(Reprinted with sincere thanks to Casey Slide. (Originally posted in MoneyCrashers. ) Whether it’s in a big, elegant church, or a rustic, old garden, or at a white, sandy beach, the backdrop and decorations of a wedding ceremony can really make a lasting impression. And luckily, a pretty ceremony doesn’t have to cost a fortune. When it comes to ceremony decorating, less tends to be more. Additionally, you can save some money by being creative and keeping it simple. Here are some great ideas for cheap wedding decorations that will help you stick to your budget.
Saving Money on Ceremony Decorations at a Church
- Use Your Venue’s Decorations
If you’re getting married in a church, see what decorations they have for you to use. Many have candelabras which can add sophistication to your ceremony. Also, you may not have to decorate at all if you plan to get married during Christmas or Easter time when churches are already adorned with flowers and greenery.
- Use Candles Instead of Flowers
Candles are a lot cheaper than wedding flower arrangements, and can often be more romantic. Use them at the altar, to line the aisle (make sure they’re in fireproof bags or enclosed in glass to prevent fire hazards), or even in place of bouquets.
- Get Some Potted Plants
In the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, they lined the aisle of the beautiful Westminster Abbey with big, potted trees creating an English garden atmosphere. You can do something similar by bringing some potted plants from home or borrowing a few from a friend.
- Buy Lots of Tulle
There are so many fun things that you can do with tulle to decorate, but here are two of my favorites. The first thing you can do is create a canopy effect with the tulle. Have a few friends hang some from the center of the ceiling and then drape it down to the corners of the altar or stage. To complement the tulle canopy, use tulle to make bows to put on the pews or rows of chairs.
- Decorate the Altar Only
If you have a beautiful wedding venue already, there is no need to go overboard with your decorations. Perhaps all you need is a simple arrangement at the altar.
- Decorate Your Own Unity Candle
This is a fun and easy project that can be done in less than one hour. Go to a craft store and buy a plain, white candle that is at least two inches in diameter. You will also need to buy a ribbon (at least two inches wide) and some sequins. To assemble your own unity candle, glue the ribbon around the bottom of the candle and then glue the sequins on the front of the candle so that they spell the first letter of the groom’s last name.
- Go Shelling
My parents live near the beach down in Florida, and my mom’s favorite activity is to go shelling. She goes at least once a week to look for beautiful and unique shells. It wasn’t long before my mom had collected thousands of shells, so many, in fact, that she didn’t know what to do with them all. If you have access to free shells, put them in clear vases or hurricanes to be used as wedding decorations. Although shells would be a great addition to a wedding near the ocean, they would also be a beautiful added surprise to a landlocked wedding as well.
- Throw Down Some Flower Petals
Even if you do not have a flower girl, you can still throw down some flower petals along the aisle. This can be done as part of the decorating process before the guests arrive. Flower petals are inexpensive to buy compared to actual flower arrangements, so if you really want flowers but don’t want to spend the money, this is a great way to add them into the decoration of your ceremony.
Saving Money on Ceremony Decorations Outdoors
- Pick a Naturally Beautiful Setting
Outdoor garden, beach, or mountain weddings are already decorated for you. For example, if you’re getting married at a farm, throw down some hay bales for seating and you’ve got a rustic, but romantic aisle to walk down. If you want a garden wedding, make sure you get married in the spring when all the flowers are in full bloom.
- Have a Focal Point
There needs to be some sort of focal point that you and your spouse-to-be meet at to be wedded. The focal point will act as a frame around the event. Some of the most common options are arches and gazebos. First check to see if you will have one provided to you by your venue. If not, you can buy one, rent one, or make one. Unless you are a carpenter or a handyman, you should probably opt to rent one. I suggest renting an arch since they are typically cheaper than gazebos and look just as nice.
- Hang Some Christmas Lights
If you are getting wed in the evening, white Christmas lights are a must. And if you’re renting an archway, it would be the perfect place for the lights. Also consider hanging lights in some of the trees if you will be in an outdoor setting.
- Mow the Lawn
This may seem obvious, but if you are getting married in a backyard, start working on the lawn early to ensure that it will be ready in time for the big day. If the yard is kept up with regularly, it will look better for the wedding. Also, start early to plan out what flowers and plants you want to feature. Planting bulbs months in advance will save you from buying more expensive flowers to plant the week before the wedding.
- Use a Theme to Guide You
I went to a wedding not too long ago that had an amazing “Zen” theme throughout. Some of the decorations included paper parasols, lanterns, and bonsai trees. They even had rock gardens as the wedding reception centerpieces to complete the theme. What’s great about using a theme is that you only need a few elements to make a big impact on the overall impression of the ceremony.
- Light It Up
In addition to white Christmas lights or candles, other ways to light up your evening are to use luminaries, torches, and lanterns. Use what is most appropriate given your particular wedding venue. Also, keep in mind whether or not children will be at your wedding and if it would cause any issues to have open flames.
- Blow Bubbles
Although this may sound childish, bubbles can actually add an elegant touch if done correctly. If you’re going to use a bubble machine, make sure that the machine is out of sight and that the bubbles are not coming out too quickly or too slowly. Also make sure that the bubble machine is not too noisy.
The Last Word
The key to successful wedding ceremony decor is simplicity. Clean, elegant flower arrangements, a few strategically placed candles or some potted plants to add a little greenery are all you need to create a romantic and memorable ceremony. Less is more – which ultimately means more money for the honeymoon!