DIY Bride #12: Wall Coverings

​​Let’s get to the part people love the most: The Décor. No matter who you talk to, how your venue looks during your wedding and reception is a vital key to its success. Don’t be scared, though, with cleaver lighting and slight of hand, no one will be the wiser. 😉

Fictional Chris Evans and I had decided from the beginning we would get married on the beach. Well, turns out fictional Chris Evans has his heart set on the banquet room in a bowling alley. Since I will do what ever he wants (because really, it’s Chris fricken Evans), I agree to the bowling alley.
However, the bowling alley banquet room looks exactly how you would think a bowling alley banquet room would look.
The first step is to see what options the venue has for making the room look presentable. Most venues – especially the ones that cater to wedding events often – will always look amazing and you don’t have to think about it! How nice! But if you’re an ‘outside of the box’ type of bride, then this is an issue you may face. For those venues that need added care, ask the management what options they have. See if there are places to hang fabric within the room or, if there is serious damage, ask about getting it repaired before your big day. This should be a part of your contract.
The easiest and the cheapest way to transform a room is through fabric and lighting.
You can rent the fabric, you can hire people to hang it for you, or you can buy the fabric and hang it yourself.
Things you have to keep in mind though is:
1. How is it going to coordinate with your overall theme or color scheme?
2. Is your supplier going to have everything that you want, and on time?
3. Are you going to be able to match the colors?
4. Will the fabric add to the ambiance, or distract from it?
Let’s say you have positive answers for all those questions and you have the iron will to tackle the task on your own… now what?
FABRIC DECOR OPTIONS

 

Hanging fabric takes practice and time, so make sure you will have access to the venue the night before for set-up stuff. You do not want to do it the same day because it’s time consuming and you still need to get ready for your wedding! And I’m sure it’s great that Uncle Henry and his 3 weird sons are going to pitch in, but people who are not directly in the wedding party can quickly make decor decisions that fall into the, “That’s good enough” category. Another reason having a planner or designer: They make sure it’s not just ‘good enough,’ but perfect.

There are quite a few venues that already have brilliant wall drapery or the ability to change it out to match your theme &/or colors. In the case of me and my fictional Chris Evans, the bowling alley banquet room doesn’t have that set up and the management is not willing to allow me to drill holes into the walls. What to do?

There are 3 major options:

  1. Find another venue. Fictional Chris has his heart set on the bowling alley so that’s not viable.
  2. Rent linen stands. The idea is very simple: a frame made from poles that are tall as the walls on which to drape the fabric over. Not that complex. They come in two basic kinds: Ones that stand on the floor and ones that hang from the ceiling.
  3. Build the frame yourself. This is easier than it sounds and cheaper than you think. You can make a 7’ x 8’ frame for about $20 made out of PVC piping. I have seen this a thousand times with people making the photo booth areas at parties and weddings. It’s super easy and even the guys at Home Depot can help you get everything you need. I made one (just one) because I have 800 kids, so we get a lot of use out of it for birthday parties. Click on this link for the directions. It’s way easy.

Each one of those options has pros and cons.

OPTION 1: Find Another Venue

               Pros – easiest solution.

               Cons – Fictional Chris would leave me and I just couldn’t handle that, not even as a hypothetical.

OPTION 2: Rent Linen Stands

           Pros – Another easy solution: make someone else deal with it.

           Cons – As a DIY Bride, your budget is always on your mind. This can become costly. Keep in mind there are vendors that will supply the frames and not the fabric, and there are ones who insist on using their choices of fabric. If they are hanging the fabric themselves, you’re going to want to give them details on the fabric you chose so they know how to work with it. To give you an idea, RentMyWedding.com (which I love) rents a 12′, 4-panel fabric stand (stand and fabric) for $99. If you’re looking to cover a 1000² foot room, you’re looking at 12 stands, turning a reasonable $99 into $1,200 real fast.

With this option, though, it doesn’t mean you have to cover the whole room with linen. If you go with this option, see exactly what you need to camouflage, put a set-up in those few areas, and then stick a display of some kind in front to make it look like it was planned that way from the beginning. For example, let’s say there’s a 2′ hole in the wall at the bowling alley banquet room (damn it, Chris). Use a set-up in front of the hole, then put the cake table all fancied up in front of that. It looks like it was all done on purpose, and no one suspects there’s an issue at all.

OPTION 3: Build Linen Stands Yourself

 

                 Pros – cost effective and you get exactly what you want.

                Cons – hanging fabric the day before your wedding: do you have the time?

One thing that you’re going to need to take into consideration with this option is that though it is an easy project, it’s not an easy project. I’m a crafter. I’m a DIY queen. I know how to build shit with my hands and not just paint pottery; though I do know how to do that too… and make the pottery that I would be painting… I digress. Don’t get me wrong: This is an easy one. It’s going to take you about 30 minutes if you have never ever built anything before in your life. You’re going to need either a saw or a PVC pipe cutter (I recommend the pipe cutter because cutting a pipe on a saw horse with a hand-saw sucks), and you’re going to need a measuring tape; that’s about it. I, personally, added glue to the joints because I knew I wasn’t going to be taking mine down. You are probably going to want to take yours apart SO just skip that.

WHAT IF YOU DON’T NEED TO COVER THE WHOLE WALL?

Fabric is awesome. It’s cheap, it’s beautiful, & versatile. I have great things to say about fabric! What if it’s not the whole room that needs transformation? The options are plenty, but here are a couple of my favorites.

                1. The brilliance of Up-Lighting

 

In a dimmed room, imperfections on the walls can be quickly disguised with lighting. Up-lighting on the places you want to emphasize distracts from the places you want to hide. If you want to distract from a stain on the wall but can’t block it with tables or fabric, put up-lighting on either side facing away from the stain, and in a dimmed room, you won’t even see it.

Use up-lighting to emphasize drapes, the head table, the cake, anything you can think of that will keep your guests interest on the details throughout the area and not focused on the wall issues.

                2. The Wall of Flowers

 

Real or fake, I don’t care who you are, these are impressive. I saw one at a function once that was hombre and like 20 feet long. It was beautiful! Though I planned to compliment the wall to my host, my phrasing came out, “How long did that take you?!” It took the better part of 4 hours and a special build (since it was all real flowers). It was lovely though.

Real flowers need lots of care in a short period of time to make sure they last as long as they can in their peak condition. If you do a ‘real flower’ flower wall, be well prepared and give a LOT of time to make sure it’s brilliant. These walls are also expensive and HEAVY. Make sure it’s anchored well or that the stands are super secured.

Fake flowers are a brilliant choice if you’re looking to make a flower wall, but keep in mind: like photographers, you get what you pay for. Cheap, fake flowers look just that: Cheap and fake. There are other options to fake flowers, not just the section at Michael’s or the dollar store. You can have intentionally faux flowers – ones that are so obviously fake they look great – like paper flowers, crepe flowers, or ribbon flowers.

Flowers – real or fake – for a wall, can cost a pretty penny. If you’re looking to make faux flowers, here is a video to how I at Swingin’ Dolly makes ribbon roses. Also, if you’re going to go with real flowers, hit up your local flower mart. I live in Southern California and go to Downtown LA to the Flower District to get good prices on real flowers.

                3. Beaded Curtains? Party on, dude!

 

Another option are curtains. I don’t mean like in your house. More like strings of streamers or ribbons or lights or beads that fall down from the ceiling or the frames we talked about earlier. Most of the time (depending on what the frame looks like) these are used in conjunction with draping fabric. There is also a wedding tradition from the East where the bride folds 1,000 paper cranes as a gift to the groom… I’m not saying you have time for all that folding, however, I do know where you can buy them online in curtain form. 😉

               4. Balloons aren’t just for kids’ birthday parties.

 

Balloons can look campy, juvenile, and cheap. But in retrospect, I have a friend like that too, and she cleans up pretty well; why can’t balloons?

I love balloons. I’ve been restricting their use at my house specifically because 1. I have a daughter who’s allergic to latex and 2. I have small kids. If a balloon gets stuck in someone’s throat, the outcome isn’t usually good. However, those examples aren’t usually seen at a wedding. I mention it because if you decide to have children at your wedding, you may want to chose something other than balloons.

Balloons are cheap – and with care – they can be a brilliant addition to the ambiance, and a huge asset to distracting from any issues that may arise in the venue’s aesthetics. Did you notice in the picture the balloons are hiding a door?

The trick with balloons – like the flowers – they have a short shelf-life of how long they look good. You would have to have it done the same day as your wedding. You can anchor them down to have them float or you could tape them to the ceiling and have them drop down at different heights. Or hang them from your DIY’d fabric stands, right?

You can stuff them with confetti, lights, or wrap them in tulle. You can use cloth ribbons, curling ribbon, or fishing line (for that invisible quality) to hang or anchor them. You can even use them as part of your center pieces, using the piece to keep the balloon from floating away. Understand that – with balloons specifically – if you don’t use enough, the display can look sparse and unappealing. Plan out the design thoroughly.

                 5. Make New Walls

One other option is to build new walls. I know, it sounds like a huge task. It totally is. But there are options for this too. You can rent partitions (lots of venues have these available), invest in dressing standing shades, or physically build one with wood. On this option though, cost can fluctuate and the quality can be poor if you’re new to building shit. Some vendors will take you for a ride on the cost if you don’t do your research. It can be a tricky endeavour, however the pay off can be very rewarding.

YE HAVE BEEN WARNED

Decorating for your wedding is a HUGE task with infinite possibilities. It’s real temping to stuff every good idea you have into your wedding and reception. Over-stimulation of your guests’ senses is never a good idea. You will want to keep most things neutral and then highlight the parts of your wedding you want to bring attention to, like the Head table, Cake table, Alter… those types of things. The guests’ tables are for the ‘immediate area décor,’ and shouldn’t take away from the main focus point: The couple getting married!!

IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING

There is more to go over but I think 30 hours worth of reading a blog about wall coverings is as much excitement as anyone can take. That’s what makes this part 1. Take care everyone and we are going to be doing more ‘décor talk’ in #13.

*This post was originally published 09/03/17*

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