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Hello my dears!

As an interior designer, I’ve always had a love for unique buildings and great architecture. So when it came time for Nate and I to pick our wedding venue…well, surprisingly, we chose something that is neither unique nor great! Because we live in the middle of nowhere, and because our wedding is on New Year’s Eve and many venues won’t rent on that night, we were pretty limited. We always knew that we wanted the ceremony to be at his church (because that’s where we met – aww!) but we were hoping for something with a little more style for the reception. However, after a few failed attempts at finding a suitable separate reception venue, we realized that it’s just going to be so much more convenient for all our out-of-town guests in the freezing cold December weather to have the entire wedding in one building. It’s also much more budget-friendly. We’re able to rent the church for the entire day for only a few hundred dollars – much less than most venues! But while the price is a big pro, the outdated decor of the church is quite the con. See?


The building does have some positive features, like classic white walls and a gorgeous wood ceiling in the sanctuary. Buuut….that’s about it! I’ve been really racking my brain for creative ways to style the sanctuary and reception hall. We’re planning to drape the walls in the reception hall with white (borrowed!) fabric; make tall planters with white painted branches; decorate both spaces with paper garlands and flowers made from antique book pages; and make a cute tattoo-inspired banner out of foam board to hang above us during the ceremony.

So, although I have a few ideas to bring on the AWESOME – I need your help! I’d love to hear your creative decorating suggestions for a not-so-pretty space. Did you have (or do you have) a similar situation for your own wedding? What were some budget-friendly ideas that made a big impact on your wedding decor?

Much love,

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  • Courtney F.

    I would love to see something done about that ceiling…you could do the fabric drape up there, but while you probably could cover the light fixtures pretty easily, the ceiling fans pose a problem. Maybe if you were to string lights across the ceiling, perhaps alternating with some of your garlands? You could put out a call to friends and family, and see if they'd be willing to let you borrow some of their Christmas lights. Given the timing of your wedding, it wouldn't even mean an extra trip to the attic! ;) Then you could avoid using the fluorescent lights, which always say "board room!" to me. You'd have to keep things high, though; that ceiling looks a little too low to let things dangle.

    • @lesleydenford

      Oohh, I love the idea of stringing white lights across the ceiling! I HATE the fluorescent lighting, but the ceiling is just too low to drape fabric up there (just like you said). We weren't planning on having the lights on for the reception (the lighting was going to come from lamps and white Christmas lights) but I love the idea of making it sparkle up there. Thanks for the ideas! :)

  • Kelsey

    Thats so funny… I have the same pictured saved with the holly matrimony sign. I REALLY like that idea!

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  • Talia N.

    I would love to see some ideas for blah venues that don't allow you to attach anything to the walls, ceilings, or light fixtures, and no tape, tacks, anything can be used on any surface. I have a particular venue in mind, but these are the regulations. I would love to be able to make it more exciting in there (it's just blank walls etc) and be able to stay on a budget. Hopefully I can get some good feedback! Thank you so much!

  • Angela

    I think you might get some hassle from the administration if you try to cover the ceiling. What I would do? I'd put duct tape in an x shape across the light switches so that anyone who goes to turn them on knows that you want them off (maybe adding a note too asking peeps not to turn them on unless there's an emergency)

    Then I would do what the other posted listed – I would use all white Christmas lights and put them anywhere you are allowed. I would try to keep them as close to the walls as possible so that you don't worry about people tripping on them. Get lots of extension cords and have a nerdy dad type who can engineer the electricity help out. You will be amazed at how beautiful the room will be with great lighting – no worries about lots of other decoration.

    Additionally, it might be a bit more expensive but lower on labor costs, you can buy sheets of "gels" to be taped to the outside of the overhead light covers. (Sheets of "gel" are sold at production houses and are used for rock and roll shows, etc. ) They are specifically made to handle large amounts of heat – be careful putting fabric up where you have heat sources – a fire is not something any bride would ever want.

    Night time during the Winter is immediately romantic, the room itself isn't horrible at all – Just warm it up a bit. If you are using rented tablecloths, go for cream b/c I think they'd compliment the vintage paper and will also add warmth to the room.

    If you can't get rid of the huge mass of metal chairs in the back, see if you can find some neutral sheets from a family member to possibly cover them up. I'm just thinking about photo shots in that direction, you wouldn't want the chairs to stand out. Have a great time, I think it's a perfect night to throw a wedding! :)

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