By Lauren Finney

Published on May 13, 2016

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Photography by SARAH MCKENZIE PHOTOS

by Lauren Finney

Weddings are one of the most expensive social commitments you’ll ever make, and it can often be overwhelming when tallying up costs for food, entertainment, and decor. But if there’s one way to slash costs, it’s through some crafty decorating ideas — whether you’re the DIY kind of bride or not. Either way, you can’t deny that these are some pretty creative ways to get maximum decor per dollar.

Photo Booth Backdrop

Whether you’re having a backdrop for Instagram, for Polaroid photo strips, or just party pics, this is a really adorable way to bring some color and personality into the images. Crepe paper, tissue paper or even wrapping paper can help bring together a chosen theme. 

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Photography by PINTEREST

Aisle Runner

Forgo an expensive custom runner for something with a little pizzaz such as this crepe paper aisle runner. It’s refreshing to see a runner that doesn’t end at the altar: have it run up the wall behind the officiant for a built-in backdrop. A sunny color like this one is sure to put even more pep in your step for your walk down the aisle.

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Photography by KYLE HALE PHOTOGRAPHY

Wall Covering

Looking for a show-stopping center stage piece to help bring together the theme in your ceremony? These paper pinwheels are a surefire way to make sure that all eyes are facing forward during your vows. Bonus: get your bridal party involved and have them help put the pinwheels together as a bonding activity. 

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Photography by BHLDN

Cake Topper

If there’s one place to get a little cheeky with paper goods, it’s atop a cake. These giggle-worthy paper flamingo toppers are most definitely Insta-bait, but are also representative of the day’s love, joy and sense of fun. 

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Photography by Onelove Photography

Boutonniere

Boutonnieres are a cost that can easily be taken down to next to nothing when made out of paper instead of pricey, out of season flowers. This origami folded one is especially pin-worthy for musically inclined brides — it’s made from sheet music!

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Photography by Paper Portrayals

Bouquet

It’s almost impossible to believe that these aren’t real flowers, but they’re paper. The details, ranging from the gradiated ones to the folded ones, are absolutely astonishing. Unlike real bouquets, this one will last literally as long as you want it to — add it to a pretty vase as a forever keepsake.

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Photography by Paper Portrayals

Centerpiece

Only by looking super closely can you tell that these are a product of a skilled paper worker and not actual flowers, despite the fact that they’ve been arranged like the fresh kind in a elegant silver vessel.

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Photography by Lia Griffith

Cocktail Table Flowers

Take trendy succulents and make them even more wallet-friendly by making them out of paper. The texture of the pieces help make the plants look even more realistic, which is a perfect way to save money on those pesky and pricey cocktail table arrangements.

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Photography by Annie McElwain Photography

Pergola

A traditional pergola can cost thousands of dollars and wilt on a whim, but not when it’s made out of durable paper. Large blooms like these give off a fantastical unexpected element of surprise, which can set the tone for a celebration loaded with fun.

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Photography by LuckyFish530 / Etsy

Flower Girl Crown

Calling all little princesses for a day — here’s the flower crown of your dreams.Your special little one can wear a paper flower headband or crown for many playdates to come, amplifying the value of the piece.

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Photography by Wedding Chicks

Napkin Ring

Hit a double whammy with this simple, graphic napkin ring that also presents the reception’s menu. Equally perfect for a backyard BBQ wedding or a fancy rustic barn wedding, recycled paper sweetens the low price tag even more.

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Photography by June Bug Photography

Chandelier

Stringing twinkle lights in lieu of a crystal chandelier can be labor intensive and feel overdone. Why not try a hanging chandelier in the form of trailing vines and paper flowers? Paper bougainvillea or paper wisteria would also work nicely.

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Photography by Customluminaries.com

Luminaries

Flying luminaries, or sky lanterns as they’re sometimes known, is usually seen in celebrations or festivals. Have guests follow tradition and write a message to the bride and groom before letting the lanterns go.

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Photography by Martha Stewart Weddings

Card Holders

There are a million and one creative ways to put together escort cards for dinner, but it’s especially sweet in this traditional doily envelope.

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Photography by Martha Stewart Weddings

Favor Boxes

Chocolates or other sweet treats get a lovely treatment in the form of these paper boxes, which double as a keepsake ring holder or other memento for a bedside table or vanity.

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Photography by WEDDING CHICKS

Placemats

Try this as an intersection between modern and traditional: placemats as placecards. Have a watercolorer, illustrator or graphic designer come up with something personal that matches your color scheme and the vibe of the reception.

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Photography by Colin Cowie Weddings

Programs

Programs are a universal way to convey the details of your ceremony; why not get even more value out of them by having them double as a confetti holder?

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Photography by Style Me Pretty

Fans

Outdoor weddings can have unpredictable weather; prepare your guests for a heat wave with pretty paper fans. The backside of the fan is also a great place to place program details.

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Photography by Fancypantsweddings.com

Pomanders

Floral pomanders can be hung on doors, chairs or even carried as an alternative to a bridesmaid bouquet. Opting to use paper means that there’s less chance of wilting, and guests can reuse them in their own homes.

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Photography by Lizelle Lotter Photography

Mobile

Instead of a free-form paper chandelier, consider a more traditional mobile that can hang above tables, the dance floor or even as an entryway to the reception.

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Photography by elegantweddinginvites.com

Lanterns

Sure, we’ve all seen paper lanterns, but have you ever seen them done so prettily? Try these paper twine lanterns in lieu of traditional styles as a decorative accent indoors or out.

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Photography by Priscila Valentina Photography

Aisle Garlands

Strips of crepe paper tied to string make a rustic yet festive DIY garland to help delineate a wedding aisle outdoors; get creative with printed paper or a mix of paper and ribbons.

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Photography by Katie Pritchard

Table Runner

This hand-stamped kraft paper table runner is not only inexpensive, it’s also recyclable, inexpensive, and best of all, lovingly made.

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Photography by 100 Layer Cake

Wishes

Now here’s a crafty, sentimental idea: take pre-made envelopes and affix them to a salvaged door or designated space to make a wall of wishes, where guests can leave marital blessings and advice.

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Photography by Natalie Shelton

Table Card

A simple kraft paper tag tied to a found object like these antlers can bring a ton of personality to your wedding, whether it’s a casual outdoor affair or a more formal one.

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Photography by cutture.com

Laser Cut Invites

It’s been a real joy for the paper-loving among us to see how creative couples have gotten with their invites; one of our favorite incarnations is the laser-cut kind. A poppy, saturated color like this neon pink is a really cool backdrop for the modern and technical treatment.

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Photography by Ben Q Photograhy

Ceremony Backdrop

Buy a paper store out of their crepe paper and go all out for a backdrop, like this rainbow-hued one, simply tied to a wire grate.

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Photography by Martha Stewart Weddings

Stained Glass

Take one part tissue paper and one part clever natural lighting and you’ve got a faux stained glass backdrop at the fraction of the price of the real deal.

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Photography by paperandpeony.blogspot.ca

Hair Comb

The use of paper for a floral hair comb nearly took our breath away with its creativity, simplicity and style. Order paper flowers online and have them glued to the hair comb of your choice, or have one custom made.

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Photography by Style Me Pretty

Umbrella

A spring wedding might call for an emergency shelter, or a summer wedding for emergency shade. If you’re getting married in New Orleans, you’ll need a paper umbrella for the second line, or the departure of the bride and groom. Any way you choose, paper umbrellas make a chic prop or purposeful addition to your wedding.

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Photography by style me pretty

Confetti

Everyone’s favorite birthday party accoutrement adds a dash of whimsy in lieu of more traditional send off bits, like rice or flower petals. Go with the colors of your choosing, and try having confetti thrown as you return down the aisle instead of at the end of the reception to mix it up a bit.

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Photography by Ruffledblog.com

Tassel Garland

Take what’s become standard party decor and incorporate it into your big day in the form of a room border, table skirt decorations or a backdrop for food and drink like this one; try it in an unexpected color combo like these neons and metallics for some super wow factor.

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Photography by Lia Griffith

Chair Backs

Forgo pricey floral garlands that can easily wilt, fall or become a weighty burden on the couple’s chairs for something light, simple and made of paper, like these faux boxwood ones that are just as stunning at a fraction of the price .

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Photography by onesillybride.com

Piñata

Because why not? It’s your party, and you’re entitled to have whatever you want at your celebration. Try a traditional piñata for good luck, or use it as a replacement for a grooms cake in a fun and funky shape that’s important to you and your significant other.