: buy some cheap flood lights from a local DIY shop to light up features which particularly appeal to you.
Idea 4 - Use natural light
Many venues have wonderful natural light. The light from the sun is the best light of all - it is warm, natural and it changes at different times of the day. When you are looking at a venue think about what direction the windows face and where the sun will be at different times of your wedding. You may be surprised that you will get beautiful natural light beams flooding the venue when guests arrive, which later turn into a sunset glow as the wedding progresses.
Advice: dont forget about natural light. Open the curtains.
Part 4 - Table Decorations
Why do you want table decorations? It is worth asking this question. Is it to add to the overall aesthetic features of your wedding? Is it to tell the story of your relationship? Or are your table decorations intended to be a keepsake for your guests to take home with them? It could be one or several of these. I will give you a few ideas for each.
Idea 1 - DIY floristry
I really respect good florists. Some I have seen are so good I have found myself responding emotionally to the amazing creativity involved in top class floristry. It is possible to create flower arrangements yourself with some careful thinking.
Consider getting seasonal flowers from local flower markets, or even supermarkets. Simple arrangements like lilies can be stunning. Affordable vases can be found at homeware stores such as Ikea, Dunelm Mill, The Range etc. Try to avoid what we call "Ikea Classics" , i.e. those which everyone instantly recognises as being from Ikea. So try and get something from a new range, or from a store which may not mass produce their products.
Advice: do the flowers yourself, but get vases that are unique and to your taste.
Idea 2 - Sweets
I love it when there are sweets on the dinner table! They are tasty, can look amazing, and are something to talk about. Whatmore can you ask for?
There are some really exotic sweets available on the internet. Most people have special and fond memories of certain sweets from their childhood.
Advice: consider bowls of sweets or other confectionery as a table centre. Keep the quantity limited so as to not spoil your guests' appetites!
Idea 3 - Table food
This is often done at Eastern weddings. Some form of food in the centre of the table can be a great visual feature and very tasty.
Advice: consider some kind of edible centre-piece, but make sure it is food which will stay fresh throughout the wedding.
Idea 4 - Props
You and your partner will have items that mean a lot to you and tell your story. Have a think about what these items are and how they could work for you. Items such as drift-wood, pottery, sporting equipment or maps could be artifacts of your past and can have a special meaning for your guests as well as for you.
Spend an evening together brainstorming ideas that could work for you. Remember that there is no such thing as a bad idea when brainstorming!
You may come up with some strange and quirky ideas - this is fine as a wedding is a private affair shared amongst people who are all connected. Unless you are planning on having your wedding featured in a publication there is nothing wrong with having unusual objects on your table. Make them look attractive. A small plant or place setting holder may be ideal.
Advice: think about objects that have special meaning for you both and your guests.
Part 5 - Internal DÃ©cor
Even if your chosen venue is a beautiful space you may wish to make it unique by adding some internal decor or features. We often provide clients with elegant drapery, decorative lighting and feature pieces, but this all involves specialist equipment and can be costly. The ideas below are intended to be things you can do easily and cheaply
Idea 1 - Available Features
Have a look around the venue as well as your home. There may be some suitable pot-plants, lamps or other items that could work with what you intend to do. Many of the venues I have worked in have lovely ferns and other potted plants and trees that can be easily moved.
Advice: see what you already have available and you may be surprised.
Idea 2 - Remove things
Removing items can often be easier than adding them. If you don't like the venue's curtains it is worth asking if they can be taken down for your wedding. This may also be the case with furniture or other items.
Advice: consider removing items from the venue to make it more attractive
These are just a few ideas, but don't limit yourself. Think outside the box and enjoy the process. And remember, if you do decide you want something more elaborate, we're more than happy to help.
Most of these articles are also available on Google+ via Johnny Palmer's Google + Profile