14 Places We Love for Affordable Wedding Decorations


Because good decor shouldn’t break the bank

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

Do you want to know the dirty secret behind all those gorgeous styled wedding decorations you see on Pinterest and Instagram? It is really, really hard to replicate them in the real world. While it is surprisingly easy to decorate a stunning table that seats eight people on a $1,000 budget, it is nearly impossible to duplicate your efforts for twenty tables of eight people on the same budget. Shocker, I know. And sadly most of us are not planning weddings inside one of those money wind machines.

When I was planning my own wedding, I felt like my budget really limited how cool I could make my venue look. Which is why at APW, one of our core goals is figuring out how take all the inspiration you see floating around the Internet, and then reimagining things for a whole lot less money (see: our paper flower wall tutorial). Because we want you to be able to take our ideas and apply them to your fifty-person wedding or your five hundred–person wedding. And part of that process is having a treasure trove of destinations where we source creative and affordable materials.

It occurred to me recently, as I was helping a friend find wholesale crystals for her wedding, that it might be helpful if we shared that information. (I mean, it’s no good to you just sitting inside my head.) So today I’ve pulled together a handful of our favorite destinations for finding affordable, creative, unexpected wedding decorations and DIY materials that you can use in your wedding.

Ombre watercolor place cards in gold plastic animal holders.

Teacher supply stores: One of the challenges of making your own escort cards or place settings is having to make so damn many of them when most stores aren’t set up for wholesale. But at teacher supply stores, just about everything comes in a set, and is affordably priced. Our favorite items from Learning Resources include geometric shapes (how cool are these wooden ones?) and animal counter sets (tiny animals perfect for spray painting!).

Bride and groom standing in front of a fringe streamer background wedding decoration.

Online Party Shops: If you hear party shop and you think giant warehouse filled with Spongebob balloons, well you’re not wrong (most of the time). But when we need cute paper goods, we hit up online shops like Oh Happy Day, Paper Mart, or Harlow and Grey. The prices are more or less on par with your average party store, but the options are way better. (I’m talking statement balloons, honeycomb decor, fringe garlands, crepe paper rolls, the works.)

Wedding ceremony with flagging tape streamer ceiling for wedding decorations.

Hardware Stores: One of the single best DIY materials we’ve seen around is flagging tape. It comes in an assortment of bright colors and looks like ribbon, but costs, well, way less than ribbon. You can find it at hardware stores, along with our other favorite DIY material: spray paint.

Amazon: I know, I know. Everything comes from Amazon. But that’s the point. When in doubt, check Amazon first (especially if you spring for Prime. Two day shipping, hello my old friend), because you never know what they’re going to have stocked wholesale. Need a bunch of crystals for your tablescape? (Or for your crystal crown? Please say it’s for your crystal crown!) Got it. Or how about marble tiles for your place settings (like the ones above from Marketing Manager Kate’s wedding!)? Done.

Wedding decorations featuring table setting with china, agate print table number, menu, and place card.

Minted and Paper source: Paper goods are an easy way to add personality to your decor, and it’s a bonus if they don’t require a ton of work. And for all the little wedding day ephemera, we usually look to APW’s favorite stationers, Minted and Paper Source. Their table numbers, menus, cocktail napkins, coasters, you name it, are all impeccably designed by artists from all over the world.

Wedding decorations featuring tablescape with succulents and candles.

Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Home Goods: If you’re looking for super on-trend but affordable decor, head to your local TJ Maxx, Home Goods, or Marshalls. Because here’s the best thing about these stores: when they find a theme they, like, they stick to it. Last time I was in TJ Maxx, it was like pineapples exploded all over the shelves. If my wedding had even a hint of tropical to it, I would have been set (I also stumbled on the exact terrariums my friend was trying to find for her wedding for next to nothing.)

Wedding ceremony area with wall tapestry backdrop and rugs as wedding decorations

Wayfair, HAYNEEDLE, and Lulu & Georgia: As you’re well aware, Wayfair, Hayneedle, and Lulu & Georgia legit have everything you could ever need for your house. But when it comes to affordable accents that you can use at your wedding, and heck, even at home afterward, they’re your best bet. If you’re looking for a quick and easy ceremony or photo booth backdrop check out Wayfair’s selection of wall tapestries. Personally, I’m loving this abstract print. Super cute votives sold in big sets? They have ’em. Need an easel for your escort signage? Check out this gold one. And someone please get these champagne flutes for toasting in style.

I dished, now tell me, Where are your favorite places to snag affordable wedding decorations? Show us your pics of your most creative FINDS!

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • penguin

    Hallelujah for Minted. We used them for our wedding website (free! we just paid a one time fee for our custom URL), save the dates, invitations, table numbers, and escort cards. Everything was beautiful and high quality, and shipping was fast. It saved our butts when I realized a few weeks ago that we’d just kind of forgotten about escort cards (oops). Free guest name printing, and free guest name and address printing on the envelopes for our save the dates and invites. It was great!

    Other tip – Etsy. A friend was going to do our programs, then backed out (with lots of notice thankfully). I really wanted a program since we’re having a Jewish ceremony with mostly non-Jewish guests, and I had trouble finding programs I liked online. (The programs from Minted were a weird format I didn’t like). On Etsy I found a downloadable customizable template that we both liked, and then just plugged in my text and shifted some stuff around. It was like $15 and we’re taking the file to a local print shop to get it printed this week.

    • Zoya

      I bought materials for my veil on Etsy, and it was CHEAP. Probably less expensive than going to the fabric store. I’d assumed that everything on Etsy would be expensive, just because the finished veils I liked tended to be, but buying raw materials themselves was a bargain.

      • cll

        Etsy can be super awesome for raw materials. I’m having a seamstress friend make my dress, and we’re probably buying the fabric on Etsy.

    • louise danger

      Etsy is the best! Got my veil, our guestbook poster, our rings (!), and… did I get something else? I don’t remember, all for way less than they were in physical stores, and all handmade from individual sellers rather than a big corporate chain or something. The handwritten notes from the sellers (and in some cases the “wait, for your wedding?? omg that’s awesome!” type stuff from the not-a-traditional-wedding-vendor) made it even nicer :)

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  • sofar

    Goodwill, ftw.

    I walked in during the middle of wedding season the year before my wedding and it was as if every local bride had dumped all her decorations at Goodwill. Got little candle jars for 10-50 cents each and there were all sorts of little mirrors, decorative sparkles, placecard holders, chalkboards, etc.

    After my wedding, I dumped all that stuff right back off.

    • sage

      Brilliant!

    • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

      I’m likely going to post some stuff on FB Marketplace, because I don’t need 30 vintage pitchers, despite how much I like them. If I can get $20, so much the better.

  • Abs

    This is not a source specifically, but I had a vision of a whole ton of bunting (like the little triangular flags) for our space, and for some reason the only tutorials I found were for cloth bunting, which was way beyond my level of crafty. So I ordered string, brown paper and a giant pack of gluesticks from Amazon, and the Sunday before the wedding partner and I and my sister and brother-in-law made all the bunting happen.

    So: paper bunting! It looks just as as good as cloth (IMO) and is way easier and cheaper.

    Also that marble tile placecard idea is genius.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/465f50f72cdb83ba8e67f912468550544f808546bd09c596ebf214166adc3766.jpg

    • ART

      That looks great! I made some out of coffee filters for a scalloped look (just folded in half and glued over string). It was super easy and cheap.

    • Ashley Weckbacher
    • Rose

      We did paper bunting too! We cut out a bunch of circles, and then sewed them together. Super cheap and easy as a DIY! (cost was a package of tissue paper, and part of a spool of thread, and it took an afternoon). But there’s a fair amount on etsy that’s reasonably priced too.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5d7b06adc692aea333787909400e7f7359e96d0372a3fcd52b20c907c57299a0.jpg

      • penguin

        Did you have special punchers or cutters to create the bunting? Or were you just really good at cutting out circles? I’m just imagining trying to do this myself.

        • Rose

          I was going to get a punch, but then I wasn’t sure that it would cut tissue paper well, and I didn’t figure it out in time. My wife traced something circular onto one sheet of tissue paper, held about 10 in a stack, and cut them out together. They didn’t come out very evenly or perfectly shaped, but it honestly didn’t seem to matter (I didn’t get them evenly spaced apart either, and that also didn’t really seem to detract from the effect).

    • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

      I made bunting out of twine and paper doilies! We got yards and yards made, for probably about $8 tota

    • Her Lindsayship

      My husband spent a lot of time cutting out paper hexagons (with a punch, we’re not that crazy) and strung them together the morning of our wedding in a huge rush, so they could decorate the aisle chairs for our ceremony. He asked our best man to throw them on the chairs when they got to the venue, but a good number of guests were already there when he arrived, and he felt too awkward doing it with people there for some reason. I was so annoyed! It’s funny because it was probably like $7 worth of materials, and it was such a small detail that many people wouldn’t have even noticed, but knowing that husband had stressed over them and spent so much time on them – it was tragic. We still have them because I’m adamant that we’ll put them to use. Hello holiday party!

      Anyway hooray for paper decor!

      • ssha

        That’s a bummer! They would definitely get noticed at a party though! Hope you get some great use out of them.

    • ssha

      This is just so cute, I love how it looks. Taking notes on this and on the great pics in the replies!
      Also, this picture is fun. :)

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  • JC

    Wine bottles! Tell your friends and family that you are collecting their empty wine bottles, and they will gladly drink for you.

  • sage

    Check out restaurant supply stores for wholesale vases! I wanted dozens of bud vases in plain white ceramic but everything on Amazon and Etsy was too expensive. At Webstaurant Store I was able to get them for about $1 each

  • Viv

    I’m a HUGE fan of http://www.save-on-crafts.com They pretty much have everything under the sun and I’ve even purchased home decor from them. And for people in the Bay Area, they’re local so super fast shipping!

  • S

    By the way if there are any Australian brides/grooms loving that marble place card idea, you can currently pick up marble coasters that look identical in a 4-pack for a steal at KMart. Would double as a favour!

  • louise danger

    Ikea – Rotera lanterns are $4 each and super versatile. They come in a few specific colors each year in addition to the always-in-stock brushed silver. Also, the Tolsby picture frame is great for day-of signage stuff – it’s white (neutral for anything), 4″x6″ and double-sided, and they’re only $0.99 each.

    Ikea also has a billion other inexpensive, stylish, available-in-huge-quantities things. (Pro-tip: if your scheme calls for tea lights, they sell a block of 100 for like $7.)

  • Kayakgirl73

    Dollar tree – both in store and online. you can do bulk orders. Vases, candle holders, seasonal stuff. I got all my glassware for my candy bar from Homegoods and TJ Maxx. For my cookie table I used serving pieces that belongs to my mom, aunt, and sister. We got a good bit of our candy at Costco since we didn’t care about colors, just tasty candy.

    • penguin

      I didn’t know you could order online from the dollar store!

  • Rose

    We had a bunch of colorful paper lanterns, which looked amazing and were not expensive. The lanterns themselves are really cheap, and lights to go inside them if you want are also not too bad. We bought ours from paperlanternstore.com, and were quite pleased. They come in pretty much any color you can imagine–we ordered in all different ones, and put the pink/red/orange/yellow up in the tree over the tables, and the green/blue/purple up by the dance floor. Highly recommend! The warm colors lost a lot of their differences when it got dark enough to turn the lights on, but still looked nice, and the cool colors looked great all evening.

  • Kaitlyn

    Any thoughts on unique places to get origami paper in a map print, navy and white striped table runners, and tall flameless candles (around 8 inches)?

    • Em

      If you find origami map paper, I would love to know about it – sounds amazing!

  • nutbrownrose

    Dollar Store! I was going to do Goodwill for unmatching vases, but was having a hard time, and happened to be in the dollar store looking for wrapping paper/gift bags (they have awesome stuff!), when I found a vase I really liked and some glass rocks to weigh them down for outside. I got 20 vases and 10 bags of clear rocks for $30, and they looked quite possibly better than the more pinteresty option.
    To be fair, I had a really pretty venue so was able to just plop some tablecloths and vases and go, which was important since we weren’t allowed to set anything that wasn’t the venue’s up the night before and only had it for a 6-hour window including set-up and takedown.

  • Another Meg

    I used both thrift stores and Craigslist.

    I found tons of wedding decor basics on Craigslist. Votives, plain glass vases, etc. Thrift stores were great for quirky, mixed up glassware (we gave them away as “favors” but most just went into recycling) and frames for signs. We paid less to buy some of this than we would have to rent. And bonus, good for the environment.

  • Lena SK

    Ikea! I got a bunch of simple metallic ornaments and tiny bronze battery-operated lanterns on sale at the end of December for my following-December wedding. Super cheap centerpiece details! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/332daf588437669426c54829798ad9f4ec964985b8e5b0f0b5d6bfd674933599.jpg

    • penguin

      That is BEAUTIFUL! Great idea.

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