Weddings - A Lot of a Little Looks Lovely

By Caroline Wolfe Papocchia on December 24th, 2009

The invitations. The dress. The catering hall. The food and beverage. The band. The photographer. The limousine. The flowers. The cake!

It’s no secret that a wedding can be the most expensive event in one’s lifetime. The sheer cost of hosting a party with drinks, dinner, and entertainment for a number of guests, coupled with the typical unbridled bridal expenses of attire, accoutrements, and flowers, can snowball quickly out of control. On top of that, the task of whittling down the expenses is extremely difficult, as every element seems more essential than the last.

Décor is often a large chunk of a wedding budget, particularly at the reception. If the ceremony is in a beautiful setting like a church, a temple, or simply outdoors, the need for décor can be minimized – but even in the grandest dining hall, most brides and grooms will not settle for the everyday, empty table.

What is a good way to trim your décor budget without losing a sense of celebration? Think abundance. While it may seem counter-intuitive, some of the most impactful décor installations have been created from just using lots and lots of an inexpensive item or material. Somehow, en masse, the smallest things can suddenly become, well, larger than life.

The easiest way to achieve a big impact using an abundance of inexpensive supplies is with candles. Candles are romantic and come in an almost endless variety of sizes, colors, and scents. However, the simplest version of a plain white tea light, taper, or pillar candle may be all you need. As these images show, an abundance of candles in the center of a table or along a mantle or buffet can be exquisite.

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In the right venue, candles can even be placed in unexpected areas. At a recent wedding I planned, the décor budget was extremely tight but the venue had concrete floors and an abundance of white pillar candles in-house. We placed the candles in clusters directly on the floor and all over the altar, and the result was spectacular.

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If the reception hall does not allow candles, paper lanterns and string lights look fabulous when clustered together. Smaller lanterns illuminated with battery-powered LEDs can be piled in the center of a table for a boisterous, sculptural centerpiece, and additional lanterns can be hung from the ceiling or around the space. Lanterns and string lights come in a seemingly endless array of colors and styles, suitable for many types of events.

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Another inexpensive décor item that can have a huge impact en masse is glitter. Not only is glitter sparkly and festive, it can be purchased in large quantities for not very much money. Imagine pouring a large spiral of white iridescent or silver glitter in the center of a round table and placing tiny tea lights and short pillars in between the swirls – voila, for basically nothing, you have created a beautiful centerpiece installation.

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Paper confetti also works perfectly in large applications – inexpensive and colorful, this party staple can be used to fill glass cylinders or jars of different sizes and arranged in the center of the table. Even better, a narrower vase can be nestled inside the larger vase, and filled with enough water to hold a few buds or a bunch of flowers. This look would be perfect for a light-hearted, fun-filled reception.

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Candles, glitter, and confetti are the mere tip of the iceberg for decorating with inexpensive abundance. In the hands of someone with a keen eye and a little imagination, a lot of almost anything can look amazing.

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