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There are 5 pictures offering suggestions on ways to decorate or not decorate your wedding venue chairs, including white stretch chair covers with a hessian and lace sash, stretch covers over larger chairs with subtle lemon yellow bows, blue and pale lila

Wedding Chair Coverings - are they a waste of money or not?

It's one of those wedding costs/things that come up as 'you don't need this' in some cost savings guides, but how do you decide if this is true for you? Read on to find out.

The first question you need to ask is what are my venues chairs really like? Take a good look. Are they looking a bit old and tattered? Do they fit with the theme of your wedding? Will they look good in your photographs?
If you're really not fussed about them and you're happy that they'll look fine, then absolutely go ahead and ditch that cost. But what if your venue has chairs that are a hideous colour or have seen better days? What if they just aren't in your wedding colours or would clash? I don't think there is anything wrong with choosing to cover up a venues choice of chair or even hire in nicer ones. So, let's look at some cost-effective options:

Actual chair covers

These are widely available in white but can also be found in a huge range of colours and can be purchased very cheaply on-line - be aware though that really cheap ones can break under the pressure or come up very thin. They can also be hired from a venue decorator who could even install them, so you don't have to do it. If you're buying on-line, don't just buy the exact number you think you'll need. If you have a few spares you can be ready to swap out any slightly dodgy or ripped ones.
You can also find loose fitting covers, which are ideal for larger chairs but on smaller chairs can look a bit of a dogs dinner (saggy, un-ironed, too long, etc). These are best left to the professionals who should have them properly pressed and ensure they're properly fitted.
Chair covers will hide a multitude of dodginess with venue chairs, the aforementioned hideous colours or slightly stained chairs can look fabulous once covered. But if you like the chairs you're being offered you're better off looking at other options.

Chair bows/swags

The colour and style of these is limitless. You'll often see them done with fabric like chiffon or satin but lace and hessian are also very popular and they don't just have to be one colour; you can get printed fabrics, sequined, pearlescent/iridescent which change colour from different angles. They can be tied on in a variety of ways too or if you really don't want to use fabric you could use ribbons or even greenery.
All of these can be attached to pretty much any style of chair, and they don't need to go over the top of a chair cover. If you like the chivari style chairs on offer but just want to add a pop of your wedding colour theme, then a bright bow may be just what you need. We'll look at other types of decoration below.

Chair hoods

Elegant, soft and floaty, these are like a half-way option between a full chair cover and a bow or swag, often draped over the back of a chair and tied together with a ribbon. Sometimes used over the top of a chair cover but equally lovely over just the chair. Again, they're available in a range of fabric options and colours, from lace to chiffon, made to measure in satin, the choice is yours. They can be kept simple with a ribbon holding them in place or you could add an accessory, and that's what we'll look at next.

Accessories and other decorations

Whether you have chair covers or not, hoods and sashes or not, there are other decorations you might add to your chairs. Brooches, flowers, greenery, sparkly pins, and more can be added to your chair coverings reflecting your theme further, maybe in the centre of a bow or tucked into the top of your chair hood ribbon
If you want something a bit different altogether you could tie different colour ribbons or drape some foliage from your chairs. Aisle chairs lend themselves to flower arrangements that are similar to a traditional 'pew end' display but can be made using hand tied mini bunches or flowers or even small jar displays.
If your chairs don't lend themselves to having things tied to them, then for your ceremony you could decorate your aisle with floor displays at the end of each row (or every other row). Tall vases or lanterns, rose petals or bay trees, no-one will be looking at the chairs if there are other pretty things to be looking at.

What's your choice?

Whatever you decide there are ways to keep the costs down; from DIYing to being selective over which chairs you decorate. Speak to your venue about what they have on offer and shop around for the best deals. And if your budget won't stretch to having a bright sash on every chair, then stick with just the aisle and top table, those will be the most visible in your photographs anyway. And if your venue includes it as part of their package but you don't want the chair covers, then ask them for a reduction on the fee, after all they're not having to pay for them to be installed so they'll be making a saving anyway. That way you might be able to redirect some funds to something that is more important to you.

Ultimately the choice is yours. Take a look at my inspiration board (below) and keep on planning X