Decorating a home for a wedding is as much about what you take away as it is about what you put in. Before you arrange flowers and hang garlands, you'll want to focus on creating the perfect backdrop; then you'll be ready to bring in beauty and highlight the big event. Give yourself adequate time and you're guaranteed a perfect look for that special day.
Remove clutter. The first step in decorating for a wedding is to clear out the extraneous: anything that will detract from the look you're trying to achieve for the event. Check out corners, shelves, closets and along walls, where clutter tends to congregate. Throw away, recycle, donate or store the stuff you collect from around the house.
Clear surfaces. After you've removed the clutter, walk through the house and clear off all the flat surfaces: mantle pieces, table tops, open shelving and the tops of cupboards, cabinets and other furniture pieces. Pay special attention to the little spots like coffee tables and end tables. Collect everything and put it in one location. Sort objects that may be used as wedding decor in one pile and those that won't coordinate with wedding decor in another to be boxed and stored.
Decorate the entry. Start with the space guests will first see to set the tone for the rest of the home. Do a walk-through; pretend you have just arrived and walk in just as the guests will. Notice where your eyes go. What are the focal points of the entryway? You'll want to highlight these with flowers, greenery and wedding decor. Consider a live garland over the door. White Christmas lights can be twined around poles on the porch or strewn through live plants in the entry.
Bring in live flowers. If you can, put one large bouquet in each room that will be used for the wedding festivities. If you can't afford large bouquets in every room, focus on the entry, the main sitting area and the room where food and/or drinks will the served. You can put smaller bouquets, accented with greenery, in other locations.
Add greenery. Use live greenery that reflects the season: For a winter wedding, cedar and other evergreen boughs are perfect. For a spring or summer wedding, take your cue from what is most lush at the moment and work with your florist to reflect that in your home. Fall is the perfect time to incorporate the vibrant yellows and oranges that you see outdoors with tree branches and vines.
Stick to wedding colors. Let the colors of the wedding party repeat throughout the decor of the home. Don't compete; coordinate. Use flowers that are the same colors or are complementary, or stick to neutrals like white, ivory and muted greens.
Add wedding-related decor. It doesn't have to be little bells and doves and hearts, though those are certainly fine. Take your cue from key words in the ceremony and activities the bride and groom enjoy, as well as their hobbies and personalities. The room where the groom's cake is served, for instance, could showcase a collection of model cars to reflect the groom's interest in car racing.
Walk through. After you've done the decorating, do another walk-through. Pretend you are a guest. Start at the entry. Notice any holes: a corner that might need a plant, a table that needs a small vase of flowers, a wall that could use a wreath or a framed photo of the bride and groom. Continue walking through all the rooms that will be used, finally looping back around to the entry again. Fill in the holes and clean up any objects that distract from the festive look.