Planning your own wedding is a daunting task, but luckily, styling your own wedding is the fun part — and here’s how you can do it like a pro!
To style your wedding like the professionals do it, you need to think about the different elements you want to bring into your wedding. You also have to consider key items and styles that can make a wedding look come together, or make it clash completely.
Your wedding style will be determined by the things you like most, such as favorite colors for a wedding, decor elements and focal points. In this post I will discuss all of these wedding styling elements, as well as a few helpful tips and ideas for your wedding look.
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How to Style your Wedding like a Pro!
Wedding styling can be something that proves to be a challenge when you don’t know what you’re doing — so do enough research before you dive in.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned about wedding design is: At first, stay away from Pinterest.. (You can go there later once you know exactly what you want and what the design of your wedding will be. Pinterest is always nice when you need some extra inspiration and when you know what you’re looking for.) Randomly typing in “wedding inspiration” will definitely inspire you, but it will not help with decision making when choosing elements for your wedding style.
A great idea when discovering your wedding design, is to decide what you and your groom like, and use that as a guideline. You can also go bold, with new ideas that won’t let your wedding look like the last three you’ve been to…
Make sure your interests in wedding styles fit in with your Groom’s likes, though…
I saw an episode of a wedding show in which the bride and groom couldn’t decide on a color scheme. They decided on purple (which SHE loves) with camouflage patterns (because HE likes hunting and fishing). I don’t know, some people might like it. But it wasn’t easy on the eyes, to say the very least!
Wedding Style Pro Tip: Only use Pinterest once you know exactly what you want to search for
Styling your wedding with color
Your wedding colors will be the most important element of your wedding style. Colors bring out emotions and awe, it is important that you choose the right colors that will make your wedding look cohesive. In studying color theory which was part of my graphic design course, I learned about the different subconscious emotions that certain colors evoke.
The colors that spoke to me in particular, were whimsical colors, pastel shades and light, natural hues. All synonymous with weddings…
However, even though these colors work well with wedding styling, there are additional, bold colors that can work just as well with a wedding look.
I did a little experiment with colors which I have selected from Pantone, to show you an example of what I mean by working with contrasting colors…
Using a wedding theme for your style
A word of caution on wedding themes: literal wedding themes such as the travel theme, Warner Bros inspired weddings, Disney weddings, and the Las Vegas theme, among other, are definitely not in style anymore. Was it ever really? A theme can easily take away a “wedding” vibe, and turn into a 40th birthday bash or children’s party vibe!
However, with that being said, you can still hint at your favorite characters or themes in a subtle way, without being too literal about the entire thing. If you love Belle from Beauty and the Beast, a single red rose will be enough.
Wedding themes are moving towards a more modern look and feel, and the days of giving each guest table a topic that fits in with the theme, are over. So is using every decor element as an opportunity to showcase your obsession with [insert movie, series, book here].
Wedding Style Pro Tip: Rather opt for basic elements that will hint at your favorite theme, so as to not take away from the whimsical and romantic vibes that naturally come with a wedding.
Choose your wedding decor wisely
Your wedding decor is another deciding factor of how your wedding style will come together. It will also influence your wedding budget greatly, along with your choice of wedding flowers which I discuss below.
Before deciding on hiring any decor at all, first consider what decor the wedding venue might already have available. Many wedding venues include the use of their wedding decor (if they have any) as part of the wedding venue hire fee. Other wedding venues insist on you renting their decor, unless of course they don’t have the items available that you want to add in your wedding styling.
Keep in mind that you will most likely work in multiples for most wedding decor items, except for an easel here and a stand there… This means that your decor hire will have an impact on your wedding budget.
I have worked with many wedding budgets before, and none was as comprehensive in their wedding expenses sheets, as I had hoped them to be. So I have decided to create my own version of a functional wedding budget, to print out and place in your wedding binder, which you can also use to track and manage all of your wedding expenses (including a massive list of hidden costs at your wedding). You can get my wedding budget planner and tracker over here.
When choosing your wedding decor pieces, make sure you stick to your wedding style’s cohesiveness. It’s so easy to get shiny object syndrome when shopping for decor, and you can easily fall into the “oh-that’s-pretty” trap! When working with metallics, know the difference between copper, rose gold and bronze. Bronze has a brown undertone, where copper has more of an orange undertone. Rose gold lean more towards copper in color, but with a pinkish undertone. You’d be surprised how many rental companies get it wrong!
You also need to be aware of the size of your decor, so as to not overpower the entire wedding look and style. Always work in groups of 3, or odd numbers, especially when working with centerpieces. And make sure that the height of your table decor is either very tall (above head height when seated), or very low (below chin height when seated). Decor should never be in your guests’ faces when they are seated, because they will likely want to see each other.
Another final tip here, before I move on to flowers (yay!), is that your rental company should also be chosen carefully. Definitely compare prices of at least 3 different companies, and also take note of your items’ availability and how many they have in stock. Check for reviews on their Facebook page as well as on Google, and make sure how much from your wedding budget you have available to spend on wedding decor.
Incorporate flowers into your wedding style
Wedding flowers are seasonal, and so are their prices. The availability of flowers are also determined by demand for them at flower markets.
For instance, I live in South Africa, and most wedding styles here include the use of proteas, white roses, baby’s breath, and “fynbos” (loosely translated to ‘fine bush’, types of shrub that grow along the coast of Cape Town and surrounding coastal areas). For greenery, or “filler”, which florists use to fill the gaps between flowers in an arrangement, we use eucalyptus leaves, lemon leaf, gyp (baby’s breath) and honey bracelet. These are all popular globally.
The next thing I want you to be aware of when buying your wedding flowers, is the price between bunches and stems. Flowers can be bought directly from the flower market by stem, meaning by one flower or one stem each. When buying from a florist, the flowers are already bundled up in bunches, ready to be sold to the public. It is much cheaper to buy per stem from the flower market, than to buy a bunch from a florist. I won’t go into too much detail of how flowers are bought by suppliers, or put up for auction at a flower market and so on, but it is a very interesting topic to explore if you have the time!
Also, you need to make sure that the flowers you want to buy are in season, because out of season flowers are usually imported, and thus more expensive. So, even if your favorite flower is available at the market, it will likely be pricey. Do your research properly to see which flowers are in season, and when — also consider the popularity of certain flowers, as they go along with the wedding trends. These flowers will also be a little bit more pricey.
Finally, consider your flower type and color. If you have a hard time finding a pink rose, consider another pink flower that can possibly take its place — just make sure that the flower you choose is not one that will wilt easily when placed in your flower arrangement and can survive for a day or two.
Wedding Style Pro Tip: The bigger the flower, the less ‘stems’ you will need to fill up an arrangement, so you save money on flowers. Hydrangeas work wonders with this trick!
13 Rules for styling your own wedding
Though these are certainly not all the rules in the rule book of styling a wedding correctly, these are some of the most important ones.
1. Group items in odd numbers
Like I mentioned earlier, your items should be grouped in three or five — odd numbers work best! If you use items too excessively, you might overpower your entire wedding look and take away from other key elements (unless you’re doing a maximalist look).
2. Use the triangle method
The triangle method works well if you have one key element in your centerpiece, but you want to add complimentary elements just to complete the wedding look, especially when grouping items (see number one). When standing in front of your centerpiece, think of an imaginary triangle that is drawn between your decor items and style elements. The tallest item will be the tip of your triangle, followed by one or two lower items. Also, make sure that your items are at obvious varying heights, and not at close heights within each other.
3. Centerpiece height is very important
I also mentioned earlier that the height of your wedding decor should be taken into account when guests are seated. Guests should be able to see each other without any obstacles blocking their view. This means that your centerpieces should be either very tall, or very low. For tall items, the base thickness should also be considered — it should not be too wide so that it blocks the view completely.
4. Measure table settings with your thumb
If you have the tedious task of setting tables as well, make sure that the cutlery are all the same spacing away from the edge of the table. You can check this by placing the top half of your thumb on the edge of the table, and let the end of the cutlery touch the tip of your thumb. You’d be surprised how noticeable it is when cutlery are all at different positions on a table, especially long tables.
5. Limit your colors
When choosing your wedding colors, choose 3 but not more than 5 base colors to work with. Additionally, you can add a metallic color, or another element such as mirrors, pearl or iridescent items, to complete the palette and wedding style.
6. Choose contrasting colors carefully
I also mentioned earlier that you should be careful when choosing contrasting wedding colors. A good way to see different wedding color palettes, is by going to coolors.co and choosing from there.
7. Be unique
You probably don’t want your wedding to look like the next one (or the last one you went to), right? To achieve this, you need to add your own unique twist on your wedding style. Don’t just jump right onto Pinterest, because if you saw it on Pinterest, it has already been done before. You can also look for inspiration on Brides.com and ModWedding.
8. Keep lighting in mind
Another thing to consider is how dark or how bright your wedding venue will be in the evening. Pastel colors and light colors might not display their contrast as well as bold, brighter colors. You can also enhance your wedding style with plenty of candles and fairylights, in order to make your wedding more whimsical.
9. Consider costs when working with multiples
When discussing decor, I mentioned that you should check your wedding budget to see how much you actually have available to spend on your wedding decor. If you’re going to hire wedding decor, think about how many you will need to hire of each item.
10. A backdrop is always a good idea
If there is a bland wall somewhere in a high traffic area, or at your wedding ceremony, consider placing some sort of backdrop to pull focus from the wall. It works great for photos, and guest will love taking their photos there, too. The best backdrop inspiration can be found on Pinterest.
11. Stay cohesive with a motif
A motif is a certain element which you want to repeat here and there. For example, if you’re working with a certain flower, you can incorporate its colors into other wedding style items.
12. Create styled areas
Most brides just focus on one area when styling their wedding: the reception hall. But there are so many other areas that you can decorate to make your wedding look gorgeous. The cake and gift table, for example. You can also add a few things outside where guests will gather during cocktail hour. Don’t forget about the bathrooms, and of course, the ceremony area. Add some flowers to the bar area, too.
13. Keep the logistics in mind
Consider how your hired wedding items will get to the wedding venue, and who will take it. If there are large items, you might have to hire additional transport to make sure your items get to the venue — this will cost extra. Also keep in mind that your wedding decor needs to be set up. A day before the wedding if you’re going to do it yourself, and the morning of the wedding at the latest if someone else will set it up. You shouldn’t try to do it on the day of your wedding, because you’ll have a full schedule with makeup and photos, etc.
by Tanya Viljoen
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tanya Viljoen has been an active contributor and planner in the wedding industry since 2016. When not writing educational content for brides and wedding professionals, she can be found designing printables for her Etsy shop, TWCprintables. Keep up with her on Instagram.