Bride on a Budget: Setting the Scene

How to find a wedding theme? Combine colors and shared interests.

It was really difficult deciding how to decorate our venue. There are so many great ideas and inspiration for wedding decor that almost every week I had a different idea of what we should do.

Despite all the ideas, I knew I had a couple of factors to work with. First, from the start, I knew my main wedding color would be purple. It’s my absolute favorite. I chose a deep-eggplant shade, which I decided to balance with white. I figured white would help offset the dark shade for our summer wedding.

Second, our historic venue doesn’t need a lot of decoration. Cocktail hour will be inside a gorgeous house, so we won’t need any major decorations inside, just some small accents. Dinner will be served outside in the Arts Club’s back-yard garden. Because of all the lovely fountains, shrubbery, and flowers, the only major decorations we need outside are centerpieces and possibly more lighting.

Finally, Matt and I liked the idea of incorporating books into our wedding. We are both bookworms and thought it’d be great to show our guests one of our shared interests. So that meant I had purple, a back-yard garden, and books to work with. I decided to focus on the books first because I felt that would help us find direction for the rest of the decor.

While Matt and I want to surprise our guests with our theme on our wedding day, I’ll tell you what we ruled out. First, we thought about just trying to collect purple hardcover books. That proved extremely difficult as purple does not seem to be a popular shade for hardcover books. I thought about using a Jane Austen theme because she’s my favorite author, but we decided it might be a little overkill to use one writer. We attempted to go with a US President’s theme to fit in with our historic venue (which housed James Monroe for a period during his presidency), but we decided that might scream more history camp than romantic wedding.

Once we chose a theme for our books, we had to find them, and do it cheaply. We were looking for beautiful, old hardcover books and didn’t want to spend more than $1 apiece. We tried used bookstores in DC, but most were pricey. There were tons of books on eBay for less than $1, but shipping added an extra cost. After an extensive Internet search, I found the Wheaton Public Library used-book store. It was a goldmine. We found tons of books, most for less than $1. Plus, all the proceeds go to help the library system, so it was a win-win situation.

We are going to use about three books per table. To incorporate our purple color, we’ll tie the three books in gorgeous deep-purple ribbon I bought from Michaels.

I’m really excited about how this will look at our wedding. I also can’t wait to incorporate the books with gorgeous floral arrangements. Tune in next week when I pick flowers for the wedding!

Steph’s tips:
• Try to go personal with theme—it’ll mean that much more to you and your guests. Plus, you and your fiancé will have a blast with all the decorating decisions. Matt and I had a lot of fun spending a whole afternoon picking out books for our centerpieces.

• Do your research. I was really concerned about finding cheap books, and I had to call multiple used-book stores to ask about their prices before I found the Wheaton Public Library. But it was well worth the time because we spent only about $35 for 40 books.

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