How to Decorate a Wedding Reception With Fabric

Transform ordinary space into romantic with soft drapery

By Cynthia Myers

Glasses and Table Settings
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Banquet halls, meeting rooms, gymnasiums and hotels can hold a crowd at your wedding reception, but even the grandest ballroom may lack the warmth you'd like for your special party. Decorate your wedding reception with fabric to make even the most utilitarian space your own. You can buy bolts of fabric in your wedding colors and transform your reception into an inviting place where you can celebrate your wedding in style.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Include bolts of tulle, chiffon or netting in your wedding colors.
How to Decorate Your Wedding with Fabric

Step 1:

Hide the ceiling with fabric. String wire from one side of the room to the other about 4 feet apart, and drape panels of fabric over it. Tack the fabric to the walls on either side of the wire, and either cut it at the point of attachment or let it fall down the walls. The effect will be tent-like. If you don't have enough fabric (or if regulations prohibit it) to cover the ceiling, drape the fabric panels at regular intervals. Some of the ceiling will show, but the fabric will draw the eye away from defects of utilitarian features such as duct work. You can also hang lights behind the fabric, to give a soft glow to the room.

Step 2:

Dress up boring walls or hide distracting bulletin boards, windows or even basketball hoops by swagging fabric along the walls. Drape fabric like bunting, or let it fall in panels. Gather the panels at the top and pin or staple them near the ceiling, and let them fall to the floor. You can cover the whole wall or only parts of it. These fabric panels also make interesting backdrops for buffet tables.

Step 3:

Cover reception tables with layers of fabric. You can start with a white tablecloth, then layer one or more of your wedding colors. Use a single piece of fabric as a runner down the center of the table, or arrange fabric squares to fall in points on the sides of the tables. As an alternative, cover the first cloth with a second cloth of about the same size in a contrasting color. Gather this top cloth in intervals along the sides, so the bottom cloth shows. Pin in place.

Step 4:

Drape chairs in large squares of fabric. Measure from the floor in front of the chair, up across the seat, up the back and down to the floor in back of the chair. Your piece of fabric should be this long and wide. Pull the fabric taut along the back and seat and secure with a second band of fabric tied in a bow at the back of the chair.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • Know the decoration policy for the space you're renting. Some spaces won't allow you to put staples or nails in the walls. You may be able to use tape, wire or decorating putty instead.
  • Check fire codes before hanging fabric on walls or ceilings. Some codes prevent blocking sprinkler systems or fire alarms.

About the Author

Cynthia James is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

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Planning Reminder:

outdoor wedding table by lake

Pick reception venue

Want to keep decor costs to a minimum? Consider a winery or other outdoor setting to provide a natural pretty scene. Hotels, country clubs and restaurants are also popular choices -- some will require more decor help than others. If you have your heart set on an off-site caterer, make sure your venue allows it.

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Wedding Glossary


Catering services supplied by the wedding venue. If a venue offers in-house catering, typically off-site caterers are not permitted.

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