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  • Writer's pictureGathering Oaks Retreat

10 Ways to Decorate Your Wedding on a Budget

According to, the average American wedding in 2016 cost over $35,000. Gulp! If you want to host a beautiful, unique wedding that reflects your personality and style as a couple—but money is tight—read on for some helpful hints.

1) Use what you already own. Look around your house. Dig in your parents’ attic. Unpack your holiday décor. Chances are you already own twinkling lights, a set of silver candlesticks, or an ornate crystal vase from your Great Aunt Ida. Shop around your own house before you pull out your wallet.

Photo by Alison Plueckhahn Photography

2) Borrow from friends. Do you have a cousin who just got married? Does your best friend have incredible taste (and a chronic shopping habit)? Make a list of what you need and then ask friends and family if they own things you can borrow.

Photo by Jason and Melaina Photography

3) Use the event space décor. Many venues offer candelabras, archways, chair tiebacks, easels, and much more—sometimes free of charge! Ask your event space liaison for a list of items they offer clients for free and/or for rent. You’ll be surprised by how much you don’t have to purchase.

Photo by Jason and Melaina Photography

4) Create a unique room set up. How many weddings have you attended where the guests sat in rows? Probably dozens. Now how many weddings have you attended with chairs arranged in a circle and the bride and groom standing in the center? I’m guessing, not many. Creative room arrangements like this are becoming the trend in wedding décor. Offering a unique set up intrigues your guests and reduces the need for ornate decorations.

Photo by Alison Plueckhahn Photography

5) Tap into your friends’ talents. Almost everyone has a side hustle these days, so whether your best friend sells calligraphy on Etsy, your aunt is a talented florist, or your roommate freelances in interior decorating, recruit them to help you create your dream wedding. Ask them to offer their services as their wedding gift to you, and soon you’ll have affordable handwritten place cards, beautiful flower arrangements, and whimsical table décor faster than you can say, “I do.”

6) Shop at thrift stores and dollar stores. It takes a little longer, but you never know what you’ll find at your local thrift store: a beautiful frame for your wedding portrait, a vintage book for guests to sign, or clear glass vases to use as table centerpieces. Your local dollar store also offers candles, mirror squares for table centerpieces, and more!

Photo by Lanty

7) Take advantage of nature. Once you buy those inexpensive vases, consider filling them with things that create a natural vibe: rocks, fruit, pine cones, and coffee beans—all of which are free or budget-friendly.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

8) Think outside the box. Use lanterns instead of flowers. Ask guests to sign a photo of you as a couple, instead of signing a formal guest book. Mix and match centerpieces. Order flowers from a wholesaler. The possibilities are endless when you start creating a wedding that reflects your personality instead of reflecting what you think a wedding should look like.

Photo by Jason & Melaina Photography

9) Re-purpose your décor. Flowers that serve as a beautiful altar decoration can pull double-duty as the main arrangement on the food table. Food can also serve as décor when arranged creatively.

Photo by Mike Chuang Photography

10) Decorate with photos. Honor your parents by using their wedding day photos to decorate the sign-in table or cake table. Display childhood and engagement photos of yourself and your fiancé for guests to look at as they enter the wedding venue. You most likely have these on hand, so show them off!

Photo by Tori Matthews Photography

The main thing to remember when decorating on a budget is that your wedding should reflect your individuality and your vision for your marriage. Don’t try to imitate someone else’s wedding or a perfectly curated photo you cut out of a magazine. If your wedding reflects your style and personality, people will pay more attention to you and the sacred event than they will the wedding décor. So, take a deep breath and prepare to say, “I do.”

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