3 Tips on How to Maximize Your Wedding Decor Budget

With the average American wedding costing around $30k many brides struggle to bring their beautiful visions to life without taking on more debt (student loans are plenty, thanks). While most lavish weddings allot for a minimum of $5k for decor, that's just not possible on a more modest and realistic budget.

Here at Magnolia Lane I love helping couples achieve their dream visions within their budget and I thrive on the challenge of imitating upscale designs on a dime. Creating environments for around $1-2k can prove to be a challenge, but with creativity and savvy it can be done!

Today I want to share some of my tips on how you can stretch your wedding's decor budget to get more bang for your buck! Keep in mind that if you plan on doing it all yourself that there is always a trade off, and while you can create amazing things for very low cost you will most likely put in a lot of time and need to enlist the help of talented friends with various projects (know your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your friends/family!). Be prepared to take on the full time role of project manager, organizing timelines, and delegating projects while keeping your team on schedule ensuring all projects will be completed well before the wedding day to avoid extra stress.

I recently had the opportunity to help an adorable couple bring their vision of grand Gatsby style soirée to life on a $10k total budget for 150 guests. Now i know what you're thinking -- impossible right? Wrong. The catch... the bride had to enlist the help of about 8 family members/bridesmaids for almost a year of ongoing DIY projects, thrifting trips and craft nights. Here are my the top 3 tips for how getting big design impact on a budget is done.

TIP 1 - DIY:

Think about the most costly parts of your dream wedding and figure out how you can greatly cut that cost by doing a version of that vision yourself somehow - Our picks for this wedding: favors, photo booth entertainment, impact signage & escort cards:

Photo booths have been extremely popular the past few years but if you don't want to splurge for a professional service you can create your own with custom backdrops, a selfie stick and some photo props for a fraction of the price. (Check out the DIY coffee filter backdrop here!)


Custom Photo booth under for $100 and 45 hours of work;

8 ft coffee filter photo wall - about 50$ and 40 total hours, Gold floral frame - thrifted $10 and 2 hours, Photo Props + Gold Letter Balloons -$25, Selfie sticks and backdrop poles - borrowed from friends.

Our brides father was an extremely capable builder and skilled craftsman so we sketched him out some ideas for impact signage to add a sense of grandeur to the environment.

Four custom art deco signs made from plywood and moulding pieces: about $45 and 10 total hours. The bride and her friends then hand-lettered and painted quotes of brides choice after brides father made and painted the signs frames.

150 peacock escort cards with art deco hand-lettering: about $25 and 10-12 hours. One of the bridesmaids had a paper cutting machine so the bridesmaids cut their own fancy escort cards in the shape of peacocks and had guests names and table numbers hand-lettered by a relative.

150 DIY matchbox wedding favors to enhance the cigar favor bar: about $50 and 10 hours.

TIP 2 - Thrifting/Flea Markets/Up-cycling:

Thrift shops and flea markets are amazing places for collecting props for centerpieces and wedding decor. If you choose to go this route remember to stay flexible and be willing to compromise or spend endless amounts of time searching, you don't always find exactly what you are looking for...

In order to score some high end items within our budget we sought out thrift shops and flea markets to find decanters, costume pearls, a set of tall vases for centerpieces. We also were looking for a large gold frame for photo booth and faux flowers.

At the Pittsburgh Wedding Flea Market our bride scored tall vases (with faux floral arrangements still in them) and gold table number frames for around $150.
At various thrift shops and flea markets we budgeted another $300 to find about 15 decanters and $30 for costume pearls to build the bulk of our centerpieces for 15 tables for a total of around $500.

Bridesmaids bouquets/boutonnieres: about $30 and 3-4 hours. The brides mother was then able to use the flowers from the up-cycled centerpieces to create bouquets for the bridesmaids, boutonnières, decorate the gold frame for the photo booth prop and use the remaining bunches for accents on food/gift/cookie tables around the venue.

TIP 3 - Borrow items from friends/family or rent:

You might be surprised what you can find in an attic or basement (or even your own home): large decorative vases, old light fixtures, vintage frames, crates, china and linens. Take a look around and see if anything inspires you and start to shape your design around what you have available to you.

Our bride found a beautiful gold and crystal chandelier in her Aunts basement which we borrowed for the ceremony.

We also found this awesome gold accent table in in the brides home to use as her cake table

Instead of fresh flowers for the table centerpieces we opted to use dried reeds from the grooms backyard. These reeds were cut long, spray painted navy and gold and arranged with peacock feathers for that added Gatsby touch giving us centerpiece vase filler for around $40 (spray paint and peacock feathers).

We encourage splurging on rentals when it comes to table linens and chair covers; other statement pieces can also really enhance your environment and renting is great for items that are to costly or difficult to DIY. Here, we recommended the bride use rental table linens and chair covers. Colored up-lighting was also used to create reception ambiance and highlight her color scheme.

We also encourage you to splurge on things that are meaningful and important to you; this brides splurges: custom designed three tiered art deco cake by Ali Cleis and a commissioned canvas painting guest book by artist Thao Kim Trang.

I hope you find these tips helpful and inspiring. While it can be extremely stressful to put this kind of pressure on your family and friends by enlisting them to help you bring your dreams to life at a lower cost, looking back on it you guys can all enjoy in what you created together. That joy of all your hard work coming together in one beautiful day in celebration of the love and commitment you are about to share in. It brings a sense of closeness and teamwork to your group and gets you together more often over the course of wedding planning. All that matters is that it's worth it to you, to give yourself the wedding you have always dreamed of... even if it means you spend countless nights folding coffee filters for hours.

If you choose to enlist professional help with your design, decor and execution I hope you will consider me and my team at Magnolia Lane. While you may want to hire us to do everything for you, we are also happy to just guide you through the process and help shape your design decisions ensuring aesthetic perfection.In keeping with the budget here we came up with ideas and instructed the bride on how to achieve them, we are happy to help as much or as little as you need  so reach out today and see how we can help you bring your visions to life!

xo Jean