Planning a wedding theme – it’s all in the detail

Happy Sunday folks!

Well it’s getting closer to the wedding and I’m in full DIY mode! Finally the wedding is starting to come together and I can actually visualise what it’s going to look like. I’m at a stage where I’m pleased enough to show you all what I’m up to (not just little snippets here and there) but I’m still more than a little nervous. So please do enjoy the little art project that is Sara and John’s wedding theme. I can’t wait to show you all pictures after the big day in August!

I’ve always been a very detail-centric person. For me, detail comes naturally. It’s not that I had to sit and make this list, more that if something’s missing or not personalised it bugs me no end. Not everyone has a blank canvas venue, but in order to cover everything, let’s assume your venue comes with nothing, or that everything in it can be swapped or personalised. So here you have it, my how-to guide for styling a venue from start to finish. Sorry if I go on a bit! Oh and excuse the photography – it’s done by… well, us. 


Colours / theme

The first thing you need to do is decide on a colour scheme. Believe me, it’s important to at least decide on a colour palette. The reason for this is consistency. When you look back over your wedding album, you’ll notice it – in one room you’ve gone with red flowers, in another with pastels. It may not occur to you before the wedding, but for years afterwards, you may find it jarring. This doesn’t mean your wedding needs to be “matchy” (it doesn’t need to be anything) but detail can make a real difference to how it’s presented afterwards.

I personally decided on a colour palette of complementary dusky vintage-style colours. Purples, pinks, soft yellows, a tiny hint of green and blues. Not a red, mauve, black, orange in sight. You get the picture.

I’m also a huge fan of floral material – our house is very floral, we have floral Laura Ashley throws on our sofas, vintage roses on our curtains, our shower curtains, even mismatched floral tiles in our bathroom. It made sense to incorporate a sense of our home into our wedding, so all the materials we’re using are floral. We decided to accent the “granny chic” theme with lace trimmings, which we’ll get to. Basically our wedding is going to be one big burst of floral colour! It’s bordering on OTT, but will make for a spectacular visual impact, which is what we’re after.

Once you have a colour scheme in mind, it’s time to start making a list of everything that could possibly go in the room – and ensuring that everything consistently complements everything else.

This is a mammoth task – I’d only suggest starting if you feel you’ll have the time to finish it.


Stocking up

Our local haberdashers (Tatters in Staines) has pretty much everything we’d ever need to make our wedding theme something amazing. It stocks a wide range of floral fabrics in the right colours at around £5 per metre, give or take, plus baskets and baskets of lace off cuts. We stocked up on a ridiculous amount of material and lace, ensuring all the colours went well together, and used those fabrics as a basis for pretty much everything.


Decide on the areas of your venue you’re going to use. We’re using one room as a vintage tea room, complete with photo booth (more about that later) and the large grounds to erect a marquee to have that English country garden party wedding feel.


The first thing to decide is whether you want round or long tables – or, indeed, whether you want tables at all. Now, you may well be thinking that tables don’t matter, they’re just for sitting on, but the form the basis on which everything else will be placed for your main meal. It didn’t even occur to me to think about the aesthetics of the tables until I told my stylist, Jennifer of Jennifer Sue Weddings, that I wasn’t a fan of big, plain tablecloths, and that I also wanted long tables. She pointed out that most tables of that kind have quite jarring, metal legs that aren’t particularly pretty to look at.

Fortunately for me, my venue is a school (my old school in fact) and has the exact amount of tables that we need – and they’re wooden picnic-style long tables with wooden legs. But it’s definitely something to think about if you’re not planning on having large tablecloths. Which brings me to…

Tablecloths and runners

(Yes, when I said detail, I meant detail). Just because I’m not a fan of plain white tablecloths doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them. But if you are planning to get creative with the tablecloths, here are a few ideas.

Personally, because I have tables that allow me some breathing room in terms of appearance, I’m using large lace tablecloths as a base and covering them with floral table runners down the centre of each run of long tables. This means the floral theme still comes through with lace hanging delicately from the edges of tables.

If you’re looking to source lace tablecloths without running around a million different markets and car boot sales, Amazon sells a range of lace or lace-embossed vinyl tablecloths that are reasonably affordable and come in a decent range of sizes.

Table runners can be bought or rented, but one top styling trick from Jennifer Sue Weddings is to use wallpaper – it’s cost-effective and you can find some amazing patterns. The length also goes a long way, so if you’re having long tables joined together, it’s a good option.

Crockery and cutlery 

Whatever your theme, it’s nice if the crockery and cutlery match. For our wedding theme, we’ve opted to go with the mismatched vintage china look. It works well with the floral theme and I think makes eating all the more special. On tables we’re having vintage plates, topped with a tea plate, topped with a tea cup and saucer. On each cup we’re attaching a retro label with the person’s name (as a place setting) and “take me home and drink me” (favours – sorted!) We’re also setting up a tea table in the vintage tea room.

The only things that need to match are the tea cups with their saucers and the colours need to complement each other. You can also use crockery to hold little flower displays, old kettles make great flower containers.

You can source a lot of this from car boots, but that takes a lot of time and patience – there are hundreds of crockery hire companies out there (have a look at my Very Vintage Directory to find one near you) so that can be a cheaper and less time-consuming option.

Finally, if you’re really, really into your detail (and you have a whopping budget or a tiny number of guests) why not get some extra special cutlery? If I could afford it for my wedding, I’d be having something like this floral rose cutlery set from Next. Extremely affordable as a set, but sadly in bulk would cost £400 to accommodate all of our guests. Sulks.


I’m not a fan of traditionally folded napkins – so I’ve taken on the task of sewing 100 napkins in the same mismatched floral fabrics we’re using everywhere. (Tip – use a sewing machine for this – I tried one by hand and it took me about 2 hours!) They’ll then be pressed, rolled and tied with lace.

Flower / candle containers

We’re using jars. Hundreds and hundreds of jars decorated with floral material and lace. Here’s a little DIY tutorial, for those of you wanting to make your own, but the project has come a LONG way since then (see the pic below). They’re all in the same materials/patterns as the rest of the wedding. They make amazing containers for smaller flower arrangements (we’ll be lining the aisle with them and then moving them into the main marquee) and at night make great tea light holders, especially as the colours and patterns of the jars will really be illuminated.

Ceiling decorations

Personally we’re using bunting. I’ll be putting up a tutorial on how to make this bunting soon, but the  bunting is in the same colour palette as the rest of the wedding (see an example from a recent photoshoot featuring the bunting below). We’ll be hanging it in bulk from the ceiling of the marquee. But bunting isn’t the only option – old lamp shades look amazing, paper pom poms are making a big splash this season and lanterns look just beautiful, especially if you have a very bright, summery colour scheme.

We’ll be stringing fairy lights at the top of the marquee so that, as the sun starts to set, we can light the tea lights (see flower / candle containers) and hit the fairy lights to create that magical, twinkly summer evening feeling.

In the vintage tea room we may also use our rose fairy lights (depending on how they test electrically) for that added, soft lighting effect.

Image above © Emma Lucy Photography

Chairs, furniture and accessories

I’ve gotta say, I really hate chair covers. Sorry, chair cover lovers, they’re just not my bag. I have some personal vendetta against them. My favourite type of chair is a chiavari style (we’re having limewash chiavari chairs to fit the rustic theme). They come in a range of colours, including a darker brown and gold and silver metallics. Cheltenham chairs are also nice, particularly if you’re having an opulent vintage theme (they also come in metallic colours).

For an outdoor garden wedding, I’d suggest white wooden folding chairs for that “picnic chic” feel.

If you’ve allocated yourself a generous flower budget, little hand-tied arrangements on the backs of chairs (not all of them, sporadically placed) can look beautiful and don’t have to cost the Earth. Sprigs of Lavender can be a great and inexpensive way to decorate the backs of chairs.

If you’re doing something like a vintage tea room, mis-matched vintage-style furniture is just beautiful. You can either find that at car boot sales or rent it from furniture hire companies. If you can’t afford to rent sofas, see what the venue has available and use appropriate throws (we’re using our Laura Ashley floral throws) to cover them up. We’re also using small fleur-de-lis tables to create that old-fashioned “café” look.

If you’re after a really cute, rustic look, why not get a lovely vintage typewriter, scrabble tiles and (and this is a special prop I’m pulling out for our wedding) a lovely vintage phone (see the picture below). We’re having a full on vintage photobooth (more detail of that later) and swapping the ordinary backdrop for a floral one so that the photobooth pics match the wedding!

For accessories, Primark do extremely inexpensive strings of faux pearls which can be laid or strung around the venue. I’m also customising the insides of battered suitcases so that their lining matches the floral patterns of the wedding. Old perfume bottles are a great way to decorate an otherwise drab bathroom – scatter some petals (try Shropshire Petals for some gorgeous colour combinations) and some Cath Kidston toiletries will keep everyone fresh and smelling beautiful… which brings me to…

Flowers and scents

I’m not a florist – but I do know that herbs such as rosemary and lavender create a beautiful smell in the room. My mum’s an aromatherapist and is creating a bespoke wedding scent for us (I suspect rose will feature heavily). Whenever people catch a waft of a similar smell, they’ll be transported right back to your wedding.

I can’t advise too much on flowers as it really heavily depends on your theme, but I’d advise taking samples and pictures of your containers and the style / colours of your wedding to your florist. I know blue gene and pink roses will feature heavily in my arrangements padded out with lots of lovely smelling herbs.

If you’re someone who loves a good perfume, you can go one further and make your favours small bottles of your signature wedding scent.

Food and drink

Even when it comes to food and drink, you can get creative. We’re working on a lot of heart-shaped food, including sugar cubes! We’re making pink and blue heart-shaped sugar cubes for the vintage tea room. There’s a great tutorial on Bridal Musings (one of my favourite wedding blogs) that showed me how to do this – I’d give it a few practice runs as it takes a bit of time to get your technique and formula right.

You can even customise your drinks to match your theme. We’re currently having fun testing out summer cocktails that can be made in bulk – it doesn’t have to be complicated. Pimms and lemonade does the job nicely, as does this great little recipe for Vodka Thyme Lemonade by Martha Stewart.

On the tables, we’re removing labels from the wine bottles and replacing them with… you guest it… floral fabric and lace.

So, over 2000 words later and I hope I haven’t forgotten anything! How are you styling your wedding? Have you got a theme? Are you DIY-ing? I’d love to hear about your big day plans! And if you’re having a creative day, I hope this guide helped!


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