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How To: Ombre Honeycomb Wedding Decor


Spray, nap, done!

by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

How To: Ombre Honeycomb Wedding Decor | A Practical Wedding

Earlier this year, David and I attended the wedding of our friends Rachel and Jelmer, who you may remember as the daring couple who let APW sponsor Emily Takes Photos photograph their whole wedding using Instagram only. Rachel is one of those people who is pretty much ridiculously cool, mostly because she just doesn’t give a shit about if you think she’s cool or not (ie, that thing we all longed for in High School). For their US wedding reception, they didn’t have a lot of money to spend, they didn’t have a lot of time in the states to get things set up, and they really didn’t care very much. As a result, their wedding ended up decorated mostly by family members with whatever was in the “wedding decoration” section of their local store. They had old school wedding bells, and plastic cake toppers, and a bunch of things I hadn’t seen at a wedding since my childhood. It was perfect, possibly because their kitschy nonchalant style was so exactly the opposite of what the wedding industry has been peddling for the past few years. What is the opposite of a styled shoot? Buying your wedding decorations at the wedding aisle at Party City.

So of course, I decided I wanted to hack the kitschiest wedding decorations we could find, and a series was born. To kick off this new series, we’re starting with an item inspired by Rachel and Jelmer’s wedding: honeycomb decorations and paper wedding bells. (H/t to the folks in yesterday’s open thread who are already planning on using these decorations.) If I have one regret about this tutorial it’s that the pictures can’t even begin to do justice to how amazing the results looked in real life. You should make this project. YOU SHOULD MAKE THIS PROJECT. In real life, it was easily the coolest project we’ve ever made, not to mention the easiest. Secret ingredients? Colored hairspray, and the brains of Michelle Edgemont, wedding designer (who flew out from Brooklyn to play with us).

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When we were getting ready for this shoot, we knew we wanted to do something with honeycomb decorations and paper bells, but we weren’t sure what materials were going to work with the thin, fragile tissue paper. Turns out, the secret sauce is the spray hair dye you get at most party stores. Since the hairspray isn’t as liquidy as regular spray paint, it doesn’t saturate the paper and you get a cool ombre effect that we decided to run with. Keep in mind, you don’t get a ton of mileage out of the hairspray, and each can yields approximately two big ombre honeycomb bells or a hand full of little ones, so buy in bulk. When we were putting together our final arrangement, we did end up using spray paint on a few of our pieces (the neon yellow and the metallic gold) and found that the spray paint works really well with neons, metallics, and other color effects that require a bit more saturation.

A few things to keep in mind if you decide to create these for your own wedding:

  • Honeycomb balls and paper bells are pretty easy to find, but they were generally cheaper on Amazon, with more variety. The party and craft stores are trying to cash in on the DIY movement right now, so we found a lot of tissue paper flowers and fancy honeycomb balls in those stores and a lot less kitschy stuff than we would have hoped. They did have wedding bells in abundance, though; just make sure to look in the wedding section and not with the rest of the paper decor items.
  • Not every hairspray color is going to work, so be prepared to trash some of your rough drafts. We ended up really liking the purple and the blue, but had to trash some red bells that weren’t working. And forget about the glitter hairspray. It’s a total bust. Some colors are also going to need a lot more application than others. Our black honeycomb ball took nearly a full can of hairspray to get it to the saturation you see in the photo above, but boy was it worth it. (Related note: don’t try black on a wedding bell. It looks funereal, not hip.)
  • Honeycomb balls also come pre-colored. If you don’t want to bother with painting your own, you can get colorful ones from Amazon and most party stores will carry at least pink and blue. Even if you do want to pant some of your own, we recommend mixing ombre balls with colored balls for the best effect.
In short: honeycomb decorations are all the fun of DIY, with almost none of the work. You just spray and then take a nap. (And then you look insanely ahead of the curve. You’re welcome.)

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.


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Photos: Allison Andres / Styling: Michelle Edgemont

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  • http://www.everythingweddingsandmore.net/ Gee | EverythingWeddingsAndMore

    So practical and beautiful at the same time!

  • Kate

    I LOVE IT.

  • Rachel

    “What is the opposite of a styled shoot? Buying your wedding decorations at the wedding aisle at Party City.” Word.

    OK, so I LOVE this. I’m trying to figure out where we could hang these in our reception venue (a restaurant) because they are just so fun and festive! Maybe I’ll just make them and hang them in my office. Do we think hair spray color comes in gold??

    • meg

      Spray paint does, and it works.

      • Rachel

        Oh, duh, now I’m seeing the one gold one in photo 7. Was that spray paint? I did just do a quick search on Amazon for gold spray paint and it exists so I could give that a try because I like the idea of a dipped gold look mixed in.

        • Maddie

          Yup, that one was metallic gold spray paint!

  • http://myneuroticgirlfriend@wordpress.com Sarah

    um, where’s the part about how to spray the paint to get the blended ombre effect?

    • meg

      There are no instructions because you don’t need any. You just spray the bottom half with the colored hairspray, and that’s how it turns out. It LOOKS ombre, but that’s just a visual trick. It isn’t, it’s just one dash of sprayed on.

      • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

        Do you spray it while open or closed?

        • Jo

          Yes, GOOD QUESTION!!!

          • Jo

            (Sorry, that reply was from a different “Jo” here – didn’t realize that might look confusing)

        • Rebekah

          I think the picture for Step One will answer this question.

  • Anonymous

    Just in case anyone else wants this info – I had honeycombs and lanterns as wedding decor. I used metallics so I ordered metallic honeycombs (which do exist I assure you) but for lanterns I couldn’t find just what I wanted. We spray painted them metallic and after they dried, you were totally able to collapse them without damaging the paint at all. I spent hours looking for the answer to this and eventually had to just try one myself to see what the answer was. It works. Crafty info for future use.

    • Anonymous

      And if for some reason you’re painting silk flowers as well, listen to me like my in-laws didn’t and spray a coat or two of clear coat on them first to seal the fabric. After that you can spray to your hearts content and not have your expensive copper spray paint soaking into the flower and looking terrible. Instead the paint sits on the clear coat and looks fantastic and shiny.

    • meg

      Oh yes, good point. Once these are spray painted (hair spray painted) and they dry (which is pretty quick), you can collapse them and you’re good to go.

      • Anonymous

        For anyone who lives in apartments while wedding planning, storage can be the deciding factor when choosing projects. It’s a lot easier to store 50 honeycombs collapsed in a box under your couch than 50 expanded honeycombs hanging in your kitchen.

        • meg

          Oh dear god. No one should store these expanded. It didn’t occur to me that anyone would, as someone who lived in a small apartment while wedding planning. DON’T. PLEASE.

    • Rebekah

      I was just about to ask if this works on paper lanterns as well (even though I assumed as much). Thank you!

  • MK

    I feel like this is one of the Magic Eye images–where’s the black honeycomb ball?

    • http://andshelovesyou.com Lucy

      Behind the yellow bell on the right – the bottom is black and blends into the shadow a bit.

      • MK

        Ah! I see it now! (I suck at those magic eye things, can’t you tell?! ;) )

        • https://twitter.com/SnippetsofSarah Sarah E

          I always have to cross my eyes and then slowly uncross them to see anything.

      • Emily

        I’m totally not kidding that it took me all day to spot this. Probably because I was looking on it on my phone at first, but still.

  • D

    Exactly what I am planning to do for decorations!
    Only I can’t find affordable honeycomb balls in my area so I decide to make them myself out of coffee filters.
    Or am I totally un-hip right now for DIYing while I could go for some awesome kitschy ready-mades???

    Great post anyway!

  • http://www.ladyfingerslettepress.com Morgan Calderini + Arley-Rose Torsone

    Our very best source for tissue paper anything is http://www.devra-party.com/.

    They make all of their products in Brooklyn and the options are endless. Would be amazing to see ombré on a some of these colors.

  • Elissa

    Just a few weeks ago we were picking up paper at the invitation shop and they had these lovely paper balls, and I was wondering if they could be dyed (I’m dying the tablerunners), and my partner pointed out that paper and water don’t play well together :( I never would have thought of hairspray – I might have to investigate this further! Yay, paper balls!

  • http://www.weddingfortwo.blogspot.com Ellie

    This is one of those projects that I feel like ultimately costs more in terms of wasted/trial materials and hairspray than anyone intended to spend starting out, and maybe turns out to be one of those expensive kitschy projects that only looks like it was cheap and done by somebody who just couldn’t be bothered. I tried really hard to be mindful of crafting “test” waste when we were planning, and it always bugged me that people didn’t include the cost of experimenting or unused craft materials in their budget – you still spend the money!

    Nonetheless, I love the idea of a project that doesn’t take up a ton of space and is recyclable. I just wonder if there is a less wasteful way to color the balls than using a can of hairspray per ball.

  • K.A.

    I love these! And a note to anyone who’s getting married in November or later — those hair spray paints are going to go on crazy-sale right after Halloween!

  • http://www.shuangxile.com/ sunagxile

    this will surely be the most expensive mode for wedding decorations

  • http://www.weddingsjournal.com Jess

    Beautiful decorations!

  • RPG Show

    Cute ideas! love these stunning decorations! Great wedding decorations & hairstyles here: http://www.rpgshow.com/officialblog/5-top-bridesmaid-hairstyles-for-african-american-women/

  • beautiful rentals

    We furnish precious wedding and occasion needs. Wedding centerpieces Nova Scotia is one of the top wedding decorations and service providers across Canada.