Wedding Reception Decorations Buying Guide

While the ceremony  is supposed to be the most important part of any wedding, modern day receptions have begun to overshadow the tradition--featuring over-the-top cocktail hours , fancy feasts for hundreds and lavish décor that leaves guests breathless.  But the reception isn't only about impressing your friends and family with the VIP treatment, it's about reflecting your personal style  as a couple.  Most receptions have colour schemes that coordinate with a particular season or accessories that help achieve a special vision.  Whether you're going for classic romance, understated elegance or a mod night club feel, check out the following decoration ideas to help get you started on planning the perfect wedding reception.

Décor Tips

The Tables

Tablecloths  and Napkins 

  • Choose elegant and/or eye-catching tablecloths and napkins that will help tie in a colour scheme--like silvers, blues and whites for a winter wedding, or rich reds and oranges for a fall reception.  
  • Try layering colours or textures for a more lavish feel--a floor-length under-tablecloth topped with a sheer or lace over-cloth can achieve this look.
  • The napkin rings  should also tie in with the overall theme and can even work to add a unique touch to each place setting.  As a fun craft project, try making your own napkin rings by gluing silk flowers to ribbons or working with mouldable wire and decorative beads.


  • All candles do not burn in the same way for the same amount of time.  If you're having a short cocktail reception, small votive candles  work very well.  But if you're having a dinner or luncheon, followed by dancing, you'll need tall pillar candles that can last throughout the evening.
  • It's always a good idea to test the burning time of the candles you plan to you use.

The Existing Space


  • If there are potted plants  or trees in the room, decorate them with strings of white fairy lights.  If the plants are lacking, you can always purchase inexpensive topiaries at your local nursery, and then reuse them in your home once the wedding is over.
  • Ivy and floral garlands  can be used on buffet tables, the entryway or incorporated with existing drapery.
  • Floral centrepieces  for the dining tables can be great attention grabbers--try going over-the-top by adding hanging crystals or using taller, exotic plants like tiger lilies.


  • If your reception site already has great architectural features, showcase them with special lighting or tailor your other decorations to match their time period and style.

The Entryway

Receiving Area 

  • As your guests get out of their cars and enter the reception, give them a hint of what's to come by decorating the entryway path. 
  • Try using archways decorated with floral garlands or lining the walkway with old-world candle-lit lanterns . 
  • Above all, make sure that the outdoor area they see upon arrival is clean and any landscape is neatly manicured.

Other Ideas

Champagne Flutes 

Decorative Lighting 

Serving Trays 

Balloons and Streamers 

Related Guides

Cocktail Receptions

Wedding Flowers

Finding a Reception Hall

Reception Food and Drink

Wedding Cakes