HOW TO DESIGN BIG ON A SMALL BUDGET

rose bowl centerpiece
I can’t tell you the number of times a designer has said to me, “Preston, if I had the budgets that you have, I’d also be able to create great designs.” Every time I hear that, I want to scream. Folks, there’s no question that I can really let my imagination fly when I have a bigger budget. But a big budget does NOT automatically translate to great design. I remember well the days when I had only $2000 to design an entire wedding; I look back at those photographs, and my designs then weren’t half bad.

Designing well is about spending money strategically and doing everything you can to create an unforgettable mood. I frequently work with clients who tell me that they want a very simple design. And I have no problem with that. However, I always remind them that there’s a very fine line between simple and just plain boring.

Today I want to share a few tips to help you create exciting designs regardless of your budget:

1. You can never have too many candles. It’s amazing what candlelight can accomplish. The next time you throw a party and don’t want to spend a lot of money on centerpieces, place at least thirty votive candles on each table. You’ll be amazed at how great it looks. Each votive should only cost you fifty cents or so. Beautiful on a budget!

2. People typically remember the first thing they see. Use a substantial portion of your budget to create a dramatic entrance. Trust me, it’s worth it.

3. You’ve probably seen my rose bowl arrangements; I put lots of rose petals in a bowl of water to create the impression of one large floating rose. A striking centerpiece for under a dollar!

4. But fear not, even if you don’t have enough money for floral centerpieces, you can still include flowers on every table. Arrange a few flowers in each guest’s napkin. The flowers should be tied together to make it easy for guests to take them home. This way you get the beauty of flowers without spending a lot of money, and guests get pretty favors. And since you’re not using floral centerpieces, you can use all those votive candles I suggested above in tip #1!

5. What about an edible centerpiece? It’s surprisingly simple to design with fruit, and you’ll be amazed at how beautiful fruit centerpieces can be.

These tips are mostly for beginners. Remember, you’re creating a mood more than anything else. After all, the mood is what clients really remember. Of course, you can use tons of flowers to set the mood, but there are lots of other ways to create mood, too. I come from the school of thought that more is better, but one way of doing that is repeating a simple element over and over again. That’s why when I suggest using candle centerpieces, I say to use thirty or more on each table. Mood means impact, and just a few candles won’t have much of an impact. But thirty candles? Now that’s a mood!

Dear Readers, what are some of your budget decorating tips? Do you challenge clients who insist on simple designs? How do you design simply without being boring?

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