The week before the big day we did the BIGGEST project of our wedding day: transforming the 24×32 foot barn addition (built just last fall and thankfully totally clean and new!) into a reception area to host 75 guests.
I had searched Pinterest and the inter-webs day and night looking for DIY Barn Reception Decor ideas and had initially planned to have a ceiling of balloons … until the hot sun and heat at my outdoor bridal shower made the balloons pop and shrivel … I had to go back to the drawing board because the LAST thing I wanted on my wedding day was walking into the reception to have a ceiling of deflated/popped balloons. So after a lot of mind-boggling and no thanks to the internet, I had to come up with my own idea…
Needless to say, I was nervous about this project and was VERY scared that it wouldn't work. Because if this didn't work, I had nothing else in mind. Somehow I had to make a ceiling and decorate walls.
- 150 foot rolls of white plastic table cloth cover, enough to cover our ceiling and walls = 5 rolls at $18/each on Amazon.com with free shipping through Amazon Prime (the thing has totally paid for itself!) – $90
- Tulle = I had 150 feet of this left over from a prior purchase when I made my wall of tulle that would go up. (see my post on Tulle-ing around)
- Tacs – like 1,000 of them, found at Walmart for less than a dollar a box and I bought 10 boxes of 200 – $5
- Lights – borrowed
- Twine – I've got this in massive amounts already purchased for other projects – amount used worth about $3
- Hula hoops – Dollar store, $2 for 2
- Tape – $3 for the extra strong packaging tape to help
- Magnets – about $30 for these, which were needed for reinforcement to attach the ceiling to the one wall that was all metal and NOT wood.
- Paper Lantern: $5
- Purple Glitter Spray Paint: $4
Total: approximately $140
This whole project had to be somehow connected to a center point in the middle of the barn. But needed a spot where the paper lantern would hang down (which I spray painted an already purple paper lantern with PURPLE GLITTER spray paint which is awesome!). Hula hoops. So simple!
So we started by taking an end of the roll of white plastic table cover and tied it to the hoop with one single tie, my fiance (as below) on the ladder and me walking it over to my shorter 6 foot ladder, climbing up to the top and then tacking the plastic to the wall with just a bit of a droop, then letting it down to the floor and cutting. Viola – Ceiling and floor cover started.
After doing so many, we attached the six strands of lights that would come out and attach to the walls as well with tulle drooping with them (as seen below). These were plugged into a power strip with a cord that ran across a beam and down the wall, hidden behind the covering and plugs into the outlet below – everything is run from this cord being plugged in.
It took us all day on Friday to get the entire ceiling done, including the lights with the tulle and installing the paper lantern light. I have no idea how many hours but I have bruises on my shins from standing on the ladder, some random bruise above my knee and I have yet to regain all feeling in my thumb from pushing in tacs into the wood …
Challenges of course were the one wall that was metal which my mom stepped in and drilled screws into the wall (it is connected to the rest of the barn so no worries … and we're not telling my dad .. yet) and then of course how to get this ceiling to drape over to the front/entry where the large doors open up so not to obstruct the opening/closing of the doors and so that it would stay up … solved this by a piece of twine attached on each end tied to screws and reinfoced in the center by screwing it to the center beam between the two doors. We tied each end of the pieces of plastic roll to the twine (each corner of the piece was tied to attach it) and so far, it's worked.
Sunday, after spending all day Saturday shooting a wedding, we came back and finished up putting up the icicle lights across the ceiling (using screws in each beam) and then, hung my giant Tulle Monster up to cover the walls. And as of now, this is what she looks like:
That big black cord on the right will be covered with white ribbon, the tulle has to “fall” more after being stored in the house for the past month or more and then “tucked” so that it isn't flowing so much into the barn at the bottom. We have a dance floor rented (15×15) and our DJ will go in the far right corner, and opposite him will be a 6-foot table with one of my table skirts and filled with candy and treats and our cake. All around the walls will be 8 cocktail tables with purple table cloths and our centerpieces that I made. (Also a DIY project).
One thing that still bugs me is being able to see the wood beams … BUT, this is broad daylight and nothing is in here yet. When it's dark you don't see them with just the decorative lights on AND once we get all the tables in and the signs I'm hanging up (cannot WAIT to share what this will look like in our post-wedding post) you won't notice them. And to be honest, I only notice them in the photos right now because they bug me and my eye goes right to them. I know that come W-Day, they won't even be a second thought to anyone else; not even me.
We return the Thursday before our wedding to keep working on setting things up. This will include going back over and fixing any pieces of the ceiling we aren't happy with, maybe adding more tulle to the ceiling and fixing anything that may droop further during this week it's up before the wedding.
I think, at this point, I can count on all my fingers and toes things that were NOT a DIY project for our wedding! We did almost everything ourselves …. and that's right … down to decorating the ceiling and walls of the barn to turn it into a reception area. It may not look like much yet, but the “bones” are there now.
So there it is, internet. Since I couldnt' find how to do this ANYWHERE, hopefully this helps to give some insight and ideas for other brides who choose to go this route and save a ton of money hosting a reception in a barn/garage and maybe help give some ideas to those who want to save money but can't envision how to turn a location into a venue without breaking the bank.
Outside of the box. The groundwork for our reception. Pin this, baby!