Your wedding reception is where your guests will spend the most time. As we’ve said before, you should count on spending at least 40 percent of your budget on the reception. This includes the food, decorations, drinks, music, etc. But a beautiful reception doesn’t have to break the bank. Once again, count on your friends and family to help out. I can’t tell you how many halls I’ve decorated just because someone called. If you’re a benevolent soul like I am, call in your favors when your big day comes!
Let’s first talk about the flowers and table decorations.
If you’re having your reception in a hall like the Legion or the local Moose lodge, be prepared to deal with the decor that is already there. We had my second reception at the legion and there was a multitude of war memorabilia everywhere. Since war and war heroes wasn’t the focus of my wedding, we found ourselves daunted by the various wall hangings that existed.
What we decided to do was create a lighted wonderland. We called upon everyone we could think of to lend us their white Christmas lights. We married at the end of January, so the Christmas decor was freshly put away or still stowed in the garage waiting for permanent stashing until the next season. We ended up with about 200 strands of lights.
We strung them everywhere – from the ceiling, woven throughout the fichus trees, even framing the confederate soldier uniform. When the lights went out, no one knew that we were in a memorialized hall to our military veterans.
We brought the battery operated candles from the church and put them on all the tables. My uncle had some butcher paper that we spread over all the tables for tablecloths and every other one had floating candles in glass vases that we found wholesale at a craft store.
We sprinkled blue glitter on the tables for a little glitz. If you decide to do this, take my advice, use it sparsely and keep it mostly toward the center of the table! Glitter can be a huge mess if it’s strewn about too randomly! It looks great, but some guests won’t be crazy about getting glitter on their “good” clothes!
So what about other decorative ideas at the reception?
Use the bridesmaid’s bouquets to decorate the tables, the head table, or the cake table. You don’t have to have expensive floral arrangements everywhere to make a beautiful reception hall. There are many, many alternatives and most can be put together with supplies from the dollar store. The following suggestions utilize supplies that I found at the dollar store and make for gorgeous table decorations.
Centerpiece suggestion #1:
Buy some glass cereal bowls and place colored glass marbles in the bottom. Add water half way up and put a floating candle in each. Instead of floating candles, just add a regular votive in the middle of the marbles. When the reception is over, the bride and groom will have a matching set of bowls!
Centerpiece suggestion #2:
Get some small terracotta pots and some florists foam. Pick out some silk flowers in your wedding colors along with some greenery. Stick the flowers in the foam bunched tightly together and arrange to your heart’s delight!
Centerpiece suggestion #3:
Take a silk rose and separate the bud from the stem. Disassemble the bud into individual petals. With a clear votive holder and a glue gun, you will glue the petals onto the holder. Start at the top with the smaller rose petals. Place one petal next to another, with the sides touching slightly.
Once your first row is completed, you can start on the next. Make sure to cover any bare areas at the bottom of the first row, and work your way down the holder until the rose petals cover the entire surface. Take the leaf from the flower and attach to the bottom of the holder. This will give the illusion of a lighted rose once a candle is placed inside and lit!
Centerpiece suggestion #4:
Find picture frames of varying sizes. Gather together your favorite pictures of the bride and groom. Put the pictures in the frames and arrange on the tables surrounding them by clear glass marbles and some greenery.
Centerpiece suggestion #5:
Get some small baskets and decorate with ribbon. Print out some index cards that say “Advice For The Newlyweds” and lay them on the table with pens and/or pencils. Encourage guests to write something on the cards and place them in the baskets. Surround the baskets with flowers, greenery or pebbles. This can be a great ice-breaker for people who don’t know each other. Be prepared, too, for the jokesters in the crowd who may offer up some ridiculous and sometimes bawdy advice.
Centerpiece suggestion #6:
Take small grapevine wreaths and decorate with tulle and ribbon. Place a bottle of champagne in the center or a bottle of wine from a local winery. For extra fun, attach a balloon to the bottle.
Centerpiece suggestion #7:
Take two plastic champagne glasses and hot glue them together so that they cross when laying down. Hot glue four clear glass marbles inside each glass and tie a helium balloon to each. It will look like there are bubbles flowing out of your glasses as they lay on the table!
We had balloons at both of my wedding receptions. Not only are they festive and fun, they can help keep bored children entertained. Most dollar stores have helium balloons they will fill with purchase. However, you may want to look into a portable helium tank and do it yourself. I found one at Wal-Mart for $19.99 with balloons at $.99 a bag. The tank filled up about 40 balloons so that’s one way to save a little money on your balloons.
Want some wacky and unique centerpiece ideas? We found a couple online for the inventive and fun couples!
Buy glass fish bowls at the dollar store and fill them with – fish! You can find goldfish pretty inexpensively either at Wal-Mart or a local pet store. If you have the money, try to find beta fish in your wedding colors! One word of caution if using live fish: be sure to give their water lots of surface area to provide enough oxygen. The last thing you want is a bunch of dead fish decorating your tables. Let the children in attendance take the fish home – with the permission of their parents, of course.
One couple wanted to be whimsical at their reception, so they collected up all the board games they loved as children – Ants in the Pants, Monopoly, Sorry, etc. These were arranged on the tables with decorative accents surrounding them. This can be great for the children in attendance, but don’t be surprised if the adults play with them too.
Another bride wanted to reflect the personalities of her and her groom. They were “country people”, she says and liked a cold beer on occasion. She took longneck beer bottles and steamed the labels off of them. She created their own beer labels on her computer and glued them on with a hot glue gun. She splatter painted them before attaching the labels and tied each with a piece of twine. Truly unique, we think!
We like the idea of taking a pint sized Mason jar and wrapping it with tissue paper tying a ribbon around the neck to secure it. Place flowers in the jar, potpourri or whatever you think fits you as a couple.
If you’re getting married around a holiday, you can come across some fun decorations that celebrate that holiday. At Christmas, spray paint pine cones silver and gold and surround them with pine sprigs. Having an Easter wedding? Use plastic Easter eggs and that annoying plastic grass you put in the Easter baskets.
If you’re having an outdoor reception, decorate around that. Use lots of live flowers and greenery to reflect the beauty of Mother Nature surrounding you. If it’s windy, avoid using candles and be sure any balloons are secured so they don’t blow away!