How to Decorate Your Wedding Reception in Style

We spoke to wedding décor experts Backyard Weddings to find out how to completely transform your wedding


To help you transform any venue from simple/suitable to utterly stylish, we grabbed some A-list expertise courtesy of Backyard Weddings.


Delightful Décor

To style-up any outdoor space you have, don’t be afraid to use your imagination; vintage is most definitely ‘in’ so have a cart or old fashioned wheelbarrow filled with sweets and chocolate, decorate trees and bushes with homemade paper chains, and paint your own signs to direct the guests. Use candles, lanterns and oil torches for a romantic feel and you can put flowers in almost anything — we’ve recently seen milk urns, children’s tractors, wellies and an old trolley filled with pot plants.

Inside, make a feature of your guest book — people go blank when they see a blank page, so give them the chance to be creative. One couple we worked with printed out photos of themselves with family and friends along with lots of blank postcards. They invited the guests to choose a picture and then write a note on a postcard next to it. The photos and postcards were then stuck into an album making a wonderfully stylish, as well as sentimental, memento.

Whatever your vision for the décor, find out what you’re allowed to hang or drape in the venue and how much time you’ll have to do it before your ceremony. If you only have a two hour set-up period, and you want to get really stylish, you need to plan, plan and plan! Get as many people to help out as possible, have all your décor clearly labelled in boxes and delegate specific jobs.

Captivating Centre Pieces

There’s a current trend to overdress tables, which looks great but can also be impractical.

You can still get a stylish look without overcrowding; ditch the chair covers and tie your guest names to the chairs with a bunch of lavender; and overlay your crisp white linen with rustic hessian and sunflowers. Forget the huge centre pieces that stop everyone socialising by keeping it low and simple.

Guests really don’t want to be fighting with favours, place names and a menu on each place setting. A genuinely classy reception offers a simple but beautiful backdrop to talking and dining.

Enchanting Entertainment

Real style is about so much more than a DJ or a band; get creative and you’ll throw a wedding your guests will never forget. Inside, pianists are perfect for the canapé reception, followed by singing waiters and waitresses. If your budget allows, try to get a former X factor star to pretend to be a member of staff and then do a quick song.

For outside weddings, try Punch and Judy in the garden or a birds of prey display. You can even book a local archery school and encourage your guests to have a go. A DJ using a wind-up gramophone is great fun outside, and you can also go the extra mile with a dance instructor to teach your guests some moves to classic tunes. Guests will remember all these stylish features and touches, so spend your time and money on pure enjoyment and you’ll automatically create that ‘wow’ factor.

Brilliant Buffets

The buffet table should be the stage for gorgeous food — not an afterthought lurking along a wall in semi darkness, with ill-fitting cloths and uninteresting food styling. Go glam with a free standing square, so all sides can be accessed, and floor-length table covers that give the wedding stylists a blank canvas to dress the tables in your wedding colours. Four, six foot trestle tables, butted together in a square, will easily service 100 wedding guests.

Remember that you don’t have to stick with flat tables; build-up three levels and turn the highest into a dramatic focal point, with flowers, plants, cascading exotic fruits, indoor fountains, candles or fairy lights. It will draw even more people to it.

Finally, don’t forget staffing. You’ll need someone on hand all night to help with any queries, refill the buffet table, clear plates, glasses and spillages, and to keep the buffet as pristine and stylish as it was at the start of the evening.


Alluring Afters

Guests love desserts — and they can add a hefty portion of style as proceedings start to wind down. Give them lots of options to choose from; as well as your own spectacular wedding cake, mix up full-size or mini versions of old fashioned tea shop cakes, including Victoria sponge with jam and cream, lemon drizzle, carrot and chocolate fudge. Display them beautifully at different heights and employ a member of staff to serve and keep the table looking gorgeous. Mini versions of classic confections are incredibly popular, so add in mini scones with jam and cream, flapjacks, brownies and shortbread too. Delicious desserts will finish the night in utterly decadent style!