Designing a wedding can be a lot like designing a house. Your ultimate goal is to have the decor be a reflection of who you are as a couple, while also integrating meaningful mementos, favorite colors, and eye-catching trends.
But, venturing beyond the whites and pastels of tradition to incorporate more bold and daring styles can be quite the daunting task. Playful items like peacock feathers, mermaid prints, or moss may sound exciting in theory, but if not executed properly, can look quite gauche.
For a less intimidating approach to zsuzhing up your wedding day aesthetics, we chatted with NYC-based designers Anthony Gianacakos of Anthony George Home and Nicki Clendening of Beetle and Scout Designs. The daring duo, whose designs are unabashedly colorful, unconventional, and edgy, reveal their top five wedding decor ideas that you should absolutely steal from interior designers (including themselves!) to plan your dream day.
Hand-painted items are not just unique and personalized pieces of art you can display in your home—they can also make lovely additions to wedding decor. “Everyone enjoys the beauty of details, especially at a wedding,” says Gianacakos. “What better way to incorporate something special than a hand-painted, one-of-a-kind item? It’s also a souvenir that guests can take home after the event.”
While name tags and menus are the more obvious choices, brides and grooms can get even more creative with painted rocks as paperweights, napkin holders, tea lights, and even pots to hold small plants. Customization, whether at home or at a venue, can make anyone feel important, especially if effort is put into personalizing an object with a name or date.
“Some weddings also have experiential activities. Why not bring in a fabulous artist to do on-location watercolor portraits of your guests? This is something that will add to your decor in the moment and be a keepsake for them to hang in their own homes,” suggests Gianacakos. “The goal of many designers is to avoid a lot of the ideas that have been regurgitated for generations. Like any innovative living space, think outside of the box!”
Small Antiques You Can Buy in Bulk
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, especially when it comes to sifting through a bustling flea market. But, for those who can’t make up their mind about wedding decor, a flea market is actually a fantastic spot to pick up vintage decorative items that are not only beautiful and unique, but also full of history (or “borrowed,” if you will).
“Buying anything in bulk at a flea market can be a challenge, but with a little planning, you're likely to have a better chance of gathering up the pieces you need,” says Clendening. “One thing I am always on the lookout for and use often are flower vessels. It's a great way of decorating your reception and they don't need to match."
Other flea market finds include silverware, glassware, serving platters, and bowls. “These are items you can always find and they won’t break the bank,” she shares. “You also can never have enough of either, as they’ll come in hand for entertaining at the holiday and beyond.”
If flea markets aren’t in your area or the thought of shopping from rows and rows of mini treasures feels overwhelming, Clendening also recommends a more intimate visit to a thrift store. You can still source smaller decorative items like napkin rings and crystals (that guests can actually take home after the event), while also capturing that wonderfully timeless and vintage decorative feel on your big day.
Loud Colors and Patterns
“Balance is important,” Gianackos is quick to point out. “But, why have a boring tablescape that your guests will never remember?”
As an alternative to the mundane and expected, he proposes going “pattern-crazy” with smaller items like napkins or chargers and incorporating “solid pops of colors” with chairs, a tablecloth, or even the glasses served from the bar.
“I encourage my clients to embrace color on a daily basis and would do the same with a wedding,” he says. “For design, it’s all about what’s surprising and unexpected and brides and grooms can easily accomplish this while maintaining some elements of tradition. Being bold can be achieved tastefully if you edit yourself or have an unbiased eye step in.”
An easy way to carry this off is to keep the fabrics of your wedding party’s outfits neutral so that they don’t clash with more over-the-top decorations.
Items That Can Be Repurposed After the Wedding
“I have to admit that I’m not a big believer in trends,” says Clendening. “Your wedding day should be one which you’ll look back on and feel like you still love everything from that day.”
To memorialize these sentiments in object form, brides and grooms may want to ditch the rental furniture altogether (if they’re able to) and invest in pieces that they can actually keep after the party’s over.
“Of course, it depends on the type and size of wedding you are having. But, for smaller, more intimate weddings, candlesticks and holders are one great way of decorating tables, which you can then use at home,” says Clendening, who adds that table linens, place mats, vases, and serving platters are other items that can be repurposed and cherished for many years.
“Your wedding is a reflection of your style and taste, so it makes perfect sense to have pieces you've selected for your big day be things you'd want to use again at home,” she shares.
Ditching Flowers for Funky Plants
Everyone expects flowers to get almost the same attention as a dress or cake, but Gianacakos likes to flip the script by using more exotic plants as centerpieces. As with many of the aforementioned objects, show-stopping greenery can also be brought home after the wedding and serve as a living, breathing reminder of your special day.
“A potted orange tree, for example, can bring a statement-making pop of color, especially if planted in a fabulous decorative planter,” he says. “Like a home, you want these pieces to be conversation starters. I can also see a Mazari palm tree to add drama with scale, height, and unforgettable details.”
Another plant design fad, especially in this post-pandemic world, is the purchase of inexpensive and easy-to-care-for cacti and succulents. “There are so many fun shapes, textures, colors, and even flowers with these beauties,” says Gianacakos. “Just hope your guests are smart enough not to touch some of them.”
Ultimately, the overall look and feel of your wedding day is an extremely personal decision, but taking some of the design ideas you see in your favorite homes may be a fantastic starting point when sitting down with a planner or, most importantly, if tackling your event in a DIY fashion. Think of the space as one gigantic living or dining room and what you want it to say about your love story, interests, and personal taste. One thing’s for certain: Authenticity will never go out of style.