Planning your wedding reception décor will depend on a multitude of factors. You may be on a tight budget, or be planning an outdoor reception. Perhaps you will be in a reception hall with a very formal setting. Whatever your reception plans, you should know that a wedding reception costs approximately 50 percent of the total cost of a wedding; so you will want to put some thought and effort into your wedding reception décor.
The number one consideration when planning your wedding reception décor will be the degree of formality at your reception. Traditional etiquette dictates that if your wedding ceremony is formal, the reception should be formal as well. A formal wedding reception will typically be more expensive than one that is more casual.
Formal wedding receptions will always require a sit down meal, with wait staff serving your guests. Usually the setting will be an upscale resort, a country club, or a formal ballroom at a hotel or reception hall. Live music is expected, rather than a DJ. When planning your wedding reception décor for a formal event, first consider the flowers.
The floral decorations at a formal wedding reception should be elegant and abundant. There should be a large floral centerpiece at the bride’s table, as well as smaller arrangements at each guest table. Flowers should decorate the entrance to the hall, as well as key traffic areas such as the sign-in table and gift station. Other wedding reception décor for a formal event would include tall tapered candles, with gold, brass, or silver candelabras. In addition, you will want lots of ribbon, lace, and tule strategically draped and wrapped throughout the space.
A casual wedding reception is not nearly so strict, and will offer much greater flexibility in the wedding reception décor. Firstly, a less formal reception will allow you to choose a buffet style meal, or even skip the meal altogether and offer your guests cocktails and appetizers instead. I enjoy these types of receptions, as people are more mobile and able to mingle and meet new people more easily.
Live music is not required at a less formal event. You may have a favorite local band, and of course hiring one is perfectly acceptable. However most contemporary casual receptions these days will feature a DJ who can play a wide variety of recorded music to suit the tastes of multiple generations. Also, a casual reception can be held almost anywhere. Outdoor venues might include a beautiful field within a state park, a local orchard or farm, or even a well dressed and decorated backyard.
The flowers at a less formal reception are not required to be nearly as extravagant. In fact, you may feel comfortable with a single floral centerpiece at the bride’s table. To add a bit more volume many people will display the bridesmaid’s bouquet on the table as well, or cluster them around the wedding cake. Often a more casual reception will have a specific theme, such as “Hawaiian Luau” or “40’s Movie Star” in which the food and decorations will be aligned with a common style. In those cases, your decorations will often be specifically matched to the theme you are hosting and can be as expensive or inexpensive as you feel appropriate.
As you can see, the greatest factor in determining appropriate wedding reception décor is the degree of formality. In many cases, and depending on your particular adherence to traditional wedding etiquette, you will be required to host a formal reception. This will necessarily bind you to a variety of traditions that surround the formal reception, such as an abundance of extravagant flowers, formal candles and ribbons for your main table decoration, and live musicians providing the dance music and entertainment. Many people are beginning to relax their interpretation of this etiquette and host informal receptions instead. This may be due to budgetary concerns, or simply personal taste. If you feel comfortable hosting an informal reception then a world of creativity will be open to you. Themes for an informal reception can range from the uber casual, such as a reception pool party, to the sophisticated and glamorous, such as a Victorian masquerade ball theme.