Deciding where to splurge and where to save is the ultimate balancing act when it comes to wedding planning. Should you go all out on reception entertainment, but look for an affordable wedding venue? Should you splurge on a large guest list, but save on catering? Wherever you land on decisions like these, one category is especially ripe for saving, and that’s your wedding decorations. Thanks to Pinterest and Instagram, it’s easier than ever to find great ideas for DIY decorations when you’re planning a wedding on a budget.
Here are some ideas to spark inspiration to create your own one-of-a-kind environment for your wedding without breaking the bank.
Whether you’re planning a formal sit-down reception dinner or will need only a few tables set up around your venue, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to make centerpieces and table decor special.
- Terrariums: Fill small terrariums with bits of greenery, some blooms and small candles.
- Tin pails: Use these for wedding favors or to mark place settings. Add some ribbon and a personalized tag.
- Candles: Whether you want tall, dramatic tapers or short votives, all types of candles can be had for not a lot of money, especially when you buy by the dozen. Consider LED candles if you don’t want to worry about real flames.
- Floating blooms: Fill simple bowls with water, then float a few blooms in them. Small plastic flowers from a discount store can work well and cost very little.
Nothing creates a special atmosphere like lighting, and it doesn’t have to be over-the-top extravagant to set the perfect mood for your guests. Lighting options are more affordable than ever.
- Lanterns: Almost any type of glass container can be pressed into service as a lantern, which combines lighting with table decor.
- Table lamps: Lamps on dining and reception tables can bring warmth and a bit of sophistication to any style of wedding. Wrap the bases in greenery to conceal the cords.
- Rope or string lights: The choices are nearly endless here, but all of them can add a fairy-tale touch. Options include strings of Edison bulbs hung over tables, rope lights wrapped around tree trunks and columns, lights woven through garlands, and branches strung with string lights and set in large floor vases.
The services of professional florists don’t come cheap, making this decor category the perfect place to save.
- Pick your own: If you’re having a small gathering and have permission to raid someone’s garden (or have access to a field of wildflowers), gather a few fresh blooms and greenery to arrange yourself. Just be sure to pick them at the last possible minute to ensure freshness.
- Go green-only: Modern brides and grooms often opt to forego blooms of any kind. Using only greenery for place settings, centerpieces and even bouquets and boutonnieres can make a dramatic statement.
- Think succulents: Succulents and cacti are enjoying a moment right now, so they’re widely available. They’re also an unexpected touch, and perfect for an informal gathering.
- Repurpose bridesmaids’ bouquets: Plan ahead to reuse your bridesmaids’ flowers as part of your reception decor.
Guests aren’t attending your wedding in order to score an expensive gift—they’re there to share the experience with you. Keep mementos of your wedding simple with wedding favors such as these.
- Sweets: Small candy jars with lids can be personalized with ribbon and printed tags, then filled with your favorite candy. (Jars can be had for as little as $1 apiece.) For a few extra dollars, you can have your own customized M&Ms!
- Seeds: Tiny envelopes of wildflower seeds with handwritten labels make a lovely keepsake that’s practical, romantic and eco-friendly.
- Mixes: Having a winter wedding? A jar with the ingredients for a cup of cocoa and a peppermint stick make a warm gift. Other ideas are trail mix and a cookie mix with a handmade recipe card attached.
Signs, Menus and More
Beautifully engraved invitations and professionally printed seating charts and menus certainly bring an upscale feel to any event, but they can be pricey. Make your own for a more personal touch.
- Chalkboard signs: Go rustic or sophisticated with this idea. Chalkboards are perfect for welcoming guests at the entrance to your venue or displaying the cocktail menu at the bar.
- Table numbers: If you’re having assigned seating, have fun marking tables with unique number displays. Think lanterns, pennants, and wine bottles.
- Clipboards: Think an office supply store has nothing to contribute to your DIY wedding decor plans? Think again! A clipboard can be dressed up with silver or gold leaf and greenery to display handwritten or home-printed menus.
Cake toppers are a great opportunity to put some color, fun or whimsy into your special day.
- Flowers: Fresh flowers are a lovely way to top off your cake, especially when they coordinate with your other floral arrangements.
- Tiny flags: Little party flags or pennants can be decorated with words, images, color or glitter.
- Cake pops: Keep the theme going with cake pops that match your decor.
Whether you’ll have a small, intimate space or a more grand venue, consider these DIY wedding decor ideas for creating an inviting and dramatic ambiance.
- Paper lanterns: For as little as $1 each, you can fill your space with spheres of soft white light.
- Fabric swaths: If your space has rafters, you can buy bolts of white fabric to create a lovely draped ceiling.
- Balloons: Make an arch to go around doorways or fill the ceiling space with color.
Even things you can’t make can help you save when you rent instead of buy.
- Glassware: Add a bit of flair with colored stemware or goblets.
- Backdrops: Wedding decor suppliers always have a range of backdrops to help you create a stunning environment for photos.
- Silk flowers: Faux flowers, plants and trees have come a very long way since the days of waxy-looking plastic.
- Vases, votives and other decor: Rentals go well beyond table linens, right down to the last small, decorative detail.
Places to Shop
Don’t want to pay full retail price for your DIY wedding decor? That’s no problem these days. Look here to save:
- Online marketplaces: Comb the listings online for gently used or even new items. Check out Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay for decor that was probably used only for a few hours at the seller’s own wedding.
- Dollar stores: These discount outlets are springing up everywhere, so there’s probably one near you. Things you can score at a dollar store include candles, faux greenery, paper bags to make luminaria, strings of lights, vases, mason jars, and balloons.
- Estate sales: An estate or yard sale can yield some great finds at great prices. Look for glassware and tableware, table linens, and picture frames that you can use to frame signs or menus.
- Salvage yards: Make a statement with a piece of architectural salvage, such as a column to use at an entrance or an ornate door to use as a backdrop or table. For an outdoor wedding with a rustic theme, look for garden decor, rusty wheels, and weather vanes.
- Amazon: This giant online “store” is great for hard-to-find items, and the sheer number of sellers can make prices very competitive. In some cases, the more you buy, the more you save, so watch for items sold in bulk quantities.
- Etsy: Find handmade, one-of-a-kind items from artists and craftspeople.
More Ways to Save
Taking the do-it-yourself route isn’t the only way to save. Check out our recent blog posts on the top reasons you may be spending too much on your wedding, and planning a wedding on a budget for more ideas.
One of the best ways to stay on budget is your choice of a wedding venue. The Thrasher-Horne Center’s expert event coordinator will be glad to work with you on creating the wedding you envision at a price you can afford. Our flexible special event rooms can be configured for an intimate ceremony and reception or a large celebration, and our room rental fees include a range of seating options, setup and breakdown of furniture, and more.
Contact us online or call our rental coordinator at 904-276-6815, extension 2, for all of the details or to schedule a personal tour of our affordable wedding venue.