Nature provides such wonderful motifs for weddings. A fern frond can be a lovely symbol for an invitation, the shades of a favorite bloom can inform the color palette, and almost any natural detail -- berries, flowers, even the swirling pattern of wood grain -- can decorate a cake. There are always fresh flowers at weddings, of course, but blossoms are surprising (and timeless) when they're made of paper or fabric. And they are perfectly paired with little birds, longstanding symbols of love.
For big-impact table decor on the cheap, consider carnations, which come in so many colors. Long used as inexpensive filler, the familiar flowers have a chic style all their own when clustered in modern, minimalist vases, which offset their ruffled softness. Plus they're readily available throughout the year. Arrange them by hue (we like this spectrum of fiery orange to pale yellow) for an array of color that really makes the gradient.
Wedding favors allow guests to take a little piece of the celebration home. Though often presented at place settings or displayed on a table by the door, favors can be offered in another way that is both impressive and economical: grouped together as centerpieces. Even if you spend a bit more on the favors themselves, you will most likely save money overall by forgoing traditional floral arrangements.
Boxes topped with flowers make a beautiful centerpiece; a table number is embroidered onto ribbon encircling the largest box. Inside, the stems sit in water bottles stabilized by crumpled paper. Favor boxes, which contain nonpareils, double as place cards.
Let guests' well-wishes take flight on paper doves. These birds are traditional symbols of love, happiness, and harmony. Anchor bare branches (these are manzanita) in a large, sturdy vessel filled with stones or gravel. Use wire to secure nests, available from craft stores, to branches. Set dove cards -- available precut -- in a dish. Place pencils alongside your tree with a sign asking guests to inscribe a card and to place it in a nest.
A table arrangement of grains celebrates the bounty of fall. In addition to wheat, which symbolizes a fruitful life, this textured display includes other dried grasses (available at crafts stores), so it can be made weeks ahead. The final flourish? A luxurious satin bow.
For a twist on the fancy chandelier, hang these fluffy pom-poms instead. Each one is made up of several separately made rosettes; just combine two or three, sew or tie together at the center with white pipe cleaner, and fluff into pom-poms. Suspended almost invisibly from the ceiling by monofilament, these soft orbs recall clouds sailing across a blue sky; they also echo in color and shape the white peonies in the centerpieces.
Doilies and silk ribbons combine to make graceful garlands to be draped over pews at the wedding ceremony or festooned along reception tables. From top: Lacy circles are laid flat and threaded directly onto ribbon, then slid close to overlap. Accordion folds add a cheerful cadence to paper trim. Folded pairs of heart-shaped doilies create a three-dimensional effect. Round doilies are gathered into frilly puffs, then wired to a ribbon. A scalloped edge comes from folding circular doilies in half, then pressing them close as they're strung together.
Have wine bottles do double-duty as table numbers. Cover-weight paper printed with large, graphic numerals can be adhered over existing labels with double-sided tape for a clean, contemporary look. It's a clever touch that will have guests drinking to your good fortune -- and your good taste. Cotton-linen table runner with black-and-white floral pattern from Anthropologie.
Bold accents pop against white table linens, chairs, and plates. The inspiration for this table setting -- a beautiful sheet of wrapping paper -- is showcased at the center; we wrapped its edges with cotton ribbon (secured with double-sided tape) to give it a finished look.
Create your own photo booth with an oversize canvas backdrop. Download this design and take it to a copy center that can print the large file (we went to FedEx Office). Then hang it up at your reception and have your photographer or friends capture candid moments that you can add to your guest book.
A wreath display for any season: Using our template, trace leaf shapes onto sturdy colored paper, and cut out. Trim edges with decorative paper edgers. Glue 22-gauge cloth-wrapped floral wire to the back of each leaf, and insert into a 14-inch-diameter boxwood wreath, in alphabetical order. A 14-inch wreath will hold about 60 cards. Use multiple wreaths or a larger one for more guests. Hang with ribbon.
We used paper and ribbon in coordinating colors to decorate this vase, which is filled with sweetpeas. For the bow, we chose matching ribbon in two widths: 100 millimeters (about 4 inches) and 25 millimeters (about 1 inch). Wrap a 5-inch-tall glass-cylinder vase with colored paper in the same shade as the ribbons, and secure with double-stick tape. Make the bow by folding the ends of a long piece of the wide ribbon in to meet in the middle. Cinch in the middle, and secure by wrapping the narrow ribbon around it so the ends meet at the back, gluing them in place. Attach the bow to the vase with double-stick tape.
When printed on translucent vellum in soothing colors, lace appears even dreamier and more ethereal than it already is. To make square luminarias beautiful enough to be centerpieces, we simply magnified the lace pattern. Placed in a row, with no extra flourishes, the presentation positively glows with sophistication.
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