Modern vs. Classic Wedding Decorations

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Modern vs. Classic Wedding Decorations

The wedding is still one of the most important days in many people's lives, a chance to affirm and celebrate a commitment before family and friends. But while love itself never goes out of fashion, particular ceremonies sometimes do. As social roles and lifestyles change, some people view wedding traditions as an important sense of continuity, a priceless touchstone with the past. Other people want to break with tradition deliberately and plan a wedding that really expresses their own generation's style. They want a wedding that looks and feels very different from what their grandparents would have done. A good review of both classic and modern wedding decorations is a good way for a couple to start deciding which kind of wedding they want, or if they want a mix between the two styles.

About Wedding Planning

Before getting into choosing the decorations, there are other decisions that have to be made. For example, how modern is this wedding going to be? Is it the ceremony itself, or just the decorations, that are getting a modern makeover? And is this a simple, do-it-yourself wedding, or a modern, gala event?

What Is a Modern Wedding?

The modern style is all about breaking with tradition. A simpler, bolder look and a more creative ceremonial structure are what modern weddings are all about. Modern weddings are often much more casual, and more playful, than traditional weddings. Some break with tradition deliberately, just for the sake of surprise; an elderly flower girl would be a very modern touch, for example. The decorations of a modern wedding should therefore be simple, not frilly, and should support the theme of taking weddings in a new direction.

Simple Weddings vs. Complex Weddings

The visual style of a modern wedding should be simple, but that does not mean the wedding itself needs to be simple. A modern wedding can include professional caterers and DJs at the reception, colour-coordinated napkins and tablecloths, fun little wedding favours, and beautifully constructed invitations and thank you notes. Alternatively, the couple could be married by a magistrate and then have a potluck dinner with a few friends and family. Which way the couple decides to go of course has a huge bearing on the wedding decorations, since a genuinely simple wedding has fewer decorations, and can be much more haphazard, than a big event.

Structures and Themes

Modern-style weddings have a lot of room for playfulness and innovation. Many people stretch their creative muscle with unusual themes that reflect the couples' individual interests; everything from sports to pirates to wildflowers could become the basic theme around which all the wedding decorations are chosen. Changing the structure of the ceremony is also an option, and some of these changes might influence decoration choices as well. For example, a civil ceremony could be merged with the reception, meaning that only one location needs to be decorated.

Note that although modern weddings, by their nature, break with tradition, changing the ceremony purely for the sake of change can be a bad idea. All the elements in a wedding ceremony have symbolic value, and symbols can be psychologically powerful even without anyone being consciously aware of their meaning. Some changes to tradition can be definite improvements, but changing things without paying attention to their meaning could result in a ceremony that feels uncomfortable or even just flat.

Choosing Wedding Decorations

After making the basic decisions, such as whether the wedding is to be traditional or modern, large or small, it is time to start choosing the decorations. The choices usually revolve around colour, number and type of decorative objects, and placement. Style is not so much a set of rules here as a group of guidelines to help generate ideas.

Colours and Patterns

Modern style is all about sleek simplicity, plus a little bit of edge. Go for an elegant and powerful palette with a fair amount of contrast. Avoid pastels. In clothing, table linens, invitations, or any other element where texture and pattern are important, avoid the frilly, lacy styles favoured for traditional weddings. Keep colours solid and, again, simple. There is the danger here of the wedding developing a severe or a sombre feel; keep things light and festive by including fun, playful elements in the ceremony and reception plans. Make sure the decorated location looks beautiful and inviting, even if that means including some more traditional elements.

Flowers, Candles, and Baubles

Less is definitely more, for a modern wedding. At the reception, try no centrepieces on the tables, or very minimalist centrepieces, such as a single candle. Use flowers to draw attention to important areas, such as the altar during the ceremony or the couple's own table during the reception, but do not place masses of flowers at every possible location, as some traditional weddings do. One place to seek inspiration is in the Japanese tradition of Zen flower arrangement, not that actually following traditional Japanese design principles would be particularly modern, but those principles do suggest how to use a minimum of flowers, and other decorative elements, to best effect.

Baubles include all small decorative objects other than flowers. Transporting cut flowers long distances can have a big environmental impact that couples may wish to avoid. If marrying outside of the local growing season, the best option may be to not use flowers at all and instead use other decorative pieces, such as ribbons or thematically appropriate elements, like sports equipment for a sport-themed wedding. Again, keep the use of these pieces minimal, so that the overall impression is of clean, elegant simplicity.

Classic and Modern Weddings Compared

It is fairly easy to identify classic wedding decorations. Flower arrangements, lace, a large, multi-tiered cake, and streamers, ribbons, and table linens in soft colours simply look like a wedding. Modern weddings, on the other hand, are much more flexible, so it is harder to identify something specifically as a wedding decoration. Depending on the theme, almost anything could be used. The main thing is that the colours be bold and the overall design minimalist and clean.

This table lists several characteristics of both styles side by side. Note that in most ways they are simply each other's opposites. Remember that most of the images normally associated with weddings belong to the traditional style specifically.





Romantic, ornate, gentle

Elegant, simple, bold


Usually light or pastel colours

Dark, saturated colours often paired with white for contrast


Lace, calligraphy, ribbon, bells

The more decoration the better

Less is more

Solid colours, minimalist decoration


Usually just wedding-themed and quite formal

Creative, expressive, casual, unique

The adjective romantic is listed under traditional. This does not mean that modern weddings should not be romantic. Rather, modern weddings usually depend on the ceremony structure and the reception activities for a romantic feel, not the decorations per se.

How to Buy Wedding Decorations on eBay

eBay has a wide selection of wedding decorations, often at excellent prices. Do not forget that for some modern weddings some items not sold as wedding decorations may be perfect. For example, kazoos, which eBay also sells, might fit perfectly with somebody's wedding theme.

Finding Wedding Decorations on eBay

You can start by doing a simple search for wedding decorations and then browse the results, though they might lean towards the traditional. To search for something very specific, try the Advanced Search feature instead. Alternatively, try eBay Deals to see if one of the low price items there fits your needs.

Buying Wedding Decorations on eBay with Confidence

If you have any questions about a listed product, just ask the seller. There is a contact link on his or her profile page. The seller's feedback score and policies are listed there also.


Planning a wedding is somewhere between a lot of fun and a giant hassle. For couples doing their own planning, especially, the wedding can become the first real test of their partnership. These days, there is a huge about of choice in how a wedding can go. There are small weddings, large weddings, traditional weddings, and modern weddings. Every couple has their own style and they can create a ceremony that uniquely reflects who they are as a couple. Established styles, such as modern design, can offer real food for thought for planning, and can help give the wedding a cohesive feel. Yet couples should not get too wrapped up in rules about this style or that style. After all, a wedding is only one day. The important thing is that at the end of the day two more people who love each other are married.

Wedding Decoration|Ribbon|Candle|Modern Wedding Decoration|Classic Wedding Decoration

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