Everything about the decorations for your wedding should flow -- from the invitations to the last slice of wedding cake. You can be as traditional as you want with flowers and candles or as unique as you want, using things that are theme related. Whichever route you take, it's important to consider the following things before committing to any decorations:
** Whether it's in a banquet hall, backyard, beachside, or on a mountain top, you want the decorations to lend themselves to the locale. Utilize your surrounding setting as much as possible and, when you embellish on it, be sure to things look in sync.
** Remember that certain conditions will require that you think ahead with the decorations, especially when it comes to outdoor weddings. Rain, wind, and heat will all affect what you can use.
** The size of the space will also influence the decorations. You want them to fit comfortably, fill up empty pockets, and add color where the location lacks it. If you have a very large wedding, you'll want to have bigger decorations so that they can stand out from the crowd.
** Morning and afternoon weddings call for different decorations than evening weddings since they will often (not always) go with the formality of the wedding.
** Once the sun sets, take advantage of candles, lights, and other luminaries to add ambiance to the reception.
** Bright morning and afternoon lighting might cause things to heat up -- making that ice sculpture a bad idea. Choose flowers and other decorations in bright colors that will stand out even under the glaring sun.
** This is as important as the location or the timing, since it often has a lot to do with the wedding theme and color schemes used.
** Try to work with nature.
** Consider if your decorations are season-appropriate. Heavy velvet decorations is best reserved for colder months, while wispy tulle or chiffon are fitting for summer.
** Is a white wedding what you've always envisioned since you were a little girl or is your idea of the perfect wedding one in which you break all traditions?
** Go with your gut about what decorations you incorporate into the reception. If you don't feel right doing a traditional all-white wedding, go with what does feel right.
** Always see the reception site and do a mental run through of how you want the decorations to look and where you want them placed.
** This is a given. You should have an idea of what you can realistically afford and be able to work within those parameters.
** If you find that you can't afford to buy all the decorations you want, consider trying some do-it-yourself projects.
The Gift Table
Don't forget that you can decorate both on and around the table. Setting potted plants and flowers around it on the floor adds color. Or, if you have limited space around the table, simply put a centerpiece that mimics the wedding theme on the center of the table. You can also use a flower arrangement that matches the table centerpieces. Whatever you use it should be large enough to stand out above the piles of gifts. Finally, be sure to put a box or some sort of receptacle for the cards you receive to keep them from getting lost.
If a gift table sounds a little too mundane for your tastes, don't be shy. Imagination is what decorating is all about. Use the wedding theme to your advantage. For example, a country wedding might use a couple bales of hay, a winter wedding, a winter sleigh, and a beach wedding, a hammock. The possibilities are endless.
* Decorating the backs of the chairs makes them look more formal and eye-catching. Fresh blooms are beautiful, but can be quite costly ($20-$150 per chair) depending on the types of flowers used and the size of the wedding bouquets. Silk flowers and green swags are less expensive options that will still get you the floral look. You might also try wreaths that double as favors.
* '''Tip:''' To get the same look for less, and to avoid overdoing the look, only put chair decorations on every other chair.
* A popular option for a modern, elegant, or sophisticated look is to use chair covers. These are particularly useful if you think that the chairs are so hideous that even dressing them up won't make them better. Besides covering up ugly chairs, they can add color and give a room a warmer feeling. Usually you can rent these with your linens so that they match. Buying them will run about as much as buying fresh flowers.
* Tulle swags, chiffon, ribbons, and large bows are quite popular, easy to do, and inexpensive. Helium balloons are another option. Also consider hanging the wedding favors from the backs of the chairs.
* If you are having an outdoor or casual wedding, consider using alternative seating, such as benches or bales of hay. Or if you are more retro or bohemian consider poufs and cushions rather than formal chairs. These non-traditional seating options can add an interesting look to the wedding reception.
Guest Dining Tables
* Placing the guests' party favors on the dining tables or chairs is always a nice idea so they can get their gift as soon as they reach their table.
* Place cards are important. You can either get markers with the names of guests for each seat, or a simply way is to number the tables and give each guest a number.
* The actual place card holders can come in all sorts of beautiful designs.
* Small centerpieces are really important for keeping with the theme. Candles are nice, but enclosed flames are safer than open ones in case someone accidently bumps it while eating.
* Placemats and napkins are a small but important detail. Choose colors that work for themes; pinks, reds and whites are great choices for traditional weddings.
* Disposable cameras are also a great idea. Give each table a camera and have them take their own pictures and have them developed and put into an album later.
Walls and Ceilings
* The walls and ceilings are easily forgotten when it comes to decorating, however, they can be a great way of adding some spice to your reception setting, especially when the reception site is very plain -- think tents, especially.
* Topiaries that you can purchase or make yourself (as seen on the left) are easy to hang from the ceiling at varying height to give depth and add color or a touch of magic. In the winter, swap floral topiaries for snowflakes. For beach weddings, use shells and starfish.
* Hanging paper lanterns are popular for Asian themed weddings and are ideal when you need to add some pretty lighting. Speaking of lighting, why not rent it. Colored gels can create beautiful ceiling patterns and give the reception a warmer feel.
* Tulle is a favorite when you want to create a romantic look. Firmly secure it to the center of the ceiling then spread it out and pin the ends to the top of the wall to create a balloon effect. For evenings, embed tiny white lights between the layers, and for daytime, use ivy garlands instead.
* Balloon arches and balloon drops are other options. Get them in formal colors, otherwise they will look a kiddish.
Buffet or Dessert Table
* Theme items are popular, as are flowers, ribbons, and the like. However you might also want something to serve as a focal point. ice sculptures are a popular one for formal weddings, but table fountains are also acceptable for outdoor weddings.
* Big items on or around the table add dimension, such as large flower arrangements or trees.
* Candles are always classy and elegant, but you can also string white lights across the table to give the table more light.
* Decide whether or not you want to skirt the table to the floor or not. Usually a full table skirt is best for formal indoor weddings.
* The wedding cake and the cake topper are all a table really needs to look great, but to give the final touches, consider adding some extras.
* Flowers are a given for cake table decorations, as are any items that reflect the theme of your wedding. Usually the table centerpieces and decorations are inspiration for decorating the cake table.
* The bridesmaids bouquets are often placed on the cake table to spruce it up. Also consider showering the table with rose petals. Instead of flowers, you might also use sheer chiffon or a metallic fabric.
* The table can also be decorated using the plates, champagne flutes, napkins, or other serving ware. Bottles of champagne, a champagne fountain, or a punch bowl can also be included on the cake table.
* Lastly, consider placing some photos of the bride and groom on the table in nice frames.