8 Tips for Decorating a Wedding Reception on a Budget

A table at a wedding reception on the beach.

You may want the Pinterest wedding of your dreams, but what if your budget doesn’t allow for a big splurge on tons of vintage mason jars and lush peonies? Don’t worry! With so many couples opting for budget-friendly weddings, the good news is that you can still decorate your big day in style while also being smart with your budget. When it comes to decorating your wedding reception, consider these tips that will leave your day looking beautiful, but won’t break the bank.

1. Choose a Reception Venue that Doesn’t Need a Lot of Decor

If you have the perfect location for your reception—think a gorgeous garden or an opulent ballroom—then it’s not totally necessary to splurge on a ton of decor items; the venue will speak for itself. Anything from a fancy vineyard to a chic art gallery or a cozy greenhouse are all great options that don’t require many accoutrements.

2. Use Items You (Or a Friend) Already Own

Look at your own household items or those belonging to your friends and family. Do your grandparents own some cool vintage dishes you can borrow for the dessert table? Does your best friend have some glam throw pillows that you would add just the right touch to your cocktail lounge area? Do some digging and you’re sure to find some gold that’s close to home.

3. Create Your Own Lighting

A mantle at a wedding reception venue decorated with pink roses, greenery, and white candles.

The lighting at your wedding reception is responsible for creating the mood. Thankfully, you can create your own ambiance fairly cheaply. Strings of twinkle lights and tons of candles are easy ways to create a romantic and intimate feel to the festivities, and can be purchased for a fraction of your budget. Candles in all shapes and sizes will add a lot of character to the night, and don’t forget that using old Christmas lights is a great wallet-friendly option.

4. Make a Photo Wall

A photo wall is an easy and simple decor feature that will not only save you money, but is also a fantastic conversation starter. Make it family-oriented with old wedding photos from both of your parents and grandparents. Or, create a collage of your own love story. This way you’re saving money and you’ll be adding a touch of personality to your decor, too.

5. Use Flower Alternatives

Florals for a wedding can quickly add up in price, but there’s a few ways to work around the cost. Use faux flowers that look surprisingly real or craft your own flowers with colored tissue paper. Maybe there’s a local community garden where you can pick flowers for centerpieces. Another alternative to the typical blooms from a a wedding florist are hanging planters from a home improvement store or greenery and “filler” from your local garden shop.

6. Turn to Mother Nature for Free Decor Elements

A table at a wedding reception decorated with greenery instead of flowers.

Mother Nature provides us with beautiful scenery and “accessories” every day. From leaves and flowers to acorns, pine cones, and even branches, there is a lot to gather from the great outdoors that will help add that special touch to your reception. So, get creative! Venture outside and see what gifts you have right in your own backyard.

7. When in Doubt, Rent What You Need

Renting accessories or tableware is usually cheaper than buying them outright. If there’s a certain look you’re going for at your wedding reception and you can’t find it for cheap or to borrow, then make room in your budget to include a rental company that can provide you with exactly what you’re looking for.

8. If you Can’t Rent, Buy Secondhand

A seating area outside at a wedding reception decorated with vintage furniture.

Can’t rent it? Then visit antique stores, thrift shops, flea markets, and estate sales to find what you’re looking for at low prices. You’ll be amazed at the beautiful bargains you can find. Bonus: if you like something enough, consider it as an investment towards your home together. Maybe that vintage dish set will also be perfect to use at home for entertaining guests as newlyweds!

Decorating your wedding needn’t cost a ton of money. By planning ahead, allowing your creative juices to flow, and not being afraid to get your hands a little dirty with some DIY projects, you can definitely decorate your wedding to fit your Pinterest dreams on a budget.

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