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Wedding Decorations Checklist
As much fun as decorating can be in and of itself, it actually serves a much more significant purpose: it contributes largely to setting the scene and mood of your guests, which, in turn, sets the mood and atmosphere of the wedding. Making your decorations count, therefore, is actually a highly complicated sociological study on one’s environment affecting their emotional, intellectual and even eschatological reaction (or that’s what you can tell anyone questioning your decorating fervour, anyway). Make the most of your planning time by following this simple guideline and gathering all of the pretty bits and bobs you need, to pull off a high-energy event that people will remember for years to come.
One Year to Go
• Sit down with your honey and have that essential, if slightly deflating talk – the wedding budget. Many wedding experts recommend spending 15% of your total budget on decorations. How much does that leave you with? Do you think it's enough? If not, decide what other aspects of the wedding you can scale back on.
• Once you've found your venue, start thinking about colour schemes. You may prefer to do this after you've found your bridesmaids' dresses, but many brides like to do it the other way around.
• Flip through bridal magazines, troll the Internet and grab snippets of inspiration from everywhere – ribbons, fabric off-cuts, flower buds (make sure you ask your neighbour's permission before snipping away at their rose bushes, though), the graffiti on the side of the train you saw during your commute home, the colour of the sofa in your favourite coffee shop, or practically anything else.
• Your flowers will most likely have a big role to play in decorating your soiree. Ask your florist for suggestions on decorations that will complement the flowers you've chosen – they'll probably be more than willing to help.
• Once you've got a broad idea of the style you're aiming for, you'll need to decide whether you're going to buy your decorations, rent them, make them yourself or do a combination of those options.
• If you've decided to rent your decorations, start looking around for vendors. Bridal expos are a good place to find local rental companies, but don't underestimate the power of asking friends for referrals – you never know which of the ladies in your Pilates class might know of a sweet old lady, who has a to-die-for collection of antiques that would just go darling with your vintage theme, and who would be thrilled to rent the items to you at a bargain price.
• If you're going to purchase your decorations, now is the time to hit the shops and size up your options. Home decor shops are a great place to start, as are party shops, and even op-shops.
• If you're going to do DIY decorations, it's time to hit the craft store and get cracking on your designs. Set up a schedule so that you have plenty of time to assemble each item. Putting the pieces together, while you're watching TV in the evening, is a great way to get them all done. You can also invite your bridesmaids over for a crafty evening in, if you want to get a big chunk of them out of the way.
• If you're doing your decorations yourself, this is the time that you should be finishing off the final touches, and focusing on other aspects of your wedding plans.
• If you've bought your decorations, do a quick stock take and make sure that you have absolutely everything. Store the decorations somewhere dry and safe, and get to work on other important items on your wedding to-do list.
• If you’re renting your decorations, give the vendors a call and make sure that everything is still A-okay. If they've forgotten about one of the items on your list, this gives them plenty of time to make sure that it will be in stock for your big day. It also gives you the chance to make other arrangements if the vendor has completely dropped the ball. After you've given them a mouthful on the phone, and had a stiff drink, of course.
• Grab a floor plan from your venue and draw up a rough guideline of where you'd like each decoration displayed.
• Stock up on lots of sticky tape, push pins, string, double-sided tape, staples, staplers, and any other stationery items you might need to attach your decorations at the venue. Make sure that you discuss this with the staff at your venue beforehand, though – you don't want them charging you the plasterer's repair bill because they had a "no push pin" policy.
• Make a clear plan with your bridal party, and other helpers, so that everyone knows what they need to do to set the decorations up on the day.
The Day Before
• Carefully pack everything in the car and run over the plan with your helpers again – make sure that they understand your floor plan and can read your handwritten notes.
The Big Day
• Do a quick check – or ask someone whose opinion you trust (your maid of honour or your mum perhaps) to check – once the decorations are up.
• Allow your breath to be taken away, as you walk into the reception room (or marquee, or open-air) and see your decorations adding to the whole magical atmosphere, while your guests mill about. Give yourself a pat on the back for making the venue come to life with your personal touches.
• Stop staring at your decorations and start gazing at your groom!