Shabby Chic Wedding Reception Decor on a dime

receptionroombanner I am no stranger to events; I’ve been in literally 15 weddings and as a Marketing Director I’ve thrown numerous corporate theme events, so I know they can be amazing but potentially costly for the host. Last summer, my “little brother” got married (still in denial about that one, isn’t he still 12?!?!) and the decor turned out beautifully. It may surprise you to learn that almost all of the decor was created by repurposing items that family already had, buying things from inexpensive sites, borrowing decor and creating floral arrangements using flowers from the garden.

Regardless of your event or your theme, you could follow these tips to save some serious money. In this post, I’m sharing pictures from their reception which was a mix of rustic and chic elements; shabby chic if you will. This theme perfectly married (pun intended) both my brothers love of the outdoors and his wife, Mary’s, classic yet contemporary style.

My momma played a big role in the planning and decorating of the wedding; the bride and groom of course played the biggest role but my mom, no stranger to a wedding after planning and decorating mine & my sisters, has learned numerous things along the way.IF she wasn’t loving her retirement and time with grandchildren, I’d strongly suggest she become an event coordinator/decorator. Since that’s not going to happen, I’m going to share her tricks of the trade when it comes to hosting an event or reception when you’re trying to stay under budget.

First, check out the photos and below them, I’ll list some of the items and stores that were used to create this.


Table4Momasaurus antlersMomasaurus LanternMomasaurus Table24Momasaurus flowersMomasaurus table16Momasaurus receptionroomMomasaurus

Before I get into the specific decor that was used, I wanted to briefly touch on consistency. I personally think consistency is key, regardless of your theme. This reception was a good example of that; from the moment you entered the reception hall there were rustic touches (from barnwood boxes, to antlers, to burlap runners) as well as chic elements (blush pink fabrics, satin chair bows, contemporary menus). When I planned corporate events in the past, I would pick a theme and make sure there were elements of that theme everywhere. When guests opened the invitation, they would get a feel for what the event would be like and the decor, menu and favors would tie the entire theme together. If you’d like to see an example of a past event, check out my Glamping Party and Vintage Fall Party.

Though I love consistency, not everything has to match exactly. The vases, for example, weren’t all the same (and they typically aren’t at the events I throw). Sure, they were all glass but they weren’t the same style & neither were the picture frames. Ensuring consistency without being a stickler on every item being the exact same is an easy way to save some money. Plus, I personally think it’s makes it more interesting and gives each table it’s own custom look. 

I’d also strongly suggest planning in advance, to give yourself time to find what you need at the best price, or in this case time to collect and grow all the things you’ll be using.

Now onto some of the supplies & sites that were used to put this all together

Burlap: My mom actually borrowed this burlap from my mother-in-law but you can find a variety of burlap (and other materials) on Amazon. Here are some good options I found if you want to include burlap in your event:

[amazon template=iframe image2&asin=B009K4MTII,B00KSXGA0S,B00VVRQAIW,B00USTVGZ6]
Satin Runners & Chair Bows-The pink satin runners that are on top of the burlap are actually chair bows. The site my mom used for the chair bows has fabric that is so inexpensive that she just bought extra bows & used those for the runners. The site she used for the chair bows/runners is: GiftsInternational. This is the site she used to buy all the ribbon, chair sashes, ring bearer pillow and flower girl baskets  They also sell fabric by the yard on that site.

Favor Boxes:They chose to use brown, kraft takeout boxes for their party favors which were purchased at Nashville Wraps

Vases: A combination of glass and crystal vases were used for the centerpieces; some my mom had already and some were borrowed. If you want to get small votive or bud vases, those can actually be found at the Dollar Tree (no joke!). The centerpieces were created using hydrangea and greenery from my mom’s garden. Hydrangea worked really well in this case; they’re beautiful, they fill up a lot of space and they held up. If you need tips on how to assemble a hydrangea centerpiece, I found a link to a similar look (in a wood box) at  A Practical Wedding.

Votives:  Battery operated tea light candles were spread out on the tables. I’ve found that many event halls don’t allow open flame anymore, so you may want to prepare and have battery operated candles. Here is a link to some I found on Amazon

Flameless LED Tea Light Candles-24 pack

5X7 Frames: These were used for the couples photo,which were on each table. For this, just find some cheap 5X7 frames (again these don’t have to match) and you could always spray paint them so that they’ll be a consistent color. You can find simple, plain frames at  at dollar stores.

Black & White 5X7 photos:  You can have these printed locally or online. Tip: Check for online coupon codes so you can save on the printing costs at a variety of printing companies: ShutterflyWalgreens and more.

Wood Boxes: On guest tables, there were rustic boxes filled with wheatgrass  and then the centerpieces were placed in the middle. Some of these barnwood boxes were borrowed from my mom’s friend (who conveniently had a rustic event previously) and the remaining boxes were made by my brother. To find something similar yourself, regardless of if it’s rustic or not, I’d suggest posting a picture on a local swap site/Facebook as well as your personal page to see if someone can make for you locally.

Wheatgrass: If you wanted to do something similar with the wheatgrass, which is a great way to add greenery without costing anything, you line the boxes with 3ml black plastic (found at home improvement stores) and fill about halfway with soil. Then plant the wheatgrass seeds (just follow the instructions on the bag), which have to presoak overnight, by placing them directly on top of the soil and press down. To accommodate the vases that would go in the middle, my mom put a pots in the middle of the soil to ensure no grass would grow there, making room for the vases in the middle. My mom bought 2 bags of Todds Seeds 5lb bag of Wheatgrass  for the wheatgrass centerpieces and just followed the directions on the bag. Ten pounds total was enough for all 25 centerpieces at the reception and 9 centerpieces that were made for their wedding shower. If you just want to try a few, here is the link Todds Seeds lb bag 

When I saw my mom growing the grass for the first time, I was super impressed, It gives such a fresh look and each centerpiece costs like…nothing. Even better, it only takes a week to grow the grass to the height shown in the reception photos. By lining the boxes with the black plastic, you’re saving yourself a ton of cleanup time after the event. To cleanup, you just remove the centerpiece and take the black liner out and throw away. After having some nightmare cleanup jobs in the past, I can attest that this was the easiest disassembling of an event because we could just pitch the grass and put everything else in piles to be loaded and taken away.

*The picture below is what it looked like before placing the centerpieces.

grassMomasaurus In closing, this particular event was thrown for a tiny fraction of what it would cost if you bought everything outright and paid someone to do everything for you. To be honest, it’s a lot easier to have someone just do it for you (if you have it in your budget) because you can just walk in and walk out, but that will cost you alot more depending on the venue. To recap, if you want to have a fabulous event without taking out a loan it can be done, if you follow some of our tips. The things i think are most important:

  • Plan in advance; everything is easier when you give yourself time and you can find items cheaper this way.
  • DIY what you can. If you don’t want to DIY it all, then pick easier things you can do to save money & then use that savings elsewhere.
  • Planning & Research: I shared some of the sites we used to save money, but do some research to find other sites where you can buy what you need (from invitations to florals to decor ) for the best price. Also look for coupon codes if buying online to save an extra % off on your purchase.
  • Assemble the troops: Have the bride and groom line up friends that can help you get everything setup and taken down. In our case, we had friends from church, both families and the bride and grooms friends and it helped enormously.
  • Be organized: If you don’t have someone planning this event for you, have a specific checklist of what needs to be done (for the shower, wedding itself and reception) and then check off as tasks are accomplished. I can personally attest that when throwing a corporate event, I had several checklists, to help me plan the event itself and then execute it the night of the event. You’ll want to also have someone you trust in charge (if this is  YOUR day you probably don’t want the stress of that) with a list of what has to be done.

In a future post, I’ll share more planning tips as well as invitation ideas and decor inspiration from their ceremony. I’ll also be sharing some other event ideas; such as my kiddos double birthday party. Stay tuned ; DIY-not?!?!



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