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Shabby Chic Wedding Ideas

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

shabby chic weddingContributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman

It’s the look of well-loved dishes. The oh-so-soft feel of fabric washed again and again. Period dresses for your bridesmaids — and for you, too. It’s romantic and elegant. And it’s exactly what you want for your wedding. But oh my goodness, it can get expensive.

But you can do your dream wedding for way less than the wedding planner and party rental company would like you to know. Here are some shabby chic wedding ideas that will give you all the style at a fraction of the price.

Check out these ideas, then let your imagination run wild. Your shabby chic nuptials are within reach. Just don’t tell your wedding planner we tipped you off!

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10. Mismatched fine china

mismatched china

As soon as you say “Yes!”, start looking through area thrift shops and tag sales for vintage china patterns. Make sure the dishes are free from cracks and chips that could hold food particles, then give them a good hand-washing. You can look for dished to match your color theme, or opt for a rainbow of flowers and designs. The choice is yours. Not only will your tables look amazingly romantic, you’ll save a bundle over the cost of rental dishes.

One more thing…don’t forget to ask friends and relatives if they have cast off china you can use (no you do NOT want to use Aunt Mary’s treasured anniversary china! Imagine if a piece or two gets broken!) The odd piece here and there could save you some shopping.

9. Antique table linens

vintage look tablecloth

Deck your tables and the buffet in a mixture of vintage tablecloths and napkins, too. Check family attics and linen closets for likely candidates as soon as you start planning the wedding. Don’t worry about yellowing or small spots…a good washing with Oxyclean and time drying in the sunshine will take care of most of that.

If your family closets don’t yield the linens you need, look for reproductions in classic patterns. Some even have the antique texture built right in. If not, a half dozen washings and line dryings should do the trick.

8. Vintage table decor

mini bell jars

Once upon a time, little bell jars like these graced bakery counters and tea tables everywhere. Inside, tempting sweets stayed fresh. Or miniature bouquets of flowers added grace and color. Antique bell jars fetch a small fortune in shops. But with the availability of affordable reproductions like these, you can decorate each table with a bell jar holding tiny cakes or rich candies.

7. Hand-printed placecards


Of course you could have your place cards printed at the same place that did your wedding invitations. But where’s the shabby chic in that?

Instead of spending lots of money for printing, pick a paper or card that matches your theme, your location or your fiance’s or your hobbies and turn them into adorable placecards. Love books? Old library cards make delightful placecards. Having your wedding on the beach? Seashells with soft pink interiors are a natural choice for placeholders…just tuck a name tag inside each one, or use them for themed paperweights (perfect for a breezy seaside setting!) Put the placecards in jars, on fruit or tucked into flowers. It’s all about your style.

6. Fairy lights in the trees

Fairy lights in trees

What’s a shabby chic wedding without some sparkle and glitter? So of course, you have to have the trees above lined with tiny, sparkling fairy lights. Unless your wedding is at high noon or during the brightest part of the afternoon (hardly romantic times, if you ask me!) these lights add instant magic to any setting.

Do buy extras, though. You never know when a string on two might go on the blink during your set up. Better to be ready!

5. Furniture in the garden

furniture in garden

As a general rule, upholstered furniture and other indoor pieces should never make their way outdoors. But when it comes to a shabby chic marriage ceremony and reception, the rules go out the window. Go ahead and bring out that love seat and arm chair. Place the dresser in the garden, and the buffet on the patio. Then deck them out with pashminas and table runners in your wedding colors or pure white.

If you need more chairs for the reception, work magic on boring brown thrift store finds and turn them into shabby show pieces. It’s easier than you think.

4. Something to ward off a chill

Vintage tuxedo jacket

If your wedding is during a chilly season, or if the temps tend to drop towards evening, give your guest a unique way to stay warm. Put piles of old tuxedo jackets (usually cheap at Good Will and such) and piles of ladies wraps and shrugs (from the same source) around for people to don if the temperature dips. Buy most of the tuxedos in large sizes, so they’ll go on. The over-sized look will only add to the fun.

Encourage your guests to take their new “outwear” home with them…but not before they pose for a portrait or two at the photo booth.

3. Tea table

Sweets for tea table

Fact: it’s just not a true shabby chic affair if there’s not tea involved. After all, you need a use for all those adorable china tea cups you’ve set out.

Set up a tea table with pots of your favorite brews (go for all herbal if you or your guests don’t drink caffeine). Then add vintage cake stands piled with tiny baked treats like mini-muffins and petit fours.

2. Vintage props at the photobooth

Vintage photobooth props

Everyone loves hamming it up at a photo booth, so make sure you have one at your wedding. Whether it’s a rented booth, or just a backdrop and a digital camera, make sure you have plenty of old-fashioned accessories for people to play with. Hats, fake moustaches, umbrellas and feather boas are simple to find. If you want to take it further, a rack of costumes people can put on will encourage people to let down their guard and play.

1. Vintage attire for the wedding party

1950s prom dress

Forget buying (or asking your bridesmaids to buy) matching vintage style gowns. They’re expensive, usually poorly made and will just sit in a closet somewhere. Instead, make a date at a local vintage or thrift shop and look for prom dresses from the 50s and 60s. They’re usually still quite affordable, and those poofy skirts will add the perfect style to your wedding. Best of all, they can serve double duty as costumes in years to come.

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Shabby chic isn’t about following a set of rules. It’s about bringing the feeling of well-loved family heirlooms to your wedding day. So dig through those cedar chests, brave the attic and head for the thrift shop. Your very one style awaits!


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