This post has been a loooong time in the making! For me, decor has been the most fun part of planning our wedding.
It's what I've put the most thought (and time on Pinterest) into, and while we have spent a little bit in certain areas, overall, with some average DIY skills and a talented calligrapher for a Dad, it's been less pricey than I'd imagined.
So for today's Real Bride Diary (BM editor Claire here BTW, you can find the rest of my planning diaries here to get you up to speed!), I'll be talking all about the inspiration and execution of our wedding decor.
I'll try to be brief, but as you may know by now, that's really not my forte!
June 10th: Seven Weeks to go!
– My current obsession: Avoiding all things wedding related so I don't get any new ideas (pretty hard in my line of work!)
– Marko’s current obsession: Looking at accommodation for our honeymoon in Belize (eeek!).
– This week we’re mostly: Rehearsing and planning our ceremony while our wonderful friend and celebrant Dan is over for a visit.
Photo via Elle Decoration
So, as you'll know by now if you've been keeping up with my wedding planning musings, the vibe we want for our wedding is social, fun, and laid back. So when it came to the decor, it was all about having something that set that tone, got people chatting, but wasn't too fussy or ornate.
The only thing on my must-have list were string lights and long tables, as for Marko, (as with most things!), he was pretty easy, but wasn't into the idea of lots of flowers, table linens or chair coverings. Basically it was important that it reflected both of us, that it wasn't too feminine or all about me and my tastes!
As with any decor, it starts with the venue, and while we briefly toyed with the idea of going with eclectic tropical fiesta decor (bright florals, pom pom garland, southwest fabrics, and margaritas on tap!) a little research showed us that despite it looking a bit cheaper, it would actually be way more expensive to pull off well in a big stone barn… in Ireland!
Our Colourful Moodboard
Alas, it wasn't to be (but I do want one of you to do a fiesta wedding please!)
The second idea I had (and the one we ended up going with) was inspired by a real wedding we featured on Bridal Musings.
A gorgeous, al fresco feast in Tuscany, with herb pot centrepieces, jars with pillar candles and mixed neutral tones.
Ever since I learned what the word ‘tablescape‘ meant, I've been obsessed with them. Tables are easily my favourite part of wedding decor.
I love how a long table, with its napkins, big wine glasses, and sparkling cutlery all lined in a row, can set the scene for the evening ahead.
We love nothing more than eating out with eachother, our friends or our family, so the idea of a buzzing restaurant vibe was always in our heads for the reception. And this single image, set the ball rolling for our entire decor!
The funny thing is, a look that's bare and rustic, can often end up costing more than something more classic.
We loved this table set up, but we wanted more informality. In order to not have tablecloths, we had to hire in wooden tables (as opposed to the catering trestle tables our venue already had).
We had liked the idea of a foliage garland, but as we were having three 30-seater long tables, and it's charged by the metre, we went back to the more affordable, mixed herb pots, which lots of our favourite restaurants have on their tables, and which we're hoping will smell amazing all together in the venue!
We've spray painted plastic pots copper, as the real deal terracotta ones were going to be too expensive for the amount of herbs we've ordered.
We wanted bistro style napkins, which we sourced in Ikea (they sold out of our first choice, so we're alternating with half and half of another style), and are borrowing gold cutlery (which I'm obsessed with!) from the lovely Lyndsey at House of Hannah (check out their wedding planning site, it's SO dreamy!).
We'll tie the napkins with a sprig of rosemary, jute yarn, and a kraft paper tag which I've hand stamped for each guest. We'll also have brown paper table runners, with the table names written at the ends.
Our Neutral Moodboard
It's evolved a bit since we made this, but this was our initial moodboard.
The Cocktail Hour
We'll be having our cocktail hour in the courtyard, outside the barn (hopefully in the sunshine) so we figured this was a good place to play around with signage, while guests will have the time to soak it all in.
We have a gorgeous order of the day sign that my dad made, a signpost to direct guests to the bar (totally stolen off Pinterest!), a brown paper table plan, a pallet menu board, also pinched from Pinterest, (the pallet itself was pinched from the back of a homeware store!), and lawn games like limbo and giant jenga.
We've also created a “Here in Spirit” board, with photos of loved-ones Marko and I have lost over the last couple of years. And we'll have my one big essential, string lights hanging overhead.
A Sneak Peak at a Few of Our DIY Projects
Our ceremony set up is very much dictated by the space we have. It's an old outhouse, that no longer has a roof, so it's basically an open-air room with stone walls.
It has two rusted steel girders running across it at one end, so I immediately thought it would be the perfect place to hang a fabric backdrop.
As I said, I really liked the idea of foliage garland so we ordered a length from our florist to drape over the girders with painter's dropcloth (a really affordable way to get lots of good quality, heavy duty fabric).
Our venue is a working farm, so they're going to put out hay bales for our guests to sit on as well!
My Top Tips for Decor Planning
Blaze Your Own Trail
- Lots of brides look to previous weddings in their venue for inspiration, and that can be a good place to start, but don't let it restrict you. Our venue was able to offer us their in-house furniture and florals, but they weren't really what we were after. Don't be afraid to try something new in your space, chances are your venue will be only too happy to help.
Park the Palette
- Don't feel like you need to opt for a particular theme or colours, I think it's much easier to go for a ‘vibe' and come up with a broad selection of colours that work around it. Most of our decor is quite neutral, with wooden, foliage, or linen textures, but we've also shaken things up with a little bit of perspex, copper and then some rich pinks for my bouquet.
Remember Your Venue
- Keep your venue in mind. We both had lots of ideas that we were disappointed wouldn't work in our venue. If you have ideas you really care about keep them in mind when you do your venue search, and likewise, keep your venue in your head (and maybe have some photos close to hand) when you're scrolling through Pinterest. And if your ideas don't work out, be flexible and think of a way to adapt them to the space (and budget) you have.
- Learn to say no to things when they cost too much, no one will notice they're not there except you. There were a few things I really wanted, but simply weren't realistic in our budget. As with all things weddings, it's all about being practical, having priorities, and silencing your inner brat!
Shop Around for Suppliers
- Shop around, and think outside the box for suppliers. We'd asked our families to collect jars for the last year or so, but when we still didn't have enough (people don't tend to eat jarred sauces as much these days), I sourced lots of jars in different sizes from a local catering trade packaging company – you can often score a deal if you source items outside the wedding industry.
Cast Your Inspiration Net
- Likewise, look outside the wedding world for inspiration, your wedding doesn't have to look like ‘a wedding'. We looked almost as much at restaurants and interiors blogs as we did at weddings. Once you shake off the idea that you simply must have white linens and floral centrepieces, things can get a whole lot more fun!
Try to DIY
- Try your hand with DIY, you might be better at it than you think! While I don't think couples should stress themselves out trying to make everything by hand (especially when it's cheaper to buy) it's nice to avoid waste and get DIY bragging rights! Do give making some items a go, it's a lot of fun, and helps build up excitement for the big day.
Make a Moodboard
- Finally, make sure you create a moodboard. Unless you're really not into the decor, (in which case, put your feet up and leave it to your venue or florist), having a moodboard helps refine your ideas, (especially when you have 500 pins on your wedding board on Pinterest.) Whenever you're stuck on an idea or wondering which item to buy, you can refer to your moodboard and see if it will fit with your aesthetic.
And of course, that's not everything, we've held back a few surprises for our guests, (and to show you guys after the big day!)
So I hope my tips will help other brides and grooms out there with their planning. I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
I'll be back next week with some thoughts on my wedding day hair and make-up, but in the meantime, catch up on my past Real Bride Diaries here.
Lost in Planning? Check out our Step-by-Step Guide.