Depending on your venue contract, there might be a few restrictions when it comes to the type of décor you can bring in or alterations you can make to the space. For example, a museum or historic wedding venue probably won’t be okay with altering or damaging their walls in any way (think: using nails to hang signage).
Or maybe minimalism is your style and you’re just not into the idea of a ton of décor, but you still want to personalize the celebration. Here are a few wedding decorations that are totally low maintenance, but beautiful and impactful.
(Psst—still trying to figure out what your wedding style actually is? Not to toot our own horn or anything, but The Knot All-In-One Wedding Planner app includes a Style Quiz that’s not only fun, but refreshingly accurate. And it does way more than discover your wedding vision—it keeps track of everything from vendor contacts to day-of to-dos, all in one place.)
1. Drape the Ceilingsonelove photography
It’s amazing what a little fabric can do. Keep it formal and elegant with white fabric, or if you’re after a fun vibe, opt for a bright color like yellow. Bonus: Take this approach and you can go light on the table décor and still get the same decked-out reception look.
From: A Rustic-Glam Barn Wedding at Olympia’s Valley Estate in Petaluma, California
2. Pick Up Patterned PillowsMeg Smith Photography
If you have a lounge area in your reception space (or made one with some rental furniture), get yourself to a housewares department for some pillows. Find them on sale (IKEA-style) and cover them with your favorite patterned fabric for a few low maintenance pops of festive color and pattern.
From: An Elegant Barn Wedding at a Private Residence in St. Helena, California
3. Create an Escort Card DisplayMeaghan Elliott Photography
Instead of having an escort card table, create a bulletin board of seating assignments and display it near the entrance of the reception space. Bonus: You won’t have guests squinting at tiny tented cards, trying to decipher their table number.
From: A Kate Spade–Inspired Beachside Wedding at Sanderling Resort in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Are you into…Glamorous WeddingsAwe-inspiring from grand displays down to gilded accentsSee More GlamorousStill Deciding?Take your time! There are so many gorgeous themesSee All ThemesRustic WeddingsDown-to-earth with organic elements and personal touchesSee More RusticModern WeddingsSimple-yet-sophisticated with playful nods and unique accentsSee More ModernRomantic WeddingsFlowy, feminine and just what love’s made of with a luxe lookSee More RomanticGlamorous WeddingsAwe-inspiring from grand displays down to gilded accentsSee More GlamorousStill Deciding?Take your time! There are so many gorgeous themesSee All ThemesRustic WeddingsDown-to-earth with organic elements and personal touchesSee More RusticModern WeddingsSimple-yet-sophisticated with playful nods and unique accentsSee More ModernRomantic WeddingsFlowy, feminine and just what love’s made of with a luxe lookSee More RomanticGlamorous WeddingsAwe-inspiring from grand displays down to gilded accentsSee More GlamorousStill Deciding?Take your time! There are so many gorgeous themesSee All Themes
4. Hang Your FlowersRebekah Murray Photography
Think flowers are just for your tables? Think again. Suspending lush arrangements a few feet above your guests’ dinner plates is a fun way to create a more intimate space. (This tip is especially handy if you’re not so fond of your venue’s carpeting—just keep people looking up!)
From: A Murray Hill Wedding in Leesburg, Virginia
5. Make Chalkboard SignageHarwell Photography
Chalkboards are a great way to decorate an entrance or jazz up the cocktail bar. Personalize it by thrifting an old frame and spray-painting it to match the rest of your décor. Drape with greenery or a flower garland and chalk away!
From: An Elegant Tented Wedding at Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia
6. Use Table LampsIra Lippke Studios
Create height on your reception tables using table lamps. Tip: You can skip flowers altogether if you want, but surrounding the lamps with flowers or greenery is an easy way to hide cords.
From: A Modern Garden Wedding in New York, New York
7. Add a Sprig of HerbsTroy Grover Photographers
Just because you’re having a formal wedding doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with your décor. Add herbs like rosemary or lavender for a fragrant touch on the place settings.
From: A Rustic, Romantic Wedding at Shady Canyon Golf Club in Irvine, California
8. Rent Colored GlasswareAnna Kuperberg
Instead of pouring your entire reception décor budget into the centerpieces, consider using part of that budget to rent extras like colored glassware—it’ll make your tables pop in an instant.
From: A Country-Chic Wedding in Sonoma, California
9. Order Calligraphed MenusNed Jackson Photography
Rather than printing out your escort cards and menus, take the design one step further with calligraphy. There are different scripts for every type of affair, like traditional copperplate for black tie formal or something more free-hand for farm-to-table chic. If your budget doesn’t allow for 200 professionally calligraphed place cards, invest in young talent—post the job in your local college’s art department and test out a few students for the job.
From: A Vintage-Style Wedding in Boston, Massachusetts
10. Use a Table Runner That PopsHudson Nichols Photography
Look for modern table décor inspiration, like this patterned table runner. Rather than having several big floral centerpieces, space them out in smaller bud vases to span the length of the runner (and show off the pattern). This colorful detail will make your rental china pop.
From: A Buena Vista Farms Wedding in New Castle, Delaware
11. Reshape Your Table NumbersJen Fariello Photography
Want something original for your table labels? Think about number presentation. Display your table numbers or names on unique vessels like wine bottles, lanterns, moss topiaries or festive pennant flags.
From: A Fiesta-Style Wedding in Scottsville, Virginia
12. Make a Family Photo WallPure 7 Studios
For an easy conversation starter, create a wall of family wedding photos. Devote a row to your partner’s family, one to yours or just mix them all up. Alternative idea: Showcase your (new!) family tree.
From: A Romantic Old-World Wedding in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
13. Hang (a Ton of) Paper LanternsArmor and Martel Photography
We know—paper lanterns are nothing new. But multiply the number of lanterns you usually see hanging in a reception space by 100 and it’s a totally different story.
From: A Classic Garden Wedding in Newport, Rhode Island
14. Add Terrariumsonelove photography
Not a flower person? No need to splurge on a bunch of centerpieces. A patch of moss, a romantic terrarium, candles, a few blooms and a succulent or two and you have a perfectly rustic tablescape.
From: A Romantic, Vintage Wedding at Carondelet House in Los Angeles, California
15. Photo BackdropsSarah McKenzie Photography
Create a stunning focal point that doubles as a photo backdrop. Layers of different colors and shapes give guests different elements to marvel at. Think about materials that are easily customizable like tissue paper tassels, balloons, garlands of greenery or paper flowers.
From: A Colorful, Whimsical Wedding at Station 3 in Houston, Texas
16. Mood Lighting En MasseGlen Allsop / Christian Oth Studio
When paired with some dramatic uplighting and luxe fabrics, the addition of tall taper candles turns your space into a magnificent scene of dancing lights.
17. Hang Tapestriesonelove photography
If it’s too difficult to bring in large installments to decorate your space but you want to add a little flavor to the walls (or cover up some less than ideal wallpaper), look to tapestries. They’re easy to transport and require very little setup.
From: A Rustic-Glam Barn Wedding at Olympia’s Valley Estate in Petaluma, California
18. Opt for WoodRevival Photography
If you’re choosing between plastic tables and chairs versus wood, go with the natural option. You can still opt for folding chairs for a lower price point, but wood has a way of looking so much more polished.
From: A Rustic, Vintage Mountain Wedding at Blue Ridge Mountain Club in Blowing Rock, North Carolina
19. Make Them Look UpShea Christine Photography
If you want to save on flower arrangements for the table, add a few elements that will draw guests’ eyes upward. A simple garland of greenery or a few hanging lanterns will fill the space and no one will notice smaller centerpieces.
From: A Whimsical Spring Wedding at Bonnet House Museum and Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
20. Fewer Blooms, More GreeneryErin L. Taylor Photography
If you’re looking to save on the flower budget, let your florist know you’re okay with lots of greenery. All you really need are a few fresh blooms to add some color. Eucalyptus, seeded eucalyptus, dusty miller, ferns and lemon leaf are all great options to create lush arrangements.
From: A Colorful DIY Wedding at the Historic Rice Mill in Charleston, South Carolina
Not sure where to begin with your wedding planning? Take our Style Quiz and we’ll pull together a custom wedding vision and vendors to match, just for you. After that, create a free, personalized wedding website to keep your guests informed (and excited!) about your plans, and a time-saving Guest List Manager to organize your attendees. Even better? You can sync your Guest List Manager and wedding website to update everything at once.