So I have some confessing to do. I’m sassy, so one time on my personal Facebook page I reposted this meme that popped up in my feed…
And I didn’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings when I posted it! In fact, many of my wedding vendor Facebook friends thought it was funny! But somebody got offended and unfriended me because HER wedding decor had comprised of burlap and mason jars and twinkle lights and wooden crates and SHE thought it turned out beautifully! Well, I’m sure it did, and that was never my point.
But here’s my honest opinion: Standard rustic wedding decor is TIRED. It astounds me on the daily that so many couples still want rustic decor when there are so many other themes out there that are just as affordable and less commonly seen! Don’t get me wrong, rustic isn’t ugly or bad, it’s just very common—I see it every weekend. And because it’s so common, it has become impersonal to the couples getting married when they go rustic-themed because it’s become such a stereotype.
As a planner, I am all about helping clients personalize their decor by choosing themes and ideas that help them express who they are as a couple! I get so excited when clients do something bohemian, art-deco, tropical, whimsical… you get the idea. I find that couples who branch out to these kinds of themes feel more invested and satisfied with the decor they go with because they are not constantly comparing themselves to the Pinterest Wedding Ideal (come on, you know what I’m talking about!)
I’m in Oregon, where almost every venue is a barn, and here it makes sense to go rustic with our themes. HOWEVER! That doesn’t mean you can’t come up with a super cool hybrid that spins rustic and, say, boho, together! In fact, that’s what I’m about to do.
We are going to take a look at decor that can fit in the rustic theme while offering some creativity with other theme roots: boho, art-deco, garden party, tropical, whimsical, modern… HERE WE GO!
Geometric Shapes ~ Bohemian, Art-Deco.
I see this often in centerpieces and I LOVE it. But what if you went…bigger?!
Vines and twigs ~ Rustic, Garden Party.
They have more strength than flowers and standard greenery and can create beautiful volume and fairy-tale vibes.
Pampas, Carpets and Macrame ~ Bohemian, Tropical, art-deco.
Pampas are those big, fluffy, feathery plants. They offer a luxurious but relaxed setting, and are amazing at creating volume without overwhelming the eye. Add them to your archway arrangement, your bouquet, your centerpieces… put them EVERYWHERE.
Carpets create a vintage or bohemian setting, and make excellent aisle runners because they’re heavier than standard runners and are less likely to become tripping hazards; they’re also more sturdy for those in heels to stand on!
Macrame is extremely “in” right now, and its standard neutral color makes it easy to incorporate into any color palette. Use it in your ceremony, for your photo booth backdrop, or to decorate a cute corner of your venue.
Take a look at the close-up below—I just can’t get enough of this design!
Just WOW! Right?
Flower Walls ~ Whimsical, Garden Party, Modern.
This flower wall will fit right into your decor even if you are going for a mostly rustic theme. Your florist can provide these kinds of backdrops out of real flowers, or they can be made from silk, paper, or even thinly cut wood. Another variation of this is a moss wall.
Do you spot those coffee shop vibe hanging lights? I’m in loooooooove with those too! Ugh. Bring me all of this.
Flower Hoops ~Rustic, Whimsical, Art-Deco, Garden Party, Modern.
Flower hoops are not just statement pieces—bridesmaids are walking down the aisle with them instead of bouquets, and Flower Girls are holding these instead of baskets of petals. It’s a great way to incorporate the accent metals of your color scheme more directly into your decor, and it offers a new take on what floral arrangements can be.
It will also make your guests go, “Where are the bouquets? …Wait a minute, why do bridesmaids HAVE to hold bouquets? Yeah, they can hold anything they want! Holy cow, I’ve been conditioned all this time to believe bridesmaids have to hold bouquets!” And bam, you’ve opened their minds.
Floating Arrangements ~ Rustic, Whimsical, Art-Deco, Garden Party, Modern.
It’s the same idea here, guys! Unique shapes, metal accents, a touch of floral, pretty floating objects framing your faces at the altar… I can’t handle how much I love this idea.
Vintage Doors ~ Vintage, Rustic, Whimsical.
I love it when the ceremony entrance at the beginning of the aisle has doors or something else to frame the bride as she makes her walk down the aisle. And if you’ve got some old doors like this on hand already, they’re the perfect, inexpensive addition to your wedding decor. I would even consider putting doors at the actual altar.
Also, I’m still waiting for the day that my clients go full Narnia and put a wardrobe at their altar (wouldn’t that be AWESOME?!) I can see it now—winter wedding, Victorian gown, accents of rose gold, moss, old books, tall candlesticks, Wardrobe Altar, Mr. Tumnus officiating, the first dance is actually a sword fight… too far? Mmh, I don’t think so.
Non-Floral Bouquets. Rustic, Whimsical, Bohemian.
Especially if they’re wild leaves and flowers reminiscent of fall and representative of hearts that can’t be tamed. I have heart-eyes for this kinda bouquet.
More Pampas Leaves. Rustic, Whimsical, Boho, Modern, Beach Vibes.
Pampas leaves are kinda pokey, so watch out, but they sure add body and whimsy to a bouquet! If you wanna be the unique bride pushing boundaries, this is your bouquet.
Put Pampas anywhere! Neutral colors, a little goes a long way.
. . . You get the idea.
Glass Card Boxes. Rustic, Modern, Art-Deco, Whimsical, Classy AF.
A glass card box adds a shiny, elegant touch to any Welcome Table, and looks even better with greenery nestled at the bottom of it beneath cards from your guests.
Copper-Accented Details. Rustic, Boho, Art-Deco.
These flutes are so pretty, and Etsy is flooded with items like this to personalize your wedding.
Clusters of Candles. Rustic, Boho, Whimsical.
If your venue will allow it, clustering hurricane glasses filled with pillar or floating candles is an elegant evening wedding touch, perfect for dressing up a simple ceremony altar or bare corner of your venue. As the night goes on, the twinkle vibes will just get brighter and brighter.
Carpets. Art-Deco, Boho, Whimsical, Garden Party.
Carpets add a pop of color and decoration where there is often none: the ground! Tell me how many people decorate the floor of their wedding venue? For the record, it’s not always necessary. But if you happen to have one on hand that matches your color palette and that can handle an afternoon in the outdoors, setting up a carpet beneath the ceremony altar, the sweetheart or head table, or the area on your dance floor where first dances will take place will make your colors tie in that much more to the rest of your venue.
Artistic Decor Pieces. Whimsical, Avant-Garde, Art-Deco, Rustic.
Shout out to all the fantastically artistic brides and grooms out there who can replicate Pinterest projects and make them look just as good as the original. I am not one of those people. My advice is that if you’re not artistic, leave the decor for the professionals. But if you ARE and making art is your happy place, holy cow, your wedding is your art exhibit. Show off those skills! If you can make flowers explode out of an empty picture frame, you basically have an obligation to the rest of us to do it.
Streamer Photobooth Backdrops. Whimsical, boho, Modern, Rustic, Natural.
Many of the photobooth backdrops I’ve seen are solid and hung against a wall. These are great, but they’re not the only option here. If you have a frame or a tree branch to hang a streamer-like backdrop from, why not go for it? If the background is pretty, all the better if some of it can peak through.
Macrame. Boho, Rustic, Art-Deco, Beach Vibes.
Macrame is a fantastic photo booth backdrop, and the neutral color makes it that much easier to incorporate into the rest of your wedding style. Extra points if you can pair it with a stunner brick wall like this.
More flower hoops. I feel like you could make a statement piece like this yourself with hola hoops. Spray paint them gold or brown, and have your florist attach some pretty arrangements!
Paper Statement Pieces. Modern, Art-Deco, Whimsical.
Flowers don’t need to be the only way you decorate. Employing crafty mediums can be a modern way to shake things up. Paper, for example, is also likely to be much cheaper than flowers, and can be made months in advance (unlike flowers, which are time-sensitive!)
Hanging Decor. Whimsical, Rustic, Romantic.
First of all, the colors here are so lovely! Second, we often see lanterns used as centerpieces , lining the ceremony aisle, or even framing the ceremony altar, but hanging from trees? How simple yet unique!
Repurposing Vintage Furniture. Rustic, Romantic, Whimsical.
If you already have items like this on hand, why not repurpose them as wedding signage? Seating charts are a classic choice, using paint or chalk pens to apply lettering.
Hanging Statement Pieces. Modern, Classic, Romantic, Rustic, Art-Deco.
Hanging glass bulbs is such a modern, coffee-shop vibe approach to wedding decor. Especially hanging them from statement pieces like in the photo above. Wow!
Decorating with or Wearing Herbs and fruit. Rustic, Boho, Whimsical, Romantic.
Ok, herbs and fruit are totally underrated wedding decor. Imagine decorating a green table garland with real figs, peaches, and pomegranates? It’s a super easily DIY, affordable and colorful touch! Incorporating herbs into arrangements, especially delicate ones such as hair pieces or boutonnieres, is another way to be unique without breaking the bank. Do you grow lavender in your front yard? Bam. That’s your flower girl’s flower crown right there!
Pomanders. Rustic, Romantic, Boho, Art-Deco, Whimsical.
Pomanders can serve the same purpose as bouquets or flower hoops (again, why do we feel so strongly that bridesmaids should only hold bouquets?) and hanging arrangements as opposed to placing them on tables or elsewhere is a unique take on decor. Pomanders can be purchased from florists, but you can also make them by purchasing foam balls and poking stems into them. If you’re going to DIY them, I suggest using silk flowers, because they’re lighter and less delicate to handle. Real flowers will need wet oasis (similar to foam, but absorbent), which is crumblier and won’t do you any favors when putting it together.
Gold-Painted Cakes, Incorporating Maps into Decor. Modern, Romantic, Whimsical.
Okay, what isn’t to love about this cake? *heart eyes*
Incorporating maps into decor is an especially good idea if the couple enjoys traveling, grew up in different parts of the world, or met in a special country. Another idea: having guests sign a globe instead of a guest book.
Stained-Glass Cakes. Southern-inspired, Whimsical, Modern, Rustic.
Fun-fact: this cake was most-likely painted instead of iced (isn’t painted food a crazy idea?) With how far the food industry has come, we can make cakes look HOWEVER we want them to—we don’t need to be limited to buttercream or fondant designs anymore. Get creative!
Also, incorporating stained glass into other areas of decor is a great ideas! Stained glass window guest book, anyone? What about a stained-glass window seating chart?
Smoke Bombs. Modern, Whimsical, Boho, Super Cool!
Smoke Bomb Grand Entrance, anyone? The smoke bomb will match your wedding colors and everything. Just don’t be too attached to the original color of your clothes!
Now, wasn’t this fun?! This was SO fun, right? Writing about this has emphasized to me more than ever that we are needlessly limiting ourselves to just rustic decor when we decide that our wedding is “on a budget.”
So? The wedding industry AND other creative industries have made it abundantly clear (even on Pinterest) that the customization possibilities are endless! Let’s begin designing the weddings that are personal to the couples getting married, instead of designing the wedding that Pinterest says is easiest or cheapest or trendiest or the best. Stay true to YOU. I promise you can find a way to make it happen without compromising your budget.