Living Graciously, Artfully, Frugally.

Consciously taking notice of the gifts each day places in our path.

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” R. W. Emerson

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Week of Wedding: 10 Tips for Decorating a Wedding

Things I have learned that may help with your wedding or other big event.
Whether you are a wedding stylist or a DIY bride these tips are equally valid.

Know your site.

I visited the site where the wedding would be held twice before the event.
Once back in January and once about a month before the wedding to finalize my ideas and go over them with the bride and her family.

While there in January I took lots of pictures and measured everything that was measurable.
The barn, the distance between posts, the barn doors, the loft, EVERYTHING. 
I then immediately drew floor plans while it was all fresh in my mind.
This helped so much when I was back at home deciding on details and ordering supplies. 

Make lists and keep notes on everything.

Conversations with the bride and family, ideas on decor, wishes they might have, anything that will add to the big day being everything they dreamed.
I had a notebook full of lists and measurements and inventories of pieces I would use in the vignettes I had in mind.
I think I even made lists of my lists.
This will keep you sane and organized.

3. Communicate.

Emails and phone calls and meetings with the bride and her family.
Let them know what you are doing via photos.
Communicate what you are ordering and the cost.
Make sure everyone is on the same page.

I was lucky enough to have a bride that put her full trust in my judgement but still, 
no one wants any surprises.
At least not disappointing ones.


Weddings are expensive.
Know an estimated range of costs before you go wild ordering all those fabulous craft supplies and sparkly lights and hundreds of yards of tulle.
Keep a list (yes here I go again) of everything you purchase and what you use.
Realize that there may be more things you might like to do that just will not fit the budget.
Take your best ideas and get the biggest bang from them possible.
If this is your business 
be sure to know what you will be charging for your time over and above supplies 
and communicate this to the family.
Keep track of your time and travel as well if you will be charging for this.

Know your responsibilities.

Are you decorating the reception area only? 
Are you doing some but not all flower arrangements?
What about decorations for the ceremony itself?
In this wedding a florist did the bridal and wedding party bouquets and brought the arch and plants to line the drive.
The bride's parents rented the tents, tables and chairs as well as hiring the caterer, who was supplying table clothes as well.
I shared a list of everything I would be providing so we knew we were all on the same page.


Find the best prices you can for the bride and her family.
Supplies and flowers quickly add up.
Most purchases were made online as that gives the widest option on pricing.
I also found the best selection of items as well as some fantastic ideas.
I knew the flowers would have to be purchased at the very latest date possible so they would be fresh.
I found in this case the best option was a local flower farm.
Google can be your best friend.

Time management.

Plan your time so that you can do as much as possible beforehand.
If your are making many handcrafted items to use in the wedding get these completed and packed away well before the wedding date.
This will avoid any last minute panic attacks.
I had everything but the flowers complete and ready to go a week and a half before the wedding.
If you also supply vintage or decorative pieces that will be used in vignettes or table displays
have these boxed and inventoried as well.
Any furniture you are lending (or renting) should be listed and ready to go too.
Preparation makes everything run so much more smoothly.

Make plans to get everything to the site.

We chose not to rent a truck because of the cost involved.
The site is about 50 minutes from our home and we were bringing furniture, a tent for the musicians, the flowers, a large framed board for the escort cards, a couple of tables and all the boxes full of jars and vintage decorations.
We hauled them in a Subaru SUV and a van. 
We still needed to make an extra trip for another van load but we knew that going in because we packed everything beforehand.
Plan ahead.
Especially if you have loads of things that you need to haul.
(Luckily our experience with antique shows helped us with this.)

Be ready to work and bring some help.

Set up may take longer than you think.
In our case the barn was only available Friday and Saturday, 
with the wedding being Saturday at 6:30 PM.
The bride and groom's family and friends were there on Friday to set up tables, move hay bails and make themselves available for anything that needed to be done.
They also needed to be ready for the rehearsal dinner Friday evening.

My husband was there all weekend and 
my daughter and her friend came on Friday to help with the decorations.
It took 9 hours on Friday and 5 hours on Saturday to get everything complete.
The flower arrangements alone took three hours.
Thanks guys, I could not have finished without you.
Seeing the families' reactions was so worth it.

Know there may be glitches.

You cannot plan for everything.
The management of the site called the bride's mother 
on Thursday to tell her the barn doors were broken. 
Would it be OK if we just left them closed.
The answer was a resounding no!
The whole point was having them open. 
They worked it out.
The barn doors were open.

Another last minute change was serendipitous.
We realized how pretty it would be to place tea lights in the niches in the large beam spanning the dance floor area.
Thanks to google again, we located a Dollar Tree nearby on Saturday morning and filled all 28 spaces with battery operated candles.
That was one of my favorite parts of the entire lighting scheme.

Everything else...

I guess I could keep adding tips but 10 is such a nice even number.

So as an addendum...
Takes pictures of everything.
I missed getting shots of a few of my favorite areas and I am kicking myself now.
I am sure the photographer has a few. 
(Note to self, maybe hire a professional to take display photos next time!)

Enjoy the process.
If you plan ahead things will fall in place.

Most importantly...
Take it from me.
 If you happen to be a guest at the wedding,
 skip that last glass of wine (or two).
You still have to come back the next day and tear it all down!

I had a blast doing this and the wedding was just so much fun.
I met some fantastic people and spent time with great old friends.
Life can be so full.

Yours in making your work into play, P.

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Debby said...

You did fantastic. We are going to two outdoor weddings the next two weekends.. I love those little tea lights in the nooks.

Lynn said...

Makes me want to get married again! I should probably keep the same husband.

thistlewoodfarm said...

I love a farmhouse wedding! There are so many opportunities for fun decorating ideas! I love the chalkboard globe and message!


Teacup Mosaics said...

OH MY YOU DID A WONDERFUL job! I so impressed!!! You did such a great job I think if ou wanted to you would be booked 52 weeks a year. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Sue said...

What a cool venue and a wonderful job you did decorating it all, Pam! I'm sure it was a huge undertaking, but you pulled it off, based on these pics! See ya soon at Springfield.
xo Sue

Susie Q said...

You did a fabulous job pretty lady! It is no easy task I know and you did it s well! Thank you for sharing t with us and for all your idea!