1. Drape the Ceilings
Photo by onelove photography
It's amazing what a little fabric can do: Use a bright color, like yellow, if you're after a fun vibe, or keep it formal and elegant with white or champagne fabric. Bonus: Take this route and you can go light on the table decor and still get the same decked-out reception look.
2. Pick Up Patterned Pillows
If you're lucky enough to have a reception space with a lounge area, or you just happened to have a space that needs sprucing up, get yourselves to a housewares department for some pillows. Find them on sale (IKEA-style) and cover them with your favorite patterned fabric.
3. Create a Seating Board
Photo by Kristen Weaver Photography
Instead of the old escort-card table idea, 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 cursive handwriting trying to decipher their table name.
4. Add Tissue-Paper Pom-Poms
Pom-poms, strung inside your tent, hung from chairs, or even tucked into vases, are a fun (cheap!) way to give your space a dash of color. Of course, this look is perfect for a laid-back outdoor wedding; but we've seen it work for more formal weddings too (with, for example, eggplant-colored tissue-paper pom-poms clustered together to create eye-catching decor).
5. Make a Chalkboard Backdrop
Photo by Jess and Nate Studios
Chalkboards in a photo booth are fun, but this couple ran with the idea in a completely different way, using a large chalkboard as a ceremony and reception backdrop. Cool extra: Supply guests with glow-in-the-dark chalk to leave notes during the reception!
6. Use Table Lamps
Photo by Liz Banfield Photography
Create height on those tables using table lamps. Tip: You can skip flowers altogether if you want, but surrounding the lamps with flowers is an easy way to hide cords!
7. Add A Sprig of Herbs
Just because you're having a formal wedding doesn't mean you can't have a little fun with your decor. Add a sprig of herbs like rosemary or lavender for a fragrant touch on the place settings.
8. Rent Colored Glassware
Instead of pouring your entire reception decor budget into the centerpieces, consider using part of that budget to rent colored glassware -- it'll make your tables pop in an instant.
9. Order Calligraphed Menus
Escort cards -- not the cookie-cutter type that you type up and print out, but ones that have been carefully crafted and handwritten -- are an easy reception idea. Budget idea: Hire a student artist from your local college fine art department to do the job.
10. Use a Table Runner That Pops
Photo by Katherine O'Brien Photography
In a modern, minimalist space, come up with a killer table decor plan and execute it using a runner and simple flowers like this couple did here with a bright chevron fabric and tiny succulents in glassware for the centerpieces.
11. Reshape Your Table Numbers
Photo by Jen Fariello Photography
Instead of focusing on crazy fonts and colors and all those creative table-name ideas, change the shape of your table numbers. Fun ideas include birds, flowers, starbursts, or even festive penant flags.
12. Make a Family Photo Wall
Photo by Serene Occasions
For an easy conversation starter, create a wall of family wedding photos. Devote a row to his family, one to yours, or just mix them all up. Alternative idea: Showcase your (new!) family tree.
13. Hang (a Ton of) Paper Lanterns
Photo by Elizabeth Messina
Yeah, yeah, 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.