Who Decorates the Wedding Venue? Your Questions, Answered

Because you can't do it all on your own.
Lindsay Tigar
by Lindsay Tigar
Updated May 11, 2023

Your wedding day isn't merely a day you get married—it's an event. And like any other event, it requires a vision, plan and many experts to piece everything together. When you first get engaged, hiring a photographer and a florist and finding attire are obvious to-do tasks. But one question that might arise as you dig deeper into the process is who decorates the wedding venue? Is it your wedding planner? A wedding decorator? The day-of coordinator? A trusted friend or family member? Whoever you decide has a significant task: They are responsible for every minor detail, which is executed to perfection to make your once-in-a-lifetime big day memorable and beautiful.

Here, we dig into the task of decorating the venue, how to choose the right person and more:

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Who Decorates the Wedding Venue?

As with most wedding planning tasks, when decorating a venue, there are many ways to go about it. The first step in deciding who will take on this task is carefully considering your budget and aesthetics. Once this has been sorted, you have a few possibilities for executing your vision, according to Jacqueline Vizcaino, the owner of Tinted Events Design and Planning.

As she explains, the couple can choose to handle the venue decorations themselves, or they may hire a professional wedding decorator or full-service designer. "No matter who decorates the wedding venue, it's important to ensure that the décor is cohesive and reflects the couple's style," she continues. "Whether it's hired professionals or family members, couples should ensure all parties involved understand their vision for their wedding day and are instructed to execute it properly."

When it comes to who decorates your wedding venue, here are your options:

Professional Wedding Decorator

For a true professional experience that elevates your big day into something truly spectacular and fitting for your vision, a wedding decorator understands design principles that help to make the venue look beautiful and cohesive, Vizcaino says. Because they have the expertise and professional connections, they can create a stunning atmosphere for the couple's big day.

A wedding decorator is a hands-off experience for the engaged duo. This professional takes care of the tedious details and will adjust as needed. "A professional wedding decorator has access to a range of décor items that couples may not be able to find elsewhere, such as unique table linens, centerpieces, and more," Vizcaino says.

The most important consideration of hiring a wedding decorator is the expense. Generally speaking, a professional wedding decorator is an expensive investment that should be worked into a budget properly. Plus, additional fees might be added if a couple changes their mind or wants to adjust plans in the wedding planning process.

To find a wedding decorator near you, visit The Knot Marketplace to read reviews and compare different pros.

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Day-Of Coordinator

Unlike a professional wedding decorator, widely considered a specialist within the industry, a day-of coordinator is more of a generalist. They have managed and organized dozens of weddings and may be experts in a specific venue or many venues within a zip code.

Vizcaino says as a professional, the day-of coordinator will better understand design principles and décor items that can help create a stunning atmosphere for the couple's big day. "By enlisting their services, couples don't have to worry about coordinating decorations, as the day-of coordinator will handle it all and make adjustments according to their needs," she continues. "A professional day-of coordinator has a vast knowledge of vendors, décor items, strategies, and more that will help couples get creative with their wedding decorations."

If you aren't going above and beyond with your wedding and care more about a simple set-up than an elaborate one, a day-of coordinator may be perfect. Like a wedding decorator, a day-of coordinator can be pricey, so it may or may not fit your budget. Start searching for day-of coordinators on The Knot Marketplace and request a quote ASAP so you can ensure you have the space for the expense.

Friends or Family Members

If you don't have room in your budget to hire a professional wedding decorator or day-of coordinator, enlisting the help of trusted family and friends is a great way to save money as they may be willing to provide their services free of charge or for minimal cost, Vizcaino says. "Asking those closest to you can make the wedding decorations even more meaningful, as those helping will likely have a special connection to the couple," she adds.

Because friends and family may have their commitments, couples must plan to ensure everything is taken care of in time, creating much more work for the duo than if they hired a professional. Also, expectations may need to be lowered if you ask a friend or family member to help since they aren't professionals in the wedding space. Though you may save money, you won't save your sanity or time since you aren't paying for it. "Asking for help from family and friends can add stress to their already busy lives, especially if they don't have much experience with decorations," Vizcaino says. "Couples must trust that those close to them can execute their vision correctly, which can be a gamble.

How to Decide Who Sets Up Your Wedding Venue

Now you know your options—but how should you figure out who should do the decorating? Here's a step-by-step guide to making this important decision.

Consider your budget.

Just like with everything else when it comes to the wedding, it is important to be honest about your budget and decide who/what you can afford early on, advises Elizabeth Sheils, the co-founder and CEO of Rock Paper Coin. "Booking a vendor that is out of your budget and scaling everything back at the last minute is a recipe for frustration and disappointment," she adds.

Know your vision.

Once you have figured out who you will enlist to decorate your venue for your big day, the next step is to get clear on your visit. "Decide on what type of wedding you are trying to have and make sure the designer you are considering has beautifully executed events like what you envision," recommends Lisa Lafferty, an experiential event planner. "You always want to make sure your vision matches your designer's previous experience."

Be honest about the work required.

There's a difference between asking a beloved friend to hang up a few things—and tasking them with a huge venue overhaul that takes hours to complete. Sheils says before making your final decision on who will decorate your space, be really honest about the work required. You may need to allocate more budget if you want an elaborate wedding theme.

"It's important to put a professional in charge, someone that can troubleshoot, that has contacts to call if something goes wrong, and someone with experience executing the things you are hoping for," she says. "Family and friends aren't always reliable when it comes down to it, and your wedding day is something you want in the hands of a professional."

Read up on the policies.

Before deciding who will be responsible for decorating, Sheils recommends checking your venue contract to understand the load-in and out policies and what their staff can do. "It's important to give whoever is in charge the full picture of when things need to be set up and cleaned up at the end of the night," she says.

If you do decide to go the professional decorator route, Lafferty says to be very specific about your tasks before the contract is signed. "Personalized support is critical to have. Make sure to find a planner/designer that fits your needs, whether you're looking for additional meetings/calls or texts or require more handholding than most," she says. "Feeling supported and at ease during this time is crucial."

How Long Does It Take to Decorate a Venue?

Though the time required for a three-day traditional Indian wedding varies greatly from a casual backyard BBQ, Lafferty says most event venues give around a six-hour set-up timeframe. "Couples with intricate details and a larger installation or build-outs, like structures or sub-flooring, should always take into consideration that their event team will need an extra day or more, depending on overall needs and size, in advance, before the wedding day, to ensure all elements will be completed on-time for the wedding," she continues. "Couples must also consider that these types of larger scale productions will add additional costs in labor and venue rental costs."

Who Takes Down the Decorations?

Sheils says that typically whoever was in charge of setting it up would also be the one to coordinate the breakdown at the end of the night. "This is important to understand for those who wish to assign family and friends as this means they will need to stay after the event and clean up, whether they are a few cocktails deep or not," she says. "For an event designer or coordinator, this is typically included with all packages, so it is important to set the expectation with family and friends. Discuss with your venue as some require all items out the night of the event, while others will have more flexibility."

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