Wedding Planning: photographs and decor

Right from the start of wedding planning, Ben and Amanda knew that great photographs were a priority to them. While considering various photographers, they (and I) spent hours online looking at wedding galleries. Invariably the best photographs seemed to be taken outdoors– you just can’t beat natural light. Since we were planning a February wedding, that concerned me. More than a few minutes outdoors didn’t seem likely– or comfortable. But photos taken indoors with a flash…well, you have to work a lot harder to make them look good.

Amanda and Ben found a photographer online with a nice portfolio and reasonable rates. Best of all, after editing she gives the CD of pictures to the couple to print on their own– a huge money savings.
Amanda met with her, got some questions answered, and ended up feeling like she would do a good job for them.

Then Amanda and I started brainstorming ways to make the indoor pictures better. It is a nice church, but there are lots of white walls and only a few narrow windows. The sanctuary has the natural focal point of the altar and a beautiful wooden front wall, but the reception hall is plain. And we didn’t want to pay huge bucks for decorations that we’d use once.

My first idea was to create a picture corner in the reception, maybe a pretty bench with silk plants and twinkle lights bunched around behind it, set between a couple of tall windows. One of my sisters had a nice garden bench which she loaned me quite happily (though my hubby did question the necessity of lugging an enormous bench to the church in the back of our minivan.) As you can see by the picture, it was totally ‘necessary’ and the corner turned out great.

The corner was spruced up even more when my daughter wove organza panels through the slats in the bench. We were fortunate that another couple had gotten married at our church not long before, and left quite a bit of the decor in boxes in the store room for others to use. The lovely pillar candles that we put all over the altar came from their wedding, as did many, many organza panels. They worked to romanticize the look of the bench, and to drape the back row of seats at the back of the church. We used more organza to wrap rope light in swooping s-curves around trays of food on the serving tables, and also wound them with ivy down the length of the two long tables in the reception hall.

I found several nice silk plants and trees at thrift stores, and family members gladly loaned us other items. My aunt had an archway that we softened with tulle and set over the cake table (see photo). My brother and his wife have an adorable little bistro table that they loaned us, and we ended up using that for the ‘head’ table at the reception. It gave Amanda and Ben a nice little spot to sit and chat after they had greeted everyone, yet they were still right in the center of the room, so we could all look at them! 🙂

Behind the table we set a tri-fold screen that my sister in law loaned us, which we flanked with silk trees. We strung it all with twinkle lights — a nice backdrop for the receiving line.

I blogged before about the candlesticks that I made from thrift store finds. Those candlesticks and pillar candles turned out to be some of my favorite bits of the decor. The bulky candles staggered at various heights were a fresh but still elegant twist on the usual wedding candelabra. And altogether they all cost probably $30.

I had the tiniest bit of hesitation asking to borrow things for the wedding decorations. But without fail, people were glad to loan their bits and pieces to the cause. In fact, several of my relatives mentioned the idea to other people in the church, who then approached me and offered things that ranged from silk trees to pretty serving dishes. It was definitely a joint effort. Altogether the effect was lovely and celebratory, while still staying within budget. I was well pleased, and the bride and groom were as well.

The above were taken by various people involved in the wedding, but we are hoping to have the professional pictures in the next week or two. I hope to share a few more pictures with you then.


  1. the glass candlesticks are my favorites hands down-i love the way they look! and i often see groups of candlesticks in decorator magazines and like how they look but think “wow-EXPENSIVE”. i am totally going to go to my favorite store (hello, Goodwill!) and get to work!! b/c clear glass candle sticks can go with ANYTHING and make it look so nice!! my mantle is about to get totally classed up 🙂

  2. The whole ceremony sounds lovely, Mary! I’m so happy for all of you.

  3. That was very nice of the other couple to leave their decorations behind!

  4. We would still love to see some of the professional wedding photos!


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