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Decorating for a Home Wedding

In the interest of saving money, many soon-to-be-married couples opt to keep their wedding a bit simpler, choosing to hold their special event at the home of the bride or groom or a close friend or family member instead of renting an expensive catering hall or hotel banquet room. Home weddings are a wonderful idea and often hold special meaning for the bride or groom. Furthermore, having the ceremony and reception at home cuts myriad costs, including the hundreds (or thousands) of dollars doled out for flowers and decorations.

If you’re hosting a home wedding, how to decorate may be a big concern. After all, you’ll want the decorations to look professional but you may need to stick to a limited budget. That means you’ll need to forego the expensive florist and the costly wedding stager in favor of some do-it-yourself creations.

That’s okay! Nearly everyone has some friends who are well-versed in things like flower arranging or decorating and this is a good time to call in that favor. Furthermore, craft stores are filled with items that are appropriate for at-home decorations and there are myriad books that offer suggestions for homemade wedding creations. Here are a few ideas:

Decorating for the Ceremony

Many couples choose to hold their ceremony in the same location where the reception will take place. Whether the marriage ceremony is religious or civil, you’ll want to be sure that the ceremony area is nicely decorated. If you’re fortunate enough to have a gazebo or arbor outdoors and you plan to hold the ceremony there, you can decorate those with tulle and flowers. You might also want to add some white twinkle lights, especially if the wedding is in the evening.

If the ceremony is inside and you have a fireplace with a mantel, that’s an ideal spot to stage the ceremony. The mantel can be decorated with this those same twinkle lights as well as flowers, tulle, candles, and bows of wide white ribbon, which you can make yourself.
If you require an altar, find a sturdy rectangular table in your home (or borrow one) and cover it with a pristine white cloth. On it you can place flowers, either one large vase in the center or one arrangement on each end. They can be white or match the wedding’s color scheme. If the bride and groom are using a unity candle, this is the place for it, accompanied by a tall taper candle on either side. Any other appropriate religious items can sit on this table as well.

If you’re setting up rows of chairs (white folding chairs are perfect!) and wish to spruce up the sitting area, buy several yards of tulle and, starting at the front and heading to the back, create a pretty barrier on the inside aisle by draping the tulle from one chair to the next one behind it. Decorate the tulle with ribbons and tiny flowers. (Guests will have to enter from the outer aisles.)

Decorating for the Reception

If you’re hosting a reception, you’ll probably be using several round tables for guest seating. You’ll want those tables to be attractive and appropriate to the setting, whether formal or casual. Begin by selecting table covers – either white or in colors that match the bridal party’s dresses. You can often rent these or you may be able to find inexpensive ones at a store like Wal-Mart or Target. Napkins should match but if you’d like to opt for something less expensive, use large, white or colored paper dinner napkins.

Often, it’s the table centerpieces that create the ambience so spend a little more time thinking about these. You can opt for traditional flowers in an attractive vase or you can go for something a bit more creative. If the wedding is casual, choose different vases of a variety of shapes and sizes and vary the flowers as well. For something different, how about several candles of different sizes set upon a small mirror? Or maybe a bowl of floating candles and flowers? For an extra sparkle, especially against a dark table cover, gather up leaves, pine cones, and branches and spray them silver or gold and gather them in the center of the table, surrounded by votive candles, or scatter them across long tables.

Be sure to include some wedding favors on each table, either purchased or DIY. Making your own – such as little tulle bags full of chocolate kisses – can save lots of money and still look attractive. Also take some time to make pretty custom place cards or create table plans that list who will be seated at each table. All of these items can match the color scheme or theme of the wedding.