The Ultimate Wedding Décor Checklist [Part 1 of 4] - How To Plan Your Wedding Décor (Pre-Wedding Celebrations)

Decorating for a wedding can be a lot of fun. That is until you realize decorating a wedding means a lot more than just decorating the ceremony and reception spaces—it means you need a before wedding checklist too. There are multiple events that require a little party planning and décor like the:

  • Engagement party
  • Bridal or couple's shower
  • Bachelor and bachelorette parties
  • Bridesmaid and groomsman luncheon
  • Welcome party
  • Rehearsal dinner

Keep in mind that you may celebrate each of these events ahead of your big day or you may only enjoy one or two ahead of your wedding. Either way, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure you have exactly what you need.

The wedding décor checklist is divided into separate events down below with some ideas on how to make each event unique. However, many of the ideas for what you may need are the same for each event. Consult our convenient pre-wedding checklist for a master list of items you’ll want to consider as you’re planning each of these gatherings.

Keep in mind that decorating any wedding-related event is a very personal experience! This wedding décor checklist contains all of the most common elements that are included in any pre-wedding party, as well as some unique additions, but there may be additional items that you want to add to the list—like sucker walls, feather mobiles, books as centerpieces, and more. That’s why we’ve included blank spaces you can fill in to make sure you get everything you need to host the perfect gathering.

Bride and Groom to Be Playing Yard Games: Simply Charming Socials, Photo Display of the Bride and Groom: Martha Stewart, Hotel Decorated For a Bachelorette Party: Two Twenty One, Simple Table Setting: Almost Makes Perfect, Table Decorated Simply With Flowers and Food: Style Me Pretty

Engagement Party

When creating a wedding décor planning list, you should first start with the engagement party. After all, it’s the first event you’re likely to celebrate after you get engaged! There are many ways to throw an engagement party, but we especially love relaxed, fun get togethers. Think backyard barbecues, laid-back brunches, and rooftop soirees.

Don’t worry too much about trying to match your wedding day theme. You may not even know the details of your wedding day décor yet! Instead, focus on celebrating you and your significant other. Because it’s the first chance to really share your love story with friends and family, look for ways to incorporate sentimental details in your decorations. A few ideas include:

  • Screen an outdoor movie of your love story
  • Create a photo wall out of images of the two of you together
  • Serve your favorite foods
  • Display a written timeline of your relationship on an oversized sign

Bridal or Couple's Shower


Decorating a wedding means appeasing both the bride and the groom. At a bridal shower, it’s all about the bride, so it’s a great chance to get girly! Pink is a popular color, as is using glitter and metallics. If pink and girly isn’t really your thing, come up with a color scheme or theme that you love. The day is all about you, after all!

If you and your partner are a bit unconventional, you may opt for a couple’s shower instead. Girly décor may not be appropriate, but it’s fun to use traditional party decorations, no matter what kind of shower you’re planning. A few of our favorite wedding checklist items for a bridal or couple’s shower include:

  • Balloons
  • Streamers
  • Garland
  • Tinsel
  • Confetti

The trick is to choose traditional décor with an elevated twist. For example, instead of choosing boring mylar balloons, choose a metallic balloon that says “bride”, create affordable DIY garland out of paper cranes, and create a stunning photo booth with a tinsel backdrop.

No matter what kind of shower you’re attending, it’s also a good idea to decorate with your guests in mind. Showers often pull together members of two families who may have never met each other before. Make sure they aren’t just standing around staring at each other by giving them fun things to do. Set out yard games, consider hosting a pool party, or have a wine tasting station so there are easy ways for your guests to mingle.

Gifts are often given to the bride or couple at a shower, so make sure you take this into account when decorating. Create a special table or a special spot with a sign that lets guests know that’s where they can place their gifts.

Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties

Bachelor and bachelorette parties are a great reason to have fun, be silly, and even get a little cheesy! All that décor at the party store you might never consider for your actual wedding should be embraced at your bachelor or bachelorette party!

Feel free to decorate the hotel room or other space you’re using as your base with things like banners and balloon arches, but chances are, you’re taking at least a portion of your party on the go. That means you should focus on portable décor items to add to your before wedding checklist like:

  • Mardi Gras beads
  • Photo booth props
  • Portable balloons
  • Decorative cups
  • Paper plates
  • Kooky straws
  • Portable shot glasses

Bridesmaid and Groomsman Luncheon

Not every couple opts for a bridesmaid or groomsman luncheon, but it is a great way to celebrate your bridal party and thank them for being part of your big day. If you decide to add this event to your week before the wedding checklist, make sure it’s all about your guests.

Brunch is a great way to celebrate your bridesmaids, but breakfast or dinner is fine too, especially if you’re gathering with a group of guys who aren’t really into the brunch atmosphere. Decorate with your guests in mind, or choose a restaurant that you know they would like. That might mean keeping things simple by decorating with greenery or including rustic details, if your group loves the outdoors.

Make sure they know no gifts are required! Instead, surprise them with something special. A bridesmaid or groomsman luncheon is a great time to pass out small thank-you gifts or to hand out your bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts ahead of your big day. Let these gifts double as seating cards to make them part of the décor.

Welcome Party

A welcome party is a great way to gather with friends and family who are coming from out of town, but it’s also a popular way to gather ahead of the big day when you’ve planned a destination wedding. This event is all about giving guests the chance to relax and settle in ahead of the main event.

Think cocktail party when you’re planning your wedding décor checklist for this event. Simple really is better. Go for fewer décor items, but make sure they have a high impact. Create a tower of full champagne glasses, tie ribbon to trees at an outdoor event, or create a stunning charcuterie table.

Because guests who haven’t seen each other in a long time or have never met will be together in the same place, it’s a good idea to provide plenty of opportunities for guests to meet and catch up. Consider outdoor games, host an activity, like a wine tasting, or hire live entertainment to give everyone a shared experience to talk about.

Rehearsal Dinner

No wedding décor checklist is complete without the rehearsal dinner! While other events can follow their own special themes, it’s a good idea to tie your rehearsal dinner décor into your wedding day décor. Keep the color scheme the same, or create a slightly different version of your color scheme by focusing on one color or using muted tones of your wedding day colors.

Many elements of a traditional rehearsal dinner are also elements you’ll find at a traditional reception:

  • Place settings
  • Centerpieces
  • Table cloths

You may even be able to reuse some elements at your wedding ceremony or reception. For example, rattan lanterns can be hung above the table at the rehearsal dinner, then they can be reused as aisle décor at the ceremony.

Are there things you wanted to include in your wedding, but weren’t able to? Consider incorporating them into your rehearsal dinner! You could get that groom’s cake or chocolate fountain you wanted.

You can definitely host a rehearsal dinner in your backyard or another untraditional space, but you should seriously consider hosting it at a restaurant near your ceremony space or where you’re getting married. Not only is serving food easier, because you’re relying on someone else to do the cooking, but you’ll also need fewer decorations. In addition to the natural ambiance, many venues will include a rehearsal dinner as part of the wedding package, which could include decorative items that they supply. Take advantage of it!

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