how to save on wedding decorLet’s face it: when you’re planning a wedding, you’re always searching for budget-friendly options. Maybe you’ve shortened your guest list, or shopped around for different venues, or cut back on the free cocktails (say it isn’t so!). With about half of your budget going to the reception, it’s only natural to look there for cost-cutting ideas.

As with most aspects of planning, the more you’re willing to DIY, the more you can save. But even if you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, there are inexpensive options for décor that are also beautiful—and don’t look cheap.

We’ve been collecting ideas for gorgeous décor on a budget and today we’re sharing some of our favorite simple ways to save on wedding décor.

Wreath only just begun

Trendy doesn’t have to mean expensive, and that’s certainly true of the wedding hoop and wreath trend. Whether displayed as a backdrop, a floral or greenery “chandelier” over the head table, or as beautiful tabletop arrangements, wedding wreaths can be economical and simple to make.

This floral hoop tutorial shared by contains artificial flowers, but you could also use less expensive real flowers or greenery. Start by painting the hoop or winding with ribbon or tulle for a base that matches your event.

We also love these other hoop ideas shared by Martha Stewart.

Use the proper tulles

If not in the wedding gown itself, it often makes an appearance in the seating, the tablescape, and even the backdrops. We’re talking about tulle, that sheer, netting-like fabric that started in wedding veils and is now found draped, tied, and gathered in every corner of the event (it’s our favorite for favors!).

Available in a range of colors, tulle can be embellished with lights, flowers, or greenery to match themes from romantic to rustic. Purchase by the bolt to create romantic backdrops or to economically cover the walls or ceiling of your space.

Waiting for a sign

There are many ways to share details with your guests on the big day, but we love the look of easels. Larger easels (like these from Ikea) can provide direction for guests, offer seating or menu details, or share wedding hashtag instructions, while smaller easels (pictured at right) are just perfect to display table numbers. Search for small easels in dollar stores or the dollar section of Target, and paint if necessary to match your colors.

Bonus tip: Need help getting your lettering to look just right? Here’s a tutorial showing how to write perfect letters on a chalkboard.

Love is in bloom

Flowers add so much beauty and color to your event, but at 10% of the average wedding budget, they can also add a lot of cost. Fortunately there are economical ways to add floral accents to your celebration.

Arrangements with fewer flowers can be dramatic at the same they’re budget-friendly. Single blooms floating in vases or glasses (see above) can be grouped for a simple, stunning focal point. Or line up a series of identical vases along the center of the table for a minimalist centerpiece.

Long-stemmed florals and greenery like gladiolus or sunflowers, tropical plants like monstera, and even ornamental grasses like love grass can be purchased for a few dollars per stem. The height and shapes can create show-stopping arrangements with only a few stems.

Paper roses

If you want an abundance of blooms (but don’t have the budget to match), have you considered paper flowers? You have to see it to believe the variety of paper flower tutorials for every imaginable bouquet and season.

Create blossoms that are larger-than-life (now there’s a backdrop idea!) with a palette beyond Mother Nature. Some of our favorite as well as the most realistic paper flowers can be easily created from coffee filters. Check out these tutorials in a range of complexity, for beginning crafters and master paper artists alike.

We used this tutorial to create the flowers below, starting with natural craft-colored filters. We used red and blue food color to tint the water and create a dusty rose hue.

Fairy lights and paper roses

The fairy best

If you opt for paper flowers on the tables, you may want to consider an alternative to candles. Fairy lights are an inexpensive and safe choice that’s also kid-friendly. Arrange them throughout the florals in centerpieces, or bunch together in vases for bright spots on the table. You can also drape with tulle on chair backs or along railings.

Bonus Tip: Before placing in a vase, cover the battery pack with a length of tulle in a shimmery color. Then wind the light strands around the tulle. These battery-powered lights will last 6 -8 hours.

Doing a favor

While wedding favors can add a pretty touch to the reception table, it’s not attractive for your event—or your budget—when wedding favors get left behind. There’s a reason that favors are high on many lists of items to lose when you have a tight budget. And since my favorite thing is helping brides create special favors, you’d probably be surprised to hear me agree. Favors are a waste of money if they are just going to get thrown away.

Make sure that if you choose to have wedding favors, they will not be left behind on the tables. Here are our tips for choosing wedding favors that aren’t a waste.

We’ve shared more ideas on Pinterest. Come see our special board about wedding decor on a budget.

We’d love to know all about your wedding planning. What are you doing to stay within budget? Do you have other ideas for inexpensive, gorgeous wedding decor? Please share in the comments!