How to Decorate an Ugly Reception Hall

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The first reaction you want from your guests when they walk into the reception hall is not to gasp in horror but to be surprised by its beauty. An ugly reception hall may be the right price and in a convenient location, but that doesn't make it any less unattractive. Despite having the challenge of an ugly reception hall on your hands, everything you dream it could be is possible with a drastic, but easy, transformation.

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Cover the walls with fabric. Take measurements first, then order the fabric from a fabric store that can measure the exact size of each piece. The fabric needs to be hung temporarily, which means you can't install a metal track. Instead, use fabric glue to attach a heavy-duty metal wire, found in craft stores, to the back of each piece of fabric. Then screw the wire into either end of the wall. Check first with the reception hall proprietor on the types of acceptable alternations to the room. If the holes are small and high up enough that they aren't visible, the proprietor may not have a problem with this option.

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Change the lighting. Bright lighting shows every detail. So, if the reception hall has a dimmer switch, take advantage of it. If the hall has special settings to control the lighting, ask the proprietor to dim the lights a bit. During the dancing portion of the reception, the proprietor can turn down the lights almost the entire way. To compensate for the lower lighting, put candles on each of the guest tables as part of the centerpiece.

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Pay extra attention to centerpieces. The more ornate and interesting they are, the less likely your guests may be focused on the ugly reception hall. In addition, centerpieces should be relatively short to draw the eyes down and not up toward the walls. Use a real or faux feather centerpiece as one option. Or fill short vases with colored glass gems and water, then put a single large flower, such as a hydrangea, in each one. Also, put several vases of varying heights in the center of each table.

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Add flowers and greenery. Use tall greenery or flowers to block lower, less attractive parts of the wall from view. Use faux or real plants, which you can give away to guests or take home at the end of the reception. If possible, rent instead of buying them.

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Put out pictures. Having pictures to look at can distract from the ugly reception hall. Set framed pictures on tables or set larger prints of your favorite pictures on small easels.