We're gettin' hitched at a resort on the Big Island and, despite the fact that we're doing a destination wedding, we're on a fairly strict budget. I'm trying to figure out some fun, funky, uber-colorful DIY decoration ideas that won't take a buttload of time or money to do.

– HalfPint1011

Well HalfPint, the following decor ideas won't take up a buttload of time, money OR space because they're all easily packable, easy to make and easy on your wallet. And they'll look fabulous at any destination…

IMG 6372 2 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
The decor at my wedding hangover lunch in Maui. Those decorations were used at various other wedding events.

Paper lanterns

Paper lanterns fold flat and are super lightweight, plus they come in practically any color and shape you could ever want. I happen to find fabric lanterns made for the outdoors so there was no threat of them getting ripped or broken during transfer.

Light-weight fabric panels

Large strips of lightweight fabric can be used to decorate your reception (as seen in the photo above), and when folded flat they are packed quite easily. Use them as table clothes, drape them from the ceiling to use as decorative panels, use them as chair covers or swaged over the head table.

Cardboard cupcake tower.

MiniCupcakeTree alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)I used this cupcake tower for my destination wedding and it worked like a charm. The stand is made of cardboard separates so they're easy to decorate and then take apart and lay flat for easy packing.


There are two schools of thought on balloons at a wedding — “No way, never” and “TOTALLY FUN!” I'm of the totally fun persuasion. We had a couple of silly shark and turtle balloons that made their appearance at both our “welcome party” and our wedding reception. People had fun posing with them and they don't take up any room until they're blown up!


4613726818 44c985eebf m alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride) DIY bunting flag posts are a great place to start for some flag inspiration or for instructions on how to make them yourself. Doing it that way makes it possible to have whatever colors, patterns, words, etc featured at your wedding AND they're easy to transport!

Fake flowers

Lightweight and won't get ruined or die during transit. Plus if you use orchids or other flowers that make a statement on their own, you only need to pack a few. And fake flowers can be your typical fabric types or knit, or beaded, or paper, etc.

Christmas lights

51g4VOWUS0L. SL500 AA300 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride) Strings of pretty lights are one of the best ways to make a location feel more romantical and special. Pack a few boxes of white twinkly lights and then wrap them around posts and beams and whatever you want really! You can't have enough pretty twinkly lights.

Pom poms

Brightly colored paper pom poms a la Martha are great for all-purpose decor. Hang them from the ceiling, use them to accentuate your aisle or toss them on each table as centerpieces. You can either make them yourself or purchase them from an Etsy seller and just not fluff them up until you get to where you're going.

Does anyone else out there have experience with destination wedding decor? Leave your tips and advice in the comments!

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Comments on Destination wedding decorations that are easy to pack

  1. Yesss!!!!!!!! Thank you so much! And, by the way, I’m stoked about balloons. They get such a bad rap, but I totally think they’re rad.

    • I always feel like round paper/fabric lanterns are like fancified balloons, so when my family said balloons were too “tacky” (pout), I said, “Fine! Lanterns, HUNDREDS OF LANTERNS!!!! Muah-ha-ha.” Groom and I now call them adult balloons, just to make my mom angry.

  2. Another suggestion: ribbon windcatchers. We glued ribbon strips (you could also do this with crepe paper or fabric strips) to circular embroidery hoops. They’re a pretty simple DIY project and pack flat. They look sort of like jelly fish and are super pretty.

    • Or you could reserve space in guests’ luggage, assuming you’re good friends! 😉

      • Yes, that is a MUCH better option because shipping to the Hawaiian islands (or any island, I guess) is EXPENSIVE! So definitely pack as much as you can to save as much as you can.

  3. Tea candles. You can use them anywhere, and you can fit ’em in your freakin’ pockets.

  4. The paper and fabric lanterns are exceptionally beautiful and quite decorative for all occasions especially in weddings.

  5. For any tropical destination, consider using locally found items for inexpensive decor – banana leaves make awesome runners for tables and groups of shells make sweet centerpieces.

  6. If anyone is going to snowy of wintery climes you can get amazing rehydratable snow. It comes in tiny test tubes and I did a christmas party with 14 centrepieces from one tube last year. Put it in clear ballons or overflowing from champagne glasses or any other way you want.

  7. I had a destination wedding and keep in mind mailing things ahead is not a good idea. Most things do not make it through customs. most countries also charge on items brought into the country and then will even tax you if they see your wedding dress. It is best to go small, seperate items between guests and whatever you do, do not put your gown in a wedding dress bag, dead give away. All of my decorations were paper items and a small custom cake topper from etsy. Those items were stashed in magazines, my purse in my luggage and my in laws took our wedding guest box and our table numbers as well as the name tags. I just got married in Jamaica and the couple in front of us in customs was not that smart and ended up getting charged close to $5000 in taxes for items they brought into the country. Not having the cash on them, they left all their wedding decorations and even the brides dress in customs, sad and true so do your research. Whatever you do, do not make it look like you are getting married, you will get nailed. We said we were going on vacation and on the way back to the US said we got married. Not one hastle, welcome back to the US and never checked our bags, thank goodness cause we had tons of spices, purses, tshirts, postcards, etc that are all charged for in customs.

    • Oh interesting. I wrote this after getting married in Hawaii so there was NO problem mailing stuff ahead and bringing stuff with. But yeah, I guess if it’s in a different country you’re gonna wanna look into all those rules. Had no idea! Thanks for the warnings!

      • Yeah, it depends on the country. I worked with my resort and they also warned me of the customs issues. So for Jamaica be warned and use your guests to help bring stuff. It also is just easier if you find a resort that decorates for you. Mine did, I gave them all the stuff and off they went with our vision. It was not hard to do right off the ocean!!!

  8. I wanted to add from our own packing – paper products – postcards, sheets of paper etc. that can be folded and put into a secure hard plastic folder for transport. Squares of fabric added to tablecloths for extra punch are good too. I would recommend if you have a card box to go with wood rather than anything breakable or unwieldy like a birdcage, as wood can be very light and you can pack other stuff inside it! For favors, if you have them (I am personally anti-favor), I´d go with candy in a bowl or something easy. No reason to pack something difficult like cookies or tchotchkes that may never get used by a number of guests…use that space for something else.

    We were able to buy things online and have them sent to my parents´ house near the venue (destination wedding because WE live far away) which made decorating easier…if we had not had that option it would have been very difficult indeed as we are not really into the stuff that´s easy to pack (pom poms, balloons, etc….not our style) and the stuff we wanted would have been hard to transport any other way.

  9. I got married yesterday – we had the reception at home and the most stunning item of decor was paper flowers made from IKEA paper napkins (cheap) – to travel you could half make them ( the concertina fold , tying, and cutting of the petals and finish making them at the destination.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5774655&id=700390669 (hope the link works – I’m waiting on more photos of the flowers…)

    We’ve even decided to keep them up.

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