Board #281 | Something Unexpected (Budget Friendly #13)

Choosing an unusual venue, one that people might not immediately think of when planning a wedding, may or may not be cheaper than your typical banquet hall, but you might be inspired to think outside the box when it comes to the rest of the details. And thinking outside the box is key to planning a wedding on a budget! I made this wedding board with an art gallery venue in mind, but there are all kinds of places to rent out that aren’t your usual hotel ballroom. Museums, theaters, farms… While your guests might forget all of the tiny details, they’ll certainly remember a unique and visually interesting venue.

Who says…your reception has to be in a ballroom or banquet hall?

Mood: cleverly modern
Palette: white, lavender, gray

{click image to enlarge}

Top row from left: balloon centerpieces via Brooklyn Bride, frozen vodka “bucket” by Michaele Thunen, stitched invitations by Bird & Banner, vintage veil photo by Ron Wurzer
Row 2: jars of buttons via Dreamhouse, picture frame photobooth by Front Room Photography via Bespoke, art gallery
Row 3: lobster summer rolls from Brides, dress from J.Crew, bouquet via Thoughtful Day, pocket square from Martha Stewart Weddings
Row 4: cake photo by Sugar Love, crayon favor from Maria McBride, stamped escort cards photo by Amy Squires, earrings by One Small Star via Handcrafted

The Paper: It is always cheaper to print in one color than two (or four), but borrow a tip from the talented ladies at Bird & Banner, and stitch a line of colorful thread across the top of your invites for a little something extra. For your seating cards, sit down in front of a movie and stamp away, using rubber stamps to spell out your guests’ first names. If you feel really ambitious, stamp one letter in color (maybe just the letter “R” or something like that).

The Fashion: J.Crew is a great place to find some pretty wedding dresses for reasonable prices – this one for $895 has some darling detailing at the bust. Accessorize with a vintage veil and these sweet pearl earrings from One Small Star for only $30 (they’d also make great bridesmaid gifts). For the groom, how about a pocket square in one of your colors in lieu of a boutonniere? You can find them for as little as $5 at department stores, and there are several ways you can fold them.

The Decor: Large round balloons are a great way to make a visual impact for about 25-cents apiece, and hang numbered tags from the strings as clever table numbers. Large jars full of buttons (or other simple objects like stones, sand, small plastic toys…) are an interesting decoration that doesn’t have to cost a lot. For something pretty at the bar, make an ice bucket and freeze branches, flowers, herbs or sliced fruit in the ice.

The Flowers: Eschew flowers except for the bouquets. Splurge on your own – mix purple clematis with dusty miller and lamb ears to fit with this color palette – and keep the bridesmaid bouquets a bit smaller and simpler.

The Food: To save, use more expensive ingredients in hors d’oeuvres rather than in entrees, like the lobster in these summer rolls (an interesting note about lobster here). If you want to offer guests more than just a signature cocktail, but less than a full bar, buy vodka in bulk: according to Peter Callahan, vodka is the most popular item at the bar. He also says that “as long as you’ve prearranged it with your supplier, you can return [extra, unopened bottles], and there’s nothing cheesy about that.” For your cake, order one that is incredibly simple, and decorate it yourself with a fun topper, fondant letters, or a stencil.

Other Details: For an art gallery reception, why not let your guests get a little creative? Cover the tables with white butcher paper, and place a bundle of crayons at each seat for guests to doodle. The crayons can even double as a favor. Another fun idea is to set up a photobooth area for guests with a large empty frame in it.

Splurges: If the groom has reason to wear a suit again, splurge on a nice one. A well-fitted suit will always be in style, and can even be worn as separates after the wedding (for example, pair the jacket with jeans for a night out).

For Free: Get your friends and family involved. Ask someone with a musical talent to play during the ceremony, or have your great-aunt bake her famous lemon bars, or see if your friend with a sewing machine won’t make the flower girl’s dress or ring pillow. The people who love you probably have more varied talents than you might know.

Real Wedding Inspiration: Naomi & Mike via Little White Book


  • DomestiGals says:

    Gorgeous board yet again, Kathryn! I love that you have been using gray… very inspirational for me since I think gray/silver/pewter will be one of our colors. Thanks so much! Jen :-)

  • Courtney says:

    such a beautiful inspiration board and such wonderful ideas! thanks for linking to naomi and mike’s wedding on LWB!

  • ONADA Photography says:

    i love love this blog!! I cant wait to get engaged. The details and inspirations are great! I’ll definately be refering my brides here.

  • brownbrown says:

    sweet! my fiance and i are getting married at the end of october at a small gallery, then having an evening reception at a larger gallery. it’s a GREAT way to save some money on the venue rental and it speaks much more to who we are as people and art-lovers. thanks!

  • Bailee's Bride says:

    Thanks for incorporating budget-friendly into a beautiful board! Love your blog – I check regularly for inspiration and found some today!!
    Bailee’s Bride

  • ericablonde says:

    I love the buttons in jars! Coincidentally I’m listening to a radio talk show talking to a button collector as I write this.

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