Updated: Jan 8, 2021
Ah, wedding decorations. Where do you even begin with wedding decorations? They are the marshmallows to a bowl of Lucky Charms, the sprinkles on the perfect sugar cookie, the crème de la crème of wedding planning. Once you've waded through all the paper work of booking a caterer, scheduling your engagement session, and hiring a DJ, you finally get to hone in on the super fun sparkly, shiny, glowing decor that will inevitably take up your entire guest room and/or a corner of your garage.
Or maybe you were like me and started collecting items before he even popped the question, and it's taking up a guest room AND a corner of the garage.
I worked at Pier 1 for six years - my second language is decorating, collecting for future use, and dreaming of ways to use yet another lantern. It's a thrill...really. And when you're planning the design of your wedding, you get to start with a blank canvas. It can be any theme you want. Elegant. Rustic. Boho. Glitter. Tropical. Country. Rainbows. Halloween. Winter. Circus. Literally anything you want.
But it's also the part where your budget can easily get away from you, and the reality of decorating for a wedding starts to set in. You realize your dream tablescape that you saw on Pinterest will in fact cost you $200 per table...and you have 20 tables...yikes! So how can you still achieve your vision while not dipping into your retirement account just to pay for it?
BUY SECOND HAND!
But how do you know what items are worth renting, buying, or DIYing?
WELL .I'm about to tell you, so grab your coffee (or wine...depending on the time of day...I'm personally still drinking coffee but hey, you do you) and let's get started.
The simple, one-and-done answer depends on this single question:
What do you plan (or want) to do with your decor items after the wedding?
Renting items from a local rental company (or even your wedding planner if they have some!) or borrowing from a friend/family member are great ways to conquer the cost of the "masses." By this, I mean both mass in quantity and mass in size.
There will be a lot items that you will need a lot of, and the last thing you want to do is have a gajillion of each item left over to deal with. Some items like this that are good to rent or borrow are:
Glass tealight votives
Multi-tiered dessert trays
And most likely a majority of your centerpiece items if you have more than 5 guest tables
Now let's talk about mass regarding to size. There's nothing I love more than a good statement piece - like a giant lantern that fits seven pillar candles, a gold gilded mirror, or a big marquee BAR sign. These are perfect for a wedding because they bring the wow factor, but will they really fit (both literally and decoratively speaking) in your home when the Big Day is over? If the answer is no, rent them.
Some of my favorite rental companies are:
Skagit Valley Wedding Rentals - based in Mount Vernon, WA
My favorite go-to for drapery, backdrops, linens, and napkins (did someone say velvet tablecloths?!)
Bellingham Event Rentals - based in Bellingham, WA
Another one of my favorite go-tos for anything and everything you need - their selection of tablecloth colors is something to swoon over!
Wander Rentals - based in Bellingham, WA
The go-to company for those uniquely larger items, such as vintage sofas, triangular arbors, and even farm tables.
Cranberry Sky Heirloom Rentals - based in Bellingham, WA
A wonderfully eclectic collection of glassware (plates, goblets, flutes, cups, vases, dessert plates, etc.) and a great way to bring in pops of color throughout your day.
Sweet Buffet Lady - based in Monroe, WA
She carries literally anything and everything you would need for a wedding, in every style, size and color!
Going back to the main question, anything you plan to re-use after the wedding is a good thing to buy. For instance, I bought a handful of those basic white lanterns of various heights from Pier 1 (shocker) because I knew I would be using those for every season in my home.
Other questions to consider when contemplating if you should buy are:
Is fake cheaper than real? (i.e. the magnolia garland I bought from...you guessed it...Pier 1 was much cheaper than having a florist design one)
Is it cheap enough to buy then toss out afterwards because storing them and reusing them is not realistic? (i.e. those fold/pop out tissue puffs that hang from a ceiling or doorway - I am not promoting waste, I promise)
Could I purchase a floral arrangement that is "wowza" enough to not need anything else?
The cold hard fact about wedding decor is that the second you slap "wedding" on it, the price skyrockets. So think outside the box - what can you purchase for decor that wouldn't be directly found in aisle 36 at Hobby Lobby designated for all things wedding?
Some of my favorite places to buy wedding decor without the "wedding prices" are:
HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls
Hobby Lobby during their 50% off sales of the week
The Dollar Store (hello $1 hurricanes and votive holders)
Goodwill (did you know that any vase without a sticker is only $0.69?!)
Any clearance section of any store after any holiday
Don't worry - with "DIYing" I'm not solely referring to arts and crafts, so if you're not the most artistic gal out there, you really don't have to skip this section! By DIYing I mean, among other examples:
Using items that are currently already around your house (i.e. cute signs, candles, dessert platters, miscellaneous decor, etc.)
Writing out signs or table numbers if you, a friend, or family member can pull off even moderate calligraphy.
Printing "signs" and putting them in a frame. The other day I was at Hobby Lobby and saw this pack of gold frames and thought they were too perfect for DIY table numbers - download a cute font, type out big numbers, print, cut, place - DONE!
Ordering flowers wholesale to arrange yourself rather than through a florist.
I really wanted wood rounds for my wedding and my husband really wanted a task. He also loves to be outdoors, so I sent him off on a camping trip with his buddy and they found some fallen trees that were the right diameter that they cut up on the spot and voila! We had DIY wood rounds and stumps to use as decor.
Photography: Mistry & Scott Photography
Venue: Hidden Meadows