How to Decorate a Gym for a Wedding

by Boze Herrington

For couples who are seeking to get married without spending lots of money or who appreciate the homespun glamour of a “shabby chic” aesthetic, one option is to have the wedding reception inside a school or church gymnasium. The appeal of a gym wedding is that it illuminates a mundane setting through tasteful arrangements, decorations, and strategic use of lightning, transforming an ordinary building into a beautiful place of celebration.

Controlling Space

Hosting a small reception in a large gym can be managed through careful use of space. Dressing screens can be placed up around the sides of the gym to create an enclosed feeling. Chairs, tables, couches and other pieces of furniture can be brought in to create an area for reclining at the reception. Strategically place drapes over the windows to filter the light coming in from outside and arrange plants by the doors and throughout the room to reinforce the sense of enclosure.

Tabletops and Centerpieces

Find tabletop covers with colors that match or complement the gym’s interiors. If going for a “shabby chic” look, use drapes and burlap instead of ordinary table cloth. Create centerpieces using large-bottomed vases. Fill the centerpieces with flowers and water, and anchor the flowers with fruits such as oranges and lemons. Use salt and pepper shakers as vases for individual flowers.

Disguising Ugliness

Cover the basketball hoops and the steel supports at either end of the gym with linens or sheer fabric. Drape table linens over the doors leading into the bathroom by using duct tape just above the entrances, and hang up garland, flowers or lights above the tape to conceal it. Disguise wood paneling using linens or wrapping paper. Set up a vast ceiling canopy in the center of the room to hide the metal beams and rafters.

Ceilings and Light Fixtures

The fluorescent lighting often used in gyms can be visually unappealing. Use lamps and other compact sources of light to make the gym more pleasing to the eyes. Candles, lamps and professional lighting can direct attention away from objects in gym that the guests would rather not look at. String up small white lights above railings and along platforms.

Photo Credits

  • Andersen Ross/Blend Images/Getty Images

About the Author

Boze Herrington is a writer and blogger who lives in Kansas City, Mo. His work has been featured in Cracked and "The Atlantic."