Choosing wedding decor is a daunting but exciting task! You’ve likely been thinking about how you want your wedding to look for a while now. You have the freedom to create the wedding of your dreams and get creative with your decor, but what exactly do you need?
Every Decoration You Need for Your Wedding: From the Ceremony to Reception
We created the ultimate wedding decor checklist with everything you need for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. This checklist isn’t a set of rules, it’s a guideline to help you stay organized as you check items off.
Wedding Ceremony Decor Checklist
The focus of the wedding ceremony will be on you and your spouse saying your vows. Make the decor just as beautiful as the sentiment behind the ceremony. Create a romantic backdrop to the ceremony with a few important decor touches. Just remember, the ceremony space is where guests will spend the least amount of time, so this might be a good place to save some money.
Pro tip: you can use some of your reception decor in your ceremony space and just have staff or friends move it during cocktail hour.
1) Wedding Arch or Other Wedding Altar Decor
Your wedding arch will be the backdrop of your wedding photos and the most prominent decoration in your ceremony. You have so many options: whether you choose to go with an arch that’s sleek and geometric, handmade from rustic wood, or covered in flowers. Don’t forget you may also need other decor for your altar like additional flower arrangements or religious details.
2) Wedding Aisle Runner
An aisle runner is a piece of fabric that runs along the entire length of the aisle. This isn’t 100% necessary. You could choose to skip the runner or you could sub it with a creative alternative like vintage rugs, flower petal designs, or something on theme like fall leaves or palm fronds.
3) Chairs & Chair Sashes
There’s a good chance your venue provides chairs for the ceremony. In that case, you might just want to dress them up with sashes or florals. If the venue is more basic, you may need to rent chairs. If your wedding is small you can get creative with vintage arm chairs or thrifted wooden dining chairs. Just make sure there’s space for everyone to sit down.
4) Wedding Welcome Sign
A welcome sign lets everyone know that they’re in the right place for the ceremony. It also makes everyone feel warm and welcomed to your wedding. Since you won’t be able to greet your guests when they first arrive (you’ll be busy getting ready for the ceremony) a welcome sign is a nice touch of hospitality.
5) Order of Events Sign
All the guests need to know what the plan is for the wedding day. An order of events sign is the best way for everyone to know where to be and when. This tells everyone the timeline from ceremony start to cocktail hour to dinner to reception.
6) Printed Wedding Programs or Program Display Sign
A program tells everyone what to expect during the ceremony. Printed programs are especially helpful if you’re having a religious ceremony with different verses, prayers, and songs for guests to follow along with. If you have a simple ceremony planned, you could have the program displayed as a sign at the entrance to the ceremony space.
7) Flowers or Other Decor Details
You can put flowers just about anywhere in your ceremony. If you’re really big on florals, consult your florist about your options. They can create flower arrangements to go down the aisle, along the arch, on the altar and more. If you’re not a big flower fan, you can use tulle, candles, colorful vases, or your favorite vintage finds.
Decor to Consider for the Wedding Cocktail Hour
Cocktail hour, as the name suggests, is only about an hour of time for guests to mingle. You won’t need a ton of flower arrangements or filler decor for this space. Most of your cocktail hour decor will be practical items to keep guests occupied and organized between the ceremony and the reception. Below are some simple cocktail hour decor options.
1) Wedding Guest Book
A guest book is a great keepsake from the wedding day. This book gives all the guests the opportunity to sign their names and write well wishes to the new couple. You can get creative with guest book alternatives like a piece of home decor that everyone signs or an instant camera for guests to take polaroids.
2) Wedding Lawn Games for the Guests
Guests will love to play some lawn games while they’re relaxing before the reception. This is especially great if there’s a great outdoor space at your venue or there’s beautiful weather on your wedding day.
3) Wedding Signature Drink
A signature drink adds a little spice to your typical wedding bar. Choose your favorite drink or have a drink crafted by a bartender to express your personality. Often, couples have 2 drinks made, one for the bride and one for the groom. You can have a cute custom sign made to show guests what your signature drinks are.
4) Wedding Bar Menu
If you aren’t having a full bar at your wedding, you’ll need a printed menu. You can make it into a cute sign as a part of your decor! Making a stylish wedding bar menu is easy with the help of a stationary designer and/or your local print shop.
5) Cocktail Tables
If you’re serving a lot of hot food you may want to have a lot of tables and chairs available to your guests. If cocktail hour will mostly be drinks, high top tables for people to stand at will work just fine.
6) (Personalized) Wedding Napkins
Cocktail napkins are necessary for cocktail hour of course. Your venue may provide simple white napkins and you won’t have to worry about this one. However, we’ve seen some adorable personalized wedding napkins out there. Ordering custom napkins is an affordable way to add an extra special touch to cocktail hour.
7) Table for Cards and Gifts
Set up a table for guests to drop their wedding gifts. Since most of your guests will be bringing a card instead of a bulky gift, a card box is a worthwhile purchase. There are tons of cute card boxes to choose from that will complement any wedding theme.
Wedding Reception Decor Checklist: Centerpieces to Backdrops
Reception decor is arguably the most important part of your wedding budget. Guests will be spending the most time in the reception area. Give them something pretty to look at during dinner, speeches, and dancing by choosing creative reception decor!
1) Wedding Seating Chart + Escort Cards
A seating chart, escort cards, and/or place cards are often necessary to help guests find their seats at the reception. Guest seating arrangements for the reception are usually pretty specific. There are tons of creative ways to organize your seating chart so that it matches your wedding aesthetic, just make sure it’s easy for guests to read and understand.
2) Wedding Centerpieces + Table Numbers
The reception centerpieces are a great place to be thoughtful and creative. They’re what guests will be looking at the longest and the closest. You’ll also want to make sure your tables are numbered in a way that fits your decor but is also clear and readable.
3) Special Tables: Sweetheart Table or Bridal Party Table
You may want to have special tables for the bridal party or just for you and your spouse. A sweetheart table is just for the bride and groom and you can be a little “extra” about your own table decor.
4) Other Wedding Table Decor (Wedding Table Runners, Linens, Chair Covers, etc.)
Centerpieces are the most important part of your table decor but there are tons of other things to consider. Your linens are a big one. You’ll need to pick out table cloths that will be a great background for the rest of your table decor. Then, you can accent your tables with table runners, chair covers or sashes, table confetti, and more.
5) Wedding Backdrop or Photo Booth for Guest Pictures
A wedding backdrop is a great way to make sure guests can get perfect photos. Try to find a spot with great lighting for your fun backdrop. Or, go all out by renting a photo booth with props and a professional camera so memories are easy to capture.
6) Wedding Dinnerware (Plate, Chargers, Napkins, Silverware, Glasses, etc.)
Plates, napkins, silverware, and glasses are necessities but they’re also part of your decor! Chargers are specifically made to dress up your place settings but you can also get creative with fun colored glasses, color-coordinated napkins, and more.
7) Memorial Table (If Desired)
Unfortunately, we can’t make sure every person we’ve ever loved makes it to the wedding. If someone close to you passed away before your big day, you have the option of honoring them in some way. A memorial table can be a meaningful addition to your decor with photos of your loved ones and other mementos to make it feel like they’re with you in spirit.
8) Wedding Cake and Topper
Your cake doubles as dessert and decor. Order a cake that suits your style and matches your wedding aesthetic. A wedding cake topper is a great way to add personalization to your cake. Your topper can be your names, your likeness, or a meaningful quote.
9) Guest Wedding Dessert Table
A dessert table is a great way to diversify the options for after dinner. Cake can be expensive for large weddings and it’s easier to suit everyone’s tastes by offering a range of cookies, donuts, and pastries. You can decorate the table with different tiered dishes, greenery, and platters.
10) Wedding Guest Favors (If Applicable)
Favors will let all your guests know how much you appreciate them. Try not to pick anything that will end up in the trash soon after the wedding. Something useful and meaningful that matches your wedding decor is the best option. If you feel wasteful about these little gifts try a favor alternative like a donation to charity, an exit snack bar, or photo booth photos.
11) Wedding Send Off Items (Sparklers, Confetti, Light Up Items, etc.)
Your sendoff is another wedding event to consider. Traditionally, the guests throw rice at the couple as they exit their wedding and start their life as a married couple. Now, there are tons of options to choose from like confetti, bubbles, light up sticks, flower petals, and more.
Pro tip: Sparkler exits make for especially fun photos but make sure your venue allows open flames!
Make Your Own Wedding Ceremony and Reception Decor Checklist
Our wedding decor checklist covers nearly everything you need for a stunning wedding. Create your own wedding checklist by using our list as your base. Then, add some specific items you love to make your wedding your own.
Get some inspiration for your wedding checklist with our guide to the latest wedding trends and ideas!