7 Wedding Reception Hacks You Need to Know About

Hate your venue's wallpaper? Is the carpet unbearable? We've got the perfect décor hacks for you.
by Lauren Kay

The venue is the perfect size and free on the date you want—but the carpet is terrible, the wallpaper clashes with your colors and the lighting is all wrong. We tapped our favorite wedding pros for clever hacks to the most common décor challenges.

  1. 1. The space’s chairs are dated, and they don’t fit my color scheme or style.

    The Expert: Krystel Tien of Couture Events in San Diego

    The Style Hack: This is an easy fix: Rent ones that complement your wedding style or colors, like classic chiavari chairs or rustic wood benches. "We love to incorporate specialty lounge furniture and beautiful vintage pieces," Tien says. If budget is a concern, select a couple of pieces that will have maximum effect, like king and queen chairs for the sweetheart table. "A few properly placed items can make a huge visual impact," Tien adds.

  2. 2. The ballroom carpet is patterned and totally unbearable.

    The Expert: Brooke Keegan of Brooke Keegan Weddings & Events in Newport Beach, California

    The Style Hack: If your budget allows, roll in some new carpet and completely cover the rug. Not in the cards? Keep your guests looking up. Draw your guests' eyes to focal points around the room, like hanging market lights or a giant floral installation. "Once you put down the band stage, the dance floor and a dozen tables, you've covered a lot of that carpet," Keegan adds. 

  3. 3. The venue is large and wide open, and you want an intimate feel.

    The Expert: Amy Zaroff of Amy Zaroff Events & Design in Minneapolis

    The Style Hack: Space is usually a bonus, but if you're after a cozy atmosphere, a big room with high ceilings can present a challenge. "Creating spaces within spaces and points of interest throughout will help keep guests' eyes front and center," Zaroff says. Hang long centerpieces low—just over the table—to bring their gaze down and to create a more romantic feel. Use furniture, flooring and fabric draping to define spaces throughout the venue. Designing vignettes will make it feel smaller and more intimate, and show off your wedding style.

  4. 4. The walls are the worst—think: ugly wallpaper and medieval sconces.

    The Expert: Brian Worley of yourBASH! in Santa Monica, California

    The Style Hack: While you can't exactly redecorate, you can shift the focus. "I like to transform a space with what I call 'moving wallpaper'—we use projectors and add moving images to the walls," Worley says. This trick also doubles as a lighting feature, giving the space a unique look. If a dozen projectors aren't in your budget, stick to lighting that masks the design. Uplighting and gobos can transform a space instantly—even old wallpaper can disappear amid a soft, colorful glow.

  5. 5. The drapes are patterned, and the venue won’t take them down.

    The Expert: Annie Lee of Daughter of Design in New York City

    The Style Hack: "Buy yards of simple fabric and pin them over the offending drapes," Lee says. It's a quick fix—no sewing required—and it can really transform the venue. Unlimited budget? Drape the whole space! Coordinate your fabric choices with your table linens, working in a texture or small pattern to keep things fresh and fun.

  6. 6. The colors of the room clash with my wedding hues.

    The Expert: Alison Hotchkiss of Alison Events in San Francisco

    The Style Hack: "Don't fight the design flaw—embrace it," Hotchkiss says. "If the carpet is a green zigzag, pull that color into the napkins or the seat cushions." Not for you? Try draping the walls with fabric or covering the floor with a sisal rug. If you've chosen a palette with a metallic or a neutral, make that hue more prominent in the décor and save the bolder color for details like your invitations or signature sip.

  7. 7. The space isn’t big enough for two separate setups.

    The Expert: Dora Manuel of Viva Bella Events in Cincinnati

    The Style Hack: Don't worry—just "flip" the space. You can use the flowers on the ceremony aisle for reception centerpieces, and your rental chairs can serve double-duty too. But factor in extras. "We always keep backup draping on hand," Manuel says. Draping can hide things that aren't easy to move, like a 12-piece band. You can also use it to frame the ceremony or hide preset tables.

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