Wedding décor trends: Tips to turn your reception into an ‘experience’

Click to play video: 'Wedding trends for 2016'
Wedding trends for 2016
WATCH ABOVE: Wedluxe showcases some of the top wedding trends to look out for this year – Jan 6, 2016

With the peak time of wedding engagements (i.e. the holidays) over with, newly-engaged couples will be contending with the heart of wedding show season.

That’s when vendors eagerly vie for the business of brides-to-be who flock to exhibition halls to get a sense of what their big day could look like — that can include everything from flower walls (Kim and Kanye style) to extravagant (and sometimes immersive) floral displays.

Edmonton-based designer Cory Christopher tends to work with couples who have anywhere from $5,000 to $35,000 to spend on decor and florals.

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“If you are willing to do some things yourself, those costs can be decreased,” he said. “I recommend having a slightly smaller wedding so you can put more of the decor budget into the little details that add those personal design touches.”

Here’s what he and others have to say about top décor trends in 2016:

Make it personal

“The real trend with weddings right now is personalization,” said Elizabeth Clark, an editor at WedLuxe magazine.

She explained it’s becoming more important for couples to reflect who they are at their reception.

Edmonton-based designer Cory Christopher says couple can create an unforgettable experience for their guests by asking them a series of questions about themselves. Those questions range from what the couple likes to what they want their guests to experience.

He did a wedding for a couple this month whose biggest loves are winter and beer. Taking those tiny tidbits, he created a winter wonderland – complete with an outdoor cinema and firepit where people could gather around with blankets.

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Just how much would that wow-factor alone cost you? If you’re able to use furniture you already have or rent couches and tables, it’ll be significantly less.

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“You could design and create something on a budget of $750 to $1200 dependent on how many items you already have,” Christopher said.

He also used a touch of pine, cedar and evergreens in the décor to bring the fragrance of the outdoors inside.

Wedding decor should be all about creating a personalized experience, experts say. Cory Christopher

As for the beer, vintage beer bottles were used as vases on the tables. And the wedding favour was a bottle of beer that was specially brewed for the couple.

When he worked on another wedding for two bookworms who love to travel, Christopher took pages from an old Atlas and stitched them together to make a table runner. On some tables he had stacks of encyclopaedias, and globes on others.

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“I always find it an interesting question when people ask, ‘what’s trendy?’ Because I try with most of my weddings not to be trendy, I try to be reflective and authentic to what they’re creating.

And I find those weddings have so much meaning to the bride and groom.”

“And funny enough, in the end, they end up being trendy because we’ve done something different.”


There are a few simple things you can do to give your reception a more intimate feel. And Candles can be an easy and inexpensive way to create ambiance, Clark suggested.

This floral candle display was featured at the WedLuxe show in Toronto over the weekend. Global News

Picking the right venue is also key.

READ MORE: Wedding Planning 101: What to do as soon as you get engaged

Christopher has noticed more couples are moving away from the traditional hotel ballroom and into unique spaces like old cabins or open fields.

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They’ve often been scrapping the idea of traditional table design, as well.

Circles are out, rectangles are in when it comes to wedding reception table arrangements. Edmonton-based wedding planner Jennifer Bergman

“Instead of round tables,” Christopher said, “we’re seeing couples opt for longer rectangular tables that are very communal in style. Food is shared in a family-style manner.”

“These are creating a much more cozy experience for the couple as well as the guests.”

If your venue already has chairs and linens that work with your theme, it can save you some money.

More couples are also choosing interactive food stations.

Food station by Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants. WedLuxe

“So whether it’s a raw seafood bar or an oyster bar or a fresh gnocchi bar, that’s becoming really big,” said Clark. “It allows your guests to mingle and it’s not that formal environment that people are used to.”

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Pinterest is a bride-to-be’s best friend. It’s where the wedding planning often starts long before the question is even popped.

Christopher admits it’s an amazing tool for collecting images (You can check out his Pinterest page here).

“What you’ll notice is a lot of brides go through phases. They’ll have their vintage phase, suddenly it’s modern, it’s country and rustic, it’s in between. It’s purple, grey, green.”

If that sounds anything like your Pinteresting experience, Christopher recommends keeping two boards: one “brainstorm” wedding board and a separate “wedding day” board. Reserve the latter solely for ideas you decide you can’t live without, and slowly funnel your most coveted pins there.

“What they will find is they’ll truly create their own experience, because often times Pinterest can be so overwhelming.”

When it comes to bringing that inspiration to life, Christopher says brides and grooms would be surprised how much they can do themselves.

“I think what they need to do is understand their strengths and know when to hire professionals.”

Translation: don’t get in over your head if you (or your bridesmaids) aren’t especially crafty. Nobody wants a wedding day Pinterest fail.

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