Every bride has an ideal picture of what her wedding reception will look like, but getting that vision to become a reality can be a lot of work. And by the time you've got your wedding venue ideas straightened out and all the other big picture wedding reception logistics sorted, you might find yourself running low on creativity. But don't fret! We checked in with New York designer Barb Salzman, founder of Hatch Creative Studio, who tells her clients "inspiration can be found anywhere; you just have to know where to look." Salzman gave us some insider info on wedding reception decorations and other wedding reception ideas. Here are four fabulous (and easy!) summer-inspired table decor options to help you jump start your creative wedding reception.
FOR THE RETRO BRIDE
Rewind time and treat your guests to a vintage-inspired backyard barbecue dinner. Get started by rummaging through your parents' attic, becoming a regular at your local flea market, and visiting a yard sale or two. On the top of your “to-find” list? Old jars, clothespins, and fabrics.
Escort Cards: If there are two trees near the entrance of your yard, hang a clothesline between them and pin your escort cards along the line. No trees in your yard? Just use mini clothespins to attach the cards to a couple of posts planted in garden pots.
Tables: Opt for small round tables and cover them in your favorite flea market floral linen finds. Don't be afraid to mix patterns!
Centerpieces: Skip the vases. Instead, create an arrangement with multiple Mason jars of varied sizes. Fill each with a mix of fresh cut flowers arranged as if they were just handpicked from the garden. Wrap some of the jars in burlap (a coarse woven fabric usually made from jute or hemp) and then tie off with raffia. To complete your arrangements, include three galvanized buckets on each table -- fill one with straws, one with condiment packages, and one with sets of silverware rolled in decorative napkins and secured with burlap bands and raffia. Prop assorted old house numbers against one of the Mason jars to serve as your table numbers.
Menu: Serve food straight from the grill. A menu of barbecue chicken, hamburgers, and grilled corn is a perfect match for this outdoor soiree. Just make sure to have at least three grills going. That way, the food can be divided so there’s always enough ready for your hungry guests.
FOR THE ROMANTIC BRIDE
Go for a wedding reception theme that transports your guests to the eighteenth-century English countryside for a lovely afternoon tea. This idea will work well for brides hosting a cottage reception, as it’s synonymous with classic, Old English charm.
Escort Cards: Ivy topiaries work perfectly as an escort card display and as a unique wedding reception decoration. Pin your escort cards to tea bags and then simply arrange them within each topiary.
Tables: Make sure to use rectangular tables. Cover them in simple white cotton linens and surround each table with walnut folding chairs for a rustic touch.
Centerpieces: Go shopping for an assortment of classic teacups and saucers. They’ll become the focal point of your centerpieces. Cluster and stack a few of them together on each table. Use some of the teacups to hold garden plants and vines that will creep across the table linens. Mix in cloche jars in various sizes, covering some of the teacups with plants.
Entertainment: Skip the cocktail hour and trade it in for a little game time instead (a growing trend with brides!). To keep with the theme, set up croquet and bocce on the lawn for a little friendly competition.
FOR THE DIY BRIDE
There’s nothing more romantic than a summer picnic in the park. So why not use that as inspiration for your reception style? After the ceremony, ask your guests to join you for a cozy, intimate afternoon picnic. The best part? The relaxed vibe will ensure that all of your loved ones can sit back, soak in some sun, and enjoy your big day.
Escort Cards and Centerpieces: Double-duty decor is always a plus, especially when you're planning a wedding DIY-style. Stack crates full of potted garden herbs for your guests. These pots will not only serve as escort cards -- each one will have a small sign on it with your guest's name and seating assignment -- but when brought back to the “table,” it’ll also serve as the centerpiece. For an added bonus, they’ll also take them home as favors!
Tables: No table rentals needed here! Instead, arrange oversized baskets throughout the event space where you'd like guests to sit, and fill each with rolled fleeces in your wedding colors. Use at least two main colors and a pattern to really make them pop. When your guests arrive, they can set up their own "table" and then head over to the food stations to grab their meals.
Menu: Provide a recycled bag with your wedding logo for each guest as they arrive. Set up your food stations as though they were farmers’ market tables, and allow guests to select and bag what they'd like to carry back to their blankets. Remember to pick picnic-friendly menu items, like fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, and finger sandwiches. And keep in mind that all foods should be prepackaged in a way that makes it easy for a guest to grab and bag!
FOR THE KITSCHY BRIDE
Remember how much you loved going to summer camp as a kid? If you’re planning a summer wedding, use some of those fond childhood memories as the inspiration for your big day. Scout out local campgrounds where you could host your bash. The best part: The venue is sure to come with gorgeous scenery -- and who knows, you may just end the night swapping stories around a bonfire just like the old days.
Escort Cards: Line one wall near the entrance to the mess hall with canoe paddles painted in your wedding colors. Not only will it be a cute, kitschy décor item, but you can also use the paddles to display your seating assignments. Designate one paddle to each table and paint on it the table number and guests’ names.
Tables: Choosing a campground as your venue offers a prime spot for dining -- the mess hall, of course. For a playful twist on the reception tables, seat guests on benches around picnic tables.
Centerpieces: Keep your table arrangements simple and natural. Try mixing wheatgrass with fresh blooms to achieve a wildflower look. Then surround the centerpieces with rocks found within the campgrounds. Paint numbers on the largest ones you find to use as table markers so that your guests can easily locate their table.
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