Wedding Decor Inspiration for Your Reception

December 16, 2019

When you’re envisioning your wedding day, imagine how you’d like guests to feel as they join the party. Whether you’re looking for a bright and airy aesthetic, a moody and cozy evening, or a summery backyard filled with greenery, choosing the decor really solidifies how your party will feel.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while planning and gathering wedding decor inspiration for your reception.

Big windows keep it bright and airy

If you’re looking to keep your style bright, airy and simple, think natural. The venues that photograph best for a bright and airy look are the ones with as much natural light as possible. If you can, choose a venue that has window light and avoids too much coloured uplighting – uplighting can be beautiful but more of a moody, wintery touch than a bright, airy and summery look.

All white wedding reception decor at the Art Gallery of Hamilton with hanging greenery at the head table at the Art Gallery of Hamilton wedding

The Art Gallery of Hamilton is a great venue featuring a ton of natural light, and has a permanent installation of these floating ..balloon.. things.. which gives a dreamlike feel to the weddings in the space. The all-white decor and luscious greenery made this wedding feel bright and pretty without the extensive (and costly) use of artificial lighting. In the evening, the space transforms into a cozy, candlelit room that gives the feel of being in a beach house, thanks to the soft Hamilton sunset coming through the massive floor to ceiling window.

Let nature in with fresh fruit and fare

This autumn wedding celebrated the last of the summer harvest by adding freshly picked crab apples to their table decor. The touch added a pop of colour to the table, as well as provided great conversation for guests – especially those daring enough to have a taste for themselves. (It happened. I saw it.) Even if you’re going as simple and low-cost as possible with your decor, having a friend or family member visit a local farm and purchasing bulk produce can be a great way to DIY this upscale look – and honestly, it photographs like a dream.

Two crab apples sitting on a wedding reception centrepiece at the Royal Conservatory of Music wedding

Plums, lemons, apples, figs, clementines and grapes on the vine look stunning on the table and are a perfect way to celebrate the season of your wedding and support local farmers in your region. As a great compliment to the decor, send guests home with a preserve made from the same fruit you chose to adorn your table with. The cozy and thoughtful touch will keep guests remembering your special day as they sit around the table, enjoying their morning breakfast. This couple transformed the Royal Conservatory of Music into a cozy, autumnal space by bringing the outdoors, in.

Feel your way with great textures

A celebration is a sensory experience; we smell, touch, taste, feel, hear our way through the evening and years later, it’s the little things that bring memories rushing back. This couple used the touch of soft, organic linen for their napkins to create a truly stunning look on their table and give a lush upscale touch to the place settings. The matte green plates under the linen felt a little Magnolia and made you want to cozy up and stay for the night.

Wedding reception head table with linen napkin, a green plate, a menu card and eucalyptus

Think of things that make people feel good; go a little hygge and imagine a space where you want to stay and chat, drink wine and dance the night away. What is it that draws you in and keeps you staying late? Warmth, cheer and good company, that’s what.

Surround yourself with florals

A head table dripping in florals creates a stunning setting for a bride and groom as they sit down for their wedding feast. I’m all about simplicity, so I don’t think this is a must-have for a gorgeous wedding, but you can’t deny, there is an 18th century sense of regal excellence in a life-size bouquet made from roses, greens and the summer season’s best.

A flower arch made of pink roses sitting behind a wedding reception head table at the Hacienda Estates Kitchener Wedding

If I can offer my two cents: devoting your florists’ attention to the head table and keeping the guest tables simple and low-key goes a long way in creating stunning visuals for photo and video, versus cascading centrepieces for every guest and a scaled-back head table. I mean… everyone is looking at you, and keeping the centrepieces low on the guest tables means they can see each other, too. This couple used this stunning floral arch to complete their stunning look at Hacienda Estates in Kitchener and it was a joy to photograph.

Can’t do it all?

Listen, as a photographer, I can promise you that the number one consideration for great photos is a well-lit venue. No matter how you slice it, a naturally-lit venue (bonus points if we’re actually outside) is going to photograph better than a venue with no windows. I absolutely believe in bringing my own window (yes, we shoot off-camera flash!) and we work our hardest to create a setting that looks and feels as natural as possible when we are in a dark venue. But the best approach is always to get your bright and airy look by choosing a location that looks great because it’s lit great. There’s nothing like Mr. Golden Sun.

You don’t have to do it all. Pick one decor choice and do it well. The rest will flow.




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