Dazzling Wedding Décor for Less

Style-savvy insiders share secrets to creating a celebration that will impress your guests — without breaking the bank.

You’ve seen so many images of gorgeous receptions — elaborate centerpieces dripping with gardenias, orchids and crystals, a dance floor awash in colored lights, tablescapes bursting with color. The vision is priceless, but it comes at a price. Perhaps a steep one.

According to theweddingreport.com, the national per-wedding average spent on all tables’ centerpiece vases and florals is $700. That’s the average cost, including smaller weddings and weddings in areas with lower costs. In New York City, centerpiece vases, flowers and greenery can range from $650 to $1,700 and up. Since some centerpieces can cost $350 apiece, that would add up to $7,000 for centerpieces alone on 20 guest tables. When it comes to additional décor, such as chandeliers, fabric swags, garlands and the like, the national average hovers at around $300 — we heard from one upstate New York bride whose fabric costs alone soared above $5,000!

Don’t let those heart-thumping numbers dash your dreams for an elegantly decorated reception. We have the top experts’ secrets for planning your décor on a budget, including getting some wedding décor freebies.

outdoor wedding
Photo Credit: Andy Marcus of Fred Marcus Photography

Budget-Saving Basics

Ask what the site provides gratis. Some locations provide small floral arrangements on the cocktail party tables, a larger arrangement at the entrance (which can save $200 right there!), trellises, lighting effects, lounge furniture and (especially helpful) votives and candles for use on your bar, guest book table and other surfaces.

Ask for help. “My biggest piece of advice: Ask your vendors to create your vision on your budget!” says Amy Frugoli, CWC, certified wedding consultant at Twitterpated Weddings, San Jose, CA. “Then trust your pros to meet the challenge. They may have items they can rent or loan, or know someone in the industry who can,” she says.

See what you can borrow. Real bride Brianne Lacey says of her wedding in Montville, New Jersey: “I have a friend who had just gotten married, so we borrowed her centerpiece bowls, bought some dried orchids online, and attached them to curly willow branches.” Lacey also borrowed glass votives, glass vases and submersible lights (from the same friend), bringing her grand total output to a mere $21 for a $100 effect.

Simplify. Avoid the temptation to add more and more items to fill an empty space. Frugoli’s reminder (make it your mantra): “Less is more.”

Next: How to save on your tabletop design ►