Wedding Decor Checklist and Must Haves

by Ryan Hart | Updated on April 2, 2024 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

A wedding decor checklist is a comprehensive list of all the items you need to decorate your wedding. It includes everything from the flowers and centerpieces to the lighting and signage.

By using a checklist, you can ensure that you don’t forget any important details and that everything is in place on your big day.

When creating your wedding decor checklist, start by thinking about the overall theme and style of your wedding. This will help you determine what type of decor you need and what items to include on your list.

Whether you’re going for a rustic, bohemian, or modern look, there are certain elements that are essential to any wedding decor checklist.

​​Wedding planner reviewing a checklist

Wedding Decoration Checklist

Here’s a complete decor checklist to help you make sure you haven’t missed anything:

Before the Wedding:

  • Choose a theme or color scheme for the wedding decor.
  • Create a budget for wedding decorations.
  • Hire a wedding decorator or DIY the decor.
  • Decide on the overall style (e.g., rustic, modern, vintage).
  • Take measurements and photos of the venue.
  • Obtain any necessary permits for decor installations.
  • Gather inspiration from magazines, Pinterest, or other sources.

Venue Decorations:

  • Ceremony arch or backdrop.
  • Aisle markers or runners.
  • Pew or chair decorations.
  • Reserved signs for front row chairs.
  • Altar or chuppah decor.
  • Floral arrangements or bouquets.
  • Candles or lanterns.
  • Welcome sign or board.
  • Guest book table decor.

Reception Decorations:

  • Table centerpieces.
  • Table linens and chair covers.
  • Place cards or escort card display.
  • Menu cards or programs.
  • Tableware (plates, cutlery, glassware).
  • Napkin rings or holders.
  • Charger plates or placemats.
  • Table numbers or names.

Lighting and Ambiance:

  • String lights or fairy lights.
  • Chandeliers or hanging decor.
  • Uplighting or spotlights.
  • Candles (votives, pillar, taper).
  • Lanterns or candelabras.
  • LED candles for safety.
  • Dance floor lighting.

Ceiling and Wall Decor:

  • Drapery or fabric swags.
  • Hanging installations (chandeliers, floral).
  • Banners or garlands.
  • Paper lanterns or pom-poms.
  • Wall decals or monograms.
  • Mirrors or photo displays.

Outdoor Decor:

  • Tent or canopy decor.
  • Lawn games or activities.
  • Floral arrangements for outdoor areas.
  • Seating and lounge areas.
  • Awnings or umbrellas for shade.
  • Bug repellent options.

Miscellaneous Decor:

  • Cake table decorations.
  • Dessert table decor.
  • Gift table and card box.
  • Photo booth or backdrop.
  • Chair sashes or bows.
  • Bridal and groom’s table decor.
  • Restroom decorations (if applicable).
  • Microphone and speakers.

Other Considerations:

  • Set up a timeline for decorating the venue.
  • Assign helpers or a day-of coordinator.
  • Arrange for transportation of decor items.
  • Confirm delivery times with vendors.
  • Pack an emergency decor kit (tape, scissors, etc.).
  • Plan for the breakdown and removal of decor.

Designing the Reception Decor

The reception is where your guests will spend the majority of their time, so it’s important to create a welcoming and visually appealing atmosphere. When designing your reception decor, consider the following elements:

Tables and Chairs

Tables and chairs are the foundation of your reception decor. Choose tables and chairs that fit the style and theme of your wedding. Round tables are great for creating an intimate and cozy atmosphere, while long rectangular tables are perfect for a more formal setting. Don’t forget to consider the color and texture of your linens and chair covers.

Lighting

Lighting can completely transform the look and feel of your reception space. Use a combination of ambient lighting, such as chandeliers or string lights, and accent lighting, such as spotlights or uplights, to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. You can also use lighting to highlight specific areas of your reception, such as the dance floor or lounge area.

Dance Floor

The dance floor is where your guests will let loose and have fun, so make sure it’s a space they’ll want to spend time in. Choose a dance floor that fits the style of your wedding and is large enough to accommodate all of your guests. You can also add special touches, such as a monogram or pattern, to make your dance floor stand out.

Lounge Area

A lounge area is a great way to create a cozy and intimate space for your guests to relax and socialize. Use comfortable seating, such as sofas or armchairs, and add accent pillows and throws to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. You can also add small tables and lamps to create a more intimate setting.

Table Settings and Arrangements

When it comes to your wedding reception, table settings and arrangements are an essential part of the décor. Not only do they set the tone for the event, but they also provide a functional purpose for guests to enjoy their meal and drinks comfortably. Here are some key elements to consider when planning your table settings and arrangements:

Table Numbers and Place Cards

Table numbers and place cards are a great way to ensure that guests can easily find their seats. You can get creative with the design of these items to match your wedding theme. For example, you can use vintage picture frames or wooden blocks for table numbers, and hand-calligraphed place cards for a more elegant touch.

Linens and Tablecloths

Linens and tablecloths can add color and texture to your table settings. Consider using different colors and fabrics to create a unique look. You can also add overlays or runners to add depth and dimension to your tables.

Place Settings

Each place setting should consist of a dinner plate, silverware, glassware, and a charger. The charger is a decorative element that goes underneath the dinner plate and adds an extra layer of elegance to the table. You can also add a wine glass and a water glass to complete the place setting.

Centerpieces

Centerpieces are the focal point of your table décor. They can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, depending on your wedding theme and budget. You can use flowers, candles, or other decorative elements to create a stunning centerpiece. Just make sure that the centerpiece is not too tall, as you don’t want it to obstruct guests' views or conversation.

Signage and Stationery

Signage and stationery are essential elements of your wedding decor checklist. They help set the tone and communicate important information to your guests. Here are some items to consider:

  • Welcome sign: A welcome sign is a great way to greet your guests as they arrive at your wedding. It can be placed near the entrance or at the ceremony site. You can choose a pre-made sign or have one custom-made with your names and wedding date.
  • Menu sign: A menu sign can be placed near the food stations or at each table. It helps your guests know what food options are available and can also add to the overall decor of your wedding.
  • Seating chart: A seating chart is a must-have for any wedding. It helps your guests know where they are sitting and can also help avoid confusion and chaos during the reception. You can choose a pre-made seating chart or have one custom-made to match your wedding theme.
  • Menu cards: Menu cards can be placed at each table setting or at the food stations. They provide more detailed information about the food options and can also add to the overall decor of your wedding.
  • Programs: Programs are a great way to provide information about your wedding ceremony. They can include the order of events, the names of the wedding party, and any special readings or songs. You can choose a pre-made program or have one custom-made to match your wedding theme.
  • Escort card display: An escort card display helps your guests know where they are sitting during the reception. It can be a simple table with cards or a more elaborate display that matches your wedding theme.

Wedding Cake and Dessert Table

The wedding cake and dessert table are an essential part of your wedding decor. They not only serve as a delicious treat for your guests but also add to the overall aesthetic of your wedding. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your wedding cake and dessert table:

Wedding Cake

The wedding cake is the centerpiece of your dessert table. When choosing your wedding cake, keep in mind the following:

  • Cake Topper: Choose a cake topper that complements your wedding theme. You can opt for a traditional bride and groom topper or a more modern topper that reflects your personality.
  • Wedding Cake Stand: The wedding cake stand should be sturdy enough to hold the weight of your cake. You can choose a stand that matches your wedding theme or opt for a simple white stand that will let your cake take center stage.

Dessert Table

The dessert table is an opportunity to showcase your favorite desserts. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your dessert table:

  • Dessert Display: Display your desserts on a variety of stands and platters to add visual interest to your dessert table. You can also include decorative elements such as flowers and candles.
  • Dessert Labels: Label each dessert to make it easy for your guests to identify what they are eating. You can also include a brief description of each dessert.

Additional Decor Elements

In addition to the essential decor elements, there are some additional items that can enhance the overall look and feel of your wedding. Here are some ideas:

Napkins

Napkins may seem like a small detail, but they can make a big impact on your table settings. Consider using cloth napkins in a color that complements your overall color scheme. You can also fold them in a creative way or add a personalized touch, such as a monogram or a special message.

Candles

Candles can create a warm and romantic atmosphere at your wedding. Consider using different sizes and shapes of candles to add dimension to your decor. You can also place them in decorative holders or lanterns for added style.

Lanterns

Lanterns can add a charming touch to your wedding decor. You can hang them from trees or place them on tables for a cozy and intimate feel. Consider using lanterns in different sizes and colors to create a visually interesting display.

Fabric

Fabric can be used in many ways to enhance your wedding decor. You can drape it over tables, chairs, or even the ceiling to create a soft and elegant look. You can also use it as a backdrop for your ceremony or photo booth.

Backdrop

A backdrop can create a stunning focal point at your wedding. Consider using a floral or greenery wall, a personalized banner, or a unique art installation as your backdrop. You can also use it as a photo booth backdrop for guests to take pictures in front of.

Card Box

A card box is a practical and stylish way to collect cards and gifts from your guests. You can choose a box that matches your overall decor or opt for something more unique, such as a vintage suitcase or a birdcage.

Cocktail Napkins

Cocktail napkins can add a fun and playful touch to your cocktail hour decor. Consider using napkins with a personalized message or a unique design that reflects your theme.

Guest Book Table

Your guest book table is a great opportunity to showcase your style and personality. Consider using a unique tablecloth, adding a personalized sign, or including a special item that represents you as a couple.

Photo Booth

A photo booth is a fun way to entertain your guests and create lasting memories. Consider using props that match your theme, such as hats, glasses, or signs. You can also create a custom backdrop or use a fun patterned fabric as the backdrop.

Hashtag

A wedding hashtag is a great way to collect and share photos from your big day. Consider creating a unique hashtag that reflects your personalities or using a sign to encourage guests to use the hashtag when posting pictures on social media.

Budgeting for Your Wedding Decor

When it comes to planning your wedding decor, budgeting is an essential step to ensure that you don’t overspend. The last thing you want is to start your married life with a pile of debt! Here are some tips to help you budget for your wedding decor.

Determine Your Total Budget

Before you start planning your wedding decor, you need to determine your total budget. This will help you decide how much you can allocate for each aspect of your wedding, including the decor. Make sure to include all the relevant expenses, such as the venue, catering, entertainment, and transportation.

Create a Wedding Decor Checklist

Once you have determined your total budget, it’s time to create a wedding decor checklist. This checklist should include all the decor items you need, such as centerpieces, table linens, lighting, and floral arrangements. Use a wedding planning checklist to ensure that you don’t forget anything.

Prioritize Your Decor Items

Now that you have a wedding decor checklist, it’s time to prioritize your decor items. Decide which items are essential and which ones you can do without. For example, you may want to splurge on a stunning floral arch for your ceremony, but you can save money by using simple centerpieces for your reception tables.

Research Prices and Vendors

Once you have prioritized your decor items, it’s time to research prices and vendors. Get quotes from multiple vendors to ensure that you are getting the best deal. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices or ask for discounts.

Track Your Spending

Finally, make sure to track your spending throughout the planning process. Use a spreadsheet or a budgeting app to keep track of your expenses. This will help you stay on track and avoid overspending.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some essential items to include on a wedding decor checklist?

When creating your wedding decor checklist, it’s important to include essential items such as centerpieces, table linens, dinnerware, glassware, and flatware. You should also consider items such as lighting, signage, and seating. Don’t forget about decorative elements such as flowers, candles, and other decorative accents that will add a personal touch to your wedding decor.

What are some creative ways to incorporate lighting into your wedding decor?

Lighting is a great way to add ambiance and create a romantic atmosphere at your wedding. Consider incorporating string lights, lanterns, or candles to create a warm and inviting environment. You can also use uplighting to highlight specific areas or create a dramatic effect. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your lighting choices to add a unique touch to your wedding decor.

How can you stay within your budget when planning your wedding decor?

Staying within your budget when planning your wedding decor is important. Start by setting a budget and sticking to it. Consider DIY options for decor items such as centerpieces and signage to save money. You can also rent items such as table linens and dinnerware to save on costs. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your decor choices to stay within your budget.

How far in advance should you start planning your wedding decor?

It’s important to start planning your wedding decor as early as possible. Ideally, you should start planning your decor at least 6-12 months before your wedding day. This will give you plenty of time to research and gather inspiration, create a budget, and start selecting your decor items. Starting early will also give you time to make any necessary changes or adjustments to your decor plan.

What are some common items that people forget to include on their wedding decor checklist?

When planning a wedding, some common items people often forget on their ultimate wedding decor checklist include things for the bar like signature drink signs and custom cocktail napkins. Also, it’s easy to forget small but important ceremony decor items like flower girl petals and special vases for bouquets if you’re using them as reception decor too. Details for the wedding venue, like a seating chart, guest book table, and a special place for cards, are also commonly overlooked. So, remember to double-check your list!

Should I hire a professional to help with my wedding decor checklist or can I do it myself?

Whether you hire a professional to help with your wedding decor checklist or do it yourself depends on your time, budget, and creativity. If you enjoy making things and have time, you might enjoy creating your own wedding altar decor, wedding centerpieces, and other wedding decor items. You could even make your own wedding favors. But if you’re busy or don’t feel confident about decorating, hiring a professional might be a good idea. They can help make sure everything looks perfect on your big day. So, think about what’s best for you.


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Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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